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Which SSD for XPS 435 MT?

Going to install a second hard drive in my Studio XPS, looking for suggestions:

Outside of adding memory & replacing the system board in a Dell laptop, got lucky with the assistance of the excellent manuals on this website, I do not have much experience on the hardware side.

There are a plethora of SSD drives.  Is it my imagination or are they all 2.5"?  Do I need a Converter Kit?  What about a Data & Power cable?  How about a refurbished drive?

What kind of SSD drive would be recommended?   Would like it to be large enough to use as system/primary drive.

thanks in advance,

daemoncycler

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Installing a SSD in the 435MT is not straightforward. There are a few "Catch 22" issues in that regard. TRIM support is absolutely vital with a SSD. Without it the SSD will eventually become as slow or slower than a regular HDD. In order for TRIM to function, the SSD must use an AHCI driver. It also will enable NCQ, giving you all the speed your SSD is capable of over SATA 2.0, which is a max of 3 Gbits/second. A side benefit is that it makes your SATA and eSATA ports hot-plug capable, though not necessarily hot-swap capable. (The difference is hot-plug means you can add a drive but not remove it, while hot-swap means you can add or remove a drive with the system running.)

Unfortunately, the Intel X58 + ICH10 chipset on the XPS 435MT's mobo is not full featured. Dell limits the chipset's capabilities. While the onboard Intel SATA controllers can support AHCI, they run in IDE mode by default. The BIOS is also limited to say the least, more like crippled actually. In the BIOS, under Advanced Chipset Features > SATA Mode, there is only a choice between IDE or RAID with IDE being the default. However, by selecting RAID for the SATA Mode, AHCI is enabled on all four SATA ports as well as eSATA. Of course, if you enable RAID after your OS is installed, everything on your SSD or HDD will be lost and you will have to reinstall the OS again. So, enable RAID in the 435MT's BIOS before installing the OS on your new SSD.

The next problem you will likely encounter is a failed install of your OS. This is described in the MS Knowledge Base Article 2466753 available here:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2466753

This is a known issue with both Windows 7 and Windows 8. Don't know about Vista though. There are workarounds involving editing the system registry by creating keys, subkeys, and values, as well as workarounds to the workarounds depending on what controller your SSD uses. Assuming at some point you get your system up and running from your SSD, there is one other problem that crops up when you insert a blank optical disk into your burner. Your system will likely either freeze or crash entirely. This is due to your optical drive(s) also running AHCI drivers when they should be using IDE/UDMA. When you select the RAID option for the SATA Mode in the BIOS, all the SATA ports switch over to AHCI. So, before you use your optical drive(s), check in Device Manager to see if you can change the driver for the optical drive's SATA controller in the OS to IDE/UDMA.

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Found  a fairly recent thread regarding XPS 435 MT & installing SSD = studio xps 435mt ssd installation

en.community.dell.com/.../20068949.aspx

mentions having to use tape to get the SSD installed &  Dell possibly selling a part to mount the SSD. They do seem to sell 2.5" brackets for other systems but not the 435mt.

Wonder if I will have to tape the SSD into the XPS 435 MT?

Well, thought I had done all the research but keeping finding more info:  per thread

http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/disk-drives/f/3534/t/19447468.aspx

The XPS 435MT SATA interface is limited to 3 GB/sec by its hardware, but it will still accept drives that are capable of 6 GB/sec.  The higher, 6 GB/sec, interface speed requires the Sandy Bridge architecture that became available with the XPS 8300.

that would certainly help determine the drive selection.

thanks,

daemoncycler

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The folks on the Amazon forum were kind enough to answer my questions & since we apparently cannot delete threads on the Dell Community I will answer this myself - might help someone else.

In this case we will use a Crucial 256 GB m4 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive SATA 6Gb/s

we will need a SILVERSTONE SDP08 3.5 to 2 X 2.5-Inch Bay Converter or something similar.

& since Crucial doesn't supply the cords (don't want to take the chance there are not extras included in the Dell box as another thread on this forum indicated) we will need a StarTech 18in SATA to Right Angle SATA Serial ATA Cable & a StarTech.com PYO2LP4SATA 12in LP4 to 2x SATA Power Y Cable Adapter or something similar.

Here are some excellent installation instructions too - provided by an Amazon customer:

Additional Hardware Required (PC):
The package did not come with a Bay Converter, so you will need to buy one of those. I recommend the SILVERSTONE SDP08 3.5 to 2 X 2.5-Inch Bay Converter. To install SSD, just plug in the hard drive plug and the power. You will also need to buy a transfer kit if you want to move stuff over from the previous hard drive. I recommend a fresh install of Windows 7, so you can enable TRIM which will keep the SSD running blazing fast. To enable TRIM is very easy, you can Google the instructions on how to do it.

Data Transfer:
If you had an existing hard drive like I did, make sure to unplug that first. Install a fresh OS on to the SSD, and then plug the old hard drive back in. You do not need back up the data of the old hard drive. The previous C: drive will now be E:. If you have more than 1 partition the rest will be F:, G:, and so on. I recommend formatting your old C: drive and use it as a storage drive after you get everything set up.

Oddity:
After the SSD was installed, I got a prompt to run it using AHCI or IDE before the Windows load screen... I didn't know what they were, so I chose AHCI and it crashed constantly. After switching to IDE in the Bios, it was working like a champ.

Important Update:
Make sure you go to Crucial official website and download the latest firmware. Just Google "Crucial SSD firmware" and it's the first link. I had a blue screen of death once before installing the firmware, so I'm not sure if that's related. However, after I install the firmware to version 009, I haven't had any issues since then.

Daemoncycler

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Installing a SSD in the 435MT is not straightforward. There are a few "Catch 22" issues in that regard. TRIM support is absolutely vital with a SSD. Without it the SSD will eventually become as slow or slower than a regular HDD. In order for TRIM to function, the SSD must use an AHCI driver. It also will enable NCQ, giving you all the speed your SSD is capable of over SATA 2.0, which is a max of 3 Gbits/second. A side benefit is that it makes your SATA and eSATA ports hot-plug capable, though not necessarily hot-swap capable. (The difference is hot-plug means you can add a drive but not remove it, while hot-swap means you can add or remove a drive with the system running.)

Unfortunately, the Intel X58 + ICH10 chipset on the XPS 435MT's mobo is not full featured. Dell limits the chipset's capabilities. While the onboard Intel SATA controllers can support AHCI, they run in IDE mode by default. The BIOS is also limited to say the least, more like crippled actually. In the BIOS, under Advanced Chipset Features > SATA Mode, there is only a choice between IDE or RAID with IDE being the default. However, by selecting RAID for the SATA Mode, AHCI is enabled on all four SATA ports as well as eSATA. Of course, if you enable RAID after your OS is installed, everything on your SSD or HDD will be lost and you will have to reinstall the OS again. So, enable RAID in the 435MT's BIOS before installing the OS on your new SSD.

The next problem you will likely encounter is a failed install of your OS. This is described in the MS Knowledge Base Article 2466753 available here:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2466753

This is a known issue with both Windows 7 and Windows 8. Don't know about Vista though. There are workarounds involving editing the system registry by creating keys, subkeys, and values, as well as workarounds to the workarounds depending on what controller your SSD uses. Assuming at some point you get your system up and running from your SSD, there is one other problem that crops up when you insert a blank optical disk into your burner. Your system will likely either freeze or crash entirely. This is due to your optical drive(s) also running AHCI drivers when they should be using IDE/UDMA. When you select the RAID option for the SATA Mode in the BIOS, all the SATA ports switch over to AHCI. So, before you use your optical drive(s), check in Device Manager to see if you can change the driver for the optical drive's SATA controller in the OS to IDE/UDMA.

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Hi 9Hoku & thanks for responding to my thread.

Have decided not to upgrade any components until they fail.  Still going strong on original HD, GPU, RAM & PSU.

This is great info you have provided.  If I interpreted that Microsoft KB article properly it looks like the issue with RAID can be avoided if we install Win 7 with SP1 as the problems were addressed in SP1.  Perhaps those Digital River .iso's will come in handy?

Problems cropping up with the Optical Drives never occurred to me.  Guess Dell doesn't want to make things too easy.

When the time to replace the HD arrives will return to this thread for assistance.

thanks again,

daemoncycler

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Hi 9Hoku,

Hope you are still out there.  Thanks for this great response to my thread - your assistance is proving invaluable as I move forward with he SSD install.

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Did you get the SSD install working with AHCI via Raid setting in BIOS? 

I tried for days to get AHCI to work with my new SSD, but the Windows 7 Pro windows operating system install would not accept the drive unless it was set for non raid (install kept failing).

The only other option I could think of is to replace the motherboard with a mother board that had not been crippled.  Dell had no recommendations for a new motherboard, they could only recommend a new computer.  It appeared all the choices to utilize the tri memory and CPU were very expensive since they were out of production.

If anyone has any suggestions for a new drop in motherboard, I am wide open because the SSD performance is not as slow as a standard hard drive yet, but the performance is not nearly as good as it originally was.

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Yes SSD install went very smoothly, Happy :-)

I did not define any RAID volumes but the BIOS has to be in RAID in order to enable AHCI. 

Windows 7 found all the appropriate drivers during install.  Not knowing how old your copy of Win 7 is might be beneficial to get a current copy from Microsoft.  That way sure to have latest SSD drivers.

If there's a problem with MB?  I also replaced that within the last two years & purchased the exact same model off eBay, around $60.  The on-board sound didn't work but a $20 sound card fixed that.

Plug DELL XPS STUDIO MOTHERBOARD R849J 0R849J into your search engine & good luck.

 

p.s.  Windows 7 so smart it enabled TRIM & turned defrag off on it's own.  Check TRIM:

fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify

DisableDeleteNotify = 0 (Windows TRIM commands are enabled)

p.s.s.

Hope you're switching BIOS to RAID & doing a clean install.  See this wikipedia page

Boot issues[edit]

Some operating systems, notably Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8, do not configure themselves to load the AHCI driver upon boot if the SATA-drive controller was not in AHCI mode at the time of installation. This can cause failure to boot, with an error message, if the SATA controller is later switched to AHCI mode. For this reason, Intel recommends changing the drive controller to AHCI or RAID before installing an operating system

 

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I posted my experience with XPS 435MT and Samsung 850 Evo SSD here http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/disk-drives/f/3534/p/19469477/20741647

I am still in the normal SATA mode (not RAID). There is performance improvement for sure.

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Here is my WEI after Criucial M500 SSD & GeForce GTX 760 SC install - Core i7-950 & Elpida RAM 1066 Mhz:

Pretty good for a machine from what 2008?

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