I had some weird problems with some video games on my computer: while some of them had no issues whatsoever, others were randomly crashing the computer. I did some tests but all the components seemed to be OK as far as I could tell and updating the graphics card drivers didn’t solve the problems. At the end I discovered that the issue was related to the motherboard UEFI BIOS version and all the problems were solved after updating the BIOS version. I decided to share my experience in this page so that you can see, step by step, how I updated the BIOS of a motherboard in case you need to do something similar.
I bought this computer in 2020 on eBay during the pandemic and it was built mostly with entry level components: the motherboard was an ASRock A320M-HDV R4.0 and the CPU was an AMD Ryzen 5 3400G (a CPU with an integrated Radeon Vega 11 GPU). I upgraded the original RAM from 8 GB to 2×16 GB DDR4-3200 modules and I replaced the original SATA SSD with a 512 GB Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVME SSD. Nothing fancy, but this system was more than enough for work. The computer was obviously not going to run smoothly the latest video games but it was enough for some casual gaming with “Civilization V” or “Age of Empires III” thanks to its rather powerful iGPU.
The computer had absolutely no problems with Microsoft Office or the programs I used for work. It could also run some old classic video games like “Age of Empires III” without any issues, but it would have problems with other games like “Civilization V” or “Alien Isolation” for instance. Most of the time the computer would simply freeze or reboot after a while, sometimes the error would occur after exiting the game, and once or twice I got a “THREAD STUCK IN DEVICE DRIVER” Windows blue screen error message. I ended up playing only with games that didn’t crash this computer but I was still curious about the origin of these problems.
I uninstalled and reinstalled the video drivers a few times but it didn’t solve the problem. I thought that maybe the RAM frequency could be the culprit (the Ryzen 5 3400G doesn’t officially supports DDR4-3200 RAM modules) so I did some tests with memory test programs but they didn’t detect any problems. In fact the computer could even run some graphics card benchmarks without any issues while they should have pushed the memory controller to its limit. And even lowering the RAM frequency didn’t solve the issue with the problematic video games, so the RAM didn’t seem to be the problem.
Something strange was that the computer was able to complete the execution of the “Ashes of the Singularity” video game benchmark but that most of the time it would freeze after exiting the game.
I was scratching my head and I discovered that I was not alone with this problem. Others were having the same issue with this motherboard and AMD Picasso APUs but ONLY with BIOS versions 3.70 or 4,00 (mine had version 4.00). The problems seemed to disappear with the version 3.30 of the BIOS. So I decided to give it a try and to downgrade the BIOS version.
In order to reproduce the steps described in this tutorial you will need:
- a FAT32 formatted USB disk in order to copy the BIOS file.
I would not recommend to update the BIOS of a motherboard if you do not have problems with your system. But sometimes a BIOS update is necessary to support new CPUs or to solve some issues. The process can potentially damage your system if it is interrupted by a power loss or if you choose the wrong BIOS so be sure to read the motherboard manufacturer instructions. And if you feel unsure about reproducing these steps, ask someone with good computer skills to help you. As always, the author and the website decline any responsibilities about the consequences of trying to reproduce these steps.
1) First I went to the ASRock website and I searched for the exact motherboard model. The motherboard used in this tutorial is an ASRock A320M-HDV R4.0 (you can see the motherboard name and version in the UEFI configuration or BIOS. You can see how to enter the UEFI configuration in step 3) of this tutorial).
Then I searched for the list of BIOS in the support section of the website (the direct link to the BIOS of this motherboard is: https://www.asrock.com/MB/AMD/A320M-HDV%20R4.0/index.asp#BIOS). I found the BIOS version 3.30 in the list and I downloaded the .zip file. The procedure for downloading and installing a BIOS could be slightly different for an other motherboard so, once again, be sure to read the instructions provided by the motherboard manufacturer.
2) The procedure for updating the BIOS was described in ASRock website and it required to extract the file and to save it on a FAT32 formatted USB disk. I did it for the BIOS version 3.30 and I copied versions 3.70 and 4.0 too just in case (I didn’t have use them at the end).
3) I inserted the USB drive into one of the USB ports, I restarted the computer and used the F2 key to enter the UEFI setup.
Please note that the key used to enter the UEFI setup depends on the motherboard UEFI Setup (or BIOS). That information that is generally displayed during a few seconds before loading the operating system.
Be sure also to write down or to take a photos of the custom parameters values you may have changed in the BIOS (XMP memory profiles, Boot orders, RAID configuration for instance). Some motherboards will allow you to save them and to restore them later from a file. Most of the time a BIOS update will reset these parameters to their default value and you may have to restore them after that.
4) I navigated to the Tool Menu and I selected “Instant Flash” in order to flash the motherboard BIOS. Please note that the procedure could be different with an other motherboard so once again be sure to read and understand the instruction provided by the motherboard manufacturer.
5) I selected the file “\A32HDV43.30” that corresponded to BIOS version 3.30 (the last four characters of the filename were the version number), I clicked the “Update” button and I confirmed that I wanted to update the UEFI version by clicking the “Yes” button:
6) The BIOS Update started and there was a progress bar that displayed the progress in percentage. I took one or two minutes to complete the operation. Do not power off the computer during the UEFI update!
7) The Flash process completed successfully and I used the “Enter” key to restart the computer:
8) I entered the UEFI Setup to check that BIOS version was now 3.30:
The BIOS version was the correct one but the RAM modules were now recognised as DDR4-2666 instead as DDR4-3200. The BIOS update had reinitialised some of the BIOS parameters to their default value,
9) I went to the “OC Tweaker” Menu and loaded the DDR4 XMP 2.0 profile. You can see how to activate the DDR4 XMP Profile in this tutorial.
10) I saved the changes, I rebooted the computer and I checked in the UEFI setup that the RAM was now recognised as DDR4-3200 modules.
11) I restarted the computer and I checked that the problematic games were now working perfectly. There was no computer freeze, no crash, no “THREAD STUCK IN DEVICE DRIVER” Windows blue screen error message :-). For some unknown reason the motherboard BIOS version 3.30 worked better than version 4.00 with this APU.
The process of updating the BIOS is pretty straightforward if you follow the motherboard manufacturer instructions. In my case, to update the BIOS version solved the random problems the computer had with some video games and (fingers crossed) everything has been running smoothly since then.
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