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SSD Setup/Installation Questions

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July 7, 2011 5:07:55 PM

Hello everyone,

I am debating the purchase of the new Dell XPS 15 (Model number: L502X) with a second generation sandy bridge Intel processor. I plan on purchasing the machine with a regular magnetic drive, and then upgrading to an SSD myself.

Questions:

1.) Can I just swap out the magnetic hard drive with an SSD, and literally just boot my machine to the windows 7 installation disc and do a fresh install on the spot? Or is it more complicated than plug and play? (I will for sure follow an SSD optimization guide, but I am just talking about the initial installation of windows 7 on a blank SSD)

2.) I have read a lot about the SATA interface being able to restrict speeds of an SSD if it is not a SATA III 6 Gbps interface. I would love to purchase a 6 Gbps SATA III SSD but do not know if the Dell XPS 15 L502X can even support it as I do not know if it has a SATA III interface.

All help is greatly appreciated!
a c 124 G Storage
July 7, 2011 5:24:11 PM

Welcome to Tom's Hardware Forum!

It is not possible to just swap out the disk and re-install the OS.

Instead, you can 'clone' the existing hard disk onto the new SSD and then install the new SSD in place of the old hard disk. This will work if the used size of the hard disk is smaller than the total size of the SSD.

Windows 7 can be uninstalled and re-installed on a different hard disk only if you have the 'Retail' version and complete DVD of Windows. Not from the re-installation CD/DVD supplied by Dell along with a new Dell computer.

Regarding the interface. The SSD will step down to the interface that the motherboard will support.

Overall, cost wise, this may be a better strategy than buying the laptop with the SSD pre-installed at Dell's prices. (Later, put the old hard disk in an enclosure and use it as an external storage device).
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July 7, 2011 5:30:32 PM

Ubrales said:
Welcome to Tom's Hardware Forum!

It is not possible to just swap out the disk and re-install the OS.

Instead, you can 'clone' the existing hard disk onto the new SSD and then install the new SSD in place of the old hard disk. This will work if the used size of the hard disk is smaller than the total size of the SSD.


Thanks for the welcome!

So any time someone wants to change their boot drive to an SSD, they must somehow clone another hard drive with an existing Win7 install? This does not make sense to me. What about those that build their own PC from scratch? They can't just put an SSD in their tower without using clone software first?
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a c 124 G Storage
July 7, 2011 5:36:17 PM

shfiftyfive said:
Thanks for the welcome!

So any time someone wants to change their boot drive to an SSD, they must somehow clone another hard drive with an existing Win7 install? This does not make sense to me. What about those that build their own PC from scratch? They can't just put an SSD in their tower without using clone software first?

It all depends on what type of Win 7 licence you have; Retail Vs OEM.

The 'Retail' version can be uninstalled and installed on a different SSD or hard disk without any issues; not the OEM version (this is what Dell installs).
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July 7, 2011 5:50:25 PM

Ubrales said:
It all depends on what type of Win 7 licence you have; Retail Vs OEM.

The 'Retail' version can be uninstalled and installed on a different SSD or hard disk without any issues; not the OEM version (this is what Dell installs).

I plan on using a Windows 7 retail install disk and using the Windows 7 product key that comes with the computer (the sticker at the bottom) to activate it. Would that work?
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a c 124 G Storage
July 7, 2011 5:57:46 PM

shfiftyfive said:
I plan on using a Windows 7 retail install disk and using the Windows 7 product key that comes with the computer (the sticker at the bottom) to activate it. Would that work?

If you have a 'Retail' licence, it will work. You can uninstall and re-install the OS as many times as you desire; and even transfer the licence to a different computer.

In that case, why don't you buy the Dell computer without an OS, and you purchase the Windows 7 Retail version yourself separately, and then install it yourself? This approach will give you complete control over the OS, which is a lot better than getting Dell involved. And instead of the product key, I suggest paying the $10 extra and getting a Win 7 DVD. Consider this as it will give you a lot of flexibility.
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July 7, 2011 6:16:04 PM

Ubrales said:
If you have a 'Retail' licence, it will work. You can uninstall and re-install the OS as many times as you desire; and even transfer the licence to a different computer.

In that case, why don't you buy the Dell computer without an OS, and you purchase the Windows 7 Retail version yourself separately, and then install it yourself? This approach will give you complete control over the OS, which is a lot better than getting Dell involved. And instead of the product key, I suggest paying the $10 extra and getting a Win 7 DVD. Consider this as it will give you a lot of flexibility.


I don't believe I can purchase a Dell computer without an OS installed. And doing some research I found that you can use the product key that comes with the machine to do a clean install.

See: http://www.sevenforums.com/windows-updates-activation/117068-using-oem-serial-retail.html
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a c 124 G Storage
July 7, 2011 6:36:17 PM

shfiftyfive said:
I don't believe I can purchase a Dell computer without an OS installed. And doing some research I found that you can use the product key that comes with the machine to do a clean install.

See: http://www.sevenforums.com/windows-updates-activation/117068-using-oem-serial-retail.html

I read the info off the link you posted. I have read similar stuff off and on from various sources. When there is a problem, I just don't like dealing with Dell.

If you are confident about this, go ahead.
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July 7, 2011 8:37:58 PM

I have a builders version of Window's 7 64bit. I think it is OEM. Could I reinstall with it? thanks.
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July 7, 2011 9:56:11 PM

Ubrales said:
I read the info off the link you posted. I have read similar stuff off and on from various sources. When there is a problem, I just don't like dealing with Dell.

If you are confident about this, go ahead.


Would there be issues with drivers or do you think most of them will just be a quick and easy install?
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a c 124 G Storage
July 8, 2011 12:28:16 AM

shfiftyfive said:
Would there be issues with drivers or do you think most of them will just be a quick and easy install?

You will not have any problems with drivers. Will install fine.
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a c 124 G Storage
July 8, 2011 12:37:31 AM

reddace said:
I have a builders version of Window's 7 64bit. I think it is OEM. Could I reinstall with it? thanks.

On the same computer, no problems at all. I have done it more than once on the same computer.

However, if you upgrade the computer and install a new CPU, SSD/HDD, motherboard etc., it is a different story. Technically, it is no longer the same computer. In the past, Microsoft has been gracious enough to authenticate the new installation on OEMs even though legally they are not obligated to do so. On the 'Retail' version, this can be freely done, as long as it is running only on one computer.

I have OEM version of Win 7 64-bit. When I upgraded my motherboard and re-installed Win 7, I had to call Microsoft and get it authorized. I consider it gracious that Microsoft did this.
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