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I bought a new AM2 motherboard with a Phenom processor. I'm re-using a DVD-ROM and IDE hard drive that is several years old. I'm about to install Windows XP and I was wondering if I can enable AHCI now even though I don't have any SATA hard drives yet. I've read on the internet that it's better to enable AHCI before a Windows XP install then after.

However, I don't have any SATA drives installed yet, but I plan to buy one soon (ie: few weeks).

Should I set AHCI before installing Windows XP?

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Yes

You will need to install the proper chipset drivers from the manufacture, before you attempt to install the SATA hardrive.

I am assuming you will be using the SATA drive as a data drive, and keeping the IDE drive as your C: (boot) drive.

If you want the SATA drive to be your primary drive, you need to install XP on it directly, and you will need the SATA ACPI drivers on a floppy disk to use during installation. There is point during the WinXP installation when it will prompt you to press F6 if you want to provide additional drivers.

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If you're planning on doing this anyways, then yes, you need to do so before installing Windows. Changing the mode after installation more often than not results in an unbootable install (with BSODs).

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