Iíve tried searching this and now seem more confused. Iíve search in this forum, Q/A at ASrock, Goggle and not anything definitive. Then when I search SB850 thing get even more convoluted. The Asrock manual (pg. 38 Sect. 2.16.2 non-Raid) is straight-forward, but I wanted to ask first, donít want to reinstall Win7 64-bit or play in the regedit...

The build; 870 Extreme3 mobo, 965 X4 Black CPU, 2x4Gb HyperX DDR3 1600, a single Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB, along with a SATA DVD burner. The case has a front panel eSATA plug and I want that to work! As when a back-up drive is connected itís recognized, and then can be removed though ďSafely remove HardwareĒ, no different than a USB drive. ďIDE / Combined modeĒ I don't believe provides that, it needs to be AHCIÖ correct?

The kicker, this is an upgrade copy for Win7. So Iíll run a fresh install of Xp_Pro 32-Bit (I do SP2 also) then I install the Win7 64-Bit Upgrade Disc. Do I change the BIOS to AHCI as Iím readying to install to upgrade Disc? In other words; restart (out of XP), change the BIOS and then save out, and let it boot from the Win7 disc. Iím thinking Iíll need to change the boot order to run the CD/DVD drive to be the first, as if it thinks it booting to the HDD it might BSOD as the IDE/AHCI conflict.

Other questions,
1. ďHot plugĒ is the feature front panel eSATA connector is considered, while Hot-Swap thatís different and more a Raid function?
2. Will there be any other BIOS settings that would need to be set to make this happen? Like SATA IDE Combination mode to disabled or does it not mater once in AHCI?
3. I figure just the HDD on SATA3_1, DVD on SATA3_2, while the front panel eSATA connector on SATA3_3.
4. Iíd anticipate this would still keep the mobo rear panel I/O eSATA still the functioning?

Iíd appreciate a sanity check.