Windows Vista Catch-All


Parallax Abstraction wrote:

That's odd. I have my system setup with SATA devices all over the different ports and Vista installed and continues to run it no problem. The only thing I can think of is that the disk controller driver Vista uses for that particular chip is a little finicky about the port configuration or that mainboard doesn't implement that chipset 100% correctly. If the system is capable of running the disk controller in AHCI mode (this option will be in the BIOS if it is), I would recommend enabling it before installing Vista as it can result in better disk performance.

Very good tip. I've run into AHCI config troubles in the past on some Dells with XP installs. Wikipedia says it all.

Enabling AHCI in a system's BIOS will cause a 0x7B Blue Screen of Death STOP error (INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE) on installations of Windows XP and Windows Vista where AHCI/RAID drivers for that system's chipset are not installed; i.e., boot failure

There is a registry tweak you can do to an existing Vista installation before you enable AHCI that turns on the stock driver and prevents the blue screen, allowing you to install the vendor specific driver afterward.


I ended up turning on AHCI on my Gigabyte mainboard and had a noticeable performance increase in disk I/O. A little bit with reads but particularly with writes. Every new system we sell at Digital Lifeline gets pre-configured with AHCI enabled now. The only thing to take note of is that most bootable utility CDs (like SpinRite, older PE-based ones) can't use AHCI and won't see the hard disk unless it is temporarily turned off.

Malor wrote:

Gaming, at this point, is still best on XP, and that's not likely to change immediately upon the advent of 7.

I imagine it will be at least another year after it ships before XP isn't the superior choice, and maybe two. Making games takes a long time, and Vista has had very low uptake, so DX10 is not popular among most developers. Even if 7 is a wild success, it'll take a good year before you see anything, assuming that devs believe the PR blitz on 7 that's all over the Net now.

Plus, PC gaming is very much an afterthought for most gaming houses, and it's the first thing to get slashed in budget cuts. There's plenty of budget cuts these days. So you'll probably see very few PC-specific games, just ports.

I'm actually suspicious that there may not be a gaming reason to upgrade from XP until the first true 64-bit games ship, and that's a long,long ways off. 32-bit is nowhere near tapped out yet. (Unreal Tournament has, I think, a 64-bit version, and it's faster than 32-bit, but it's not like it doesn't work in 32-bit mode.)

From a day-to-day use perspective there will be reasons to upgrade, but looked at purely through the lens of gaming: XP is it, and will be for much longer than most technology enthusiasts would prefer.

If MS and Valve could just shake hands and let Games for Windows die a quiet death, the PC has a real shot at being the big boy on the block again. Plus, how much does it cost Dell or HP to put a decent video card in a PC these days. A 9600GT will play games at a quality on par with the 360 and certianly the Wii.