Here are the specifics of what I want to do.
1) Add a standard SSD 500GB drive as the primary drive with Windows 7 Home Premium. I plan to do a fresh Windows 7 install from Dell CD media. I'm leaning toward one of the Crucial SSDs (480 to 512gb). It is my understanding that I will need a chassis for the SSD and could install in one of the 3.5 inch bays.
2) I purchased a Crucial 120 GB mSata a while back but did not install. So, I would like to use it for continuous data backup. I'm planning to install as step two after the primary SSD is up and running.
3) I would like to use the existing HDD that came with the system (that currently has Windows 7 on it) as just a media backup (I have an external WD network drive that I plan to set up and use for media). So, I am not over concerned about speed (I don't think). I'm planning to do this as step three and have it disconnected during the first two steps.
a) What specific cable will I need for the primary SSD drive (I'm assuming there is not one in the Dell case). Since the Dell XPS 8500 User Manual does not get specific, what/where is the proper connection at the motherboard for the SSD? Am I just unplugging at the HDD board connection and putting the new cable in it's place to the SSD? What is the step to tell the Dell that the new SSD is the primary drive?
b) What do I need to consider for the mSata SSD? I've seen the diagram of how it plugs in and understand that I will need two screws.
c) Since I cannot tell from the manual, am I moving the HDD cables (still connected to the HDD) to the SATA II connection on the motherboard and is that connection clearly identified (how do you determine that connection)? Finally, can I just uninstall the Windows 7 on the existing HDD and leave my data and media on there as is?
Is there anything else to consider before I get started?
Thanks in advance!
Your plan sounds fine to me. Check the Wiki articles, where I've got one on how I installed my SSD in my XPS 8100 case.
As for your specific questions:
a) A regular SATA data cable is all you need. You'll want to connect the SSD to port 0. After that, it makes no difference where you plug your drives in. Installing Win 7 will designate this as the primary drive. There's nothing in the BIOS to set.
b) Nothing to do but plug it in.
c) The ports are labeled, so it should not be too hard to figure out. You can leave your Win 7 installation on the drive untouched if you prefer. Unless the HDD is set as a bootable drive in the BIOS, it will be ignored as a boot device.
My personal preference is to plug in just the system drive, install the OS, then add other drives later. I do this so I don't accidentally install the OS onto the wrong drive. (Yes, I've done it.)