Replacing HD with SSD on Dell XPS-435T

Posted on 2015-02-04
Last Modified: 2016-11-23

I want to install a new SSD to a XPS-435T, built in 2010.  AFAIK the motherboard supports SATA I, but I am not sure about SATA II or SATA III.  Attached JPG is a screenshot of the motherboard specs from CPU-Z analysis.

So my first question is this:  Does anyone know what SATA versions are available on this motherboard?

What is a good way to identify what type of SATA is built on it now?

Second, there are two HD drives:

Primary (boot) drive is a Seagate ST3320418AS (320gb).  I believe it is SATA I.

Secondary (data) drive is a WD WD5000AAKS-75V0A0 (500gb).  I believe it is also SATA I.

I want to replace the 320gb Seagate with a SSD drive.  Probably a 250-500gb.

What I need to know is if there are any special warnings/issues in trying to replace a SSD from a conventional (previous)  HD.

Also, what you guys think about the Crucial vs. Samsung SSDs?

i've read somewhere that the SATA III drives are backwards compatible with SATA I standard.  Is this true?

Thanks in advance for you replies!

Phil in Sugar Land
Question by:pelampe
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Accepted Solution

garycase earned 300 total points
ID: 40590420
First, as for which brand ... I generally only use Intel or Crucial, although the latest Samsung drives are also very well regarded.

As for "...  special warnings/issues " with doing this upgrade, there are a couple things to check.   I don't know if the latest BIOS for your XPS-435T has updated this, but at one point Dell systems of that vintage did NOT support setting the SATA mode to AHCI.    Check your BIOS and see if you have this option.

AHCI is required for proper operation of TRIM by the OS ... so if you can't set it, then the OS won't be trimming the drive.    With modern drives, this isn't a critical issue as long as you leave your system on all the time and there are ample "idle times" when it's not busy -- the SSD firmware will automatically do its own garbage collection.

If you can't set AHCI, and you want to have a more absolute method of ensuring the drive is optimized, I'd get an Intel SSD ... their SSD Toolbox allows you to do an optimization at any time very easily (this fully trims the drive).   It also allows you to simply set a schedule when it will run the optimization automatically.

From the specs I could find on your system, it seems to have a SATA-2 interface.   This won't be as fast as modern SSDs can be; but it's "plenty fast" => you're not likely to notice the difference.    The key improvement in performance an SSD provides is the nearly instantaneous access time ... the higher sustained transfer rate is much less important;  and even at SATA-2 it will still be near 300MB/s
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Assisted Solution

VB ITS earned 100 total points
ID: 40590679
Does anyone know what SATA versions are available on this motherboard?
Your motherboard supports 1366 socket CPUs which (during its time) was regarded as more of a high-end socket. I'd say I'm 95% sure your motherboard has SATA II ports.

The current hard drives you have in your machine now are actually SATA II drives.

Brand wise I'd stick with an Intel SSD, they've been nothing but reliable for the many, many SSD upgrade I've done in the past two years. The 530 series will do you just fine, no point shelling out for the more expensive 730 series as your machine won't be able to make full use of the drive.

Definitely see if you can set the SATA mode to ACHI as gary has mentioned above as it will also improve overall performance on SSDs.

i've read somewhere that the SATA III drives are backwards compatible with SATA I standard.  Is this true?
Yep, SATA III drives will work when plugged into a SATA I port, it'll just run at SATA I speeds (1.5Gbps). You can also plug a SATA I drive into a SATA III port and you would get the same 1.5Gbps speed. You can currently plug any SATA drive into any SATA port and it should work without any issues.

Author Comment

ID: 40593873
First off, thank you all for your replies.

The information you provided was very useful.

I found this report when doing some research on SSD's and wanted to see what you thought about it.

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nobus earned 100 total points
ID: 40594085
i agree there are difference in speed and price - but even the slowest SSD will easily fill your needs , unless you're planning on hight disk and cpu intensive tasks - video rendering etc..
i use for the moment an 160 Gb intel one, and an intel and kingston 256 Gb one
for my daily use - i can't see any difference - or feel, even on my older motherboards
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Assisted Solution

garycase earned 300 total points
ID: 40594460
The report you linked to is interesting ... but note that the performance of all of the tested drives is fairly close; and ALL of them can sustain performance above SATA-2 speeds, so there would be NO difference between them in your system.

As I noted earlier, your system does not seem to have AHCI support, so the "safest" thing is to buy an Intel SSD and use the Intel SSD Toolbox to ensure it's kept well trimmed ... just set it to automatically optimize once/ week (or once/month) and the drive will stay in tip-top shape.

I'd just buy one of these, depending on the size you want:

Author Comment

ID: 40594716
I must say that Intel 530 looks like the top choice for me.   I am going to ponder this over the weekend.

Thanks to everyone again for the input.

Incidentally, came across this website which has a lot of bench marked SSD, HDD, and CPUs to name a few.

Have a good weekend!
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Assisted Solution

garycase earned 300 total points
ID: 40594861
FWIW, I've used a LOT of different SSDs over the past few years; and I no longer buying anything except Intel, Crucial, and Samsung.

My view:   All 3 of those makes are exceptionally reliable.    The Intel has the best support tool (their excellent SSD Toolbox), which makes it by far the best choice for any systems that may not have solid TRIM support.     Crucial has the best value ... you can get very high capacities for notably less than with the other makes; but also has virtually no extra support tools.   Samsung's units tend to benchmark very well; but don't do as well in real world performance as those benchmarks might suggest.

For your specific case, I'd definitely go with one of the Intel 530's I listed above.    The 240GB is probably plenty large enough -- but if you need (or want) more capacity just get the 480GB.   How much space is currently used on your 320GB drive?   That's probably the easiest way to determine what size SSD you need.
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Assisted Solution

nobus earned 100 total points
ID: 40595299
i also like intel models - but am using kingston models lately "SSDnow" models
up to now no problems noted

Author Closing Comment

ID: 40605834
Thanks for all your inputs.  I learned a lot about the SSDs and more importantly, which specs are really meaningful for my situation.

I ended up purchasing an Intel 560 series, 480gb from NewEgg.  It will arrive early next week.

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