Want to understand behavior of P9X79

Discussion in 'Asus' started by Bill Anderson, Apr 7, 2014.

  1. My Asus P9X79 has proven to be a very stable board since I built my
    current system about a year and a half ago. Other than problems with
    overheating whenever I render video, I'm happy with what I have.

    I tried Windows 8 back when it was released as a beta and I hated it so
    much that I vowed to stick with Win7 until something better came along.
    The fact is, I see no good reason ever to change from Win7 because as
    best I can tell this time Microsoft finally got it right. But I know
    that eventually even Win7 will go the way of WinXP and the others before
    it, so I guess I have to keep up with the latest thing, whatever it may be.

    But that doesn't mean I don't still hate Win8. Still, the other day I
    read about Win8.1 Update 1 with all its supposed fixes and improvements
    and I thought maybe it was time to try Win8 again. I had a spare 256GB
    SSD just sitting around, so ... why not?

    First I disconnected all the internal storage drives in my system
    because I'd learned through experience with the original that Win8
    tampers with all the drives it sees, requiring chkdsk or something for
    data drives before they will run in Win7 again. (Something to do with
    Win8's "fast-boot" capability, which can be disabled, thus eliminating
    the problem.) Then I did a clean install of Windows 8.1 on the spare
    SSD and used some files anybody can find on the internet to update to
    Windows 8.1. And guess what? Now Win8 ain't so bad.

    I still prefer Win7, I think, but at least I no longer actively hate
    Win8. Win8 certainly doesn't work the "same" as Win7, but the changes
    no longer make me curse, "This **** is just WRONG." I was never going
    to use Win8, but I can see myself getting used to Win8.1 Update 1 if I
    ever feel the need. And I gotta say I was hugely impressed with its
    ability during installation to locate and install drivers for my LAN and
    my WiFi-connected printer with no input from me. I mean, I've become
    accustomed to a new OS automatically setting up my monitor and sound
    card, but a WiFi printer? From scratch? Wow.

    Now after all that, back to the P9X79's behavior. Why isn't it a simple
    matter to switch out boot drives? After disabling fastboot in Win8 and
    doing a little test, I discovered Win8 no longer tampered with my
    storage drives. But every time I'd switch from my Win8 SSD to my Win7
    SSD, the P9X79 BIOS would get confused about which drive is the boot

    Picture this: I have easily installed Win8.1 with only the spare SSD
    connected to the Mbo and I have applied Update 1. After turning off
    Fastboot (Or do they call it Fast Startup?), I connect all my data
    drives (four) and set them up to have the drive letters I'm accustomed
    to seeing in Win7. I install Office and other apps and everything is
    working just fine. Great. Now let's go back to Win7.

    I figure I ought to be able to power down the system, leave all four
    data drives connected, switch out the SSD drives, and then simply boot
    into Windows 7. Well, not so fast. All I get is "NTLR error." (NTLR?
    NT...something, anyway. NTSB? National Transportation Safety Board?
    Nah...but it's NTsomething.)

    I've seen the error before -- it's what you get when you try to boot
    from a drive that isn't a boot drive. Clearly BIOS has become confused
    about what to boot from. So the quick fix is to disconnect all the data
    drives, leaving BIOS no choice but to boot from the correct drive.

    But why has BIOS chosen to boot from some place other than the drive
    connected to the Mbo's #1 SATA port, the port it's been booting from all
    along? When I looked at BIOS I saw the boot order was still "P1 Pioneer
    optical drive" followed by "Generic Flash Drive," which is what it calls
    my Samsung 256MB SSD. (That is interesting to me too, as elsewhere in
    BIOS I see the Samsung drive by name, but not on the boot order screen,
    even though the Pioneer optical drive is shown there by brand name.)
    When the data drives remain connected, BIOS says it's going to boot from
    the correct drive, but it doesn't.

    I even flashed BIOS to the latest version (without looking up the full
    numbers, I can remember I went from 2xxx to 4xxx), but that didn't help.
    Any time I switch the Win8 SSD for the Win7 SSD, I have to disconnect
    all data drives. However...going from the Win7 to the Win8 SSD with all
    data drives connected seems not to cause a problem...yet. I mean, if
    I've learned anything while doing all this, it's that you just never
    know what's going to happen next.

    Can anybody offer any insight into what, if anything, I'm doing wrong?
    Why does merely switching out boot drives cause BIOS to become confused
    and ornery?
    Bill Anderson, Apr 7, 2014
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  2. On 4/7/2014 10:46 AM, Bill Anderson wrote:
    Then I did a clean install of Windows 8.1 on the spare
    That should read: to update to Windows 8.1 *Update 1*.
    Bill Anderson, Apr 7, 2014
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  3. I'm making progress in understanding this. I think.

    Through trial and error I've learned that I should just expect switching
    out one Samsung SSD for another will invariably cause BIOS to toss all
    the SATA devices in a hat and shake it up real good and you just never
    know what you're going to get. The P9X79 BIOS is like a box of chocolates.

    But that doesn't mean I can't straighten things out again after
    switching drives and prior to trying to boot. I just wish I understood
    what I've found through trial and error.

    I'm pretty confident now that I can plug in my Win7 SSD, set proper boot
    order in BIOS, and start right up with all data drives connected and
    recognized properly by Win7. I did it once, anyway, and I don't see why
    I won't be able to do it again.

    But setting up BIOS to boot the Win8 SSD has become a problem. When the
    Win8 SSD is plugged in, BIOS reports an extra, third boot drive. I see
    my Samsung SSD icon, my Panasonic optical drive icon, and a Windows Boot
    Manager (P1: Samsung SSD 840 Pro Series) icon. This icon is labled
    UEFI, while the other two have no special label. The way the P9X79's
    GUI BIOS is set up, you just click and drag the three icons into the
    boot order you want. This is on the EZ BIOS screen, not the Advanced
    screen. BIOS for dummies.

    If I move the Samsung drive to boot first, I get an NTLDR error message
    upon boot.

    If I move the optical drive to boot first, I get "Reboot and select
    proper boot device or insert boot media in selected boot device and
    press a key." And if I put a bootable CD in the drive, the computer
    will boot right up on the CD.

    I have to move the UEFI drive into first place in order to boot, and
    when I do, I go right into Win8.1 Update 1, just like I'm supposed to.

    But I don't want that drive in first place. I want the computer to look
    at the optical drive first, and if it sees nothing, then it can go to
    the UEFI drive to boot. And if it does see a bootable disk in the
    drive, the computer will boot from it. That's how I have things set up
    in Win7 and all this works just as I want.

    What do I have to do to BIOS to make things work like that in Win8? Can
    I reinstall Win8.1 with instructions not to use UEFI? Is that where my
    problem lies -- I didn't set up Win8.1 properly and I need to start over?

    Bill Anderson, Apr 9, 2014
  4. If anybody has been following my posts to myself (the lack of response
    suggests nobody really has had anything to add), I'll end the one-sided
    conversation by reporting I think I have it all figured out now.

    Set up Windows 8.1 Update 1 under UEFI on spare SSD? Check.

    Don't let Win8 screw up data drives for Win7 use? Check.

    Set BIOS properly whenever switching out SSDs? Check.

    Boot from Optical Drive in Win8.1? Well...Boot priority won't work
    under UEFI in Win8 the way it does without UEFI in Win7. Under UEFI if
    you want to boot from the optical drive or some other device, you have
    to press F8 at boot and choose from the menu that appears. No more
    automatic "Press any key to boot from CD or DVD." Oh well.

    That is all, over and out. Thanks again, everyone, for all your help in
    the past.
    Bill Anderson, Apr 9, 2014
  5. Bill Anderson

    Ghostrider Guest

    Glad to read that you had figured it out. It is so intuitive, in the
    end. IMHO, far easier with the UEFI bios setup.

    Ghostrider, Apr 10, 2014
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