SSD and HDD setup with lack of AHCI setting

I have a Dell XPS 8100 with the newest BIOS but still cannot set my PC into AHCI mode. It is currently in RAID 0 with 2 750G HDD and I bought a 256G SSD to replace one of them (for OS and most used programs) and use the other HDD for infrequently used programs, documents, pictures, etc.
I'm not sure how to go about doing this since putting the SSD and the second HDD in the same array defeats the purpose. One of the possible solutions I've heard is to remove both HDDs from the first SATA controller (ports 1&2) and only install the SSD in port 1 in RAID mode, install the OS and such, then reboot the computer after having added the one HDD to the second controller (port 3 with the DVD drive moved from 3 to 4) and boot it in IDE/ATA mode. This would mean that port 2 is empty.
Is this possible or is there a better solution that I am not aware of. Any help is greatly appreciated!
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  1. Best answer
    If AHCI is not available in your bios, you can leave the bios SATA mode set to RAID and simply not build an array. As AHCI is a subset of RAID, your SSD performance will be the same.

    If you install your OS with the bios set to one mode and then change it to another you will only get BSOD until you change it back, since the registry key is set to expect that mode and will not boot.

    The only issue is that some software, like Samsung Magician will not work if the bios is set to RAID mode.

    A clean install is best to use the SSD as your OS drive, which is preferred. Just insure that you have installation media available. If you use Windows 7 you can download a legitimate full install disk from Microsoft's online distributor Digital River and burn to a DVD. Do the install with only the SSD attached and then attach other hard drives when completed. You would activate using the key from your Windows 7 sticker.
  2. Ok, but what about the HDD. Does what I said above work?
  3. You can attach the other HDD once the new install is done. You can use any port, although I would connect the SSD to the fist port, so I would use the second for the HDD. You will need to reformat the HDD though as half of a RAID 0 array is not usable as is, so back up all data before starting. You should be able to just use disk management to do the job, but if you have any trouble with that, simply open a command prompt (do a right click run as admin) and use diskpart commands to clean the old HDD like this:

    list disk
    select disk n (where n is the HDD)

    Now it will be unpartitioned and will need to be initialized and then formated using disk management.
  4. Oh so if I reformat the HDD then it doesn't matter that it's in RAID mode? Reformatting isn't a problem I already backed everything up.
  5. No problem at all.

    I do it all the time with drives that I pull from old large RAID arrays when I upgrade them to larger disks, I tend to just use the diskpart clean since it is so quick, just make sure that you select the correct disk to clean. :)

    RAID mode doesn't create arrays, it simply allows you to do so, but it works perfectly fine with individual drives and acts just like AHCI with the exception of Magician as I mentioned. On a desktop machine, for example, you might use RAID mode so that you could have three disks in RAID 5 and the OS disk not in an array.
  6. Ah I see. Ok thanks, that helps a lot!
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