Best Way to set up SSD HD + Z68 + Win7

Hi guys - I decided to go for the new ASRock Z68 Extreme4 Gen 3 (chose it over a Gigabyte board because of all the ports and the PCI 3.0 compatibility) and am quite excited to get to work on Monday when it arrives, as well as my Crucial 128GB SSD Sata3 6GB/s HD - and I can probably buy a second SSD if it's worth getting a pair of HDs and putting them into a RAID. And that's where the problem lies. I am new to these new Z68 mobos and the new SSD benefits that Intel has provided. I read about caching but I'm going to use the SSD for the startup and primary programs so that doesn't apply. A couple of questions:

(1) Is there any benefit to going RAID with 2 SSD drives for the startup? Does it matter if I just use 1 SSD for startup (I'll image an install for backup) instead - which will use AHCI and is supposedly faster - or is it? I'll get the second SSD if there is really some significant benefit.

(2) I have an extra SataII SSD 32GB drive that I can use as scratch (3GB/s) or just a disk to place large audio/video files I'd want to manipulate. Is there any benefit with the SSD or will I be better off with a 6GB/s mechanical drive?

(3) RAM speed will affect setup too. I bought on sale a nice four pack of Corsair Vengeance 4GB 12800 (1066) RAM.

Can anyone give me or lead me to some instructions that is a best practices guide for installing Windows 7? There are many options, especially if you intend to use SSD as a startup for this board. Would be MUCH appreciated and look forward to contributing more here.

I'm going to move my two blu-ray burners, keep my PSU, beautiful Aurora case and apply the upgrades. Can't wait but want to do it right. :)
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  1. I have the Asrock z68 Fatal1ty board. I multiboot Win 7 64 Ult and Win XP 32bit, the Win 7 OS on a Crucial m4 128gb SSD, and the XP OS is on a WD Caviar Black 640GB 7200rpm HD.

    I use BootIt Bare Metal boot loader, so I installed that first on the SSD. Then I installed Win 7 Ult 64 on the SSD. No raid. I just set mine up as IDE in BIOS and it's lightning fast, but this is my first SSD. I didn't do anything special in set-up. Just made the SSD the first boot device after DVD-drive and set the SATA to IDE. Install was a breeze.

    Make sure to plug your SSD with your OS into the SATA port Asrock recommends in your set-up guide.

    Can't help you with the RAID part of your question.
  2. 1. A single SSD is already a significant decrease in boot times, raid won't do much. I usually just put my computer to sleep if I want a fast "boot" time. AHCI will allow you to use TRIM.

    2. The main benefit of a SSD is access times. 6Gb/s (not GB/s) makes no difference on mechanical hdd as they only get near 1Gb/s of actual throughput.

    3. Yes it will a little, not really a question? BTW 12800 is 1600mhz not 1066.

    The best way would be to plug in only the ssd, sata port 0 would probably be best, and install windows. Then turn off, and plug in the hdd and other ssd, then boot up.
  3. Thanks for your reply. I don't need dual boot but thanks for the idea. But why would you set up an SSD as IDE? From reading the comments on the Crucial M4 at various stores, everyone recommends setting it up as AHCI in order to get the 6GB/s speed.
  4. Thanks for your reply. I don't need dual boot but thanks for the idea. But why would you set up an SSD as IDE? From reading the comments on the Crucial M4 at various stores, everyone recommends setting it up as AHCI in order to get the 6GB/s speed.[/quotemsg

    Do a search and you'll find some who recommend IDE. I don't think it makes much if any real-world difference. And I'm not using my system to run benchmarks. I have a lot more drives in my system than just the one SSD, so I just set all SATA ports to IDE. Easier for me. YMMV

    At any rate, you can try it set to IDE, and try it set to AHCI, test if for yourself in your system and if you find one faster than the other, use the one you like better. I've read somewhere you may have to change a registry setting in Windows 7 to do what I just described. Not sure about that as I did an initial test install of Win 7 Ult 64, and I switched mine from IDE to AHCI and back again a few times and it always booted. I didn't see any real-world difference, but again, I was running programs I use, not benchmarks.

    Check out all the five star ratings. Every single one of them has turned on AHCI. In fact, many of the comments on similar Corsair products all state the same thing, especially in response to those who state that they had problems including not getting the speed they were looking for. Not saying you can't be right. That's why I'm asking these questions here as I read many different responses and have no idea what the facts actually are. :)
  6. That's why I recommended you just try both options on your system running your software. You don't have to have an idea what the facts are. Try both and get the facts for your set-up. It's your build; set up what you like best and what works best for YOU.
  7. Use the cache. You get the nice access time of the ssd and the capacity of a spindle drive. Unless you are the 0.00001% who does lots of large writes.

    you need to do a fresh install. If you want to take advantage of the intels smart response . I actually just did some benchmarks and I noticed some really nice improvements in small reads over a spindle drive. I also notice twice the performance opengl cinibench.

    Anyways. Set your bios to Raid. Have the conventional hard drive in the sata 0 port. SSD can be anywhere. Install windows normally. download the Rapid storage driver off of intels website. After install click the start button and you will see an icon for the rapid storage driver. Open it up. Click accelerate tab. Leave the cache size to 64gb alone. Make sure you change the setting to maximum performance I beleive it was called. It will give you a warning about losing cache blah blah blah.

    If for some reason you have to reinstall windows at a later time. YOU MUST access the raid manager on post and deselect acceleration on the ssd. If you dont do this you are going to have one hell of a time getting windows to install.

    This is coming from some one who has had raid 0 ssd boot drive's and just about everything else minus a pci x ssd.

    link to my bot profile if you have any other questions email my team site.
  8. He's got a 128gb ssd so caching isn't a smart choice as he has plenty of space to put all his programs on the ssd. Then use a hdd for storage where speed doesn't matter.

    Also the max ssd cache is 64gb.
  9. Using a 128gb SSD for caching is such a waste as caching only requires 20gb. Using the 128gb as a boot/program drive and than use your 32gb for caching would be ideal IMO, with it being SATA II it would not make a difference if used for caching.
  10. Best answer
    He wanted directions so I gave some on installig with smart response. Ideally ssd's all around. A x25v is going to be about a 1/3 faster than a standard platter with x25v cache. Are you going to notice the ssd is faster than a cached 2 or 4 tb drive? Yes probably. But we are talking milliseconds after the first run. And it will only be on the programs that you install on it and had a stop watch handy. SSD's also get slower as capacity goes up.

    If you go the pure performance benchmark king way(ssd boot drive) You are going to want to have it in ahci mode.

    Will allow communication both ways and will be a step forward in making your drives hot swappable.

    Save your money on buying new memory. 1066 is fine. if anything tighten the timings. 1600mhz is the sweet spot but not worth re buying.

    Problem with raid 0 on a boot drive is failure. I have run into an instance where the board had failed. Some how the controller forgot the setting and it would not read the "instructions" on the drive. End up being a bad board. Still I had to do a reinstall which is a pain in the ars for some people.

    I will post the benchmarks monday night. They are on a flash drive at work.

    This question is so hard to answer. If you knew the amount of storage you need it would be a lot easier.

    All I can say is I was really blown away at the benchmarks I ran on 2 identical 2600k systems on the Intel dz68db board with Intels smart response.. The results did improve with the latest bios also(obvious)
  11. Best answer selected by hinky.
  12. Here is an awesome three part set of articles. Helped me out in terms of even the stupid stuff like "upgrade the firmware before you even do anything" since if you do it later... well... it's much more frustrating!

    Right now it doesn't matter unfortunately. Fans all power on but the ASRock board won't post and the Dr. Debug doesn't even light up - even without any HDs or RAM plugged into the system. Weird... hope it's not a dead board...

    Thanks everyone for the help.
  13. Works perfectly now. Looks like one of the 2 CPU power 4 pin molex wasn't plugged in all the way. This board rocks.

    Only discrepancy now - temperatures. Mobo is listed at 36-37C and CPU at 46-47C, which is exactly 10C higher than most are reporting. I'm not sure whether to ignore this. I've reinstalled the heat sink twice and no difference. But the key is that the mobo isn't even registering a super low temperature (room temperature here is about 78-82F or 26C so I don't even see how the mobo would be even lower than most room temperature by far as reported here and that the CPU is somehow just as low.
  14. Now after adding Arctic Silver and for reasons I cannot explain, after a day or two temperatures have dropped to 29-36C during idle between the cores, usually settling at 32. I think that's very acceptable. Drops in voltage during periods of true idle drop the cores down to the low 30s. Given the temperature of the room, cannot complain. The cooler is a miserable beast to install but appears to give decent results. They should fix the bottom and flatten it out.
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