8 Krypton

XPS 435MT, SSD upgrade, mouse/audio stutter fix, Windows 10

 

Dell Studio XPS 435MT (Mini Tower)

SSD upgrade, mouse/audio stutter workaround, Windows 10 1803 clean install, 1809 upgrade

Dell%20Studio%20XPS%20435MT

Did this recently, so thought I'd post some of my notes. PC was still on original spinning HD and had been upgraded from Vista to Windows 7 to Windows 10 - but never a clean install.

SSD Upgrade

I was able to demonstrate two SSDs worked. I proved to myself I could get a "normal" 2.5" SSD working before trying the more obscure 1.8" target SSD.  For initial testing, I used a Crucial M4 2.5" 256 GB (with latest firmware), which worked fine.

The single target SSD, however, was a 1.8" Crucial C300 1.8" 256GB hand-me-down. This requires a SATA adapter and unlike 2.5" drives, uses 3.3V. I initially tried a powered 1.8" to 2.5" enclosure. It "bricked" the 1.8" SSD since the enclosure was underpowered - it converted 5V to 3.3V, but maxed out at only 1A with it's L1117 regulator chip, meaning it could only supply 3.3W to the SSD (the 256GB C300 needs 4.3W). I surmised that the native 435MT SATA Power connectors might have the 3.3V needed. So, I got a "dumb", pass-through SATA 1.8" to 2.5" Lenovo thirdy-party adapter, which worked (see related discussion here). Was then able to revive the SSD with the power cycle method, but SMART data indicated lots of errors had occured. To flush out the rest of the errors I used hdparm from a GParted USB stick to do an Enhanced Secure Erase on the drive, which took about 2 minutes. That flushed out some Erase errors. Drive has not reported any errors since.

I usually try to maximize performance on an upgrade, but the native SATA II (theoretical 300 MB/s, actual about 270 MB/s) is pretty much it due to the limited bandwidth of the PCIe 1.x x1 (250 MB/s theoretical) expansion slots in the 435MT.

SSD performance (with BIOS set to RAID mode) I got for each of the two drives in CrystalDiskMark screen captures below (note a more recent SSD like the Samsung 860 would give higher 4K numbers):

Crucial C300 1.8 256GB - Dell 435MT - Intel RST 11.7.4.1001 RAID driver.pngCrucial M4 256GB - Dell 435MT- Intel RST 11.7.4.1001 RAID driver.png

With the SSD, the machine is a pleasure to use again - no more waiting on the spinning hard drive.

Windows 10 Clean Install

I let Windows 10 supply all the drivers with two exceptions. For the X58 chipset, I used the Intel 9.2.0.1030 Chipset driver for Intel 5 Series from here (zip format here) running infinst_autol.exe with "-overall" and "-overide" switches. This was done right after the Windows 10 install and before connecting to the internet (I didn't want Windows Update to run until after I had installed drivers I specifically wanted to). I also used an older Intel RST driver to fix the Mouse/Audio Stutter issue (details below). This was also installed prior to connecting to the internet.

Windows Updated from the clean installed version 1803 to 1809 automatically once connect to the internet. I have not noticed any problems after the upgrade.

Mouse/Audio Stutter Workaround

BIOS had been set to ATA (aka Legacy IDE or PATA) mode (not sure why), so it did not incur the mouse and audio stuttering issue when Windows 10 v1803 came out - seems this only occurs in RAID mode. Links on the issue here and here.

Since setting the BIOS to ATA mode is one possible work-around for the issues, here is the corresponding CrystalDiskMark decreased performance of the Crucial C300 1.8" SSD for comparison (compare with RAID setting above, note how 4K multi-queue and multi-thread numbers take a hit):

Crucial C300 1.8 256GB - Dell 435MT - ATA-IDE.png

I think TRIM is supported in ATA mode and the SSD seems to work fine (and even the reduced SSD performance is much better than a spinning HD), but since RAID has higher performance due to drive command queuing, I switched BIOS to RAID (which is a superset of AHCI).

To get around the mouse and audio stuttering introduced with the RAID driver in W10 v1803 I used an older Intel RST 11.7.4.1001 driver (available from winraid here). (Note I'm only using the driver, not any software to create/manage RAID volumes.) Intel RST install was done using Device Manager - have disk and all that pointing to the folder with the expanded downloaded driver.

Others have reported using using Intel RST 11.7.0.1013 and 13.6.0.1002 to resolve the issue here.

Minor Issue

There's one minor unresolved issue - I'm not sure when it showed up (although it does NOT occur when BIOS is set to ATA mode). The OS C: drive shows up as an Ejectable device. I suspect I could get rid of it if I totally uninstalled the default Windows 10 RAID driver (v15.x or something, IIRC) and all it's settings or maybe installed the desired RAID driver with the F6 method during the initial W10 install so the W10 default RAID driver was never installed.

System with Changes

HWiNFO64 of current system (note PC is still on original PSU):

Dell 435MT - HWiNFO64.png

For what this PC is used for (web browsing, mostly), it's capabilities and performance are overkill. The SSD is probably it's final upgrade (with the exception of a pending USB 3.0 hand-me-down PCIe card). The machine will probably only be replaced if it has a HW failure or a Windows 10 Update breaks it (even then, I may see if Ubuntu or some other flavor of Linux will run on it).

0 Kudos
6 Replies
8 Krypton

Re: Studio XPS 435MT - SSD upgrade, mouse/audio stutter fix,


@Techgee wrote:

 

I usually try to maximize performance on an upgrade, but the native SATA II (theoretical 300 MB/s, actual about 280 MB/s) is pretty much it 

 


While not ideal, I have also found that installing a SATA-3/600-SSD into an older machine (that is limited to SATA-2/300) is still a worthy upgrade.

Not only are IOPS off-the-scale better ... the actual thru-put of the SSD is still about 2-3 times faster than a spinning-HDD can ever achieve. 

I make it a point to never install Intel-RST or anything similar. I just use the included Microsoft SATA drivers.

 


Registered Microsoft Partner and Apple Developer
- Like many of you, I can appreciate a good game-engine.
- I answer questions here, but I'm not a Dell employee.
- Consider giving posts you like a "thumbs-up"
- Posting models-numbers and software versions speeds trouble-shooting.
- Click "Accept as Solution" button on any post that answers your question best.
0 Kudos
8 Krypton

Re: Studio XPS 435MT - SSD upgrade, mouse/audio stutter fix,


@Tesla1856 wrote:

I make it a point to never install Intel-RST or anything similar. I just use the included Microsoft SATA drivers.


I usually do the same.  Probably explains why I set the BIOS to ATA mode and not RAID way back - I likely mistook the ATA setting for SATA, which it's not.

Unlike other systems that have SATA (or AHCI) and RAID modes, the Dell Studio XPS 435MT only has ATA and RAID modes selectable in the BIOS.  (I believe ATA is also known as PATA or Legacy IDE.)

ATA doesn't have disk command queuing and, as you can see with CrystalDiskMark, the 4K multi-queue / multi-thread performance numbers really take a hit.  However, even in ATA mode, and with the circa 2010 Crucial C300 SSD, the system is so much more responsive than the old spinning hard drive.

0 Kudos
8 Krypton

Re: Studio XPS 435MT - SSD upgrade, mouse/audio stutter fix,


@Techgee wrote:

@Tesla1856 wrote:

I make it a point to never install Intel-RST or anything similar. I just use the included Microsoft SATA drivers.


1. the Dell Studio XPS 435MT only has ATA and RAID modes selectable in the BIOS. 

2. I believe ATA is also known as PATA or Legacy IDE.)

 


2. That sounds about right ... the older/slower way.

1. If that is the case ... yes, RAID would be the correct selection. IIRC, back-in-the-day that was called a "single-disk RAID" (but nothing was actually RAID-ed). 


Registered Microsoft Partner and Apple Developer
- Like many of you, I can appreciate a good game-engine.
- I answer questions here, but I'm not a Dell employee.
- Consider giving posts you like a "thumbs-up"
- Posting models-numbers and software versions speeds trouble-shooting.
- Click "Accept as Solution" button on any post that answers your question best.
0 Kudos
meddah4
6 Indium

Re: XPS 435MT, SSD upgrade, mouse/audio stutter fix, Windows

Yeah, I think my Studio XPS 435mt is finally reaching the end of it's capabilities. I've gone the upgrade route several times and am using it browse the web. I just happen to notice your post so I dropped in to see what you're doing. My compliments to you that you're still using your 435mt machine. I've had mine for 10 yrs. and the only things I didn't change was the i7 920 processor and Foxconn motherboard. Had Raid 1 but returned to the old configuration. I installed a 1tb WD ssd sata 3 nand last year but I declined to upgrade to Windows 10.

Takes more than a minute to load and sometimes needs a few seconds more to figure out new devices. Even though the system rating is 7.1, I figure with the little i7 920, Windows 10 would be taxing. Would need to a bios upgrade that will allow it to clock it up but I don't see that happening.

Next year, Microsoft plans to end it's support for Windows 7 so I'm planning on building a new browsing machine. Right now, the 435mt is still my daily butt buster. I originally bought it to game, it's still fast enough for browsing and handles daily work tasks without fail. I still watch videos on it. Installed bigger fans, an x58 heat sink mod to keep it cool. Blessing is it rarely crashes.

One of the best upgrades was adding USB 3.0 card. A sound card was too. Wireless card worked well but I deemed it unnecessary and removed it.

Video cards, that's another matter to speak of. I had to remove my card reader to get the newer video cards in. The I/O inputs and space on the bottom are pretty cramped. I'm using an old Xfx HD7850 2gb with the fan shroud off (fan is mounted on the cooler). I had an EVGA Nvidia geforce gtx 970 ssc 4gb which fit in without mods. Stutters if I play games on it now.

I was using a Creative Sound and a wireless card but I sacrificed the slot space to exhaust airflow.

My mouse is a Gigabyte M 8000x Ghost and a Logitech 360 wireless keyboard. Was fast enough for Battlefield 4 which I think is a compliment to the i7 920 and motherboard.

I'm sure it could last a few more years but with larger 64 bit programs, time is dating it's capabilities. I hate retiring such a wonderful machine. The biggest drawbacks are not being able to upgrade the motherboard bios and running high speed ddr3 memory than 1300 mhz.  I guess if changed the motherboard that would solve it but new boards for the i7 920 aren't available and the clock speed probably wouldn't surpass 3.0.

0 Kudos
8 Krypton

Re: XPS 435MT, SSD upgrade, mouse/audio stutter fix, Windows


@meddah4 wrote:

Takes more than a minute to load and sometimes needs a few seconds more to figure out new devices. Even though the system rating is 7.1, I figure with the little i7 920, Windows 10 would be taxing. Would need to a bios upgrade that will allow it to clock it up but I don't see that happening.

Windows 10 takes 35 seconds to come up from a cold boot on mine.  After entering password, it's 3 seconds to the desktop.  A clean install of Windows 10 and the SSD helped.  I've got Fast Startup/Boot on in both BIOS and Windows 10.


@meddah4 wrote:

I'm sure it could last a few more years but with larger 64 bit programs, time is dating it's capabilities. I hate retiring such a wonderful machine. The biggest drawbacks are not being able to upgrade the motherboard bios and running high speed ddr3 memory than 1300 mhz.  I guess if changed the motherboard that would solve it but new boards for the i7 920 aren't available and the clock speed probably wouldn't surpass 3.0.


If you take a look at the HWiNFO screen I posted above, you'll see I'm running an Intel Xeon W3580, which has a 3.33 GHz base clock.  I don't recommend it, but I've overclocked it to 3.73 GHz here.  You can get a used W3580 on ebay for like $35.  If you don't care about overclocking or having the absolute fastest CPU for the machine, a used Intel Xeon W3565 with 3.2 GHz base clock is around $8 on ebay.  These are all quad core CPUs.  Info on CPUs that work here.

Dell not releasing a BIOS update to support hex core CPUs was my biggest disappointment.  The ability to load up on memory capacity (I've got 24 GB) made up for the limited RAM clock speed for me.  Poor air-flow from too-small air intake at the front, bottom of the machine was another disappointment.  And, I'll probably never buy another desktop that only has x1 PCIe slots - having a x8 and x4 expansion slots can greatly extend life of a machine (allow upgrading to latest USB and storage speeds).

But, can't complain too much about a ten year run.

meddah4
6 Indium

Re: XPS 435MT, SSD upgrade, mouse/audio stutter fix, Windows

Don't think this idea you shared about supplanting an i7 920 with a Xeon 3580 has gone and disappeared into the netscape. Actually, it's burning a hole in the back of my head the past 5 months. I'm finishing up a (not so old) 3770k and I'll soon implement master plan 435/3580. Thank you.

It was easy to throw away the Pentium machines but I can't stop tinkering and tweaking the small i7 machine. Maybe because solutions keep coming around. Maybe because it's been around so long it's like a bad habit that won't go away. The fascination of satisfying a mechanized itch or fix entertains me. Thanks for that wonderful tip.

0 Kudos