Dell 4600 Bios not detecting secondary ATA devices


D. Miller

I have two Dell Dimension 4600s (made in 2004). Their BIOSs are at different
levels, but both have never been able to detect the second device on an IDE
ATA cable. Both my PCs have 2 hard drives on the first IDE channel and 2
CD/DVD drives on the second IDE channel. In all cases the BIOS sees the
first drive but the second drive shows up as "OFF" in the BIOS. I am using
cable Select on all all the drives (have carefully checked that they are all
set right and that the gray and black connectors go into the right drives).

In all cases Windows XP Professional has no problem seeing and using
(reading and writing) all of the drives. BUT, since the BIOS did not detect
the second drives and their DMA setting is "use DMA if available", the
actual mode used is PIO and not DMA, causing severe performance loss on the
hard drives. The primary hard drive gets UDMA-5.

I cannot find anything from Dell on this problem, yet it must be common.

1. Any guess as to what the problem could be?
2. Would trying master/slave rather than cable select possibly be a
3. Is there any way to force the DMA setting through Windows since the BIOS
is not setting it?

D. Miller

Pen - thank you !! That was it, it fixed everything. I feel kind of foolish.
I'm a software engineer, have used PCs for 17 years and worked on 8 or 9
Dells but that didn't occur to me - I assumed the BIOS would at least detect
what was cabled and that "OFF" meant "nothing deteced on the cable".

Thanks again!


You're welcome. Glad to help.
If you set everything to auto, then "nothing
connected/detected" is just the absence of something

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question