[SOLVED] Asus TUF Gaming B550M-Plus with M.2 SSD as boot drive - Master Boot issues ?

Feb 5, 2022
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MB: Asus Tuf Gaming B550M-Plus
CPU: Ryzen 7 5800X
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws DDR4-3200 16GBx2 (F4-3200C16D-32GVK) In slots A2 & B2
M.2 (boot): Western Digital SN750 1TB (WDS100T1B0E-00B3V0)
Storage: Western Digital 4TB SATA (WD4005FZBX)
Storage: Western Digital 8TB SATA (WD8001FZBX)
BR-RW: LG WH16NS40 Blu-ray disk RW
PS: GameMax 800W Power Supply

GPU: Asus NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3 GB (used... will ultimately be replaced with 3070 whenever it gets here!)

All of the above are new - except for the GTX-1060, of course.

Latest BIOS revision updated.

M.2 installed in m.2_1 slot. None of the drives are attached to start with. (NOTE: I've tried it in slot m.2_1 and m.2_2 with the same results below.)

Install Windows 10. Boot in and out of Windows - warm boot, cold boot, unplugged then plugged back in and boot. Windows starts normally and performs perfectly. Can load device drivers, install software etc. System is rock-solid stable.

Until....

As SOON as I plug in ANY SATA drive in ANY SATA slot and then boot, seemingly the master boot is gone. It goes past post and then I get a black, blank screen. Indefinitely. I literally waited as long as TEN MINUTES just to be sure it wasn't "working something out". NOPE! just a blank screen. It doesn't matter if it is the BR-RW or either of the SATA HDD - same result

Without changing anything I boot back in to BIOS. It shows the M.2 as being Windows boot and shows my other drives, but when I exit BIOS and boot I get the blank screen. If I Force-Boot out of BIOS it goes straight to blank screen.

I have been building systems for many years and this one has me scratching my head. I have tried many of the following toggled on or off:

CSM - enabled or disabled
Fast Boot - enabled or disabled
UEFI or legacy - enabled or disabled
Secure boot - Windows boot, other OS or ignore

Etc.

Currently I have it set to AHCI, Fast Boot disabled, CSM enabled, UEFI (Boot devices), Storage and PCIE devices are Legacy, Secure Boot is Other OS. BUT - - I have tried it many ways. It is currently set that way because that is where I left it after speaking with ASUS support.

I have spoken with both ASUS and and WD tech support. I spent almost two hours on the phone with ASUS and they were very helpful but still couldn't get it to work. I replaced both the motherboard and M.2 with same items and got the same results. I have not found this particular issue ANYWHERE on the internet.

I even tried installing Windows with EVERYTHING plugged in and it boots fine as above. However, it blacked out on me again and TBH I'm not entirely sure what caused it. I think it was because I unplugged it for a while... but it may have been when I left an external drive plugged into a USB port and rebooted...

To try to be thorough, I formatted a SATA drive and installed Windows 10 on it. The WD SATA drive was on SATA6G_1. Everything booted fine - even when I added drives to any of the other SATA ports. I could see all drives in Windows - including the M.2. Unplugged for a bit, plugged back in - booted right into Windows. Turned it off and just to satisfy my curiosity I moved the boot drive from SATA6G_1 to SATA6G_2. NOPE! Blank screen. Put it back into SATA6G_1 and got Blank Screen. So moving it seemingly affected the master boot record. I was curious about this because I wanted to see if channels might have something to do with this mess... But I have to admit, I'm not sure what it even proves.

The whole point of the M.2 drive for me is to boot, store the OS and to utilize the drive for production such as Adobe Master Suite - particularly Photoshop and InDesign.

If this is a typical (unknown) issue native to this motherboard, then I will switch to MSI or Gigabyte or something.

What am I missing?
 
Feb 5, 2022
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Ladies and Gentlemen - I have a stable, running, Windows 10 machine!

It was the install USB card!! The one that actually came with Windows 10 Pro from Microsoft.

I created a new installation thumb drive by downloading the Media Creation Tool. I did a secure erase on the M.2 and booted with the new install drive, installed Windows, added my drives, and everything is running fine.

After changing the motherboard 3 times, the m.2 twice, the CPU and the memory switched out one time each, trying every possible setting under the sun, I finally asked myself - what have I NOT eliminated? I mean, I did not expect an install disk to have this kind of effect on the hardware. I've read so many posts and forums and talked to many of my tech friends and no one suggested it might be on the install.

I am posting this in the hopes it helps someone else. The install drive that came from Microsoft must have had just a slight enough issue that any changes to the system blew out the Master Boot Sector. I could actually install and run Windows on a SATA drive without seemingly have any problems. If I didn't have an M.2 I may not have discovered this issue.

Anyway, problem solved!
 

Lutfij

Titan
Moderator
Welcome to the forums, newcomer!

For the sake of relevance, it's a good idea to state what BIOS version you're on. A lot of times people say updated to latest only to find out that there are BIOS versions pending update. On a side note, you're supposed to have Fast Boot Enabled, CSM disabled, and Secure Boot disabled for now, you can enable it after the OS install. Speaking of OS, what version(not edition) of Windows 10 are you working with?
 
Feb 5, 2022
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Welcome to the forums, newcomer!

For the sake of relevance, it's a good idea to state what BIOS version you're on. A lot of times people say updated to latest only to find out that there are BIOS versions pending update. On a side note, you're supposed to have Fast Boot Enabled, CSM disabled, and Secure Boot disabled for now, you can enable it after the OS install. Speaking of OS, what version(not edition) of Windows 10 are you working with?
~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you so much for your reply.

The BIOS is American Megatrends version 2423
I have installed Windows 10 PRO

I will try those settings again. I have been keeping a log of what I have tried. Are you saying to disable Secure Boot while installing the OS and enable it once the OS has been installed and is running? That is something I have definitely not done. I have had Fast Boot enabled with CSM disabled, but I didn't do anything with Secure Boot.

Thank you!
 
Feb 5, 2022
4
0
10
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Welcome to the forums, newcomer!

For the sake of relevance, it's a good idea to state what BIOS version you're on. A lot of times people say updated to latest only to find out that there are BIOS versions pending update. On a side note, you're supposed to have Fast Boot Enabled, CSM disabled, and Secure Boot disabled for now, you can enable it after the OS install. Speaking of OS, what version(not edition) of Windows 10 are you working with?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Okay... so my choices for Secure Boot are "Other OS" or UEFI. To start out I cleared the bios and reset it back to factory default. I enabled Fast Boot, disabled CSM. I chose UEFI under Secure Boot. I didn't have ANY drives plugged in. Booted into Windows Pro USB install and deleted the partition on the M.2, then re-partitioned and installed Windows 10 Pro. Booted in and out of Windows 10 - reset, shut down, etc. Boot is stable. Shut down and added the BR-RW to SATA6G_4. Boot up. Same blank screen as before. I shut down and unplug the BR-RW and boot. Same blank screen.

I do all the above again except I change Secure Boot to "Other OS". Install. Boot. Re-boot. Add BR-RW. Same result, blank screen...

I did a little more research. I found a couple of threads where folks have had their M.2 drive on other ASUS motherboards (not the B550M like I have) as a boot drive for several months and then added in another drive or replaced a current drive with a larger drive and got the same results as above. So I'm thinking this has to be an ASUS issue, or there is some esoteric setting that even the ASUS techs don't know.

I don't like to give up on computer stuff. But at this point I think I may be better off getting another brand motherboard and just move on. MSI is looking pretty good at this point....
 
Feb 5, 2022
4
0
10
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Ladies and Gentlemen - I have a stable, running, Windows 10 machine!

It was the install USB card!! The one that actually came with Windows 10 Pro from Microsoft.

I created a new installation thumb drive by downloading the Media Creation Tool. I did a secure erase on the M.2 and booted with the new install drive, installed Windows, added my drives, and everything is running fine.

After changing the motherboard 3 times, the m.2 twice, the CPU and the memory switched out one time each, trying every possible setting under the sun, I finally asked myself - what have I NOT eliminated? I mean, I did not expect an install disk to have this kind of effect on the hardware. I've read so many posts and forums and talked to many of my tech friends and no one suggested it might be on the install.

I am posting this in the hopes it helps someone else. The install drive that came from Microsoft must have had just a slight enough issue that any changes to the system blew out the Master Boot Sector. I could actually install and run Windows on a SATA drive without seemingly have any problems. If I didn't have an M.2 I may not have discovered this issue.

Anyway, problem solved!
 

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