SATA vs IDE -- WHAT?!!

I'm pulling my hair out.

I built a video-editing system a couple of years ago, WinXP, and accidentally installed the whole thing on IDE from the BIOS. So I'm restricted to IDE HDD speeds. Very frustrating because I don't want to reinstall everything - it works and I can't afford the downtime.

I just built a budget gaming rig for my brother. And I'm about to install Windows 7. And I am totally confused about how to make sure I do this OS install on a SATA basis.

My MB manual says I have to do some kind of ridiculous crap with a floppy drive, for the drivers. Am I reading this correctly?? Do I need to buy a floppy drive? What is going on? Do you guys install your drives in IDE mode? In 2013?
[***EDIT*** This was my mistake. The manual doesn't make it clear that the floppy is only needed for WinXP installation]

We don't need RAID.

I've googled this stuff and can't make heads or tails.


Thank you.
7 answers Last reply
More about sata what
  1. even SATA3 drives are IDE drive. The controller is IDE, the drive is IDE. Only the interface (the wire between ) makes the difference. Serial vs Parallel.

    IDE mode is for compatibility. No drivers are needed to install as the controller works with standard ATA command. Now, if going AHCI or RAID, then you introduce new command to the controller, so you're likely to need drivers to tell the os how to talk to the controller.

    The new command, like NCQ, may give a boost for certain operation or situation, but for day to day basis, you won't see any improvement. But, if you have a SSD, than need special command, like TRIM, then you should use AHCI (or SATA mode).

    I forgot to add, that if you are using Windows 7 with older hardware, then it may already have the drivers needed for your board. Newer hardware may need drivers. They can be read from USB or CD, doesnt have to be on a floppy like Win XP

    Windows 8 already had the drivers for my RAID setup, that is almost 2 years old
  2. Thanks for your reply.

    Say I have a WD black rated at sata II 6gb/s. I thought these drives could operate in real world transfer rates above 150MB/s, but would be limited in IDE mode. Is this right so far?

    What happens when you install a 10,000rpm in IDE mode?

    Your saying I wouldn't see a difference in IDE. But If we wanted to upgrade to an SSD in the future, we would need to reinstall or do some down the rabbit hole registry hacking?

    I really do appreciate the help. I try looking this stuff up and Wikipedia wants to give the ANSI definition of everything while every post I read inevitably is dated 2006. I don't know why this is so hard to digest for me.
  3. I don't think you need to have a floppy drive or anything else for drivers. The only thing is that you need to make sure that the sata mode is set to AHCI or RAID (not IDE or compatibility) in your bios BEFORE you install windows (as long as it is windows 7 or 8, don't know about xp).

    Actually, I messed up and installed windows before changing to AHCI. When I changed to AHCI, windows completely failed to boot (blue screened). I ended up running a repair of windows with the windows 7 disc and it magically worked after that. I also know that there are some registry changes that will let you switch without the hassle I went through.

    Here is an official guide to switching sata modes (yes, it involves changing a registry key):

    Also, I don't think by having the sata mode set to IDE that you are limited to IDE (PATA) bandwidth limitation. There are advanced features that are disabled such at NCQ and TRIM and overall drive performance may suffer slightly but the transfer speed is definitely not limited to IDE speeds. Take a look at the following review for comparison between the two modes.
  4. I am still confused and wikipedia this constantly... (My MB manual says I have to put the drivers on a floppy to install on a AHCI/SATA basis. I'll give it a shot, I just... can't believe that there is any such requirement in 2013!)

    And what you guys are saying is that installing Windows XP or 7 on an IDE paradigm restricts the use of NCQ/TRIM, but *doesn't* bottleneck any of the potential data transfer rate? I saw the Benchmark link, but I haven't completely understood this.

    Any more links, explanations, or suggestions for reading?
  5. What motherboard are you using? Could you give us a link to the manual as well.
  6. Some not so good information here in the thread

    Your Win XP will be on a SATA hard drive , and the controller is set to native IDE mode . You lose some advanced functions but speed wont be massively slower .
    You had to install XP that way and then add an AHCI driver . You could still do that . Google will tell you how .

    On the new computer when you first start you need to enter the BIOS and enable AHCI and SMART .
    Thats all
  7. I went back and re-read the manual. It's written like mud, typical manual-ese.

    ASRock H61M-DGS
    Page 31 of the Full Manual

    It puts the XP installation (requiring a floppy) in the same heading as the Windows 7 installation, implying that the installation of both systems requires a floppy. It's a typographical implication. On closer inspection, I can parse it out...

    And Yes, for the record, I installed Windows 7 as AHCI enabled without problems or any external drivers. I'm sorry for the confusion... technically fully my fault, but, sigh, these manuals are written so carelessly sometimes.


    I'm still not clear on IDE v SATA but everybody keeps saying it's only marginally slower, and not to worry about.

    Thank you for everyone's help.
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