The Serial-Attached SCSI BIOS takes about a minute to run. In order to speed up the boot time. I disabled it in the BIOS. The computer wouldn’t boot. I re-enabled it. Still wouldn’t boot. I added it back into the boot sequence, and resigned myself to looking at it every time I rebooted.
I ran Windows Update until I saw the SP 1 option available, then in installed SP 1. I reflashed the BIOS with the latest version. I always get nervous doing this, knowing that there’s at least a possibility of turning the computer into a doorstop, so it’s nice to get it out of the way before I have too much time invested loading apps.
I ran the Windows Experience Index calculator. The top score is now 7.9. The results were: processor 7.7, memory 7.8, graphics 4.0, gaming graphics, 5.4, and primary hard disk 7.7. It looks like I need a graphics upgrade. The computer came with an ATI FireMV 2260, which was the cheapest thing I could find in the Dell options list.
I have an ATI FirePro V4800, which is a pretty inexpensive, but more capable card. I installed it. We’ve come a long way from the days when the I/O cards in PCs were retained by screws that tended to fall in the bottom of the machine and rattle around on the motherboard, but the downside of the modern era is that you have to figure out each manufacturer’s (and sometime each model’s) proprietary card retention method. Fortunately, the 7500 was pretty intuitive. I rebooted and installed the display adapter driver, which was made easier by the Dell tech’s leaving the ATI universal driver installer on the desktop where he had put it while updating the 2260 driver. I ran the Windows Experience Index calculator again. Now graphics and gaming graphics are both 6.9. That should be good enough. The V4800 supports 30-bit color. More on that in a later post.
Now that the BIOS has been updated, Windows Update is offering me an optional update to the Dell SAS controller. Since, as I found out when I tried to disable it, the SAS controller affects SATA operation, I installed it. I wondered if the combination of the new BIOS and the new SAS software might give me native support of 3 TB drives. I installed one and booted. No joy.
The RAID controller that I’m planning on using for the 3TB drives hasn’t arrived yet, so I made a backup of the clean system (using Acronis – I now understand why the restore didn’t work yesterday: I neglected to install the partition with the bootmgr in it – and started installing apps. The speed of the SSD makes that a pleasure; for example, most of the time spend installing Microsoft Office was spent typing in the product key. CS5 Design Pro didn’t have the same speed-up, taking 23 and a half minutes from the time I clicked on Install after entering serial numbers and Adobe ID data.