Installing Windows Vista and 7 Ultimate on a Gigabyte GA-P35-DS4 motherboard with RAID enabled

25 04 2010

Generally speaking installing Windows Vista and Windows 7 are fairly straightforward.  The biggest issue I have had installing on this particular hardware is getting the install process to correctly deal with the hardware RAID solution. 

In this system I  have two 300GB hard drives which I have configured to be partially mirrored and partially striped.  On the most recent install I created a 200GB mirrored partition where I installed the OS and a 200GB striped partition for some data.

These instruction refer largely to my most recent attempt of installing Windows 7 Ultimate, although I had similar issues when installing Windows Vista Ultimate over 12 months ago.

Get into the BIOS

During boot up hold Del to enter the BIOS.  The main thing needed to be completed in BIOS is to set the SATA RAID/AHCI mode to RAID.  This is pretty much it, although I had tried a number of things on this and previous install attempts and will note some of them here in case they were/are significant.  During the Vista install I reset the BIOS to safe and then made changes, also when installing Windows 7 I broke the RAID in BIOS and then reformed it .  That was pretty much it, although I did modify the boot order so that the CD would be read first.

After exiting the BIOS

Need to get into the RAID configuration after performing the BIOS step.  This is done by holding “CTRL I” at the correct stage during boot.  This BIOS based utility is  self explanatory and it was simple to create/modify the RAID partitions as described previously.

Booting from the Windows 7 Ultimate DVD

To have this work it appears it was necessary to make sure the USB flash drive which is to be used is not inserted at the beginning of the install stage.  Hence without a USB flash drive inserted boot from the OS installation DVD. 

Follow the OS install instructions as per normal until you need to select the disk location for installation.  At this stage it appears that you need to load a driver for the install to recognise the HDD RAID array.  Basically you choose to load drivers and can browse a flash USB with the drivers on it, if inserted at this stage.  The drivers which I managed to get Windows to recognise were downloaded from Intel and as far as I understand were meant for their own motherboards. Gigabyte had some drivers but I couldn’t get them to work when installing Windows 7 – but this was due to the fact that I actually confused myself which motherboard I had in this system at the time of the Windows 7  install.  Anyway the Intel drivers worked, but waht is critical at this stage is that the USB drive be extracted before you select next once the drivers for the RAID have been installed.  I received a “setup was unable to create a new system partition or located an existing system partition”  on my first attempt and it appeared to be resolved by following the steps re inserting and removing the USB drive.  This appears to be related to Windows confusing which drive is to be the system partition and attempting to install the OS on the inserted USB.   There are a few posts on the Internet about this issue and I can’t really add anything other than to say the USB should only be inserted for the fewest number of steps possible to have the driver installed – if left it will likely give the error indicated.

After this point the installation is as per normal foe Windows 7.

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