Slow posting and booting to Windows 10 with MSI B450 motherboard? Convert your boot drive to GPT mode and switch CSM to UEFI in your BIOS.

First, a prelude. Scroll down to the asterisks to skip my ramblings not immediately related to reducing your boot time.

My last I5-6600K PC build died on me after just three years, and I took the opportunity to build my first AMD PC after hearing about how good the Zen 2 architecture had gotten for the Ryzen 3000 CPUs. Well, I haven’t had a chance to enjoy the multi-threading because it has been such a arse migraine to get the system working. I’ve spent the better part of a week troubleshooting the system.

Initially, my Ryzen 5 3600 build would not even post. I tried two different CPUs and four different motherboards (sorry Micro Center) just to try and get something to post. For motherboards, I started with a B450 Aorus Pro Wifi. That one did not have an updated BIOS to work with Ryzen 3000. Then, I swapped for a B450 Aorus Pro Wifi that was supposed to have an updated BIOS, according to a Micro Center salesman. That still did not work. I then got a B450 Asus board. Nope. Finally, on the verge of springing for a more expensive X570 chipset just to get something working, a Micro Center guy got me to buy a B450 MSI Tomahawk Max, mentioning that all of MSI’s Max boards should be ready out of the box without BIOS flashing for Ryzen 3000. (I appreciate that this sales person did not convince me to get an X570, though I guess he still upsold me a little bit by getting me to get the Tomahawk Max, rather than the B450-A Pro Max. I don’t really need the Type C USB port if it’s not 3.2 and dislike the LEDs, especially for this Tomahawk that glows error-red down its side even when its working fine.)

Okay, that should have been it right? No, it wasn’t. I still couldn’t get the system to post as the motherboard cycled through its EZ debug lights. I won’t step into the rest of what happened, but 5 days later after myriad cycles of dismantling and resetting my system components, flashing the BIOS, and resetting the CMOS, I lucked into finding Abarely Computers & Electronics in Santa Ana after finding Micro Center’s diagnostic too expensive and getting turned away from Alltech Electronics because they don’t work with AMD systems. With an external BIOS programmer, they finally got the motherboard to break a loop and post.

Okay, that should have been it right? No, it wasn’t. I still couldn’t get the system to post as the motherboard cycled through its EZ debug lights. I won’t step into the rest of what happened, but 5 days later after myriad cycles of dismantling and resetting my system components, flashing the BIOS, and resetting the CMOS, I lucked into finding Abarely Computers & Electronics in Santa Ana after finding Micro Center’s diagnostic too expensive and getting turned away from Alltech Electronics because they don’t work with AMD systems. With an external BIOS programmer, they finally got the motherboard to break a loop and post.

I took my system home, figuring that I was at least in the clear for a few months. However, the next day, I got antsy when I saw the motherboard once more slowly churn through debug lights when I cold booted. The system had seemed to boot much faster at Abarely, so my heart sank. I sighed, and fortunately it was a long sigh, because my system posted and booted thereafter. I turned off the system and tried cold booting again to make sure it still worked. The boot took over a minute, but I could still get into Windows.

So, I was glad the system worked, but since the dawn of the SSD, I haven’t had to wait longer than 20 seconds for my previous Intel builds from 2009 onwards to boot. Was there a way to cut down on my AMD Ryzen 3600 boot times? I read some threads where people using other non-MSI motherboards where able to shave their times down by turning off Compatibility Support Module (CSM) service in their respective BIOSes. I did the same, and it worked for me. My boots now take between 30 and 40 seconds, which is still a long time, but proportionally, it’s a nice temporal reduction.

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So, creating this post to help out the union of the sets of MSI AM4 motherboard and Windows users, to get started for faster UEFI mode boot, first use a 3rd party disk partition manager to view your disks. I don’t recommend the combo of using Windows’ native disk manager and MBR to GPT tool; the native disk manager is limited, and MBR to GPT outputs uninformative error messages. For a start of free disk partition managers, I can vouch for EaseUS Partition Master or Aomei Partition Assistant at the time of this post in late December of 2019. I’ll demonstrate usage of Aomei in this post.

Open your partition manager and find a graphical representation of your boot disk’s properties that indicate whether it has GUID Partition Table (GPT) or Master Boot Record (MBR) status. If you see something like what is pictured below indicating that your boot drive is already GPT,

you are good to go for the next step. However, if you see something like

denoting MBR status, you will need to convert your boot drive to GPT. In Aomei, this is very easy to do. Just right-click the disk to bring up the below prompt and then click “Convert to GPT disk.”

Once you have done so and confirmed the GPT conversion, restart your computer and mash your Backspace or DEL key to enter the MSI BIOS. Once you have entered the BIOS, switch to Advanced Mode view with F7. In the lower left hand side, you’ll see something indicating an option to toggle between CSM/UEFI

Max boards

or something indicating an option to turn on “Windows 10 WHQL Support” on a non-Max MSI board.

non-Max boards

Toggle to UEFI on a Max board or turn on Windows 10 WHQL Support on a non-Max board, and after restarting, if all pans out and the PC gods hear your prayers/accept your sacrifices and your motherboard does not brick, you should notice an immediately faster booting process.

Good luck.

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