So, this was a problem with the UEFI. I finally got Mint to install and boot. Here is how:
1) in the UEFI disable secure boot, UEFI boot options, enable legacy boot as only option.
2) SATA0 seems to be only for UEFI secure boot (in my case), disable it and put the install HDD on another SATA port.
3) Boot to Live CD/USB and make sure Gparted can "see" your installation HDD.
4) Run install from Live CD/USB and chose "do something else"
5) Create a msdos partition table for installation HDD
6) continue as usual.
to boot after install:
If you can boot-great. You are done. If not...
1) It is most likely that grub/grub2 did not install properly for the UEFI to find the boot loader. Run Boot-repair
from a bootable CD/USB.