I love Mini-PC's.
I recently purchased a GIGABYTE BRIX barebone to use as media station and for some skyping. Officially it is called BG-BACE-3150 and I was totally impressed by todays performance of such mini-pc's. It comes equipped with a ULV Celeron N3150 and ist a bit larger than a butter dish. For folks who had a Turbo Button on a 4x86 such a mini-pc (as well as a Raspberry Pi, of course) such mini computers are simple magic.
The Problem with Windows 7
Now that the technology has advanced so much the last couple of years, the latest computers seem to exhibit only USB 3.0 ports, not USB 2.0. That means a boot from a USB CD drive or USB stick works. But an installation from a Windows 7 CD/DVD/stick will fail. The operating system cannot handle USB 3.0 propperly.
The Solution: Patch Windows to know USB 3.0
The solution is to let Windows know USB 3.0 before its very installation. This is not a hard process but can take a couple of hours (like for me) if you don't exactly know what to do. So I thought I'll provide a short procedure such that everyone else would have a better evening than I had...
Here's what you need:
- a Windows 7 image, e.g. a german one,
- a tool called web clients to combine image and USB stick to a bootable Windows 7 installation medium,
- a USB stick with more than 4GB memory size,
- a tool to add the USB 3.0 (and further) drivers to the Windows 7 on the USB stick
- for the GB-BACE-3150 it can be found here
- for other GIGABYTE mini-pc's please go to the product page, to "Support and Download" and chose "Utility" as "Download Type". Officially it is called "GIGABYTE Windows USB Installation Tool"
- for even other mini-pcs please look under the available downloads (e.g. for the Intel NUC's)
- a PC running Windows 7 (yeah!)
Howto Patch Windows 7 to know USB 3.0
Here's how you do it:
- Use rufus to install the Windows 7 image on the USB stick: launch the program and chose your image file.
- On the Windows 7 PC run the "Utility" from GIGABYTE with the Windows-7-USB-stick inserted.
- Chose "Source Path(CD-ROM)" as "None - Add USB drivers"
- Chose your "Destination Path(USB Drive)" as the USB stick that you have just put the Windows 7 image on
- Make sure to have "Add USB drivers to an offline Windows 7 image" checked
- Click on "Start" (Note: If you do this on a Windows 10 installation it will probably never finish...)
- The whole process takes in the order of an hour. If you want, check the Task Manager (CTRL-ALT-DEL, start task manager) for ongoing activities
- After finish of the "Utility" unmount the USB stick
- Use the USB stick to happily install Windows 7. It just works.
With the help of very simple tools it is possible to install Windows 7 on the latest mini-pcs. The whole procedure takes about two hours.
Note: Windows 7, GIGABYTE, and INTEL are trademarks.