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Build Advice Win7 installation on NVMe SSD, plus UEFI/BIOS questions

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by bawjaws, 23 Mar 2017.

  1. bawjaws

    bawjaws Well-Known Member

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    Hello,

    I'm finally rebuilding my PC (actually, that's not true. I'm actually building a completely new PC - but don't tell anyone). Things have changed considerably since I last built a completely new computer back in 2009, so I think I might need a bit of a steer from you 21st Century PC users! :D

    I'll be using a Z170 board and a 6700K, with a 500GB 960 EVO NVMe SSD. I'll also be using Windows 7 rather than 10 (yeah, yeah, I know, but I'm sticking with 7 for various reasons so please don't point and laugh more than is absolutely necessary).

    I understand that Win7 doesn't have native driver support for either USB3.0 or NVMe, so I've slipstreamed a Win7 USB stick with USB3.0 drivers and have NVMe drivers saved to a separate stick for use during the installation process. This should work, right? I've read some stories about having to create, then merge, multiple partitions in order to install Win7 to an NVMe SSD, and to be honest that sounds like a massive pain in the hoop. Am I right in thinking that as long as I can point Win7 to the NVMe driver during installation, I should be okay to install directly to the SSD without this nonsense?

    Another workaround I've read about is to install Win7 to a SATA drive first, install the NVMe drivers and then use Magician, Reflect or another utility to clone the installation across to the NVMe. This still sounds like a pain in the ass...

    Finally, my current PC doesn't have any of this new-fangled UEFI, just a good old-fashioned BIOS. I understand that you can choose to install Windows in either "UEFI mode" or "Legacy BIOS" mode. Which one should I choose, and why? Should I go for MBR or GPT whilst I'm at it, and is there any particular issue with either choice? I believe that GPT only works with UEFI mode, but is there any advantage to using GPT? Are there any other tips or tricks that I should be aware of, or specific dos or don'ts?

    Sorry for the absolute avalanche of questions, but it looks as if technological advancements have well and truly passed me by over the past few/many years. Unfortunately I've considerably less free time than I used to, so I'm really keen to avoid fannying about for days to try and set everything up :) That's a sign of how times have changed, too - back in the day, I'd have really looked forward to rolling my sleeves up and getting my hands dirty, but now I just want things to work first time!

    Thanks guys
    Bawjaws
     
  2. bawjaws

    bawjaws Well-Known Member

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    Oops, I've just realised that I should have posted this in Tech Support, not hardware. Any chance that a kind mod could shift this into the appropriate subforum, please? Or should I just repost in the Tech Support forum?

    Sorry for being an arse! :blush:
     
  3. Chicken76

    Chicken76 Active Member

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    I've just done this exact thing last week on a Z270 motherboard.

    I read the guide that's the first google hit for installing Win7 on NVME SSD, but I did not have to go through all those steps, and installed directly on the SSD. In short, the steps I had to take were:

    1. Disconnect all other drives and leave only the NVME SSD connected. This is important, as you might end up with the bootloader on another drive.
    2. Boot from a Win7 SP1 install disc (if you have a SATA DVD drive connected and PS/2 keyboard) or a USB stick with the Windows installation kit with USB3 drivers added (Asrock has an utility for creating one, or you may search the net for several other methods of creating one)
    3. Supply NVME Win7 drivers from Samsung when the installer doesn't find any disc to install to. Burn them on another cd/dvd, or if you went through the USB3 hassle, a stick (can be on the installation stick, in a folder). You can't use the drivers Samsung has for download on their site, because it's an executable installation kit, and you need them uncompressed. Look on the Internet for someone who posted "F6 drivers" from major manufacturers, it doesn't matter if they're not the latest version, once Windows is running you're going to install the package with the latest ones from Samsung. If I remember correctly, I downloaded a zip with just three files in it.
    4. After the first restart, go into the BIOS/UEFI and make sure you're booting from the NVME SSD and not the stick(s).

    That's about it. The installation itself (from USB stick) is sooo fast on a 960 Evo! Preparing for it takes a lot longer.

    Let me know if you want more details.
     
  4. bawjaws

    bawjaws Well-Known Member

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    Cheers for the reply and for the tips. I actually successfully installed Win 7 over the weekend :)

    I created a Win7 USB stick and added in the USB3.0 drivers using ASus's utility. I copied the Samsung NVMe drivers into a folder in the root of the Win7 stick (after unarchiving them so that I was left with the four driver files). I then browsed to the drivers when the Windows installer failed to find a driver, and that was that.

    The ASus utility claimed to be able to add in NVMe drivers to the Windows 7 USB automatically, but it wouldn't play nicely and kept throwing up errors when trying to build the USB stick. It would add in the USB drivers no problem, however.

    I think it was about 12 minutes from first POST into BIOS to being on the Windows Desktop. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the process was, given the horror stories I'd read. As you say, the preparation took longer than the actual installation!
     
  5. Chicken76

    Chicken76 Active Member

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    Forgot to mention that if you'll want to update the firmware in the future, you might need to install this patch.
    I haven't tested this as mine came with the latest firmware.
     
  6. Sentinel-R1

    Sentinel-R1 Chaircrew

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    Samsung Magician should take care of the firmware for you if you install it.
     

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