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Dell XPS 14 - Installing SSD Question (Help Needed)


mosh00
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Hey everyone.

 

I recently purchsed a Dell XPS 14 and an OCZ Vertex 2 SSD (60 GB) to put in it. Got it from NewEgg during the Black Friday sales. I am running into problems. I attempted to set the SATA Mode to AHCI, which was actaully the defult setting on this laptop, but when I do so, the laptop does not recoginze the SSD. In the BIOS, the Fixed HDD setting displays “None”. When I switch the SATA Mode to ATA, the BIOS recognizes the SSD.

 

Some things I have noticed:

 

The original 500 GB drive is reconnized when set to AHCI, which was the default setting.

 

Even though the BIOS does not see the SSD when set to the AHCI mode, when saving the settings and exiting the BIOS, I am able to access the drive. If I power up the machine and don’t go into BIOS, I get an error message stating “Media test failure, check cable.” I have to always go into BIOS and then save settings and exit to access the SSD.

 

Does anyone have an idea as to what is going on here? Am I missing a setting? If I set the SATA Mode to ATA, what are the impacts?

 

I could have ordered this computer with an SSD, but it was going to be $500.00 more, so decided to buy a SSD from NewEgg. Now wondering if that was a mistake.

 

Thanks for any help that can be provided.

 

Mike

Edited by mosh00
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Perhaps the Bios is seeing the drive as SCSI. If it is, the drive may show up listed as "unknown" or some number in devices. If you load Windows 7 with AHCI selected, it should load all drivers and make the Bios compliant.

 

The worst that can happen is that the install starts and then fails (lots of data written to the harddrive) requiring a secure erase. If the install starts it will likely continue.

 

You can do ATA (IDE) install and then change to AHCI:

 

How to enable AHCI if you already installed Windows using IDE.

 

1. Exit all Windows-based programs.

2. Click Start, type regedit in the Start Search box, right click and choose run as administrator.

3. If you receive the User Account Control dialog box, click Continue.

4. Locate and then click the following registry subkey:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Servic es\Msahci

5. In the right pane, right-click Start in the Name column, and then click Modify.

6. In the Value data box, type 0, and then click OK.

7. On the File menu, click Exit to close Registry Editor

 

Restart, go to BIOS and enable AHCI. When Windows starts, you'll see AHCI drivers loading.

One more restart to finish the driver installation.

 

Sometimes laptops are tough.

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...recently purchsed a Dell XPS 14 and an OCZ Vertex 2 SSD (60 GB) to put in it. Got it from NewEgg during the Black Friday sales. I am running into problems. I attempted to set the SATA Mode to AHCI, which was actaully the defult setting on this laptop, but when I do so, the laptop does not recoginze the SSD. In the BIOS, the Fixed HDD setting displays “None”. When I switch the SATA Mode to ATA, the BIOS recognizes the SSD.

 

Some things I have noticed: The original 500 GB drive is reconnized when set to AHCI, which was the default setting.

 

Even though the BIOS does not see the SSD when set to the AHCI mode, when saving the settings and exiting the BIOS, I am able to access the drive. If I power up the machine and don’t go into BIOS, I get an error message stating “Media test failure, check cable.” I have to always go into BIOS and then save settings and exit to access the SSD.

 

Does anyone have an idea as to what is going on here? Am I missing a setting? If I set the SATA Mode to ATA, what are the impacts?

 

I could have ordered this computer with an SSD, but it was going to be $500.00 more, so decided to buy a SSD from NewEgg. Now wondering if that was a mistake.

You are able to boot into Windows, right? So try another SATA cable. Then, I'd be checking for a firmware update for the motherboard. The fact that you have to poke the BIOS each time you boot makes me think this is mobo-related. Let us know how you're doing.

 

I wonder what you'd have gotten for $500 dollars more. Perhaps a different motherboard?

 

The impact of setting to IDE is that you lose the additional speed provided by NCQ - Native Command Queuing. There is a measurable difference when doing a benchmark, though I'm not sure you'd notice much in everyday use. Still, your new laptop should allow configuration with an SSD.

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The impact of setting to IDE is that you lose the additional speed provided by NCQ - Native Command Queuing.

I thought NCQ was to counteract spindle-induced latency, and thus it really has no impact on an SSD since it will read difference locations simultaneously with 0 latancy?

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For the most part you will not loose much in everyday performance except hot swap which is not useful on a laptop. If you are talking about drive listing in the BIOS, the AHCI will "not" show drives in the normal IDE listing. It will however show the drive in the section of the BIOS that establishes the boot sequence. If for some reason it will not work with AHCI, then go for IDE. Once you get it installed, you can do what "analog" suggested as that has worked for me every time.

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I'd dig a little deeper to try to get AHCI functioning. Most of the Sandforce utilities that OCZ, Corsair and others employ rely on your SSD running in AHCI mode. So, even if you give up and keep everything in ATA, you'll be confronted by this issue again I'm sure.

 

If you have access to another computer, I'd go ahead and get the latest firmware updates for both your laptop and your OCZ SSD. Most of the Sandforce-based SSDs saw firmware updates (I think OCZ is at 1.24 now) shortly before Thanksgiving, and I'm assuming that your SSD was already on NewEgg's shelf by then. For my Corsair SSD, this was much needed as it dealt with an issue that caused my computer to BSOD frequently when resuming from sleep. If the same issue existed in the OCZ drives, then you'll definitely want to update considering you'll be using this thing in a laptop.

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I thought NCQ was to counteract spindle-induced latency, and thus it really has no impact on an SSD since it will read difference locations simultaneously with 0 latancy?

Reduction of spindle-induced latency is how NCQ is implemented on spinning HDDs. Parallel commands is how SSDs implement it. And in my benchmarks, I saw a decrease in performance when in IDE mode. Was it bad? No, but I paid for an SSD so I deserved all the performance I could get from it.

 

What about Dell support? Have you tried them? Hey, sometimes you'll be pleasantly surprised. You never know.

 

Also, mrossco makes a good point about the firmware. I'd follow that up.

Edited by dvn
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Hey everyone.

 

The Dell XPS 14 is running the latest BIOS firmware. I upgraded it after getting the laptop. You should also know that this is a brand new model for Dell. The new XPS line has only been shipping for the last couple of weeks. The $500.00 SSD upgrade was for a 256 GB SSD. I am not sure if the upgrade would have meant a different motherboard for the laptop, but I doubt it with Dell.

 

So I am no longer trying to get the OCZ to work with this laptop. My brother-in-law works for Intel. He is an electrical engineer who works with the NAND memory. For Christmas, he gave me an Intel 160 GB X-25 M SSD. I put that in the laptop tonight (I wanted to use it in my desktop). It appears to be working perfectly in the laptop. I have the laptop set to the AHCI mode and the BIOS recognizes the Intel SSD without a problem and it boots fine. So guess I will leave the Intel SSD in the XPS 14 and put the OCZ in either my desktop or the older Dell laptop that I have. I will try updating the OCZ firmware once I get it in one of the other machines.

 

Yes, I talked with Dell, can’t say I was impressed with their technical support.

 

I have to say boot up speeds are amazing with an SSD!

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This is interesting. I'll be curious to hear if a firmware update to the Sandforce-controlled OCZ fixes the problem. If not, I still say that there's something funny going on with BIOS and/or motherboard. Barring those things, I suppose it's possible that you have a defective SSD. Have you tried the SSD in another system?

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This is interesting. I'll be curious to hear if a firmware update to the Sandforce-controlled OCZ fixes the problem. If not, I still say that there's something funny going on with BIOS and/or motherboard. Barring those things, I suppose it's possible that you have a defective SSD. Have you tried the SSD in another system?

 

I haven't tried it in my older Laptop. I want to get the new one up and running first. My wife wouldn't be happy if she didn't have her laptop. :)

 

I will let you know what I find out on the OCZ once I get it moved to the Dell Inspiron 1405. Thing is I am not sure it will support AHCI as it is about 4 years old.

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