Thanks for that! I think it ended up being some drivers I did not install. Previous install used a CD that came with the motherboard; this time I thought I'd just download stuff from the website and obviously I missed something. Went back, clean install, and installed drivers from CD first then updated online and things are working better now.
Yeah, it seems so. The only change I made to my install procedure was to install from a CD instead of installing the drivers manually, so there must be something on the CD that I missed --- looks like something called Asmedia 106X SATA Controller.