I bought a new Dimension E520 a couple of weeks ago. It came preinstalled w/ Vista Ultimate. I've beta tested software for Microsoft since 1996 and like wiping the hard drive and reformatting and doing clean OS installs.
My question is: if I use a disk erase, clean the entire hard drive, erase the partitions and factory image, can I boot a clean system w/ the Vista install DVD. When I attempted to do clean installs on a fresh hard drive w/ my previous system, the device DVD drivers weren't loaded and I couldn't boot from the Vista DVD. The system was 6 years old, so I thought that that might be part of the problem.
I know if I wipe the entire drive (500gb), the factory image is gone for good, and that's fine w/ me because there isn't anything extra I want from that configuration. The Vista DVD is the full version and not an upgrade, so I won't have to do the workarounds for a clean install. My biggest concern is the ability to boot from the Vista DVD w/ a clean hard drive.
Most of the common drivers (video, sound, network...) will be loaded by Windows DVD, now if you want to update to a newest version you can find at support.dell.com or to the manufacter website(like Nvidia or ATI). I cleaned install Vista Ultimate (Dell brand DVD) and no problem on Inspiron E1505, I have Dim E520 but I haven't received the upgrade Kit to use it on it... So you can go ahead and install it.
You should see and can set the Boot sequence in SETUP ( F2 ) on post/boot. Within SETUP you can change what boots first. At least that is how it works in my XPS 700 - Maybe that would help. No driver required to boot from DVD in bios.
put your Vista dvd in your drive, restart, tap the <f12> key to get the Boot Device Menu . Select "boot from cd/dvd rom, and click enter, then you will see "press any key to boot from cd rom" click enter again, your pc will restart, and boot to the DVD.