You are confused about a few things, which is understandable.
Since you plan on creating a RAID 0 volume for your OS, you don't need Intel Rapid Start and Smart Response whatsoever. You can use those after you install your OS, they don't need to be loaded during the OS installation. Smart Connect has nothing to do with RAID, is unnecessary for installing an OS, and can be installed later if you'd like your "social media" websites automatically updated for you, that is all it does.
It is impossible to install drivers before you install Windows. You can install a SATA driver during the installation, but you don't need to.
Windows 7 contains a basic Intel RAID driver that will be used during the OS installation, and is all that is needed. The Intel IRST RAID driver on your boards download page is the complete driver package, including the Windows IRST UI. That is the driver you should install after you install Windows, and AFTER you install the Intel Chipset drivers (aka, inf files), which is the first support/driver files that should be installed with a new OS installation. The driver installation order I suggest for a brand new Windows installation is:
Intel Chipset/INF files, your boards Intel Chipset Driver V126.96.36.1991 for Windows XP 32bit & XP 64bit & Win7 32bit & Win7
Intel IME: Intel(R) Management Engine Interface V188.8.131.523 for Windows XP/7/8 32bit & 64bit.
Video Card driver: Either the Intel graphics driver for the onboard graphics, or the appropriate driver for your video card.
Intel IRST RAID driver: Intel(R) Rapid Storage Technology Driver Software V184.108.40.2066 for Windows XP/7 32bit & 64bit.(WHQL)
You must reboot as requested after each installation, don't skip that. After those, anything can be installed anytime. Intel Rapid Start does need some preparation before it is installed, but again, you don't need that at all with your OS on one or more SSDs.
Only have the two SSDs connected to the Intel SATA III ports, the white SATA ports, NOT the dark blue ones, for the ASMedia SATA III, which are much slower, and no RAID. If you are using an optical drive, connect it to an Intel SATA II port, one of the four light blue ports. If you are installing from a USB flash drive, plug that into a USB 2.0 port on the boards I/O panel. If any other drives are connected to the PC, Windows may put the MBR for the OS on another drive, and if you remove that drive, you can no longer boot. You can have other drives connected, but not connected to your power supply.
Start the PC and go into the UEFI/BIOS. Find the Storage configuration screen, and set the SATA mode to RAID. That must be done before the OS installation, and must always be set to RAID. Check that your SSDs are seen in the UEFI, if not something is wrong. I would not OC the CPU, leave memory and most other settings at default settings and speeds. Save and exit the UEFI.
Be prepared to press and hold the Ctrl key, and press the 'i' key when the PC restarts, when you see the Intel IRST RAID configuration screen appear. If you miss it, just reset the PC and be ready again. This is where you configure your RAID 0 volume. There are guides for this on Intel's site (see link below), and possibly in your boards manual.
When you are done creating the RAID 0 volume, restart the PC again. You should see your RAID 0 volume listed on the IRST configuration screen. Enter Ctrl i again if you want to check it. Either way, go into the UEFI again, and check the Storage configuration again, RAID mode and your RAID volume listed. If you inserted your Windows installation media, disk or USB, set the boot order to that device, and restart to start the Windows installation.
Does the PC you are using now have an Intel CPU? Does it have the Intel IRST driver installed, which is used for RAID and AHCI mode? The IRST driver installation has a Windows UI, with a great Help section, that will explain in detail the creation of a RAID volume. It will be listed in Control Panel if it is installed. If you have an Intel CPU PC, you could install it if you are in AHCI mode now (don't change it from IDE if that's what you use now!!!) and use that as a guide.
Or, check this IRST guide from Intel:
Thank you so much. I am using an Intel CPU but I do not have AHCI compliant drives and am not in AHCI mode. I am building a new one from scratch. So I do not at any point have to install the RAID software ( I was calling it drivers, I guess that was incorrect) during the OS setup?
The main reason I ask is with the IRST file I downloaded (IntelRapidSstorageT_V11601030_XPWin7) it has a utility and instructions for creating a bottable disk(floppy/usb whatever) and usingn it during installation (I could be wrong) just long the old windows XP RAID install. I just want to be 100% sure before I go ahead with any of this.
Sorry I got the file names mixed up after downloading so many and writing my question from memory, Between Management Engine, Rapid Storage, Lan, USB, Smart Response and Connect I can't keep all of the intel drivers on this board straight, lol.
I just want to thank you again, I really appreciate it. Oh, and you're username is awesome!
***Also, one more thing, I was planning on using EaseUS Todo Backup for cloning/backup of my RAID 0 array. Are you familiar with this software? If so, should I stick with that or should I get EaseUS Partition Master instead? They both provide backup and a bootable version of the software for recovery. I think Partition Master just has more features associated with partitioning the drive and manipulating said partitions, which I don't think I need. If you don't have any experience with there software(I really don't either, I just happend past it while looking for a backup solution) do you have a recommendation? I just want to be able to backup/clone my array regularly onto a HDD and have the option to boot to the backup software if the array fails.
******Seriously, this is the last one! Is there any way for me to set the stripe size/widthe before the OS install? I will have the motherboard and drives later today and plan to get started then. I'm kind of obsessive when it comes to preperation for new types of installs, sorry.
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Asking questions is not a problem, since you are obviously trying and have put effort into this, have provided information about your new PC.
Frankly, I have never installed Windows 7 on a RAID volume without installing the basic RAID driver during the installation. I just related what Intel and others have said will work, and was trying to keep it more simple for you. Note that ASUS did not provide this driver on your boards download page, so they think it will work without it.
Here's how that driver is installed during the OS installation, all you need is a USB flash drive and the appropriate driver. Since you are using the complete IRST driver and software package after the OS installation, the matching basic IRST is this:
But now we a slight discrepancy, that is really not a problem at all. ASUS provides IRST 220.127.116.116, which is a slightly older version, that Intel no longer has available on their download page. They do have IRST 18.104.22.1686, which I guarantee will work with your board. Mother board manufactures are notorious for not updating their drivers... except for Intel.
The file to download for use during the OS installation is: f6flpy-x64_22.214.171.1246.zip
Instead of the full IRST 126.96.36.1996 package, download this: STOR_Win7_XP_188.8.131.526.exe
Both are on the same page in the link above. The second one is just the newer version equivalent of the one on your boards download page.
The "f6flpy" terminology is old, and carried over from the XP days, you do NOT need a floppy drive to use it. Simply unzip that file, and copy all the six or seven files to the main folder of a USB flash drive. It's best that the USB drive is empty otherwise, so no confusion.
During the OS installation, it will stop on a screen where you'll see a Load Driver option. Insert the USB drive with those driver files in a USB 2.0 port on the rear I/O panel (no driver for USB3.0 installed yet) and click Load Driver. Windows should find the driver, if necessary select it and click Next. Windows should continue installing after that. Do not remove the USB drive until Windows reboots again, and then just remove it once the reboot starts. That's it.
That driver you downloaded, IntelRapidSstorageT_V11601030_XPWin7, is the newest version of IRST available. You could use that too. The utility for creating the bootable disk is likely just for XP, since the USB drive procedure I just described is not bootable, and does not need to be. The IRST 184.108.40.2060 download page has the two drivers I described above, so I'm not sure what you actually have:
I'm not familiar with EaseUS Todo. I imagine it would work fine. There are all kinds of backup creation software, Windows has its own. They all should work fine, use whatever you are comfortable with.
The stripe size can be set in the Intel RAID utility (actually called the Option ROM) you access with Ctrl i, as I discussed earlier. If that utility detects you are using SSDs, it will select a small stripe size as the default, but you can change that. That varies depending on the version of the Option ROM. Intel recommends the small stripe size with SSDs for best performance, but in benchmark tests the small stripe size results in slightly lower scores. I've tried small and large stripe sizes, and I think Intel is correct, but it's your choice.
Let us know how it goes, and more questions won't bother me.
I got everything installed and optimized. I'm really enjoying the new upgrades especially the SSDs. I put them in the RAID 0 array for space requirements I had for my OS drive, not so much performance. I will say though, as much as people say RAID 0 doesn't really affect SSD performance, I am getting 900MB/s sequential reads in Crystal Disk Mark which is nearly double the advertised bandwidth!
Thanks again for all the help Parsec!
It seems I am having issues with loading "Computer" to look at my disks. It hangs like it's searching or something. I did a few SSD "optimiztions" and they all seemed to be okay, such as disabling prefetch and superfetch moving my pagefile to a normal drive and turning off indexing. Shortly after I started experiencing the problem where it takes forever to show my drives in My Computer. It doesn't do it all the time but it's bothersome and it's worrying me. Any help would be much appreciated.
Great to hear you created your RAID volume successfully and have the OS loaded!
Just so I understand correctly if you click the Start/Windows icon on the lower left side of the screen, and then click Computer, it does not instantly display the window with all the drives? Or if you click an individual drive from Computer, it takes time? I think you mean the first scenario I listed. That is odd, I've never seen that happen.
Regarding your problem, are you using any data encryption software? How many and what type of drives do you have? Sounds like it might be a HDD issue.
Did you download and try the Intel SSD Toolbox? That has a built in OS tuner for SSDs, and has always worked great for me. You can also run the SSD Optimizer on your RAID 0 volume, which is a manual TRIM operation. That only works with Intel SSDs.
I'm wondering if the manual optimizations you mentioned caused a problem of some kind. You said you turned off indexing. What do you see if you right click on your RAID 0 volume, and select Properties? Is the Indexing box at the bottom still checked? If so, uncheck it an click apply.
You also cannot get into Control Panel sometimes?
Frankly, I don't turn off indexing if I have HDDs on the PC with SSDs. I just turn off indexing of the SSDs. The main thing to disable is defragmenting of the SSDs. All you really need to do is turn off scheduled defragmentation, and just run it manually on the HDDs only.
Haha, I'm not going to do all these wacky things to my SSDs because these people on other boards claim it's a necessity. I now see the Intel Toolbox does all of the necessary optimizations for me, base on the Intel drive I have installed,. In short, the Intel Toolbox is who I trust.
It was the Computer window itself which dis;plays the drives. It wouldn't happen during the first 10 seconds of startup or the last few seconds before shutdown, so it was obviously some sort of software error.
I ran the chkdsk and several other scans which reported no errors on anything all night last night. I then attempted to restore with Acronis TruImage, which says it works on RAID arrays. This did not work. Maybe it has something to do with the RAID itself being messed up, but Acronis was unable to finish the restore. Either way it's completely unusable now. I'm going to break the array, format and reinstall now.
I got a band new ULTA X4 PSU. The otherone was cheap and was used in a cheapo system until transfering it here, I should have just gotten a new one for the new system. I am able to boot up, get BIOS and start the Windows installation. The only issue now is odd drive options during the install. It's showing the 335gb drive 0 which is my OS drive and 128mb MSR partition on my RAID array which I assume is for windows or the RAID. But it's also show a 100mb unallocated space partition. I deleted the 335gb partition but I wasnt able to combine them. I'm going to restart and see if it shows both unallocated drives (335gb and 100mb) as one now. If not what could be causing this? Should I break the RAID array again and remake it? I'm not leaving anything to chance this time. Thanks for all the help.
That 100MB partition is the Windows usual MBR partition. The MSR partition is created when drives are formatted as GPT, which you have apparently done. Windows still creates the 100MB MBR partition when a disk is formatted as GPT.
If you break the RAID volume, and format as GPT again, you'll still get the two partitions. You are not required to format a disk as GPT when you have an UEFI type BIOS. If you have a reason or need to format the RAID volume as GPT, then do so, otherwise it serves no purpose.
I have assembled a new PC with an ASUS Sabertooth Z77 mobo, Kingston 16 GB (2x8)
DDR3 1600 MHz RAM, Intel Core i7 3770 CPU, two Intel 330 180GB SSDs, one Intel
520 60GB SSD, one HDD Hitachi 1 TB and one XFX R7850 GPU. As OS I am going to
use Windows 7 64 bit Ult.
First of all I am not quite sure if I really can effectively integrate the 520 60GB
SSD into the new build, i.e. if I can use the normally potential properties
of that SSD in a stably working unit.
I would like to use the two Intel 330 180GB SSDs in a RAID0 configuration. Would it be possible to use another SSD or the mechanical HDD as a designated target drive in a recovery volume? Sorry if this question displays a funny/peculiar confusion in regard to my PC knowledge. Should I be able to use Acronis True
Image Home 2012 to make a recovery of my system and files?
You have already in detail answered Arin's questions about a RAID0 configuration on his mobo ASUS P8Z77-V Pro. I have connected the two Intel 330 180GB SSDs to the brown SATA ports. Otherwise, would all of your instructions given to Arin apply to my ASUS Sabertooth Z77 mobo?