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Latitude D820 BIOS | SATA AHCI Mode


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Latitude D820 BIOS | SATA AHCI Mode

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Hi everyone I've got a Latitude D820 and I really like it. I'm really interested in getting an SSD to put in this system but I have my doubts. I have been told that SSDs only really like being in ACHI mode but the D820 doesn't have this option in the BIOS. I've also been told that SSDs running in IDE compatibility mode will cause bluescreens and have slow performance.

I did some digging around and discovered that Dell have hidden this option from BIOS setup for the sake of saving time, answering costumer support calls regarding SATA operation and drivers.

So my question is, will Dell be able to release a new BIOS revision with this feature enabled? The D820 is still a capable and i would hate to see it crippled in this way.

Thanks in advance for any replies.


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All Replies
  • The answer is that this system is long since end of life - it will not see any further BIOS updates.

  • There are still people and businesses using the DX20 series of latitude and it continues to get updates. In fact, the last BIOS revision was from  early 2010. So i wouldn't call that "long since end of life".

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  • I have installed a Crucial m4 128 GB SSD on my old D820, and it works fine so far. I didn't know about the IDE/AHCI issue when I did the install, but in my experience the computer now runs significantly faster than previous. I have not preformed any benchmarking, so this is only based om my personal judgement.

    I originally bought the disc to upgrade a somewhat newer Acer, but I decided instead to go with the D820 due to its 1600x1050 resolution. I think this machine still works OK for simple tasks as internet-browsing, e-mail, word, excel,  ppoint and such, and combined with a SSD it boots up and shuts down more quickly than ever...

    I was however not able to install 64-bit W7, only 32-bit, and I wonder whether this is possible or not, since I have 4 GB RAM installed as well?



  • Hi Andy, I went ahead and bought the SSD anyway, it's a intel 320 series 120GB. The difference between it and the original 7200rpm drive is definitely noticeable, but I can't help but think that it would be so much faster it was running in AHCI mode. I mean, how hard would it be for dell to release another BIOS revision withe the option there? Anyway the reason as to why you can't install windows 7 x64 is probably because you have a core duo CPU as opposed to a core 2 duo. The core duo never supported intel 64. If you want to upgrade you can get either: T5500 T7200 T7400 T7600 These are all i know off that work. All core 2 duos slightly different from each other. Just bear in mind that you will pretty much have to take the whole laptop apart to get at the CPU. George

    Lotsa Dell computers. Too many to fit in the signature.

  • Do you have any idea how much improvement we would get with AHCI mode then? I updated the BIOS to the latest firmware, and suddenly the system recognized 3,3 GB of the 4 GB RAM, as opposed to only 3 GB with the old BIOS drive. Smile That said, i agree that one more BIOS update would be a nice gesture from Dell, as well as W7 drivers off course... I don't really see why they won't support W7, when it works so well even on these older computers. I guess they want to sell us new machines rather than help us updating our old ones. Stick out tongue

    When it comes to me not being able to install W7 64 bit, I guess you’re right about the core duo processor, since it indeed is a Centrino Duo T2300 1,67 GHz with a meager NVIDIA Quadro NVS 110M. Thus, I'm not too eager to upgrade the CPU on this old workhorse, as long as it works quite well for the basic stuff I already mentioned.

    For Gaming and such we've recently ordered a new Multicom Kunshan P170 (Clevo, similar to Sager NP1870 and Schenker XMG P701 PRO), and are now awaiting this charming "little" beast of a laptop (17.3" 1920x1080 matt, INTEL Core i7-2760QM, AMD Radeon HD6990 2GB, 4x4GB DDR3 SO-DIMM 1600MHz, INTEL SSD 320 160GB (system) and 500GB SATA 5400RPM 2.5" (storage)). Andy


  • That new gaming laptop you've ordered looks pretty sweet. Kinda reminds me of the D820 with the way it looks and the fingerprint reader in between the mouse buttons.

    As for the improvement in AHCI, well currently because the option for AHCI is disabled in the BIOS, it is running in IDE emulation mode. This restricts the speed to IDE speeds (133MB/s max read/write) if it was in AHCI mode which is 'true' SATA, then speeds would be a little higher (1.5Gb/s 187.5MB/s max) depending on what SSD you have.

    if it had 3.0Gb/s SATA it would be even faster (375MB/s)


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  • I would also greatly appreciated a BIOS update to allow for AHCI mode on my Dell D820.  I've put in an OCZ Octane S2 128Gb SSD but am getting BSOD and freezing.  OCZ recommend using AHCI mode but as noted this is not available in the BIOS.  I've noticed that Lenovo (and Acer) have support for the "Intel 82801GBM SATA AHCI Controller" which looks a lot like the "Intel(R) 82801GBM/GHM (ICH7-M Family) Serial ATA Storage Controller" reported in the Windows 7 Device Manager.  Is there any chance of an update?

  • I too have an 820 but with the 1900x1200 display.  The system works well and has a great deal of life still in it.

    With that said Dell should continue to provide BIOS updates to these machines. They run Windows 7 with little effort and their resolutions beats most laptops in production today.  Granted it wont run 64 bit os's but at this point in time thats not a big deal..

    I currently run a OCS Vertex 3 which is running a dual boot partition of Windows XP and Windows 7.  I have not had the issues some have mentioned with the BSOD but ACHI would give me additional performance as well as drive longevity.  A new BIOS upgrade is what the doctor ordered!

    Dell if your listening, how I buy a new PC product depends on how well the manufacture supports its past products!   The life of a PC is NOT determined by it's age or build date but how well it performs in the current world!


  • A BIOS update won't fix the fundamental hardware problem - this system uses a SATA to PATA bridge --- it's a silicon limitation, not a firmware limitation.

  • ejn63

    A BIOS update won't fix the fundamental hardware problem - this system uses a SATA to PATA bridge --- it's a silicon limitation, not a firmware limitation.

    Interesting, I was told by a Dell Tech that this unit uses the same disk controller as a later model and that one has supports ACHI.

    However if your statement is accurate Dell should put that info on the support page for the 820.  It would show Dell tried to address the issue but the hardware is the limiting factor and not Dell dropping support.

  • I'm pretty sure the Latitude D820 uses the mobile Intel 945 chipset, which is used on a few laptops that support AHCI mode including the ThinkPad T60.

    Lotsa Dell computers. Too many to fit in the signature.

  • gmaguire

    I'm pretty sure the Latitude D820 uses the mobile Intel 945 chipset, which is used on a few laptops that support AHCI mode including the ThinkPad T60.


    You are right,  the drivers installed on my 820 are for the Intel 945 chipset.

  • The D830 has an AHCI option.  The D820 was a first-generation system designed at a time when SATA was relatively new.  So that special drivers would not be needed for the OS install, it was built with a PATA bridge.

    There will not be AHCI support on the D820 system.  Same goes for many of the contemporary Inspiron systems.

    These systems were designed at a time when the performance of a SATA drive was no different from a PATA drive so there was no need for AHCI support.

  • "it was built with a PATA bridge. "

    Where did you get that information? The Intel 945 chipset has one IDE channel that is used for the optical drive in the Latitude D820.

    Same goes for the Latitude D610 and the ThinkPad T43. They are the machines that use the Marvell PATA to SATA bridge chip. Because they were released before SATA hard drives were affordable.

    Lotsa Dell computers. Too many to fit in the signature.

  • Well, the GPU (nvidia NVS120) died in my D820.  After looking a purchasing a new laptop but after seeing what they get for an WUXGA resolution laptop I decided to do a transplant and found a used D830base on ebay. 

    Other than the processor (820 uses M socket and 830 uses P socket) I was able to move everything else (WLAN, WWAN, Bluetooth, modem adaptors)  over to the 830's mobo.  I picked up a cheap T7800 also on ebay and I was up and running after loading the new 830 chipset drivers.  The 830 base even included the Biometric finger print reader. Total cost was under $100.00.

    What did it get me?  I had already previously upgraded the 820 to 4gb of PC2-6400 memory, the 830 and the newer T7800 chip supports 800fsb which means faster memory access and the processor runs much faster and also a 64bit os.  The 820 had nvidia nvs120 vs the 830's nvs140, don't think there is much difference here and finally, the new setup supports AHCI.

    Final numbers, windows 7, 820 vs 830 ratings

    Processor  4.5 vs 6.1

    Ram            4.9 vs 6.1

    Graphics    3.6 vs 3.4 (dont really understand this one)

    Gaming      3.3 vs 5.2

    HDD xfer     6.7 vs 7.2 (ssd drive with AHCI on 830)

    The toughest part of the upgrade was finding the correct drivers on the Dell web site but the work was worth the effort.  One thing I did do was to eliminate the thermal pad on the GPU and replace it with copper.  This way the heat from the GPU is directly radiated to the heat sync assembly and results in lower GPU temperature. 

    Final thoughts,  It was worth the effort, you can see a visable difference between the old and new system.  Another advantage is the ability to upgrade the cpu even higher in the future, the T9300 processor will also work in the 830 and will support up to 8gb of memory.  I don't need that now but it's an option none the less.  I even have a working fingerprint reader! Yahoo, no more passwords, just swipe the old finger.

    True it cost me $100.00 and some effort but in the end run it was really worth it and bought me at least a few more years with this WUXGA laptop especially when you consider I am just happy with windows 7 and have no want to move to windows 8!