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SATA III SSD on your SATA II Motherboard

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  Fillrobs's Photo
Posted Jul 29 2011 02:29 PM

So I was wondering - do I have to upgrade my Dell XPS 420 PC to install a new SATA III SSD? The motherboard support only SATA II and I wondered if I purchased a cheap SATA III PCI-e x2 card and used that to host my Future Storage (http://www.futurestorage.co.uk)240GB SSD FSSC21AC240M4 SATA III 6GBp/s solid state disk drive.

So I opted for Windows 7 Ultimate and installed the OS in no time at all. I added it to the system in addition to my 500GB Samsung spinning disk which has Windows XP Pro installed on it, as well as a 1TB Storage drive which holds all of my data.

Once installed all drives were visible in Windows 7 so copying data was easy. I even installed GAG4.10 which allows me to boot to either OS from a menu that appears just after the BIOS splash screens.

I ran AS SSD Benchmark on the SSD when installed into a Marvel Based SATA III card I purchased from Novatech Click here for the model
So it turns out that I get a better sequential write speed on the SATA II motherboard connection, but using the SATA III card it has a much better overall score (see attachments) as well as the 4k-64thrd results are vastly different.

One problem I didn't realise was that I had installed the Windows 7 OS without the RAID option enabled in the BIOS of the Dell XPS 420 - this puts it into "IDE" Mode rather than AHCI. This means that TRIM is not enabled on the motherboard. You can check this in the AS SSD benchmark software (see attached screens) or I found this on the web:

you can also check whether or not TRIM is enabled by accessing the Command Promt (running as Administrator); then go to C:\Windows\system32 and enter:

> fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify

The result will be one of the following:-

DisableDeleteNotify = 1 (Windows TRIM commands are disabled)
DisableDeleteNotify = 0 (Windows TRIM commands are enabled)

Also looking at the 4k-64Thrd results of the 2 tests shows vastly different results - this 4k-64Thrd is used when loading applications:

My SATA II Connected SSD acheived 4k-64Thrd scores of : Read 18.91 MB/s Write 68.77 MB/s
My PCI SATA III Connected SSD achieved 4k-64Thrd scores of: Read 132.46 MB/s Write 92.90 MB/s

So installing the PCI-e Card was a definite benefit - for loading apps and including TRIM - whereas Sequential writing is slower - I expect due to the latency introduced by the card.

My plan is to run like this until the PC breaks (I've had it for about 3 years - on it's 2nd motherboard) or I decide to upgrade. Though now it is the fastest PC I have ever used running Windows. My Ubuntu SSD enabled laptop is faster :D

So in conclusion - if you want a SATA III SSD but you only have a SATA II motherboard - spend £24 on a PCI card and you will have a fast hard drive that will give you longevity for your current PC and any future upgrade you decide to make.
SATA II Motherboard connected SSD
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SATA III PCI connected SSD
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I found Microsoft's patch to switch ACHI Mode on in the BIOS - you have to tweak the registry before you go and do it. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/922976

So I went back and did this and then changed the BIOS to RAID ON (enabling AHCI mode on the motherboard). I ran the AS Benchmarking software before and afterwards. Below is the result of the test with SATA III SSD connected to the PCI-e x2 card (in AHCI mode).
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Then I ran it after the change over:
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Amazing difference in scores - so the conclusion here is that the SATA III Marvel based card was a bit of waste of time. Better off just using the correct setting on the motherboard which can, it turns out be retrospectively changed. It has lost the GAG bootloader though - but I will put that back on if I need Win XP again (haven't needed it once yet).

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  bitkahuna's Photo
Posted Nov 26 2013 06:41 PM

great article! just registered to thank you and pass along some additional info. obviously a couple of years have passed... i'm still running an xps 420 (now with 8GB RAM) and a mirrored pair of Samsung 840 EVO 500GB drives, connected straight to motherboard. i'm using the bios raid and windows intel storage manager to manage the mirrored pair.

did nothing but run the AS SSD benchmark, and, well, the attached numbers speak for themselves! the old box can still rock, lol.

(aside, I had been running crucial c300 256GB drive pair but one failed so I decided to give Samsung a try. respectfully to crucial, after 2.5yrs owning them they're honoring the 3 year warranty to replace the failed one - not sure what i'll do with them, but maybe a striped cache pair, lol)

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