Installing Windows via bootable USB drive for Dell Precision 5820 Towers w/ FlexBay NVMe SSDs installed

Dell Precision 5820 towers require manual loading of the storage drivers during the Windows installation process. This brief article provides step-by-step walkthrough of how to accomplish this.

Prerequisites

In order to image a Dell Precision 5820 Tower that has a FlexBay NVMe solid-state drive installed, you’ll need the following:

  • The computer tower
  • Windows 10 ISO of your choice
  • Rufus bootable-USB creation software
  • USB flash drive with a minimum of 8GB of storage
  • The Intel Rapid Store Technology Enterprise driver for the virtual RAID and AHCI controllers

The process of obtaining the drivers and flashing the USB are covered in this article. If you already have your bootable USB Windows installer ready, skip to the Copying the driver section.

Obtaining the necessary drivers

To obtain the necessary drivers, look up the Service Tag of the workstation in question. See the Additional Resources section for links to the lookup website, driver download, and more.

Once you’ve downloaded the driver’s installer, run the executable. When the splash page pops up, select the “Extract” option instead of the Install option. Extract the driver files to a location of your choice.

Creating bootable USB Windows installer

Insert your chosen USB flash drive to your system. Download and run Rufus.

Select your device and ISO file.

Partition scheme = GPT

Target system = BIOS or UEFI

Give the drive a name and click Start. When finished, close Rufus but do not remove the drive from your system.

For this example, I already had a bootable USB installer for Windows 10 Update 20H2 prepared.

Copying the driver

In your newly created bootable USB flash drive, create a directory called “drivers” and another directory inside it called the workstation brand and model. The previous sentence is optional, but extremely helpful when organizing drivers for multiple systems on a single installer drive. Navigate to the directory to which you extracted the drivers. Cut or Copy these, and Paste them into the directory you just created on the bootable USB flash drive. In my example, the file system on the flash drive looks like this:

When done, remove the USB flash drive from your system.

Installing Windows

Insert the bootable USB flash drive in the Dell Precision 5820 or 7920 workstation in question. Power on the device.

At the Dell boot splash page, rapidly tap the F12 key on the keyboard until you see “Preparing one-time boot menu” at the top-right corner of the display.

When the one-time boot menu appears, use the arrow keys on the keyboard to scroll down to the “BIOS configuration” option, then strike the enter/return key on the keyboard to enter the BIOS configuration menu.

The following settings must be set/verified;

  • Secure Boot = Disabled
  • Boot Sequence > Boot Option = UEFI
  • Advanced Boot Options > Legacy Option ROMs = Enabled

Save all changes and reboot the system. Again, at the Dell boot splash page, rapidly tap the F12 key on the keyboard until you see “Preparing one-time boot menu” at the top-right corner of the display.

When the one-time boot menu appears, use the arrow keys on the keyboard to scroll down to your bootable USB flash drive, then strike the enter/return key on the keyboard to boot from your drive.

The Windows installer should now load. Continue through the Installation menu as you normally would until you reach the “Where do you want to install Windows?” screen.

At this screen, click “Load driver” and navigate to the directory on your bootable USB flash drive. Select the directory of the appropriate AHCI/SATA driver, then load the driver. The installer will do some scans, then return you to the screen above. If no drive appears at this point, that is normal.

Again, click “Load driver” and repeat the previous step, but this time selecting the appropriate RAID driver from the directory on your bootable USB flash drive. Load the driver. Once both drivers are loaded, you should now see the drive(s) in question available.

Proceed with the Windows installation as normal.


Additional Resources

Dell Precision 5820/7920: Imaging Steps for NVMe Drives in the Flex Bay

Dell Service Tag Lookup

Intel Rapid Store Technology Enterprise F6 Driver v5.3.1.1019_A03 – Download

Rufus – Download

Author: griffethbarker

Griff is a tinkerer and manager of IT, consultant of IT and management, and continuous student of organizational development. His hobbies and interests include games of all types (video, board, dice, card, tabletop, etc.) as well as listening to music, photography, and writing. Find him on LinkedIn!

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