1st time builder needs help i7 920

Intel core i7 920 @2.66Ghz DO batch A steeping
AsRock x58 Extreme motherboard
3x2Gb OCZ Gold DDR3 SDRAM 1600Mhz Cas 8 Timings: 8-8-8-24 @1.65v
Sapphire Radeon HD 5870
Corsair HX850 PSU
Xigmatech Dark Knight CPU Cooler
2x WD Caviar Black 640Gb HDD
Samsung CD/DVD burner
Antec 902 case


Brand new to this and building my first pc. I have ordered all of the above parts and am awaiting shipping. I will be building it this weekend (10/10/09) and have a bunch of questions. I plan to install Windows 7 on this system but plan to put XP on it until Win 7 is released.

I think I will be able to assemble all of the components without too much trouble. Once that is done the moment of truth arrives and I turn on the power. I know I need to go into the BIOS first and get things set up. I am able to find all sorts of information about overclocking which is something I intend to do once I get my feet wet a little bit. What I can’t seem to find are what the standard settings should be in my BIOS for my setup. Specifically the CPU and memory settings. I have read that the OZC memory will come set to 1066Mhx for compatibility reasons. I need to know what all the settings should be for the speed, volts, etc. I also need to know what the cpu should be set at. I assume it will show up as 2.66Ghz but does that mean all of the other settings are automatically correct?

I have looked at AsRock’s website and I see the BIOS can be flashed either through DOS with a floppy drive (which I don’t have) or through Windows. However I keep reading that there are tests you should run before you install Windows such as memtest86 (from a bootable CD ISO from what I can tell). Apparently it is pretty common for the BIOS to have trouble recognizing all of the memory until the settings are tweaked (is this correct?). So this is my next major questions. What tests should I run to make sure everything is running correctly before I install Windows? Then after I install Windows what other tests should I run? I see there are a great deal of benchmarking programs available (3dMark, SiSandra,CineBench, etc.). Should I be using them when I first start or not until I get into overclocking? Then do I need to update anything else related to the motherboard/memory? I see some files on the AsRock site and I’m not sure what they do (http://www.asrock.com/MB/download.asp?Model=X58%20Extreme).

I guess what would help the most might be a step-by-step list of what to do starting when I power it on for the first time. I have done a lot of research but it is a bit difficult to put it all together and separate what people are doing to overclock versus what needs to be done to get the system stable without overclocking.

Thank you much for your responses/links/patience.


p.s. Another question popped into my mind. I will have two 640Gb hard drives and do not plan on running RAID, so can I install XP on one and Win 7 on the other and dual boot? Or can I do that and then just pick by switching the boot order in the BIOS? Or is this a bad idea in general? Just a little concerned about everything being compatible with Win 7. Thanks!
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  1. First off, why do you want to dual boot XP and Windows 7 when Windows 7 has an XP mode? If you want to dual boot with something, why not try Linux?

    Secondly, you can get the proper settings for RAM timings from the manufacturer support personnel, not sure I'd fully trust some timings I ran across in a forum.

    The CPU should default to it's native settings without needing to tweak anything.

    Don't flash BIOS unless you absolutely have to. If it ain't broke, don't fix it until it is.
  2. Alot of motherboards have the option to optimize settings. For me my core clocks were off until i chose this so that might be the most you have to do with the bios. Generally when you turn on your pc for the first time you install windows when prompted and everything else takes care of its self. I think windows 7 is pretty good about backwards compatability especially with the xp mode, and your i7 920 will do wonders for xp mode. CPU and memory settings are going to be what ever works for you. Every system and every chip overclocks differently so its hard to find bios settings that will work for you. Dont worry about the bios right away and relax and enjoy your first build.
  3. 1. Don't need to flash BIOS unless doing max OC,etc. Also DO NOT EVER FLASH FROM WINDOWS.

    2. Memtest 86+ is just about the only thing you can run before installing the OS. There stress tests (prime 95,etc) you can with out installing OS via Bart PE, Linux Live CD. But these are not really needed.

    Another question popped into my mind. I will have two 640Gb hard drives and do not plan on running RAID, so can I install XP on one and Win 7 on the other and dual boot?

    Yes! That is EXACTLY what I would do since you don't plan to run RAID.

    Here's how you do it:
    1. Install Both HDDs in the case. But connect only one SATA cable to one of the drives.
    2. Install one of the OSes in to the connected drive.
    3. Uninstall (unplug SATA cable) the 1st HDD and install the 2nd drive (just plug in SATA cable).
    4. Install the other OS.
    5. Connect both HDDs (connect both SATA cables) once both OSes are installed in to the 2 different drives.
    6. Go into BIOS and adjust which HDD you want to boot in to first.
    7. You can boot in to the other drive any time using the Quick boot menu. On Gigabyte boards this can be done by pressing <F12>. Not sure on other boards.

    The advantage of this is that each OS is compleately separate (esp. MBR). When you want to get rid of XP (after Win 7 release, etc) just format the XP drive and use as more storage for Win 7.
  4. Thanks for the help. The reason to flash the BIOS is that for my board they added much easier settings in the first BIOS update and completely changed one of the menus so it seems prudent to flash it sooner rather than later.

    As for XP mode, I thought only Professional and Ultimate were going to have that. I'm getting Home Premium and had planned on not having XP mode. That would be the only reason to dual boot. If I can get XP mode with Win 7 Home Premium then it is a non-issue.

    I guess a lot of what I've read made it sound like kind of a nightmare to get the memory timings and cpu settings correct in the BIOS to even get to installing Windows. Hopefully it won't be a problem.

  5. Quote:
    I guess a lot of what I've read made it sound like kind of a nightmare to get the memory timings and cpu settings correct in the BIOS to even get to installing Windows. Hopefully it won't be a problem.

    lol no! That was true in the old days. Now, everything is more or less just PnP. There is NO reason to mess with the BIOS unless OCing,etc. Depending on the RAM, onlything you'll need to do is probably increase RAM voltage a bit.

    And no, XP Mode in only for Pro, Ultimate,etc. FAQ: http://www.pcworld.com/article/173017/windows_xp_runs_inside_windows_7_heres_the_faq.html

    HOWEVER, you CAN run XP inside ANY version of Win 7 using VM. I use VirtualBox: http://www.virtualbox.org/
    to run Linux (Fedora/SUSE,Solaris) under Win7. You can also run XP this way. You can also use Microsoft's Virtual PC, but it isn't as stable as VirtualBox for me.
  6. Thanks for the XP tips. I guess depending on compatablility I may not want to run it anyway. I will probably start with having each OS on the different drives as you detailed above. Mainly because I'm going to build this weekend and Win7 is not out until 10/22.
  7. ^ Good luck with the build!
  8. Thanks! I got my motherboard, psu, and memory today. Just waiting on the Dark Knight and the CD/DVD burner.
  9. Just a quick update. I built it yesterday and everything went really smoothly. Posted on the first try and recognized all 6Gb of RAM. I did have to change the timings to 8-8-8-24 and the the speed to 1600Mhz from 1066Mhz in the BIOS. Do I need to also change the voltage or any other settings. I passed memtest86 with a couple of passes with no errors but I'm not sure if I need to change anything else. I haven't even seen what the RAM voltage is set at but I didn't look around extensively in the BIOS yet. The AsRock did come with the latest (P1.04) BIOS version which was nice. I also installed XP 32 (the only one I have) without incident. One note for Radeon HD 5870 users, there are no XP drivers from the ATI or Sapphiretech websites. XP is not listed as supported on the product information page. Not a big deal since I'm getting 7 on 10/22 but worth noting. I was able to install Catalyst 8.6 from the provided disc but could not get the HDMI port to work on my 5 year old 58" DLP tv. DVI to my monitor worked fine. i assume this is due to XP not being officially supported but we'll see when I get Win7. Thanks for all of the help, you guys are great.
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