Using a Seagate FreeAgent XTreme over eSATA with the ASUS P5B Deluxe motherboard.

Seagate FreeAgent XTremeI just purchased a 500GB Seagate FreeAgent Xtreme, hoping to take advantage of the super-fast eSATA port on the back of my ASUS P5B Deluxe motherboard. Sure I could have easily used the USB2 or Firewire 400 ports on the drive for a quick plug and play, but I wanted the blazing speed of eSATA. I’ve spent the last couple hours trying to get this thing to work right, so I figured I’d jot down my notes here in case any one else comes across the same problems.

First problem, the JMicron JMB363 SATA controller wasn’t enabled in my motherboard’s BIOS, so the drive wasn’t recognized. Easy enough: just go into the BIOS (hit DEL on bootup) and navigate the menus to Advanced > Onboard Devices Configuration > JMicron SATA/PATA Controller, and set to ‘ENABLED’. Set the JMicron Controller Mode to ‘IDE’.

With that enabled, Windows should now detect your drive. You should be able to see it under My Computer or in Disk Management as a Healthy Online drive. At this point, everything works fine as a drive, but I ran into a problem with the Seagate Manager software: Under the ‘My Drives’ tab, I received the error ‘No drives detected.’ Bummer. I ran Windows Update to make sure all my drivers were current (they were) and checked the ASUS site to see if there were any BIOS updates (there weren’t). At this point I was ready to give up on eSATA and just use the Firewire port. But after some detective work on the Seagate site, I found out that the JMicron JMB36X drivers need to be v1.17.46 or higher in order for the drive to work with Seagate Manager. Because this motherboard is a few years old, I was running an older driver. So after a few minutes of searching the JMicron site for updated drivers, I downloaded them, installed, rebooted, and PRESTO, my drive now works with Seagate Manager! Now all I need is a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner.

One caveat to updating the JMicron JMB36X drivers: I had to re-activate my Windows install. So buyer beware for those of you running a ‘stealth’ copy of Windows XP.