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SSD install on Dell XPS 8500

repitall 527 July 27, 2012 at 12:52 PM
I haven't bought a pre-built system in years, but needed to get one up and running quickly, so
I ordered a Dell XPS 8500, which I should get next week. I plan on putting an SSD in it. It comes with a SATA III 1TB drive which I will use as a secondary drive.
I plan on creating a set of recovery disks, downloading all current drivers, then installing the SSD using those disks and then reformat the 1 TB drive. Am I missing something?

The XPS 8500 has a mSATA connection which is typically used for a caching SSD. Any reason I shouldn't used this as the primary drive connection or will it even work?

I also need an eSATA and Firewire connection. Any one know of a PCIe card that has both. Or even a USB 3.0 hub with both on it. My searching comes up with nothing. There may not be room for 2 separate cards.

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#2
What your saying for the SSD should work, I would just put the SSD on the normal SATA port since thats what the drive you order will likely have anyways. The computer will have several SATA ports. The hard drive is more likely a SATA II not SATA III, put the SSD on a SATA III if it has one.

There are cables you can buy that will connect an internal SATA port to make it an eSATA port. It's up to the computer's bios if it will be Plug and Play though. I highly doubt any PCIe Cards will have both Firewire and eSATA on one card. USB3 wont't for sure since Firewire works way differently. This is a larger case it looks like in the picture so I would think it would work. I would think you should be able to find the specs of the motherboard and see how many slots it has.
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#3
I'm thinking that there will already be an eSata port on your new Dell.
I bought my XPS approx. 2 1/2 years ago, and it included eSata, but I suppose there is a chance that Dell feels that eSata is on the way out, being replaced by USB3.
I guess you've already scoured all the documentation, and haven't found an eSata port, is that correct?

I have a question about those recovery discs one can make. It's something I have never done and what I would like to know is if those discs can install onto any size drive, just as the OP wishes to do.
I commonly use the Windows System Image, but as y'all well know, it does have that limitation of requiring a minimum size of the partition that is came from, so the recovery system may be a lot more useful in some cases, assuming that yes, in fact, you can use them on any size of hard drive that can accommodate an OS.
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L7: Teacher
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#4
Quote from LiquidRetro View Post :
What your saying for the SSD should work, I would just put the SSD on the normal SATA port since thats what the drive you order will likely have anyways. The computer will have several SATA ports. The hard drive is more likely a SATA II not SATA III, put the SSD on a SATA III if it has one.

There are cables you can buy that will connect an internal SATA port to make it an eSATA port. It's up to the computer's bios if it will be Plug and Play though. I highly doubt any PCIe Cards will have both Firewire and eSATA on one card. USB3 wont't for sure since Firewire works way differently. This is a larger case it looks like in the picture so I would think it would work. I would think you should be able to find the specs of the motherboard and see how many slots it has.
It is a SATA III drive, according to the spec's. It has 4 slots, 1 of them is for the Graphics card which covers a second slot. All pictures show a modem in a slot, but it is not listed in the spec's, so worse case is I should have 2 open slots. There are only 4 internal SATA connections, so I don't think I will have an extra with the drives I plan on installing, including a rack mount drive in a 5 1/2" bay.

Thanks for the input.
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L7: Teacher
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#5
Quote from RockySosua View Post :
I'm thinking that there will already be an eSata port on your new Dell.
I bought my XPS approx. 2 1/2 years ago, and it included eSata, but I suppose there is a chance that Dell feels that eSata is on the way out, being replaced by USB3.
I guess you've already scoured all the documentation, and haven't found an eSata port, is that correct?

I have a question about those recovery discs one can make. It's something I have never done and what I would like to know is if those discs can install onto any size drive, just as the OP wishes to do.
I commonly use the Windows System Image, but as y'all well know, it does have that limitation of requiring a minimum size of the partition that is came from, so the recovery system may be a lot more useful in some cases, assuming that yes, in fact, you can use them on any size of hard drive that can accommodate an OS.

Yep, no eSATA

Thats why I am asking about those recovery disks, I don't know if this is gonna work.
Any other way to do it? Maybe shrink the drive and clone it? But really wanted a clean install

I guess I should place the connection issues on hold til I get my hands on the box.
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#6
Quote from repitall View Post :
Yep, no eSATA

Thats why I am asking about those recovery disks, I don't know if this is gonna work.
Any other way to do it? Maybe shrink the drive and clone it? But really wanted a clean install

I guess I should place the connection issues on hold til I get my hands on the box.
There are some combo cards and/or adapters that provide both eSata and firewire.
This [microcenter.com] may be a poor example for your use, but it goes to show that combo cards are available by Googling them. (I just happened across this one)

Hopefully, you won't get the surprise that I got with my XPS, that apart from the PCIe slot, the three others in there were mini PCI (I don't know the correct term) that are l inch long or less.
I had to search long and hard to find a Sound Blaster card for mine.
As I use wifi, I went with a USB model that works like a charm.
You'll have to look inside to find out the size of the available slots, before ordering anything to go in there.
The attached pic is not from my actual computer (it's from an XPS 9000) but it does show examples of those tiny PCI slots.

OK... Now for the good news. In this land of bad electricity that I live in, my XPS has proven to be way more resistant than most, specially comparing it to any home built machines.
The only PC's that last a long time here are the Dells and the HP's, so if you're a bit inconvenienced right now by your XPS having fewer ports than you might have liked to have, once you have worked it all out, you'll have one heck of a good, solid, reliable machine.
Just as an example, right after buying my XPS, my buddy wanted something similar, only with more options, and he went with a $300 Asus board, same i7 processor as I have and a jumbo GPU and PSU.
He is on his 2nd mobo now (a Sabertooth) and two of his hard drives have fried too.
You may not have the bad power problems like we have, but it's still nice to know that the PC you bought, is rough and tough and should be with you for a very long time.
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#7
Quote from repitall View Post :
It is a SATA III drive, according to the spec's. It has 4 slots, 1 of them is for the Graphics card which covers a second slot. All pictures show a modem in a slot, but it is not listed in the spec's, so worse case is I should have 2 open slots. There are only 4 internal SATA connections, so I don't think I will have an extra with the drives I plan on installing, including a rack mount drive in a 5 1/2" bay.

Thanks for the input.
I think you are confusing SATA Revision II which is 3Gb and SATA Revision III which is 6Gb http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seri...bit.2Fs.29

Very few hard drives actually have a SATA III 6Gb connection on them since they can't even saturate an older SATA II connection. If they do it's pretty much just marketing. However the SATA III connection is useful for the SSD since they can take advantage of the increase in available bandwidth in the newer connection. So it matters less what the hard drive says, and more what the motherboard has in your case.

If you are running into this much problem fitting everything you need, you might consider a different model with more connections, or building your own so you can pick a board with the stuff you need. You can get parts equality as quick if you order from one place, and building only takes an hour or two. Or consider some network attached storage or something like that.

Quote from repitall View Post :
Yep, no eSATA

Thats why I am asking about those recovery disks, I don't know if this is gonna work.
Any other way to do it? Maybe shrink the drive and clone it? But really wanted a clean install

I guess I should place the connection issues on hold til I get my hands on the box.
Ya I would wait if you could, till you see what you actually have. You should have no troubles reinstalling just burn the recovery disk or order one through dell. The key verifies with the dell bios. It will be simple. No need to shink and clone (Although this is the same as the recovery partition)
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#8
Quote from LiquidRetro View Post :
No need to shink and clone (Although this is the same as the recovery partition)
Just to be 100% sure, you're saying that the recovery discs can be made from his 1tb drive and then installed onto his SSD, correct?
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L7: Teacher
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Original Poster
#9
Quote from RockySosua View Post :
There are some combo cards and/or adapters that provide both eSata and firewire.
This [microcenter.com] may be a poor example for your use, but it goes to show that combo cards are available by Googling them. (I just happened across this one)

Hopefully, you won't get the surprise that I got with my XPS, that apart from the PCIe slot, the three others in there were mini PCI (I don't know the correct term) that are l inch long or less.
I had to search long and hard to find a Sound Blaster card for mine.
As I use wifi, I went with a USB model that works like a charm.
You'll have to look inside to find out the size of the available slots, before ordering anything to go in there.
The attached pic is not from my actual computer (it's from an XPS 9000) but it does show examples of those tiny PCI slots.

OK... Now for the good news. In this land of bad electricity that I live in, my XPS has proven to be way more resistant than most, specially comparing it to any home built machines.
The only PC's that last a long time here are the Dells and the HP's, so if you're a bit inconvenienced right now by your XPS having fewer ports than you might have liked to have, once you have worked it all out, you'll have one heck of a good, solid, reliable machine.
Just as an example, right after buying my XPS, my buddy wanted something similar, only with more options, and he went with a $300 Asus board, same i7 processor as I have and a jumbo GPU and PSU.
He is on his 2nd mobo now (a Sabertooth) and two of his hard drives have fried too.
You may not have the bad power problems like we have, but it's still nice to know that the PC you bought, is rough and tough and should be with you for a very long time.
Yeah, saw the one that uses a 5 1/2" bay. problem is the XPS only has 2 bays and was gonna use one for a rack mount drive. I can always just use a USB3 enclose to solve this issue.

The new XPS have 1 - PCIe x16, 3 - PCIe X1 and 1 Mini PCIe

I live in the Lightning Capitol of the World Tampa, Fl. and also have huge power issues constantly.
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L7: Teacher
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Original Poster
#10
Quote from LiquidRetro View Post :
I think you are confusing SATA Revision II which is 3Gb and SATA Revision III which is 6Gb http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seri...bit.2Fs.29

Very few hard drives actually have a SATA III 6Gb connection on them since they can't even saturate an older SATA II connection. If they do it's pretty much just marketing. However the SATA III connection is useful for the SSD since they can take advantage of the increase in available bandwidth in the newer connection. So it matters less what the hard drive says, and more what the motherboard has in your case.

If you are running into this much problem fitting everything you need, you might consider a different model with more connections, or building your own so you can pick a board with the stuff you need. You can get parts equality as quick if you order from one place, and building only takes an hour or two. Or consider some network attached storage or something like that.



Ya I would wait if you could, till you see what you actually have. You should have no troubles reinstalling just burn the recovery disk or order one through dell. The key verifies with the dell bios. It will be simple. No need to shink and clone (Although this is the same as the recovery partition)
I know I shouldn't be complaining about these issues when I could have built one myself. I may be asking too much from this particular configuration. Just had the need to get one done quickly and jumped on this Refurb from Dell Outlet. I'll figure out the connection issues. I am just concerned about doing my first SSD without using a retail version or OEM version of Windows
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#11
Quote from RockySosua View Post :
Just to be 100% sure, you're saying that the recovery discs can be made from his 1tb drive and then installed onto his SSD, correct?
Yes, it should work that way. Once up and runnning on the SSD he will have to erase the HD via a boot disk like linux to get rid of the MBR on it by formatting. Boot to windows and format as NTFS and good to go.

Quote from repitall View Post :
I know I shouldn't be complaining about these issues when I could have built one myself. I may be asking too much from this particular configuration. Just had the need to get one done quickly and jumped on this Refurb from Dell Outlet. I'll figure out the connection issues.
Ya that looks like a pretty good price, building that would be tough without a few SD and rebates.
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L7: Teacher
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Original Poster
#12
I just spoke to Dell XPS support and they would not guarantee that a recovery CD would install an SSD properly. If not, you would have to use a Win 7 disk and then use their license key.
They could not answer the question about shrinking the partitions first.

Just wondering if anyone has actually successfully installed an SSD with the Dell Recovery CD.
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#13
download the iso http://www.mydigitallife.info/dow...oad-links/
and do a clean install.
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#14
Quote from LiquidRetro View Post :
Yes, it should work that way. Once up and runnning on the SSD he will have to erase the HD via a boot disk like linux to get rid of the MBR on it by formatting. Boot to windows and format as NTFS and good to go.
.
I'm not sure why he would have to get rid of the MBR, but if one wants to, it can be done with Windows, in Disk Management, deleting the partitions and then you can make a new one.
If it were me, I would leave the first drive intact, to have a dual boot option, just in case of a serious virus attack, or hard drive failure, etc.
Only one OS will be working at a time, so there will be no activation conflicts.
I always have a dual boot on my bigger machines.
If I go to fire it up because I want to do something, I don't want to have to deal with any problem that prevents me from doing so, so I'll boot up into the other OS, do what I want/need to do, then deal with the problem on the other one, when I have time.
Quote from repitall View Post :
I just spoke to Dell XPS support and they would not guarantee that a recovery CD would install an SSD properly. If not, you would have to use a Win 7 disk and then use their license key.
They could not answer the question about shrinking the partitions first.

Just wondering if anyone has actually successfully installed an SSD with the Dell Recovery CD.
Me too, I want/need to know.
As for the Dell reps not knowing the answer to that question, there can be a couple of reasons, one being that they would prefer to sell you the SSD than give you info and the other is, that just like me, they simply have not tried to do it.
The world of affordable SSD's is relatively new, and in the past, when people used recovery discs, it was either on the same size hard drive, or if they upgraded, invariably it would be a bigger one, as opposed to the new trend that has us upgrading into smaller hard drives.
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L7: Teacher
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#15
Quote from RockySosua View Post :
If it were me, I would leave the first drive intact, to have a dual boot option, just in case of a serious virus attack, or hard drive failure, etc.

Would like to do this, but remember my bays and SATA connections are limited. Typical of a mini tower PC

As for the Dell reps not knowing the answer to that question, there can be a couple of reasons, one being that they would prefer to sell you the SSD than give you info and the other is, that just like me, they simply have not tried to do it.
The world of affordable SSD's is relatively new, and in the past, when people used recovery discs, it was either on the same size hard drive, or if they upgraded, invariably it would be a bigger one, as opposed to the new trend that has us upgrading into smaller hard drives.
Dell does not offer an SSD on the XPS 8500 as an option
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