28.12 Step 12: Install Software
Install the operating system per the manufacturer's instructions. During installation or immediately thereafter, as appropriate, install any driver disks provided with hardware components. If possible, do this during installation to prevent problems. For example, when installing Windows NT 4, we first used the drivers provided on the NT CD for the Intel PRO/100+ Ethernet adapter. As it turns out, those drivers simply didn't support our more recent Intel adapter. We could have saved considerable time simply by supplying an updated drivers disk during installation rather than using the Microsoft-supplied drivers.
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Don't assume that you should always install all motherboard utilities and drivers supplied by the manufacturer. After we finished building this system, we installed patches and drivers in the order recommended by Intel, which was to install Windows 2000, followed by SP1 (we actually used SP2), followed by the INF update, followed by DirectX 8, followed by the Intel Ultra ATA Storage Driver (which was subsequently incorporated into the Intel Application Accelerator utility).
After we installed the operating system and service pack, we benchmarked the system. SiSoft Sandra reported hard drive performance of 25,374. We then installed the INF update, DirectX 8, and the Intel Application Accelerator. When we benchmarked the system again, we found that hard drive performance had dropped to below 10,000. Thinking that perhaps there was a conflict of some sort with Sandra, we then tested the system using several other benchmarks, including PC Magazine's WinBench 99 2.0. All reported much lower hard drive performance than expected.
We stripped the system down to bare metal, reinstalled Windows 2000 and SP2, tested again using all the benchmarks, and found that all reported very high performance. We then installed the INF update, DirectX 8, and the Intel Application accelerator again, and found that the hard driver performance benchmarks plummeted dramatically. Thinking that perhaps DirectX 8 was causing the problem, we stripped the system to bare metal again and installed Windows 2000, SP2, and DirectX 8. Running the benchmarks showed the same high performance as before we installed DirectX 8, so clearly the problem was somehow related to the Intel Ultra ATA Storage Driver.
After you complete the installation and restart the system, connect to the Web and check the manufacturer's web site to locate the latest production drivers for each hardware component you have installed, particularly motherboard, video, sound, and network. If you've installed a CD burner, be sure to look for the latest firmware version for it. Once you've updated all drivers, restart the system and install your applications.