Installing 3 Hard Drives in a Dell XPS 8300 is Absolutely Possible (and easily done)

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Installing 3 Hard Drives in a Dell XPS 8300 is Absolutely Possible (and easily done)

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I just wanted to post this because I saw confusion in this topic in several other posts with no definitive answers.  Also, some Dell chat tech support reps give incorrect info on this.  I was told by a tech support rep (I won't mention his name but definitely a name from India) that the Dell XPS 8300 can only use 2 hard drives.  There were a few others I chat with who said the same thing.  That is absolutely 100% incorrect.  One can already make the speculation that it can support more than 2 hard drives just by counting the number of SATA ports in the motherboard - there are 4.  However, I am speaking from my own personal experience in having successfully connected 3 hard drives, not just guessing or speculation. You could probably also connect 4 hard drives if you wanted, but you'd probably want 1 of the 4 SATA ports to be for your CD/DVD-ROM drive.

In another post someone is concerned with where a 3rd hard drive can be screwed into.  A 3rd hard drive fits PERFECTLY into the slot just above the 2 hard drive slots (the flexbay slot).  I mean perfectly – it is a very snug fit, it's almost as though this slot was designed to fit a hard drive (even though the Dell tech support rep said that this slot could not be used for a hard drive - how wrong he was).  The hard drive does not move around (it takes a firm amount of pressure to move it) so there is no need to screw it in - it just stays in place firmly.  And it works, I tested it and now I have 3 hard drives on my XPS 8300.  

Here is a pic of all 3 hard drives installed.  You can see the green underside of the first 2 hard drives and the 3rd hard drive is immediately to the left in this photo (if the computer is upright then it would be the slot above the hard drive slots):

Here is a front view photo:

Notice how the slot fits the hard drive perfectly.  Again, it does not move easily without firm pressure so there is no need to screw it in.  Note, I could have also put the hard drive into the 2nd CD/DVD-ROM bay but it wouldn't be an exact fit (you'd probably have to buy and put in brackets) and also, why waste this slot in case you do want a 2nd CD/DVD-ROM drive later?  The tech support rep said that the flexbay slot is a "dummy" slot and does not have a purpose (but again he said that a hard drive could not go in there, so even this could be wrong info).  Anyway I hope this helps someone who is also considering 3 hard drives in their Dell XPS 8300.

Here is a video I posted on the topic:

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  • Again, this was not really a question but more of an answer to a question asked many times.  If you have any input or feedback feel free to post...

  • Hi Outlier,

    Nice work, and nice pics.

  • Does anybody know if the Chassis of Dell XPS 8300 and the Dell Dimension 9200/XPS 410 are similar [same]?

    Regards

     

  • My previous computer was a Dell XPS 420 and the chassis design is rather different.  The XPS 420 is bigger and there was more room to maneuver and the 2 hard drive slots were very conveniently located - they basically snapped into place.  It looks like a 3rd hard drive would have been possible but I never actually tried it with that computer.  Being used to the XPS 420 and then going to the XPS 8300, it feels really tight in there.  If you have big hands you may have to unscrew and remove the video card when plugging or unplugging the SATA cables into the motherboard (but hopefully you won't have to do this frequently, perhaps only once).  I liked the XPS 420 design better (I started other threads about some issues I have with the XPS 8300 chassis design).

    I should also mention, the first 2 SATA ports (labelled SATA 0 and SATA 1) are the higher speed ports, SATA 3.0, which means you can connect the faster 6 GB/s hard drives into them.  The remaining two ports (labelled SATA 2 and SATA 3) are a slower speed, SATA 2.0, so it doesn't matter if you put a 6 GB/s drive or a 3 GB/s drive into them - it'll still only operate at 3 GB/s.  So if you're on a budget then it's probably more economical to get a 3 GB/s drive for your 3rd drive.  

  • Converted this to a wiki so it can be found more easily.

    Philip Yip

     

    Windows Reinstallation Guide and Related Wikies See here for other wikies such as Customising and Using Windows 8.1, Dell Wireless Cards and Unofficial Drivers.

  • snowshine

    Does anybody know if the Chassis of Dell XPS 8300 and the Dell Dimension 9200/XPS 410 are similar [same]?

    Regards

     
    snowshine
     
    No, they are total different, the XPS 8300 is ATX and the Dimension 9200/XPS 410 are BTX.
      
    Bev.

     

    If my answer was helpful, please use the 'Did this answer the question' and click: Yes
    Forum Member since 2001
    I am not employed by Dell

  • Just for the record, even though the first two SATA ports are the newer and faster SATA 3.0 (6 Gb/s) ports, the hard drive that came with my Dell XPS 8300 is only capable of 3 Gb/s (the SATA 2.0 standard).  So if you buy an XPS 8300 because it has faster SATA 3.0 ports, make sure the hard drive is also compatible with the higher speed.  If not, and you want the higher speed, you'll probably have to replace it with a hard drive that is capable of the higher SATA 3.0 speeds (like I will be doing).  If you're a casual computer user, you probably won't even notice a difference though...

  • So I'm guessing from these photos that one could also put in an SSD in that flex slot?

    I just got my 8300 last week, with the 2x 500gb RAID 0 HDD config. But I was planning to put a 240gb Kingston HyperX in it and using that as my boot drive. Hoping it's possible.

    Thanks for posting this info! It was helpful.

  • If a normal drive fits a SSD will fit as it uses the same driver bracket size

     HomeBuilt SandyBridge P8P67 i7 2600k @ 4.5 ghz 8gigs GSkill Ripjaws. Corsair 800D Case and AX1200 Ps X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty pro PCIe Sound Card
    Dell Studio XPS 1645  Window 7 Pro

    Forum member since 2003

  • What other options do I have becuase my Flex bay is used with a USB 3.0 card that came with the computer? I was planning on installing a 120GB SSD Drive as boot up and then setting up a Raid 1 for the two 500gb drives! Any suggestions? Thanks,

  • Well, given that an SSD has no moving parts, I know a few people who just have them laying inside their case. They don't need to be screwed in like a HDD does. So peek around inside the case and see of there's anywhere else it'll fit? Keep in mind that SSD's are also 2.5" so they are considerably smaller than an HDD.
  • The USB-3 interface card is in the back of the machine, The thing in the flex bay is just a cable from the card and a USB-3 jack. An inventive fellow (unconcerned about warranty) could find a way to move that usb-3 jack to another location - perhaps to an empty spot on the back of the machine.

  • @Outlier - A few quick questions, as I've gone ahead and ordered my HyperX SSD. Forgive my noobish-ness... it's been a while since I've worked with PCs.

    1.) Once I install the SSD, I want to make it my boot drive. I assume I'll need to go into the BIOS to change that?

    2.) Will doing so interrupt the RAID-0 configuration of my existing 2x 500gb HDDs? I actually want to wipe them clean (no OS--just storage).

    3.) I assume I can use the Windows 7 disc I paid $15 to Dell for to re-install the OS to the SSD?

    Your help is appreciated. Thanks.

  • 1. you cannot set the boot "drive" in the BIOS ... only the boot device; your Windows installation on your SSD will be automatically added to the Windows "boot manager".

    2. installing Windows to your SSD will not affect your current RAID 0 data, as long as when you install Windows you select the SSD and not the "disk" that is your RAID 0 by mistake.

    3. yes, you can use the OEM DVD from Dell, but you could have also used Retail media to install, then activate by phone.

  • 1.) Sorry--I mis-spoke. I think I meant the boot priority. (Can you tell it's been a while since I've used a PC?) Glad to know Windows will allow me to set this.

    2.) Should I reformat the RAID disks, since they have the Dell restore partition and the existing OS on them? Or can I just manually nuke all that via Windows Explorer once Win7 is installed on the SSD?

    3.) Not sure I follow here. Wouldn't it just be easier to use the OEM DVD from Dell? Since this is my only PC, it's the only copy of Win7 I have. Although I've heard Dell has a site to download the OS minus all the bloatware--not sure if that's accurate, tho.

    Thanks for your input.