I'm far from being a pro with PCs or W9x, but i have my fair share of W98SE-installations, which i'm doing with SSDs only.
SSDs can be fun, but they have caveats, so not everything, that works well with normal HDDs, works well with SSDs.
This thread shows my experience with those. Perhaps it can motivate, and help you getting started with SSDs with a minimum of hassle.
Limitations of my "advice"
The only configuration i'm interested in is triple-boot, that is, W98SE, XP Pro 32bit and W7 64bit together, to play legacy-games (W9x and XP), and still be able to do something useful in what i consider a safe browsing-environment (W7), as watching HD-videos on YouTube (i connected this box to my widescreen-TV).
Strictly speaking, the W7 installation and my opinion of a safe environment is a matter of personal experience, taste, (and my personal ambition of triple-booting at all ), of course, i simply mention the issues i had, as you might like to know about them.
In combination of triple-boot with W7 and SSDs, i have experience with the AM2NF2-VSTA, 775Dual-VSTA, and 4CoreDual-SATA2 R2.0 only, so not everything here may apply to you.
I cannot (and won't) give detailed reason and technological background for each and every advice, except for i give those out of experience with many combinations i tried, which either failed, or were dissatisfactory.
If you find SIMPLE solutions for the problems i mention here, feel free to add to the discussion.
Why to use SSDs at all with W98SE?
Simple reason: New IDE HDDs are so expensive, that IDE-SSDs have become a reasonable choice.
You can use old IDE-HDDs, but they tend to be slow, loud, and unreliable (this is IMHO - but if you don't think so, this thread is not going to give you anything anyway).
On the other side, booting W98SE from an IDE-SSD is fun: It's fast, and silent.
Drawbacks of IDE-SSDs
SATA-SSDs are widely known, well documentated, and well-tried. You cannot say this about IDE-SSDs at all.
Even though i regard IDE-SSDs as something very well suited for W98SE, and recommend them for this type of PC-build, there are many reports on them NOT being suited for XP or W7 - i.e. "hiccups" of up to 10 seconds on XP are well documentated, and i experienced those myselves. Out of this experience, i advise against using IDE-SSDs for anything BUT W98SE.
Another drawback of IDE-SSDs (compared to SATA-SSDs): They have no TRIM-Support, and there is no tool for "performance-recovery".
If there is something like garbage-collection, only Transcend 320 SSDs have a slight chance on having this, although i tend to doubt this, as there is neither documentation on this at Transcend, nor at the usual places on the net (i.e. Toms Hardware).
So, there probably WILL be a performance-degradation over time.
I did not notice any until now (using those for three years now), but I cannot promise you won't notice or benchmark some.
For my part, as everything is so much faster and more silent for me in comparison to normal IDE-HDDs, i would simply accept the performance-degradation, if there were some to come..
Which motherboards are to be taken, if you have the choice?
Preferably use a motherboard that has support for 2 IDE-channels, that is, 4 IDE-devices.
This is why: Especially the older IDE-SSDs tend to be peculiar in master-slave configurations, often resulting in devices to recognized, or the system falling back to the dreaded compatibility mode. If you want to connect a cd-rom or dvd, connect it to the second channel instead, for a minimum of problems.
If you plan to have XP and/or W7 on the system, and can get your hands on one of those rare examples that sport a SATA II controller instead of SATA I controller, you are better off.
Which SSDs to take, if you have the choice? (List will be updated now and then)
I only know of a few meaningful types:
SuperTalent MasterDrive EX2 (i.e. FHM32GW25H) (Seem to be ok)
Transced SSD320 (i.e. TS32GPSD320) (recommended)
KingSpec (i.e. KSD-PA25.1-032MJ) (can't say much about those)
(I have a SuperTalent Masterdrive EX as well, but that one may be hard to get already, and it is slower than the above types)
All others (including the Transcend SSD WITHOUT 320) are too slow, or too expensive, and often both.
You'll need an IDE 44 Pin 2,5" to IDE 40 Pin 3,5" Adapter (aka Notebook-IDE to Desktop-IDE adapter), and probably something to build it into a 3'5 " bay.
By chance i found a 3.5 Inch Drive Bay Mounting Kit with that adapter combined, which makes for a more stable combo - i can't seem to find it on the www any more, though.
How to configure the system optimally for the installation?
1 IDE-SSD with one primary Partition, formatted with FAT32, on the first channel
1 IDE-DVD on the second channel., or as slave (oly if you must).
If you know how to, DO partition and format the disk first, copy the content to a folder (i.e. INSTALL.W98), and start the setup from there, and not from ODD.
Of course, this way you'll have no problems, if the optical drive is not recognized during installation - this is common knowledge.
For our special build with IDE-SSD, you'll greatly benefit from the speed of the SSD. Believe me, this is where the fun starts!
Do NOT attach SATA-SSDs before your installation of the W98SE is done: This will prevent the system going into compatibility-mode with some SSDs.
This seems to be common knowledge on MSFN: If you copied the installation-data to the SSD beforehand, you might even disconnect the optical drive. This means to copy drivers and such to the SSD as well beforehand. Do that, if the system is forced into compat.-mode by the optical drive. Check for DMA-settings once the installation is far enough. Thereafter, Install the optical drive, if not done already.
Before installing SATA-Drives to install other OSs (like XP or W7), DISABLE the SATA controllers in W98SE system panel - you need not access these partitions from W98SE most probably anyway. Again, this prevents compatibility mode.
Things NOT to do, to avoid problems, and improve the duration of your SSD:
Do not build multiple partitions on any SSD. This is basic advice given to me from the Support of SuperTalent. It makes life easier from my experience.
Don't fill any SSD with more that 85% - this will enhance the lifetime of your SSD, as remaining sectors are not overwritten again and again, eventually weaing them out.
Don't defragment (well: Once after installation of any OS and major software is probably ok, if you insist) - this only wears the SSD off, without helping with performance.
Repeat: Do NOT install XP or W7 to this (or any) IDE-SSD: Quite some of them will cause annoying lockups while running XP or W7. This also helps against hassle when preparing multi-boot environments (KISS - keep it simple, stupid). W98SE does not seem to suffer from this phenomenon. To state my very personal opinion: W98SE-builds are the ONLY ones where IDE-SSDs seem to make sense at all.
My recommendation: Don't install W98SE to SATA-SSDs, unless you have good experience with your drivers. Again, because KISS... It can work, though.
Order of installation should be W98SE, then XP, then W7, from my experience.
Don't be surprised, that W7, contrary to XP, may see itself located on drive C:, and W98SE (and perhaps XP) are shifted to another letter, while you are logged in to W7. This is to be expected, and does not affect your XP or W98SE-installation.
My simple way of solving a problem starting W98SE from the boot-menu after the installation of first XP, and W7 thereafter (problem not related to SSDs)
If you only install W98SE, and XP thereafter, everything will be fine at first.
But after installation of W7, W98SE may show up in the W7 boot menu, but may not be startable directly (an irritating error-message may show up if you try).
I was able to start it, by first choosing the XP-entry, and then again choosing W98SE from the XP-bootmenu, but found that annoying.
This seems to be a problem of this peculiar triple-boot combo, where W7 copies the boot entry from the XP boot menu, but does not locate the W98SE-bootblock correctly on its own.
After unsuccesfully trying some things out, i took advice from the www, installed EasyBCD (the free Version, V2.2.) on W7 (not on XP, though), and this enabled W98SE to boot directly from the W7 menu as well.
Take note, that this produces some new files and folders on C: you are not used to from simple Dual-Boot configs. Never delete these.
This is a working solution, but probably not the most elegant one. If you have more knowledge of building a working boot-menu than me, you may come up with a better solution, without using EasyBCD. (hi, jaclaz )
What about XP and W7?
I installed XP and W7 on SATA-SSDs - each OS on its own disk, one partition only. This is what i.e. the SuperTalent support recommends, to keep partitions as big as possible, thereby guarantieeing a better wear-levelling, which is better for the life-expectancy. And i found triple-booting difficult enough, and having three partitions was enough for me. I prefer simplicity.
While W98SE may be happy with 32GB for a gaming machine, i recommed 64GB for XP and 127GB for W7 as a minimum. Take care about keeping the partitions large enough to have "breathing space".
If you are to use SATA-6GB/s SSDs, check beforehand, if they can be manually set to SATA I or II mode, and if in doubt, choose SATA II SSDs, not SATA III. This is, because i experienced SATA II-SSDs completely not working on SATA I-ports (unfortunately not having jumpers to set to SATA I), and i suspect that may happen with SATA III-SSDs as well.
There are only a very few W98SE-capable boards that have SATA II controllers at all. Still, a new board with an SATA I controller may be better than a used motherboard with a SATA II controller.
As a filesystem, I use NTFS for XP and W7, for a bit better performance (you may not notice, though) and (definitely) better security.
One reason for using NTFS is NTFS-file compression, as this gives me 12-15% more space on my precious SATA-SSDs, and is said to enhance the lifetime of SSDs, as less data is written.
This decision can be helped by choosing the correct SATA-SSD-controller (NOT sandforce, that is), and this works better with a bit more powerful CPUs (esp. Quad-Core CPUs).
This is my very personal opinion, and this may make your PC even more expensive, but: Passively cooled CPUs and GPUs fit an SSD build particularily well, combined with two silent 12 or 14" case-coolers.
Well, this is it. Discuss! I will add meaningful ideas to this first entry. If i did say anthing dumb, correct me.
Besides, there are old games, which my children can oly play on this build. They love it. This makes me happy. This is only possible because of the support of the MSFN-community, so: THANK YOU!
Edited by ragnargd, 18 October 2012 - 04:21 PM.