Question Hardware clock losing time

Dec 6, 2020
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I've noticed that my system time is frequently behind, and my BIOS settings keep resetting to default. I can manually sync with a time server in Windows 10, but after a while, my Windows 10 time will be off again because it syncs with the hardware clock every so often.

I've had this rig since about June this year (full specs at bottom of post), and this problem has been going on for maybe a month. I didn't add any new hardware or make any major changes around the time the problem started.

One interesting thing I've noticed is that when I'm in the BIOS and looking at the time, it sometimes "freezes" on the same second for a long time. For example, earlier this evening, I sat there and watched it ticking normally for a little while, but then it sat on 6:30:45PM for a good 10 seconds before it moved on to 6:30:46PM and continued ticking normally. That frequently happens if I just sit there looking at it in the BIOS. I've watched it get stuck on the same second for a good minute in some cases. It'll tick normally for a while, freeze on the same second for a while, etc. After a while, the time will be pretty far behind what it should be.

I'm pretty sure that whatever's going on here is hardware, because I'm not even in Windows yet when I'm looking at time in the BIOS and observing that behavior.

It's a very annoying problem, especially when gaming. I've been automatically disconnected from some online games because the game servers see those time jumps (when Windows goes back and forth between syncing with the hardware clock and syncing with time servers) as periods of inactivity and proceed to auto-kick me for inactivity. And of course, it causes all sorts of websites to act screwy.

Things I've tried:

  • Replaced CMOS battery (I will admit that the replacement I used was just a no-name cheapo from an auto parts store, but it's a CR2032 3V battery, new/fresh out of the package)
  • Swapped PSU with a known good one (and that included a different set of power cables as well, so those were all swapped too)
  • Updated BIOS to the latest version
  • Reseated everything except the CPU (RAM, all motherboard headers/connections, etc, and of course double checked all the power connections in the process of swapping the PSU)
  • Looked through all my installed drivers/software and updated everything (I'm pretty sure it's hardware at this point but just did that for good measure)
I actually got excited at first and thought I'd fixed it after swapping the PSU because the time stayed spot-on for an entire evening of gaming after that. I even shut the PC off, went to bed, and everything was still correct the next morning. But then a couple of hours later, the time was behind by about 20 minutes again, and the problem continued.

It is also losing BIOS settings frequently (giving me the "Press F2 to enter BIOS and save settings" message on POST, and all my settings get wiped out). That's what first led me to believe that the CMOS battery was an issue.

Specs:

Case: Fractal Design Meshify C
PSU: Corsair RM850X 850W
The other PSU that I swapped with as a test: EVGA Supernova 750 G3
Cooling: NZXT Kraken X3
Motherboard: ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Formula
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
GPU: GeForce RTX 2060 Super
RAM: 64GB G.Skill F4-3600C16 (4x16GB)
OS: Windows 10 Pro 20H2
SSD (OS): Sabrent Rocket 4.0 1TB
Secondary HDD: 1TB WD Blue
Monitor 1: HP S340C (DisplayPort)
Monitor 2: ASUS VS238 (HDMI)
Peripherals: Logitech G910 Orion Spectrum keyboard, Logitech G5 mouse (yes, the mouse is old), Sennheiser HD598 headphones with a Modmic

This rig is insanely overkill for what I do, but I got a very good deal on all the parts. I've been happy with it until this problem started occurring.

Anything else I can try before I look at warranty options on the motherboard (I'm saving that as a last resort because I'm pretty sure that an "Advance" RMA isn't an option here, meaning I'd have to do without my gaming rig for a while as I ship the motherboard in and wait for a replacement)? I can add any other details if anyone has any questions or if I forgot anything. The only other easy thing I'm considering is trying another CMOS battery in the hopes that maybe the cheapo/no-name deal I got from the auto parts store was just not good quality. But I'd welcome any other ideas or suggestions.
 

Lutfij

Titan
Moderator
  • Replaced CMOS battery (I will admit that the replacement I used was just a no-name cheapo from an auto parts store, but it's a CR2032 3V battery, new/fresh out of the package)
You've spent a good chunk of money buying parts for your system, I think it's fitting that bought a branded CR2032 battery form a departmental store or online.

You might want to try a different wall outlet in your crib and see if the system exhibits the same issue. I've had a system come in that was perfectly fine once I replaced the CMOS battery with a fresh cell and tinkered with the settings, saved and exit until it went back to the house it came from and the BISO settings were all gone(even time was reset) which then lead me to investigate and we found that the house the system was in had a grounding issue.
 
Dec 6, 2020
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Thanks for the advice here.

You've spent a good chunk of money buying parts for your system, I think it's fitting that bought a branded CR2032 battery form a departmental store or online.
That's a fair point. We do have a Walmart here, so I should be able to find a proper Energizer/Duracell battery there. Not like those are insanely expensive even if I get a branded one, so I'm willing to throw a few bucks at that just to see.

I'll try a different outlet as well. I forgot to mention in my OP that I'm using a 1500VA CyberPower UPS, but it is fairly old (can't remember exact date I got it, but it's at least 3 years old, so a lot older than my gaming rig). I'll try temporarily bypassing that and going straight to a wall outlet (a different wall outlet, at that) just for a bit. I'll be able to tell pretty quickly if that's the issue because I can just go straight to my BIOS and sit there and watch the clock for a couple of minutes.

Will post an update here once I've done all that (going to be this evening after I get off work).
 
Dec 6, 2020
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Update: switching to different outlets didn't help. I also have one of those testers (you plug it into an electrical outlet, and it gives you light patterns to indicate if it found any problems), and it didn't find anything wrong. It occurred to me that we have a vacant desk at work (complete with a monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc, just no PC there at the moment, so it's basically a space I could use for testing purposes), and the boss said he doesn't have a problem with it if I bring my PC in and plug it up there one day just to see if the problem occurs there. I probably won't have time for it tomorrow but am thinking about trying that in the next day or two. I live pretty close to where I work, so I feel pretty comfortable loading my PC up and taking it with me since it's not a long drive.

Every store that I checked tonight was out of stock on CR2032 batteries, except that same auto parts store where I bought the one mentioned in my OP. I'm going to try a few others tomorrow. Will try that and post another update as soon as I can get my hands on one. I do still have my old gaming rig in a closet, and everything in it works, as far as I know, so I thought about pulling the battery from it. But that's a ~9-year-old PC, so I don't know how much I'd trust that battery when I'm troubleshooting a problem like this.

I don't know if this helps any, but I made a quick 1-minute or so video of my BIOS screen and what the clock is doing there (sorry for background noise...apparently my ceiling fan sounds really loud here). Note the system time at the bottom (it starts ticking normally for a little while around the 1:07 mark)

Anyway, I'll post another update after 1) I take the PC in to work with me and see if it behaves better there and 2) I get a proper battery replacement.
 
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Dec 6, 2020
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Another update: the PC showed the same behavior when I took it to work with me. I didn't actually go as far as booting to Windows (so I just powered it on and went straight to the BIOS to watch the clock), but it did the same thing as in the short video clip I showed in my post above. It looked like it was okay at first (clock ticked normally for about the first 20 seconds or so), but then it froze there for a good solid minute before moving on. Also got an Energizer CR2032 battery and put it in, but that didn't help. One other little detail is that I can still move around in the BIOS, and it still seems responsive while this is happening, just that the clock stays frozen on the same second for those random periods of time.

I also came up with the idea of pulling the GPU (a GTX 1050 Ti that doesn't require any extra power connectors) out of my old rig and testing with it (just to say I swapped/ruled out one more component), but that didn't change anything either. I keep going back to thinking this is some kind of power issue, but that's two PSU's (and two different sets of power supply cables, on top of trying different outlets in my house and taking my rig to a different building) I've tried. At this point, the only major components I haven't been able to swap out are the CPU itself (don't have another one that's compatible just laying around...old rig has an i5 2500k, which is obviously not an option with this motherboard) and the RAM (reseated it and tried booting with one stick at a time, etc, but that's as far as I could go with it since I don't have any other sticks laying around either).

The PC still works, boots, I can game with it, etc, just that the constant time loss is annoying and causes other issues, and I'm worried it indicates some other hardware issue that'll continue getting worse if I let it go. Not to mention I can't do any overclocking (not that I really need to with this rig since it's overpowered as is for what I'm doing, but still) or really change any settings since they reset to defaults every so often.

I'm going to try opening a case with Asus to see if they can suggest anything. iirc, this motherboard has a 3-year warranty on it, and this model hasn't even existed for 3 years yet, so it should still be under warranty. It will kind of sting to do without my gaming rig for a while if it turns out I have to send the board in or something, but I'll deal with that if I have to. My old rig is ~9 years old but should still work as a backup in the meantime if it comes down to that.
 
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Dec 6, 2020
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Thread is sort of old now, but just one last update to give some closure in case anyone with a similar issue stumbles across it: I opened a case with Asus that ended with an RMA/repair on the motherboard. I shipped it off a couple of weeks ago and got an update today that said the repairs were complete/motherboard is being shipped back to me. The update wasn't specific about what they fixed, but considering that it says repairs were completed, I guess they found something that was wrong and fixed it. I'll mention it here if I have any further problems after I receive the motherboard (it just shipped today and is supposed to be here in something like 3-5 business days, so it'll still be a little bit before I have it), but hopefully, that's a good sign.
 

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