13 Replies Latest reply on Dec 11, 2010 8:52 AM by Indio22

    BIOS settings questions on first build

    Indio22 Level 1

      First build (i7-950, Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R, Mushkin 3x4ram, Gigabyte GTX-460 1MB Fermi, 3 hard drives).  I fired up the PC for the first time yesterday.  I was able to go into the BIOS.  Haven't gotten any further yet, because I have questions about the BIOS settings.


      In particular, I am confused about the BIOS IDE vs. AHCI settings for the SATA drives. For reference, I have the following installed:


      A) One Samsung F4 320gig hard drive that will be used as the boot/app drive (on SATA port O).
      B) Two Samsung F3 1TB hard drives for scratch disk/storage/etc (on SATA ports 1 and 2).
      C) One Asus CD/DVD writer (on SATA port 3).


      Currently in the BIOS, the three hard drives and DVD writer are all listed, so it seems at the least, the BIOS is recognizing the drives.

      The questions:


      1) Do I have the above drives assigned correctly, or should I have any of the drives installed on a different SATA port? (Looks like there are total of 9 SATA ports on the MB.)


      2) I think SATA ports 6 and 7 may have the higher speed SATA 3.0 available on them,  but I see no reason to use those ports at this time, since my drives can't communicate that fast anyway.  Am I correct in not using those ports?)


      3) It seems I must enable either AHCI or IDE control modes for the drives before installing the operating system (Windows 7)? I find pro and con arguments abound on the web for AHCI vs. IDE. I am confused. Anyone have a recommendation?


      Thanks for any advice.

        • 1. Re: BIOS settings questions on first build
          Harm Millaard Level 7

          1. Yes.


          2. Yes.


          3. AHCI is the preferred way, but check your BIOS manual and be aware that in some cases AHCI causes problems with mobo raids.

          • 2. Re: BIOS settings questions on first build
            Bill Gehrke Most Valuable Participant

            I think that to have more than 4 drives recognized you have to have AHCI enabled.  So for expansion pirposes you have to do that before you install the OS.


            • 3. Re: BIOS settings questions on first build
              Indio22 Level 1

              Ok thanks for the advice.  It seems on my Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R motherboard, there are three SATA controllers, and they can be set separately for either IDE or AHCI.  They are:


              A) Intel ICH10R for the ports 0 through 5. 

              B) Marvell 9128 for the ports 6 and 7 (those are the high speed 6.0 gb/s ports).

              C) Gigabyte/JMicron for the ports 8 and 9. 


              I think I will do the following:


              A) Enable AHCI for the Intel ports 0 through 5.  I will place my three Samsung hard drives on these.

              B) Enable AHCI on the Marvell ports 6 and 7 (even though nothing will be connected).  But at some future date when SSD prices are lower, perhaps I would want to connect an SSD to one of these faster ports.  From what I read, AHCI is recommended for SSD, so why not set these ports to AHCI now?

              C) Leave the Gigabyte/JMicron ports 8 and 9 set to IDE, and connect the CD/DVD writer to one of these.  (I read for this board the JMicron don't work so hot with AHCI anyway.)


              I plan to follow the "Guidelines for Disk Storage" provided by Harm, to use the hard drives as follows:


              C: OS, Programs, PageFile

              D: Media, Projects

              E: Previews, Media Cache, Exports


              To enact the above with the three drives, does it require making any particular choices as I am installing Windows 7?  Or are those choices made when I install CS5?


              Also one other thing, someone told me to disconnect all hard drives, save for the drive that will be used for the OS, before installing Windows 7.  The reason given: "so that it doesn’t install 100mb boot logger partition on one of the other drives."  Any opinions on this?  When installing the OS, is it better to only have one HD installed, and to install the other HDs only after the OS is installed?

              • 4. Re: BIOS settings questions on first build
                Harm Millaard Level 7

                Regarding A, B & C, that is a sound approach.


                Regarding the installation of Win7, look here Adobe Forums: Guide for installing and tuning a Vista...


                It also applies to Win7. There is no need to install disks after the OS, because they are not yet formatted when you install Win7, so they are not yet accessible by Win7.

                • 5. Re: BIOS settings questions on first build
                  Indio22 Level 1

                  When I set the SATA controller in the BIOS from IDE to AHCI, the hard drives are no longer listed in the BIOS.  (The DVD drive is still listed, because I moved it to a different SATA controller still set to IDE.)  Is this normal for the drives not to be recognized when AHCI is set?  Perhaps when I begin the Windows 7 install, then some drivers will be installed for AHCI to find the hard drives?

                  • 6. Re: BIOS settings questions on first build
                    Harm Millaard Level 7

                    When I configured my system, almost two years ago, I had difficulties with the AHCI settings to get my disks recognized, just like you are now. I decided to leave it at that and opted for IDE. That may be less than optimal if you believe everything said about it, but at least it works, and that is the ultimate test.


                    My system still can keep up up with systems that have more horse power or more memory, so even if it is said that AHCI is beneficial, I still have to see it, said the blind.

                    • 7. Re: BIOS settings questions on first build
                      Bill Gehrke Most Valuable Participant

                      Once you choose the setting and then load the OS it is extremely difficult to change it.  It apparently requires significant registry modifications among other things.  My old editing computer I set up as IDE and therefore never was able to go beyond four SATA ports--my Areca solved that . AHCI mode is enabled in the BIOS and 3 settings are commonly available: IDE, AHCI, and RAID. The last two (AHCI and RAID) require a driver and the F6 method when installing Windows otherwise the hard disks won't be detected.  Incidently, when you select RAID you automatically get ACHI.

                      • 8. Re: BIOS settings questions on first build
                        Harm Millaard Level 7
                        never was able to go beyond four SATA ports

                        With my IDE setup I have 7 SATA ports in use and one more available. 5 disks and 2 BR burners on the mobo.

                        • 9. Re: BIOS settings questions on first build
                          Indio22 Level 1

                          I burned up some time last couple days reading about this stuff, here is what I learned, feel free to correct any errors.


                          It does seem true that selecting IDE or AHCI in the BIOS, prior to installing the operating system, is the preferred way to go.  As mentioned, there are some work-arounds to make the change after the OS is installed, requiring some registry and other changes.


                          Motherboards may have multiple SATA controllers.  My Gigabyte UD3R motherboard has 4 different SATA controllers:  Intel ICH10R for six ports, Marvell 9128 for two high speed 6.0 gb/s ports, Gigabyte (really jMicron) for two additional ports, and a second jMicron JMB362 controller for two eSata ports.  Each of these controllers can be set independently in the BIOS to either IDE or AHCI modes.


                          My understanding is that Windows 7 has done away with the need to install a driver from a separate disk, at least for the Intel ICH10R SATA controller.  It should be possible to simply set the Intel controller to AHCI, and Windows 7 will take care of the driver during install.  (Although there is some argument about the merits of alternate drivers for the ICH10R.)


                          But for any of the other SATA controllers such as the Marvell or jMicron, a separate driver disk may be needed during the OS install even with Windows 7, to get these controllers to function as AHCI.  That seems a bit of a hassle.


                          In terms of performance, from my reading there is no clear cut advantage.  Some people say the AHCI adds a few seconds to boot times, and introduces some overhead compared to IDE.  But it is also mentioned that NCQ (Native Command Queuing) can give some of that back, assuming the hard drive supports NCQ.  Others say it is all a wash, and AHCI mainly shows benefit for servers, not for individual user PCs.  For sure there are two things AHCI offers: hot swap ability if the device supports it, and as mentioned AHCI seems required to enable the motherboard RAID.


                          The history?  Apparently AHCI was to take over for IDE on SATA, but IDE was left as the default to avoid problems for people with IDE devices.  The new devices were also made compatible with IDE for the same reason.  And now here we are several years later, and IDE is still in use.  The need to do the F6 separate disk driver OS install (for XP), and still today having to monkey around with separate driver disks in some cases, maybe has also contributed to the lack of uptake for AHCI.  Well that, and also there seems no clear cut benefit for the individual user.


                          Seems like if hot swap or on board RAID is desired, then go with AHCI.  If not, maybe avoid some hassle and stick with IDE.  I was game for giving AHCI a try, but seeing the hard drives disappear from the BIOS when I switch from IDE to AHCI, and the prospect of having to hunt down AHCI drivers for the non-Intel SATA controllers, is kind of cooling my jets.  Really, I just want to get this PC up and running this weekend with the OS installed, so I may just go IDE and call it a day, lol.


                          Note: none of the above is intended as expert information, and I don't feel qualified to comment on RAID with AHCI.  So take it all with a grain of salt.

                          • 10. Re: BIOS settings questions on first build
                            gtacyclist Level 1

                            You do now have a good understanding of AHCI. Indeed the easiest way to set it up is to enable AHCI on the BIOS for ALL interfaces (Intel, Marvel, Gigabyte - the last one controls eSATA) before installing Windows. You have the option of installing the Intel, Gigabyte, Marvell "F6" drivers during the initial Windows 7 setup (before the OS gets actually installed) but this is optional. You could just go ahead with the regular install without the "F6" drivers and Windows will install generic AHCI drivers since you have it selected in BIOS.


                            However, after the OS install is completed, it is best to now install the Intel, Gigabyte, and Marvell (just the driver, not the whole package for this one as this includes the Apache software) drivers. The Gigabyte eSATA drivers are faster than the generic drivers.


                            Benefit of AHCI that I find really useful is hot plug on the eSATA ports. This means I can just plug in external HDD and they will be recognized after a few seconds... no need to reboot or do anything... just like plugging in a USB stick or drive. To deactivate an external drive you just have to "disconnect" it first by selecting that option on the tray... again just like disconnecting a USB drive.


                            BTW, the Marvell SATA3 are unreliable in RAID mode... it  is better to go with a PCIx based card when setting up RAID as folks  here have been suggesting. Finally all the AHCI drivers for Gigabyte  motherboard (including Intel's Matrix Storage Drivers) can be found on  Gigabyte's website. Look up your motherboard, select the OS of choice  and download the drivers. The good thing about Gigabyte is they still  maintain support for older motherboards... I just did a fresh install of  ACHI drivers for Windows 7 for an older socket 775 based PC here at  home over the weekend... I upgraded the OS from XP to Win 7 x64.

                            1 person found this helpful
                            • 11. Re: BIOS settings questions on first build
                              ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                              The reason you have to have the Controller mode set to AHCI or Raid that the OS drive is attached to is because the driver for the OS controller is loaded into the HAL during setup. The HAL by default has the IDE driver already loaded so that will always be available even if you installed the OS with the controller mode set to raid. This means you can switch from Raid back to IDE mode anytime after you install the OS. However you cannot do that from AHCI atleast on the Intel controller that I have seen. It will BSOD the system on boot up. AHCI was meant to give you the functionality of a raid controller without the raid options. This was meant to increase performance for reading and writing operations due to the NCQ and instruction caching that is done to the system ram for the onboard controller. The other benefit is the the Hot Swapping ability available with AHCI and Raid. Many boards require the E-Sata controller to be set to raid or AHCI to even function due to both the Hot Swap capability and the NCQ. That is why those are the current standard for most HDD controllers now. The last benefit was due to Device ID. IDE required a Master and Slave ID per channel to function and have more than 1 port. AHCI and Raid controllers function like SCSI in that they just assign an ID number to the device and a port ID. That allows these controllers to handle an indefinite amount of ports or channels.




                              1 person found this helpful
                              • 12. Re: BIOS settings questions on first build
                                Bill Gehrke Most Valuable Participant

                                Thanks Eric for the update.

                                • 13. Re: BIOS settings questions on first build
                                  Indio22 Level 1

                                  I would like to thank all the commenters for helping me out with the SATA driver and settings questions.  I ended up setting all but the two Gigabyte 8 and 9 SATA ports to AHCI.  (I left these two Gigabyte ports set to IDE with the DVD drive on one port, with the second IDE port available in case I wanted in the future to install some other SATA device that does not play nice with AHCI.)  Then I installed Windows 7 and bingo - the three Samsung hard drives were found with AHCI.  Haven't got around yet to updating the Windows AHCI driver to Intel version, or updating the Marvell and jMIcron AHCI drivers.  But I am quite please after two months of collecting parts and PC knowledge, to be now typing this message on my new PC, which seems to be working with no major problems - knock on wood!


                                  Other good news is yesterday I received CS5 Premier Pro in the mail, so with any luck, will have that also up and running by end of weekend.