whats the best way to do this considering i don't have an windows installation to work from?
Could you elaborate on this part. How are you expecting to install windows 7, without a Windows 7 disk? Or do you have a Windows 7 disk?
I've never installed Windows 7, but I did recently install XP to a fresh Hard Drive. I installed the drive, put the Win XP cd into the CD rom, and multiple BSOD's later figured out I needed to load a 3rd party driver to complete the install.
I am guessing that the particular issue I had isn't a problem with Win 7 though. You should be able to boot from the Win 7 CD and install to any Hard Drive that your system detects.
In order for the system to detect the drive, the data cable has to connect the drive to the motherboard, and a power connector has to be plugged into the drive from the power supply. Those cables are completely different for SATA drives or PATA (aka IDE) drives, so if you are confused as to what goes where you should do an image search for 'SATA connector' and 'PATA connector' until you figure it out, or post here with more specific info.
You should also check you CMOS settings, which is done by pressing a key while starting up. Exactly which key differs for each Bios chip manufacturer, which in turn depends on what model motherboard you have. It should say which key to press somewhere on the screen, during the power-up-self-test and before it attempts to boot into an OS. Press that key before booting the OS starts, and you will be able to see your CMOS settings (aka BIOS settings or system settings).
You will have to make sure that:
- your CD drive is first in the boot order, so it will boot off of your Win 7 CD (assuming you have one)
- your system has found the hard drive you installed, it will have data about it and you should be able to tell from the capacity it mentions whether it is the drive you installed, or maybe some other device you have connected.
once you are sure of those 2 things, save settings and exit CMOS. You should be booting from your CD, and it should take you right to the Windows 7 installation - unless the process is very different from an XP installation (I don't know why it would be though)