Z97+XP941 Tinkering

So, I recently rebuilt my main desktop, and I had some fun on the cutting edge of technology with a Z97 motherboard and an M.2 SSD.

I’ve detailed my experience below for those that perhaps google Z97 and XP941.

Preparation
1. In troubleshooting, I eventually updated to the latest 0902 BIOS found on the Asus Support page.
Simply copy the file to a USB drive. Place it in the proper rear USB slot marked in green and follow the instructions from the BIOS.

2. While on the site, also download and copy the RAID drivers to a USB drive for use during the OS installation: Version 13.0.3.1001
* You only need the actual drivers and not the executables. I copied all of the drivers from the folder just in case.

BIOS Setup
1. Boot into the BIOS and adjust the following settings:
‘Launch CSM’ – Disabled
‘SATA Mode Selection’ – RAID
This allows the BIOS to recognize the XP941 as a bootable drive in the BIOS due to its lack of OPROM. This is based on instructions from the Z97 Device Report.

2. Save and reboot. Feel free to confirm the drive now appears on the right hand side of the GUI in the boot order list.

Windows
3. Using a Windows 8 installation DVD, the drive initially does not appear as an option to install Windows.
Press the Load Drivers button.
Select your USB drive from earlier and the appropriate folder where you saved the drivers.
Mark the checkbox to only show compatible drivers, this should leave only one.
Install the Intel RAID driver.
The drive should now recognize the XP941 drive and allow for both installation and booting.

Side Effects
I currently have a two year old HD 7850 GPU that did not support UEFI booting (My initial installs were using the onboard video).
This left me in another predicament. My GPU required CSM to be on; yet, my M.2 drive would disappear the moment the Z97 automatically enabled CSM and legacy mode.

I was eventually able to play around with the CSM settings to get the proper combination of UEFI and Legacy boots for my poor graphics card.

Conclusion
So, I’m definitely quite content as I put the finishing touches on my new build. The headaches seemed small, and I hope this tutorial can provide another google link to help other people avoid them. Things seem snappy and quick, and I’m eager to see how the system will behave at full use. I’ll have to invent some ways to tax it.

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