I had a lot of problems with different installs both from cd, dvd, or unetbootin seeing my SATA hdd
Only Mint 4.0 would recognize the drive and install.
My SATA drive is a Seagate 500gb 3.0
I got this from someone pointing me to a bug report in the ubuntu forums about not recognizing SATA drives.
Fix: choose install mode after booting CD or DVD
choose boot options
I did this with Hardy 8.04 and it found my SATA drive right away and installed no problems. Installation running great.
According to the post in ubuntu forums this is not really a bug.....the pci=nomsi is just an option to allow live cd or installer to see the SATA drives....an option that it seems a lot of people dont know about.
Hope this helps....works great for me and will now try it with my Mint 5.0 CD
Thanks for everyones help