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Any Difference in Running HDD in SATA or IDE?

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March 1, 2008 9:12:23 AM

I hope this isn't a stupid question.

I found out the hard way that before you can setup RAID you have to enable it in SATA mode but before you can do that you have to load the drivers before you install the OS or else your OS will not boot (if I understand correctly).

Now I have no wish to RAID my HDDs at this point but I was wondering if running your HDD is SATA mode vs IDE mode makes a difference in performance.
March 3, 2008 7:22:09 AM

Running your HDD in SATA mode vs. IDE mode is not a choice. Any HDD is either SATA or IDE (=PATA) (or SCSI or SAS or ...), it's the physical connector, not software.

Maybe you meant something else?
March 3, 2008 12:50:21 PM

You are probably talking about the Intel-chipset BIOS selector that allows you to select "IDE", "AHCI", or "RAID" for the SATA ports on the motherboard. (Some other chipsets have a similar selector, something like "Legacy IDE"/"RAID", or "IDE"/"SATA").

Basically this setting determines what driver is required to use the SATA ports. If you put the chipset in "IDE" or "Legacy IDE" mode, then no special driver is required - Windows XP and Vista will both use a generic IDE driver to install the OS and to access other hard drives on the SATA ports. However, you do not get the advanced features of SATA (hot swap, NCQ) in this mode.

Putting the chipset in "SATA" or "AHCI" mode gives you those extra features, but you need the manufacturer's special driver instead of the generic IDE driver. If you want to boot your OS off a HD that's connected while the selector is in this mode, you have to load the driver during OS setup using F6.

Putting the chipset in "RAID" mode invokes the POST screen that allows you to set up a RAID configuration. This mode generally also requires a special driver if you want to boot off the RAID array.

To change from one driver to another after the OS is installed, you will need to follow the procedure in the sticky at the top of the Hard Disk forum called "Switching Storage Controllers without Reinstalling Windows."
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March 3, 2008 2:05:38 PM

SomeJoe7777 said:
Basically this setting determines what driver is required to use the SATA ports. If you put the chipset in "IDE" or "Legacy IDE" mode, then no special driver is required - Windows XP and Vista will both use a generic IDE driver to install the OS and to access other hard drives on the SATA ports. However, you do not get the advanced features of SATA (hot swap, NCQ) in this mode.

Putting the chipset in "SATA" or "AHCI" mode gives you those extra features, but you need the manufacturer's special driver instead of the generic IDE driver. If you want to boot your OS off a HD that's connected while the selector is in this mode, you have to load the driver during OS setup using F6.

Regarding the 1st paragraph: Well put and concise :) 

Regarding the 2nd paragraph: XP needs the f6 driver/floppy (which can also be slipstreamed prior to install) and XP has issues with AHCI. Vista on the other hand works fine with AHCI and can use floppy/usb/slipstream (maybe cd?) for the drivers during the install process.
March 3, 2008 2:32:51 PM

if you aren't using RAID, dont set it to raid. end of story.
Anonymous
March 3, 2008 2:57:49 PM

valis said:
if you aren't using RAID, dont set it to raid. end of story.



This isn't correct actually. You can set the one hard drive to raid in case you plan on doing a raid later on. You may need to do an F6 to install the drivers for the Raid support. Vista usually supports the RAID and AHCI option, but not always.

If you don't plan on hot swapping your hard drives, don't have an e-sata connection or don't plan on doing raid, then you can probably just select IDE mode.

There wont be a huge difference in performance.
March 3, 2008 6:30:02 PM

gwolfman said:
XP needs the f6 driver/floppy (which can also be slipstreamed prior to install) and XP has issues with AHCI. Vista on the other hand works fine with AHCI and can use floppy/usb/slipstream (maybe cd?) for the drivers during the install process.


Yes, XP must load drivers off a floppy during OS setup, Vista extends this to floppy/CD/USB. But you still must hit F6, and you still must have the necessary drivers available, otherwise the setup program will not find a hard disk to install onto.

I have used AHCI drivers on multiple occasions with XP and have not had any problems.
March 3, 2008 7:22:10 PM

SomeJoe7777 said:
Yes, XP must load drivers off a floppy during OS setup, Vista extends this to floppy/CD/USB. But you still must hit F6, and you still must have the necessary drivers available, otherwise the setup program will not find a hard disk to install onto.

I have used AHCI drivers on multiple occasions with XP and have not had any problems.


I can use the ahci drivers in xp no problem, but for the life of me can't get them to work on 64 bit vista ultimate even if I download the newest ones from asus. I have a p5k-e wifi.
March 3, 2008 7:51:13 PM

ahci is very nice if you use esata or have a ncq compatible hard drive. Personally I always use it, if for nothing else in that it's the way Sata was meant to be used.

The F6 issue is probably the number one reason why I hate XP with a passion. Floppy disks? Are you kidding me? I haven't had a floppy disk in my computer since the 90's. I can't believe that they never updated that. XP was outdated before it released, and that was almost 7 years ago. Wow.
March 3, 2008 8:38:54 PM

bardia said:
The F6 issue is probably the number one reason why I hate XP with a passion. Floppy disks? Are you kidding me? I haven't had a floppy disk in my computer since the 90's. I can't believe that they never updated that.


Yes, loading drivers via floppy is quite a pain. Fortunately, it's easy these days to create a Windows XP CD-ROM with your drivers slipstreamed, thanks to useful tools like NLite. Plus, you can put service packs in at the same time, shortening the overall install time.
March 3, 2008 9:21:33 PM

Thanks. I slipstreamed a few SP2 cds the hard way back in the day. Didn't know it was easier these days.
March 6, 2008 5:45:16 PM

Anonymous said:

If you don't plan on hot swapping your hard drives, don't have an e-sata connection or don't plan on doing raid, then you can probably just select IDE mode.

There wont be a huge difference in performance.


Actually, NCQ reduces desktop performance.
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