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November 16th, 2020 12:00

XPS 8940, add 2nd 3.5" HDD

My new XPS 8940 has a 256 GB SSD and a 2 TB 3.5" drive. I would like to add a 2nd 3.5" Hard Drive to the enclosure. The chassis currently has a couple of unused Hard Drive cages. One of them is 2.5" and appears to be riveted to the chassis. The other unused cage is slightly bigger and held in place with screws, but still looks to be too small to fit a 3.5" hard drive. 

Is there any way to replace one of the smaller unused hard drive cages with a 3.5" cage?

 

November 16th, 2020 21:00

The front top position is for 3.5. I moved mine from the front to the front top position (super easy). The rear top is 2.5 (you can fit two in there).

 

Page 12 of the service manual. 4 and 9 are the 3.5 HD cages. The riveted unnumbered one at the top back is 2.5

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November 16th, 2020 13:00

@the bbdudeThe picture on page 12 of the Service Manual shows two hard drive cages separated from the case and one attached to the chassis, so there appears to be three cages. The text below the picture does not indicate the size of the drive that go in those cages. The Setup and Specifications indicates there is only space for one 3.5" SATA drive and space for two 2.5" SATA drives.

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November 16th, 2020 14:00

Thanks Vic384,

Yes, I realize the design / specification of the chassis does not support more than one 3.5" HDD. My question was regarding a possible modification by replacing one of the 2.5" cages. Just wondering if anyone here has ever done anything similar?

 

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43.5K Posts

November 16th, 2020 16:00

@the bbdude

Lots of 2.5" SATA3 laptop HDDs that also work in desktops, so why not one of those? For example.

Or what about a 2.5" SATA SSD?

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November 16th, 2020 17:00

Thanks RoHe,

Actually I am planning to use this PC to host Blue Iris Security S/W and write multiple 4K IP Cam video streams to HDD.

I am hoping to use a Western Digital Purple Surveillance HDD, 10TB, 7200 RPM Class, SATA 6 Gb/s, 256 MB Cache, 3.5".

Probably can't find something with those specs in a 2.5" HDD.

 

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November 16th, 2020 17:00


@the bbdude wrote:

Thanks RoHe,

Actually I am planning to use this PC to host Blue Iris Security S/W and write multiple 4K IP Cam video streams to HDD.

I am hoping to use a Western Digital Purple Surveillance HDD, 10TB, 7200 RPM Class, SATA 6 Gb/s, 256 MB Cache, 3.5".

Probably can't find something with those specs in a 2.5" HDD.

 


Good luck with that...the specs say:

  • 3.5-inch hard drive
  • SATA AHCI, up to 6 Gbps
  • Up to 2 T

Don't know if that only applies to the boot drive. And for a PCI-e NMVE SSD, it also says: up to 2T.

So do you have to go to NAS?

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November 16th, 2020 20:00

Thanks for your reply Ron,

I was guessing that the Dell XPS8940 spec for the 3.5" drive says "Up to 2 TB" because that is the largest drive (customer ordering option limited to) they factory install in the XPS8940, ie I was assuming that a larger capacity drive could be installed for the drive but that just is not one of the Dell ordering options. Am I wrong here? Is there some system limitation (eg addressing range) that limits the maximum drive size to 2 TB?

 

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November 17th, 2020 11:00

@the bbdude  Good questions.

I don't know if there's an actual limit on size capacity of a HDD in this PC, or if that's Dell's own limit because that's the largest HDD they validated and offer in this model.

Here's another possible option. If you don't already have one, install a big PCI-e NVME SSD as your boot drive, remove the existing 3.5" HDD and install the large capacity HDD you want in that slot, with the caveat about whether a HDD >2T is supported. Or, if necessary, partition the big HDD into separate 2T drives, assuming your files will each be <2T.

You will have to format any HDD that's >2T as GPT because Windows MBR format has a max size limit of 2T.

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November 17th, 2020 13:00

@the bbdude  - I would assume the existing 2T HDD is GPT because Win 10 prefers format that over MBR, even below the 2T limit for MBR.

You will get faster boots and better performance if you install a PCI-e NVME SSD as your boot drive, especially if you'll be doing video processing, but that's your decision. You can clone the 2T HDD and move the image onto an NVME SSD, either with the cloning software that comes with the SSD or with Macrium Reflect (free).

If BIOS is currently set to RAID, rather than AHCI, you do have to take a couple extra software steps before doing the actual cloning, but they're all simple and easy.

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November 17th, 2020 13:00

Thanks kanadian-kaos and RoHe,

Both of you provided some valuable information.

kanadian-kaos - Previously I had the box opened a upon quick look-over concluded that the HDD cage marked '9' on page 12 of the Service Manual was a 2.5" cage. After seeing your response, I opened the box back up and measured cage #9 and I see that you are right it is big enough for a 3.5" HDD. Did you need any additional hardware to mount the HDD in cage #9 (other than some 6-32 screws)?

RoHe - I did not realize that a different format (GPT) would be needed for HDD > 2TB. Good to know. Given that, I think it would be less impactful to continue to use the existing 2TB HDD (it contains the user Documents directories) in addition to adding the 2nd 10TB HDD dedicated to surveillance data.

Before or after adding the new 10TB HDD, would I need to make any changes to the BIOS?

 

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November 17th, 2020 14:00


@the bbdude wrote:

Thanks again RoHe. I should have mentioned that I do already have a Factory installed 256 M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD for my C: (boot drive), in addition to the Factory installed 2TB HDD for D:, so the 10TB will be a 3rd drive I will add to the system.

 


Now you tell us...  

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November 17th, 2020 14:00

Thanks again RoHe. I should have mentioned that I do already have a Factory installed 256 M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD for my C: (boot drive), in addition to the Factory installed 2TB HDD for D:, so the 10TB will be a 3rd drive I will add to the system.

 

Moderator

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25K Posts

November 18th, 2020 01:00

Hi,

 

I hope you are doing good.

 

This computer is shipped with two empty 2.5-inch hard-drive cages and one SATA extension cable. The primary drive of your computer varies with the storage configuration. For computers:

  • with a M.2 solid-state drive, the M.2 solid-state drive is the primary drive
  • without a M.2 drive, the 3.5-inch hard drive is the primary drive

You would not be able to replace the unused hard drive cages with a 3.5" cage. Our support here is limited to the original configuration.

 

Regards,

Gopal

November 19th, 2020 07:00

@the bbdude 

Since I removed the hard drive from the front, and moved it to the top, I reused the screws. The top cage did not have any screws. Perhaps when you buy the new HD it will come with mounting screws, I assume?

 

No changes to the bios. It will auto detect it once you power it back up... I recall I did rename mine (in Windows) as I did not like the letter it was assigned.

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November 19th, 2020 08:00

@kanadian-kaos Purchased hard drives usually do not come with screws. The screw size is listed in the Service Manual, #6-32 x 1/4".

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