Err, BIOS? I thought that was a kind of break in WoW...
March 31, 2012 7:32 PM   Subscribe

I've order a bunch of computer parts from Newegg and am going to build my own computer, hopefully not wrecking anything in the process. (I even picked up an antistatic cuff and mat today, to be safe) Thing is, I'm thinking of adding an 100-120gb SSD to the parts list to go along with the 1TB spinning hard drive. How do I set up having two hard drives like this, with the OS and other often-used essential programs on the SSD and everything else on the "slow" drive? I'm new at all of this--I don't think I've ever even looked at a BIOS before, let alone assembled a system.

It's more-or-less the "Dolphin" build from this MMO-Champion post.

Bonus points: Besides the obvious video card drivers, what else should I be looking to update as soon as I have the operating system (and anti-virus) installed?

Thank you, oh glorious hivemind!
posted by Decimask to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
*facepalm* "Narwhal", not dolphin. I decided I'd like to have a fairly serious game-capable rig for the first time in my life. I'm sick of World of Low-Res Fog.
posted by Decimask at 7:34 PM on March 31, 2012


When you get your parts, the motherboard should come with a diagram of all its connections/jumpers/etc. You want your SSD to go in the SATA0 connection and the standard drive to go to SATA1. Then when you first boot it with the OS CD, it'll be easy to tell which one you're formatting and installing on because it'll be the smaller one.

Have fun!
posted by kavasa at 7:48 PM on March 31, 2012


What Kavasa said. Also, one easy way for newbies to make sure that the OS is installed on the right drive is to just hook up the SSD. Then you can hook up the hard drive after the computer is up and running.
posted by Crotalus at 7:52 PM on March 31, 2012


Unless I'm misunderstanding the question, you don't have to mess with the BIOS to install the OS on the SSD.
Just don't put the slow drive into the system until you've installed the OS. That way, your C: drive will be the SSD, and you can install important things there, while dumping all the rest of the junk onto what will most likely be the D: drive.

In terms of things to throw on to a new computer, ninite.com has a pretty comprehensive list of useful stuff, and an easy download/installation system.
posted by BucketOBees at 7:55 PM on March 31, 2012


What Kavasa said. Also, one easy way for newbies to make sure that the OS is installed on the right drive is to just hook up the SSD. Then you can hook up the hard drive after the computer is up and running.

Smart. I'm the dummy that decided after my build to get an SSD as cash was short at the time. It will now be a pretty big undertaking installing everything over again.
posted by tremspeed at 7:55 PM on March 31, 2012


I've been out of the computer-building loop for a little bit now, but I can drop some basics here.

When you're installing Windows (I presume you're going to use Windows), at some point you'll be prompted to pick which hard drive you'll want to put windows on. Just select the SSD from the list and you'll be able to put Windows her. You'll probably be asked how you want to partition the SSD, but that'll be for you to decide. The easiest way, of course, is to just have one primary partition for the whole SSD, which will by default, be labeled the "C:\" drive.

Another option you can have is to have two primary (or one primary and one extended, or as many other partitions as your heart desires) partition on your SSD, whereby you put the OS on the primary partition and your programs on the other one. The benefit if this scheme is that if your OS gets messed up at some point, you can reinstall easily without messing with your programs. The downside is, stuff gets kinda complicated and messy in the long run.

You'll also be asked to partition your other drive, but that should be self explanatory when you get there. After you tell the install what you want, it'll handle everything for you. You'll be able to install programs on the slow drive as well as put files on and do whatever else you wish with it.

On your first boot, you'll probably have to install a massive update package, but Windows will prompt you and do all that neato stuff for you. From that point on, it's happy gaming!

(Also, what kanvasa said. Look at the manual that comes with the motherboard and your drives. I'm not sure if this terminology is still used, but you'll want your SSD to be the "master" drive and the other one to be either a "slave", or a separate master. I'm not sure though if it'll really matter. Arno, Crotalus' advice is good too. Do the SSD first, then after you've done your first boot+update, plug in your second drive.)
posted by Geppp at 7:56 PM on March 31, 2012


It seems I read this different than the other responders. I think the op wants to know how to tell the computer to just have os and oft used programs on ssd but change thr default location of libraries like video amd music to the big hdd. I know to put my primary drive in SATA 0 but how do you change some but not all save defaults?
posted by dstopps at 8:39 PM on March 31, 2012


Assorted advice (just built my first PC recently):
- I liked the Newegg PC build videos (link is to part 1 of 3) and he goes into some detail on a separate SSD drive.
- I found Tom's Hardware Forums to be very helpful
- I don't have an SSD but I still wanted my data and OS very separated, so I used separate partitions and drives for different purposes, and stubbornly refused to use the Windows "My" folders (Documents, Pictures, Videos, Music) for anything. Instead I created D:/Documents, etc.
posted by forthright at 12:37 AM on April 1, 2012


Learn how to use junctions. It allows you to move a folder from your C drive to your D drive (eg. Your Steam folder which will be huge) and the junction will redirect any requests to the original folder to the new location.

It'll mean that some things will load slower (as they are no longer on the SSD) but you wont run out of space on the SSD quite so quickly.
posted by mr_silver at 4:05 AM on April 1, 2012


Don't worry about the master and slave thing. Doesn't apply to SATA drives.

Windows Setup will generally assign drive letters based on their BIOS boot order. So before you boot the Windows Setup CD, do visit your BIOS settings page, find something labelled "hard disk order" or "hard disks" or "disk priority" or similar (if you're in the right place you should see your SSD and your disk drive only, no DVD drive) and press whatever keys you need to to put the SSD at the top of the list. That way your SSD will end up called C: which is generally what you want for a Windows install. Windows can actually be installed on any drive but there are still broken apps out there that expect Program Files to be on C:.

The mobo will come with a disc with drivers. That will probably have an installer on it that does the whole lot in one go. If you're going to install drivers by hand, do chipset drivers before everything else; order of installing the rest doesn't matter.

If you accept the defaults when you're installing apps, they will end up in a subfolder of C:\Program Files. But there's usually no need to accept the defaults; most installers will, if you stop to read what you're being asked before clicking Next, give you the option of installing to any folder you like. So if you make a D:\Program Files folder after installing Windows, you can install stuff you don't want on your SSD into that.

I recommend Panda Cloud Antivirus - it's capable, quick, easy and free for personal or non-profit corporate use.
posted by flabdablet at 7:22 AM on April 1, 2012


I second the advice to install Windows with only the SSD installed. For reasons that aren't entirely clear to me, if you install Windows 7 with two drives installed, it will put a bunch of system files on the other drive and freak out if you remove/replace it. Best to avoid future drama altogether.

Other non-obvious thing: SSDs are 2.5" (laptop-sized) drives, so be sure to get an approriately-sized adapter for it.

Running with an SSD isn't too much of a hassle, and really worth it for the speed boost. Just be sure to install everything you can on the secondary drive instead. Lots of programs will still try to sneak data onto your "system" drive (especially if you play games) so you have to watch out for that.
posted by neckro23 at 3:27 PM on April 1, 2012


I hope that someone will correct me if I'm wrong but I think that once you get the second drive installed, you might want to change the location of the windows swap file to the second drive.

If windows can't load something into the RAM for some reason it will stash those files in the swap file (AKA, page file, virtual memory, virtual RAM). Effectively, it uses that file as an extension of the RAM and it doesn't matter how much RAM you have in your system, it will always use the swap file for some things. Since the OS will end up doing a lot of writing to that file, it can shorten the life of the SSD. It will be slower on the regular HDD but you don't have to worry about how often it gets used.

Two caveats:
1. I don't know if this is still an issue that merits concern with newer SSDs
2. With 8GB of RAM and Windows 7, I don't know if the virtual memory will get used that much. I know that older versions of windows would end up using virtual memory no matter how much RAM you had but I don't know if that is still true.

Also, just to be sure, know that when people talk about installing the 2nd hard drive after the windows install you should still physically install it in the case at the same time as everything else, just don't plug in the SATA cable to the drive (do plug in power and attach the cable to the motherboard) until you're ready. It's about 1000% easier to plug as much of that stuff from the start as you can.
posted by VTX at 7:44 AM on April 2, 2012


Thanks all. It was hard to know what to ask when I didn't have anything actually in hand. I've decided to pass on the SSD. Lots of great responses and good advice--I just hope the other half of my parts gets here before the long weekend. Case, PSU and CPU so far, but nothing else.

Soon, precious.

Soon.
posted by Decimask at 3:53 PM on April 2, 2012


And by "soon", I mean: "Soon I will be this guy." \ (^o^) /
posted by Decimask at 4:08 PM on April 2, 2012


Minor update: IT'S ALIVE!!!! Thanks all!
posted by Decimask at 6:55 PM on April 5, 2012


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