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Latest steps to install an SSD in an XPS 435MT (Windows 7 64-bit)?

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I found a great price on two SSDs--so I bought them, figuring I could install at least one of them in my XPS 435MT. They will be arriving today.

I also want to add a Blu-ray drive (reader, at least) to this system. (Any suggestions?) While searching for guidance on that, I came across a detailed forum post making it clear to me that adding SSDs to the XPS 435MT system is not so easy.

It's been well over a year since the above post was updated. Are the steps therein still accurate? Are there any updates? For instance, the post includes a link to the Intel Matrix Storage Manager Driver for Microsoft Windows; however, the resulting page states that it's valid for the "Intel Server System SR1680MV". Is this driver still required? Is Microsoft Fix It 50470 still required?

I'd like to preserve my finely-tuned Windows 7 environment, if possible. My system currently has two 500GB HDDs (C: and DSmiley Happy, a DVD-ROM (GSmiley Happy, and a DVD-RW (WSmiley Happy. Currently I have all of my Windows libraries on the D: drive. I envision making one of the new SSDs the C: drive, using Paragon to migrate the C: HDD's contents to the SSD. There may not have a need for the existing C: HDD after that; for that matter, I may even need to remove that HDD so as to have a bay to install the SSD/bracket. I plan on replacing one of the DVD drives with the Blu-ray drive.

All comments welcomed!

UPDATE: I called Crucial tech support to inform them that their SSD Advisor is offline. The technician I spoke with was very familiar with what I'm trying to accomplish. In his opinion, there is no need to install the Intel Matrix Storage Manager Driver--as the driver native to Windows should suffice. I will be doing an OS migration--so in that case, perhaps, the native Windows driver isn't present?

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RE: Latest steps to install an SSD in an XPS 435MT (Windows 7 64-bit)?

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Chris,

You only need to run that "fix it" if your BIOS is currently set to ATA and you need to change it to RAID. If you're already set up for RAID, you will not need that fix. However, I would make sure you're running the most current version of the Intel RST (this replaces the older matrix storage driver).

I think your plan is fine, except that I would simply connect the SSD to an available SATA port, not a USB adapter. Boot from the Paragon disc or flash drive, whichever you've got, and run the cloning operation.

Most people who swap out HDDs for SSDs retain their HDDs for data. Keep that in mind for your planning.

I think most performance problems with SSDs comes frankly from cloning a cluttered Windows installation or possibly running in ATA mode. That's why I went to the trouble of doing a clean installation. It's a bit more up front work, but now I've got an image of the installation with my drivers and apps that I can restore to the SSD at any time in just a few minutes.

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7- Gold

RE: Latest steps to install an SSD in an XPS 435MT (Windows 7 64-bit)?

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Hi Chris,

Installing Windows 7 on an SSD is no different than installing on a regular hard drive. Windows 7 does have a native driver that should recognize your SSD. I've done a clean install on my slightly newer Studio XPS 8100 and had no trouble whatsoever. No, the BIOS does not have AHCI, only RAID, but the SSD will still run considerably faster than a mechanical hard drive. So I'll take issue with the comment in the other thread that, "The difference in speed in this case would hardly be noticeable." That's completely wrong.

Cloning your existing drive might work, and since your OS is in good shape, that's the first option to try, but cloning Dell system drives is problematic due to the diagnostic and recovery partitions.

RE: Latest steps to install an SSD in an XPS 435MT (Windows 7 64-bit)?

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Thanks, Osprey! Since I'll first attempt to migrate my Windows 7 installation to the SSD (using a tool such as Paragon), should I first still at least run Microsoft Fix It 50470 (even if I don't install the Intel Matrix Storage driver)?

Here's my plan: Connect the SSD to a USB-to-SATA kit, copy my HDD's Windows 7 install to the SSD, swap the HDD for the SSD, and then attempt to boot off of the SSD. If it doesn't boot, then I'll revert to the HDD, run the Microsoft Fix It, copy the installation to the SSD again, swap for the SSD, and attempt to boot off it again. Does that sound reasonable?

BTW, I notice that the 'negligible performance improvement' comment came from a Dell representative--in response to the original poster saying that he saw no performance improvement with an SSD. What do you think his poor performance might have been attributable to? Would his simply changing the BIOS to 'RAID' (and, perhaps, running the Microsoft Fix It and/or installing the Intel Matrix Storage driver) have resulted in substantially better performance?

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RE: Latest steps to install an SSD in an XPS 435MT (Windows 7 64-bit)?

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Chris,

You only need to run that "fix it" if your BIOS is currently set to ATA and you need to change it to RAID. If you're already set up for RAID, you will not need that fix. However, I would make sure you're running the most current version of the Intel RST (this replaces the older matrix storage driver).

I think your plan is fine, except that I would simply connect the SSD to an available SATA port, not a USB adapter. Boot from the Paragon disc or flash drive, whichever you've got, and run the cloning operation.

Most people who swap out HDDs for SSDs retain their HDDs for data. Keep that in mind for your planning.

I think most performance problems with SSDs comes frankly from cloning a cluttered Windows installation or possibly running in ATA mode. That's why I went to the trouble of doing a clean installation. It's a bit more up front work, but now I've got an image of the installation with my drivers and apps that I can restore to the SSD at any time in just a few minutes.

RE: Latest steps to install an SSD in an XPS 435MT (Windows 7 64-bit)?

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Thanks for that. If I'm searching correctly, according to the Intel Download Center the latest version of the Intel Rapid Storage Technology RAID Driver is version 13.2.4.1000. Does that sound right to you? Obviously, I'll be installing this after running the Microsoft Fix It but prior to the reboot to change the BIOS to RAID.

I'm curious; what would be the result of my making these changes and then rebooting into the existing (SATA) HDD? It seems to me that it would boot without difficulty; i.e., these changes could be made at any time, regardless of adding an SSD. Is that correct?

On the other thread, someone commented that my internal DVD drives may no longer work when the BIOS is changed to RAID. What do you think?

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RE: Latest steps to install an SSD in an XPS 435MT (Windows 7 64-bit)?

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Osprey: In your initial response, you said: 'Cloning Dell system drives is problematic due to the diagnostic and recovery partitions'. While I continue to prepare to do the migration to an SSD, I noticed some oddities about the partitions on my two HDDs. Although my system is working well, note the partitions, according to Windows 7's Disk Management app:

Disk 0 (Dynamic)
47MB OEM Partition
D: 10GB NTFS
D: 455GB NTFS
All three partitions are healthy; however, I'm unsure why D: is listed twice. When I explore either D: partition, I see the contents of the 455GB drive -- so the first D: is a mystery.

Disk 1 (Basic)
100MB NTFS
C: 698GB NTFS
Both partitions are healthy.

Is it significant that my Windows partition is on Disk 1, not Disk 0? I'm unsure what process the system uses to label Disk 0 vs Disk 1.

BTW, the boot menu displays the two HDDs, the two DVD drives, "Diagnostics", "Boot to Utility Partition", and "<Enter Setup>". Regardless of the HDD I select, my Windows 7 environment loads (correctly). The diagnostic and utility items likely represent the 47MB and 100MB partitions. Perhaps this 'clutter' is from various installs I've done over the years.

Any suggestions on how to proceed? With or without the SSD, is it important to retain (and perhaps migrate) the Utility and/or Diagnostic partitions?

(I considered posting a new message for this but figured the answers might be specific to my planned migration to the SSD.)

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RE: Latest steps to install an SSD in an XPS 435MT (Windows 7 64-bit)?

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I'm not sure what's going on with your hard drive. Your disk 0 has the Dell utility partition, but I'm not sure whether that 10GB partition is recovery or what. But your OS is installed on disk 1. It seems maybe you reinstalled Win 7 since you got the system. So cloning I do not believe is going to work. You're going to have to perform a clean installation.

It is not important to retain the recovery or diagnostic partitions. They just take up space on the SSD.

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RE: Latest steps to install an SSD in an XPS 435MT (Windows 7 64-bit)?

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Thanks for the info regarding not needing to retain the recovery and diagnostic partitions.

I think I'm actually making some progress. I ran the Microsoft Fix It, rebooted, set the BIOS to RAID and verified that my C: HDD was still the boot device, let Windows detect the (now RAID-like?) devices, rebooted, installed the Intel RST, rebooted, and am now copying my C: HDD's contents to the SSD using EaseUS's free 'Migrate OS to SSD' utility.

I'll likely still re-install Windows 7 from scratch but I'm interested to see how far I can go with the migration.

Question for you: I have four data cables attached to my motherboard; one to my C: HDD, one to my D: HDD, one to my SSD, and one to my DVD-RW. Does it matter which cable is connected to which device, from the motherboard/OS point-of-view? After making some minor cable adjustments, Windows 7's Disk Management now app lists my C: HDD as Disk 0, my SSD drive as Disk 1, and my D: HDD as Disk 2. If this is incorrect, I'd like to fix it sooner than later.

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RE: Latest steps to install an SSD in an XPS 435MT (Windows 7 64-bit)?

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I believe all ports are STAT 2, so it should not matter.

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RE: Latest steps to install an SSD in an XPS 435MT (Windows 7 64-bit)?

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I seem to have reached an impasse. I copied my (bootable) C: HDD's contents to the SSD, disconnected the C: HDD, verified the BIOS' Boot Device Configuration > Hard Disk Boot Priority has the SSD as the 1st Drive, verified the Boot Device Configuration has the SSD as the 1st Boot Device; however, the PC fails to boot from the SSD. Instead, the Intel Matrix Storage Manager appears and is quickly replaced with an odd message:

CD-ROM Boot Priority ..No Medium
No boot device available
SATA 0 : None
SATA 1 : Installed
SATA 2 : Installed
SATA 3 : Installed

I'm unsure if SATA 0 displaying as "None" is significant.

The Windows Repair Disc doesn't list any operating systems to repair. It seems that the migration process is not leaving the SSD in a bootable state.

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