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Please Confirm Proper SSD + 2HDD Set-Up for New Win 7 64 Build

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December 9, 2011 4:47:34 PM

Hello and thanks for reading.

I've read a few threads on setting up SSDs and HDDs that have been instructive (like this: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/277060-32-tomshardwar...), but I'd like to confirm that how I'm going to install my drives in my new build is optimal.

I have the following drives:
1) Mushkin Chronos Deluxe SSD 120 GB
2) Western Digital Caviar Blue 1 TB
3) Western Digital Caviar 250 GB

My motherboard is an Asus P8Z68-V, notably with 2 x SATA III 6Gb/s and 4 x SATA II 3 Gb/s connections. Drives 1 and 2 above can take advantage of SATA III, but the 250 GB is older and is limited to SATA II 3 Gb/s.

I'm installing Window 7 64-bit.

My goal is to put the OS and only programs that will really benefit from the SSD speed on the SSD (some of my games, mainly). Everything else can go on the 1 TB Caviar Blue drive. The Caviar 250 GB will be used to transfer the files I wish to retain from my current machine to the new one, but, beyond that, I'm not sure it will add much or anything to the new build (since 120 GB + 1 TB is way more than enough for me for now).

Intended build process:

Preserving my old files...
1) Save all critical files — both files I wish to retain and new Win 7 drivers and such that I will be using — on my 1 TB drive, which is running my current Win XP 32-bit machine.
2) Connect the supplemental 250 GB WD Caviar HDD as a slave drive, delete all current content (also has Win XP 32-bit loaded, plus files all also cloned on my 1 TB drive), and reformat.
3) Copy the critical files from step 1 above to the now-empty 250 GB WD Caviar HDD.

Building the new machine...
4) Assemble the new machine and connect only the Mushkin SSD 120 GB.
5) Before installing Win 7 64-bit, enable AHCI mode in BIOS.
6) Use CD to install Win 7 64-bit to Mushkin SSD 120 GB and ensure defrag schedule is off for SSD.
7) After Win 7 is loaded on the SSD, install 250 GB Caviar HDD with critical files on it and use it to load/update drivers, install key programs, etc.
8) Once I've confirmed this is working properly, erase and reformat the 1 TB Caviar Blue HDD.
9) Install the 1 TB Caviar Blue HDD to be second in the boot sequence (SSD will be first, 250 GB Caviar will be third). SSD will be on SATA III one, 1 TB HDD will be on SATA III two, and 250 GB will be on SATA II one.
10) Install programs for which speed isn't significant to run off 1 TB Caviar Blue HDD. 250 GB Caviar HDD will strictly be back-up.

Is this optimal?

Another question, does using RAID here make any sense, either for all drives or for just the two HDDs (leaving the SSD on its own)? I'm entirely unfamiliar with RAID, its benefits and appropriate uses (for example, I don't know the difference between RAID 0 and RAID 1 or even how to set up a RAID array).

And, finally, when I'm ready to erase and reformat the 1 TB Caviar Blue HDD (step 8 above) I won't run into any issues booting both the SSD with Win 7 and this drive with Win XP on it at the same time, will I? Provided the boot sequence is set properly and the 1 TB drive is a slave?

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much,

ELB
a c 119 G Storage
December 9, 2011 5:03:39 PM

You need to have hdd's that have the same capacity for a raid configuration , so you cannot raid the 1tb and the 250gb , if you were to get another 1tb then you can raid the two tb drives or you can get another Mushkin SSD and raid the two SSD'S. You cannot raid the 1tb hdd with the SSD. Windows 7 does have an XP OS option within it , so if you want to use some old XP programs for some things you can do that within Win.7 If you don't want to do that then you could put XP on the 250gb hdd and leave the tb hdd for storage and backup
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December 10, 2011 5:37:25 PM

Thanks very much for the reply, Inzone. You addressed all of my questions. Also, very good suggestion about installing XP on the 250 GB drive, though I expect I'll have very little that runs on XP and not Win 7, plus there is that compatibility mode you mentioned.

I'm presuming that there will be no problem having some programs run off the 1 TB drive while other ones for which speed is meaningful will run of the SSD. Is there a real advantage here in getting RAID?

- ELB
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December 15, 2011 12:03:35 AM

You can run raid with hdds of different sizes, I am running a WD 500gb and a WD 320gb in raid0. It might not be as optimal as two completely identical drives, but it will work. Raid0 is for performance only, it will effectively double your read/write speeds, which is good if you like to do a lot of editing (video, music, picture) which I do. Raid 1 is mirroring, which is for backing up data, it basically makes doubles of everything on your drive, which will also half the total available space of your raid 1 setup. It should be noted, raid 0 generally has more of a chance of failure than raid 1, and those chances increase as you add more drives to the same array., so if you're using raid 0 you should have periodic backups of everything on the drive. I've never had one fail, but it's always a good idea to have lots of backups.
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December 20, 2011 2:00:52 PM

Best answer selected by ELB.
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December 20, 2011 2:07:09 PM

As a gamer (rather than a video editor, for example), I'd say my biggest issue with hard drives is access time reading from the drive, rather than writing to. Some of my games experience noticeable stutter that I'm fairly certain, in spite of my moderate-level knowledge, is hard drive related — I say this because the stutter isn't at all constant (which I expect it would be with frame-rate loss due to graphics card inferiority). My take is that the hard drive is being tasked to load textures, causing a noticeable halt in the action, and then the game picks right back up to perfect smoothness once the textures are in RAM (either hard drive cache or graphics card or PC RAM; I'm not experienced enough to know which).

The best way to combat this is...? I'm hoping the answer is a solid state drive like the one I just bought.

Thanks,

ELB
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