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Installing Windows From SSD Part1

By David Mulgrew, 04/19/2012 - 16:53

Ever since I started using SSDs I've noticed the longest step in installing anything was how long it took to copy the files from the CD/DVD, after that most things are pretty much instant. With this in mind I thought I'd try installing from an SSD. I'd already read about installing from USB stick so I figured it wouldnt be too difficult to adapt the process and shave off loads of time from the install process.

I've used a slipstreaming tool (I'll post about this later) to include a set of extra programs in the Windows install image and to bundle the updates. I've also removed a few things for this attempt.

The Pc I'm using is one I had in ready to build a server from. Pretty decent spec hardware, as follows

  • Black Aluminium NZXT  
  • 430w  Corsair PSU  80+% Efficiency
  • ASUS  M5A97 PRO 970 Socket AM3+
  • Athlon X2 240e (energy efficient CPU) Passive Cooler + Active Cooler
  • 4GB DDR3 @ 1333mhz  1.5V
  • Adaptec 5405 4 Channel + Hot Swap Support, RAID 0 to 60, MAX 256 drives
  • 4x OCZ 120GB Agility 3 (3 drives in RAID 5, 1 drive as hot spare)
  • Onboard- VGA/DVI
  • 8 Channel HD Audio
  • Zalman Cooler

This PC uses an impressively low amount of power, excluding the RAID card. The SSDs uses less than 20w between them. The NZXT case was initially just to provide a large well build case but I would recommend these to anyone building a gaming PC or a home server. They are pretty thick aluminium and covered in fins so the case should act as a heat sink. Its probably the heaviest case I've ever used. The side panels are 2-3mm thick plate aluminium. The motherboard isnt stricktly a server board, its a gamers board but for this spec it was fine. We only needed one CPU so any good quality board would do. Most notably this motherboard is covered in heatsinks. Initially I was going to use the next model down but I liked the addition of passive cooling all over the board. I'ts probably mostly for show but for the extra couple of £ then I thought why not take the extra cooling.

My first attempt failed, for two reasons. Firstly the boot sector was installed onto the SSD which I was installing from. Secondly the SATA driver for the SSD wasnt installed during Windows Setup so when windows tries to boot for the first time and looks for the Windows Setup files it cant find them.

I've posted a video so you can see just how quickly each step happens. pity it didnt go all the way but lesson learnt. Next time will be better

Video here

My second attempt was a little more successful.....