Before installing the OS.
Assuming the motherboard supports it...
If you are not using SSD, go into your BIOS BEFORE you INSTALL WINDOWS and make sure the SATA CONFIGURATION is set to
ENHANCED - SATA AS: IDE
Do not use AHCI.
you can NOT CHANGE THAT after Windows has been installed. You must install Windows without AHCI and let the motherboard drivers install the Enhanced IDE driver for the SATA system.
mechanical hard drives only benefit from AHCI in NETWORk multi-access setups, otherwise AHCI SLOWS mechanical drive performance.
SSD is different, it requires not only AHCI but the right driver too to unlesh its full potential.
With W7 it is possible to use AHCI on some ports and shut DOWN AHCI on others if your motherboard has multiple ports such as Intel ICH on one set and Gigabyte or Marvell on another set in the DRIVERS.
HOWEVER.. if all you use is mechanical hard drives, there is no reason to run AHCI at ALL for a performance game system.
Check your BIOS and the motherboard manufacture for details about how to use or disable AHCI.
HDD setup considerations...
1. Always use the 1st physical partition of a drive for a OS or any high performance applications that require high disk access. Installing programs into the OS is fine, but when it comes to very large databases such as games, you must also look at how much those games are going to take up in space within the OS.
Example, if your drive is 500GB and the OS and all installed programs/games into that OS take up 200GB+ then you would be FAR better off from the standpoint of disk access performance installing the games to the first partition of another drive. The size of the drive also plays into that too. In example, if you use a 1TB or 2TB drive for the OS and installed games, then that 200GB is fine on the OS drive. But always remember the next item...
2. Always leave at minimum 35% freespace (optimal 50% free space) on a drive. Consider that freespace your friend and not wasted. Any hard drive that is filled past the 65% mark begins to degenerate in performance rapidly from that 65% point, forward. My personal fill size for a drive (other than just plain storage) is 50%. SSD's are not a problem filling past 50-65% because there is no mechanical latency involved. Here is a brief summary of true HDD performance and what happens as you fill a drive.. notice in the last image I posted where the highest perf is and where the perf begins to drop like a rock; 2/3rds the drive platter stize.
3. Format logical drives/partitions to 64K file allocation. This process will make less of the drive available to the system but the benefits in calling files up is far greater than the loss of some space. The larger the drive, the more space will be lost to use. In example, a 2TB drive formatted to 64K allocation will lose 200GB of space to the 64K block size. A 300GB drive will lose about 20GB. OS drives or drives that have a Windows page file on them must ALWAYS BE 4K or the OS will not boot and memory errors can occur.
4. Other than a NETWORK SERVER and unless a system is very LOW on system memory, moving the Windows page file off the OS drive is a CROCK! Unless you are running a NETWORK RAID setup and establish a defined network drive for the Windows Page (or SWAP) file so multi-access performance is increased, moving the Windows page file is a MYTH and will not in any way, shape or form increase performance to a system! The only circumstance whereby page file optimizing is needed in a home or typical system is for a tower that has less than 1GB of physical memory for XP and less than 2GB of physical memory for Vista/W7, other than those situations anyone who tells you that moving the page file is best, is in fact CLUELESS.
You will NEVER use the page file on a system that runs 4GB+ unless you are working with high-end engineering software such as CAD, 3D model development, A/V editing, etc. And in those cases you should increase your physical memory to meet your needs, NOT optimize a page file! NETWORKS are the only place page file optimizing really works!
Right after installing Windows7 OS you ALWAYS disable UAC before you do anything else...
To Disable UAC:
Head into Control Panel and type UAC into the search box, or do it from the start menu. Then drag the slider down to the bottom.- In the resulting window, move the slider all the way to the bottom.
REBOOT.. you MUST REBOOT BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE
Now, GET ALL your drivers installed STARTING WITH THE CHIPSET and MAKE SURE TO REBOOT AFTER EACH DRIVER GOES IN.
After all drivers are in and you have a internet connection...
Automatic Updates from MS can SLOW your system. You should MANUALLY check for Automatic updates...
Control Panel > Windows Update
In the left pane double-click Change settings.
To disable Automatic Updates choose Never check for updates
You can still access this panel and have it check for updates by clicking the "check for updates button" Do this once a month manually instead of letting MS thrash your disk while using your system.
NOW.... Summary to get started
1. 1st boot into Windows7, Shut down UAC (slider to ZERO) reboot
2. Start your driver install.. Chipset drivers FIRST, reboot, install the rest of your drivers and reboot as they tell you, leave the video driver for last.
3. Install ALL CRITICAL updates and make SURE NET FRAMEWORK is updated.. check the OPTIONAL updates list too for items but don't install crap like LIVE Essentials, Search and other garbage like that.
4. If they offer a driver update, LOOK CAREFULLY at what they offer, sometimes the LAN updates are good to get if they offer one, MICROCODE UPDATES are OK, but be careful with any video driver update they may offer.
5. The TRICK with Windows Update is you MUST RETURN THERE after a reboot and run the scan again to be sure you have everything you need, once you have done that and the list is clean you are finished at Windows Update and can proceed to install your software.
6. Disable Hibernate Permanently (resource hog)
Press the Windows + R keys > type cmd > type powercfg.exe /hibernate off.
7. Get a good defrag program such as O&O Defrag and run it after installing everything.
Welcome to my nightmare.