Here is a thoroughly tested install order that I have found to reward excellent performance AND consistent stability. It works with all Intel chipsets from 9xx-Series –> up. Let me know if you have any questions, and I will do my best to keep this updated with whatever changes I make in my build process.
THESE GUIDES ARE LIVING DOCUMENTS AND ARE UPDATED FREQUENTLY!
Check out the CHANGELOG to see what has been changed in each revision!
- If your system can boot from a USB thumbdrive, I would recommend downloading the Windows 7 USB DVD Download Tool from Microsoft to create a bootable installation “disk.” (I also recommend copying the storage and network controller drivers here, to avoid having to switch disks/keys mid-install!) You can download the Windows 7 USB Download Tool from Microsoft HERE.
- Disconnect any peripherals, external storage, secondary/tertiary monitors, game controllers, printers, et cetera.
- Update your motherboard’s BIOS to the latest revision. If you have an add-in storage controller such as a SAS or RAID adapter, make sure that firmware is updated as well. (Do so at your own risk. I can’t be held responsible… If you don’t know what you’re doing, ask your respective part’s manufacturer!)
- After updating, go into the motherboard’s BIOS and disabled anything you are not absolutely using. Any SATA/SAS ports, onboard sound, network controllers, legacy ports, etc.
- Install Windows. (Even if the storage controller is detected by Windows, select to manually add a controller and force the use of the manufacturer’s drivers rather than the Microsoft drivers!) If you’re using the onboard Intel SATA/RAID for everything up to 6/C200-Series chipsets, the latest driver disk version from Intel is 184.108.40.2066 available HERE. For 7/C600-Series, version 220.127.116.113 is available HERE
- Install Windows 7 Service Pack 1. Download Service Pack 1 from Microsoft HERE.
- Go to Windows Update and update everything listed. Make sure that you add the option to check for updates to additional Microsoft products! You may have to repeat this several times. (If your network adapter is not recognized, install the drivers for them first)
- Install the latest DirectX update if it is not available through Windows Update. Latest End-User Runtime release is June 2010, available from Microsoft HERE.
- Install the latest Intel INF Update. (These are the Intel chipset drivers for chipsets up to and including Patsburg [Sandy Bridge-E].) Latest version is 18.104.22.1687 available from Intel HERE.
- Install the latest Intel Rapid Storage Technology drivers and software. (If you are not using ANY of the Intel SATA ports, you do not need to install this software!) Latest version is 22.214.171.1246 available from Intel HERE. If you happen to have a X79/C600 board, the Rapid Storage Technology Enterprise (RSTe) drivers are at version 126.96.36.1993, available from Intel HERE.
- If you have an add-in or additional storage controller, install its respective software and drivers here.
- Install the latest video drivers for your respective graphics adapter.
- Install the latest network drivers if you have not already done so in Step 7.
- Install the latest sound card drivers.
- Install the latest drivers for any other USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, eSATA or Firewire controllers in your system.
- Begin re-installing your peripherals that you removed in Step 2, etc ONE BY ONE with the latest software and/or drivers. (Sometimes, more than one can be installed before rebooting. However, use discretion as dependencies on any previous installations can cause issues if not rebooted before starting.)
- Install the rest of your applications. I would suggest installing those that change the least often like office, developer and multimedia suites first to reduce disk fragmentation down the line.
- Confirm your system is working and tweak as required!
This work by Dorsey “Lord Micron” Shreve is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.reverb-lounge.com/about/content-licensing/.