These boxes will be turned into a PC !

These boxes will be turned into a PC !

The MSI GTX 970 suddenly appeared in the Newegg store – the final piece of the PC puzzle, at least from an ordering perspective.     (Last week I gave up on the Case question and bought a nice black box like I always do, no blinky lights.)  I plugged my cart into the website, and waited for the components to roll in.    The SSD came last – Halloween night.    And Saturday morning, 11/1, I started to troubleshoot the strange hardware problem I experienced.

CPU and Memory installed

CPU and Memory installed

The motherboard H97M-Plus has support for six SATA III connections at 6 GB/S each.   Four of them are enabled by default.    First thing I did was simply plug in the three components and boot up the PC.    Two were recognized – DVD and HDD; the SSD was not.     I started a support case with ASUS.   They confirmed that yes, I was supposed to have 2 SATA III cables included in with Mobo, but they weren’t there.   Not a disaster – I bought three cables at Fry’s on Halloween, 6.99 each instead of the more likely couple of bucks online.

The hardest piece to lay hands on.

The hardest piece to lay hands on.

After fruitless web searching for more information or others with the same problems, I moved on to careful troubleshooting.    The ASUS rep gave me the right clue : have you tried one component at a time ?    Well, no I hadn’t.   Lazy troubleshooting produced the information that :

  1. All the cables worked.
  2. All the ports worked
  3. All the devices worked
  4. Everything together, did not work.

I decided to start with the slightly foreign item.     What if the cables were bad ?   Carefully plugging each cable, to one component, produced a surprising result.   One cable only works with the DVD, if the DVD is in SATA position 1.    So we’ll go with that.     From there, I verified that SATA 2-4 each work, with each disk, with each cable.    And with SATA 2 holding the SSD and SATA 3 holding the HDD all devices are recognized.

I could have sworn I did that at some point earlier, but oh well.

Next, time to boot up the Windows 7 installation DVD, thinking I’m home free.   I immediately get an error.    “Windows cannot be installed to this disk.    error: 0x80070057.

Hmmm.    What's this about ?

Hmmm. What’s this about ?

I found out that a common problem people are having is installing Windows 7 to SSD’s.   No idea why, but I’m anything but alone.     What I’ve found is that the guy with the problem tends to post, then finds a solution, then disappears.    OK then, let’s try and solve this one myself.

Many fruitless google searches were conducted, although I did get introduced to the excellent Windows 7 tool DISKPART.   You can use this command prompt based tool to create, format, set as system, or even repair partitions on your system.

Advice I got from various sources included :

  • “Maybe your hardware is bad”.    Nope.   Far too many people with the exact same problem as me, installing Win7 on an SSD.
  • “Disable UEFI”.    I think this might have worked a couple of years back, but UEFI and the BIOS are joined at the hip on my system.    The best I can tell, is that UEFI is a GUI-based version of BIOS and it actually looks pretty slick.
  • “Set your drive to be a MBR drive and reinstall”.    Well, I think this is going in the right direction, but all by itself it didn’t work.
  • “Format the drive first using Diskpart”.     While I successfully got it set to be a MBR drive, I could not get it to format no matter what I did.
Command prompt, how I miss thee.

Command prompt, how I miss thee.

At this point, I’m trying to decide whether to give up, or just sit on the problem.      6 hours of work is certainly a long time to go without any solution popping up.