Sunday, May 9, 2010

Scott's new Media Centre!

My Mate Scott and I have been working all day on his new media centre!

- Silverstone GD05B mATX black HTPC Case- Alu skin ABS Front Panel, 0.8mm SECC body, USB2.0 x 2/ Audio/Mic no PSU
- MSI 890GXM-G65 AM3, Dual DDR3-2133, AMD 890GX+SB850, HT 3.0, Onboard Radeon HD 4290, VGA, DVI, HDMI, 5x SATA (5x SATA3), 1x eSATA, 1x IDE, CrossFireX, 2x PCIe x16 (x16+x8), 1xPCIe x1, 1x PCI, 14x USB, Gigabit LAN, 7.1ch ALC889, Micro ATX
- 4x Western Digital WD20EARS 2TB 3.5" IntelliPower SATA2 Caviar Green Advanced Format 64M
- 4GB of RAM
- Respectable GeForce video card, 550 watt power supply, and TV Tuner card

We spent a couple hours this morning modifying a case which by design takes 2x HDDs, to take 4x HDDs. We did pretty well, and are very happy with the results!

Everything was going to plan, until we tried to build the RAID5 array. The idea was to have 4x 2TB drives in RAID 5, giving 6TB of usable space.

Out of the box, the motherboard didn't have a raid5 option, even though it should have. A quick bios update fixed that pretty quickly.

However, when we installed Windows 7 64-Bit Ultimate Edition, it gets all the way through installation, right up to just before "Completing Installation", and it comes up with some BS error about "Windows could not prepare the computer to boot into the next phase of installation".

I honestly think we've installed Windows 7 about 20+ times today! At least it feels like it.

The only way we can get a working copy of Windows 7 on this machine, is by putting the drive controller in to ATA mode, and installing to a single drive.

We cannot, under any circumstances, boot a copy of Windows 7, or install Windows 7 to a drive that is on the RAID controller, while it's in RAID mode. It simply refuses to let us do anything!

We think we might have narrowed it down to the Western Digital Advanced Format drives, not being compatible with the on-board RAID controller because of the "Advanced Format" bs. We currently are attempting to ghost a working copy of Windows 7 on to the RAID5 array, but I am skeptical at best that this will work.

We've tried putting jumpers on to pins 7 and 8, which supposedly puts the drives back in to the old mode, but this severely impacted on performance, which meant it took twice as long to install Windows 7, only to present us with the same error message.

The most annoying thing is that it gets nearly all the way through the install before we find out it didn't work! So, it's taken all day and we're still no closer to a working configuration!

My suggestion was to ditch the 2TB Western Digital drives, for the 1.5TB Seagate ones! We MAY end up doing this anyway, but for now we're still trying very hard to get a working copy of Windows 7 on this machine!

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