Monday, May 7, 2012


Can't install Windows XP Pro SP3 on Dell Optiplex 790

Dell Optiplex 790 keeps crashing into BSOD when installing Windows XP SP3. Windows 7 Pro installation goes fine on the same machine.

Before you proceed further, I would suggest contacting Dell on this at this point, perhaps you can get the Dell support guys to ship you out the XP system restore disk which comes with all the relevant drivers and support for that chassis of machine.

But, if that is not what you want to do, lets proceed further with the steps you can follow.

Try to run Dell Diagnosis check to see all your Hardware is working fine, this is because we want to make sure we are clean without hardware defects.

This is down to the SATA controller driver, if you go to Dell's website and find go to the driver downloads for Optiplex 790 on XP and download the Intel driver (pre-OS) under SATA drives, copy this to a USB/floppy disk and then during the XP install press F6 when prompted.

AHCI is the recommended setting as you get better performance. Windows 7 works fine, as it has the correct drive on the install DVD, the XP being several years old does not, and causes the BSOD.

If you still cant find success. And if your hardware has no defects, you can continue with the below, its time consuming to do the below.

Here's the simplest of the hardest way to rectify the issue of loading XP SP3 on these Optiplex 790’s; it seems that the motherboard needs to be set to ATA mode in order for the system to boot.

This is found by selecting F2 on system startup (to enter BIOS).

Choose SATA Operation>Drives>ATA Mode>Save and Exit.

Here is how you can have XP SP3 running on AHCI.

- Fresh install:  install XP with BIOS in ATA mode.  Install all drivers afterwards...

- Existing image, f.e. Optiplex 760-780 image:  load image, switch BIOS to ATA ...

... then reboot XP in safe mode (F8), BIOS still in ATA mode

Go to device manager,  find IDE/ATA ATAPI-controllers section.

Get the Optiplex 790 "Pre-OS" driver,  INTEL_RAPID-STORAGE-TECHNOLO_A07_R291720 from the Dell site and unpack it.

Manually replace controller driver, only for the second lower in the list, leave the bottom one.

Browse to unpacked driver, select iaStor.  Choose Intel (R) Desktop/Workstation/Server Express Chipset SATA AHCI Controller.

System asks for reboot, do so.  While rebooting, change setting in BIOS to AHCI.

Boot XP in safe mode again, it will detect the new controller and ask for a reboot (ignore all other missing driver messages). Reboot.

Boot XP in normal mode, the SATA controller should be in place. Install other drivers (Chipset, Video, LAN, Audio etc.)

Note: create an image at the right times, if you get blue screens you may not be able to do this driver insert trick again and have to start all over.


About bench3 -

Haja Peer Mohamed H, Software Engineer by profession, Author, Founder and CEO of "bench3" you can connect with me on Twitter , Facebook and also onGoogle+

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