Troubleshoot CPU Upgrade – Ryzen Zen/Zen+ to Zen 2 (Ryzen 3000 series)

Just this week, I came across an article from Wired titled “Don’t Underestimate the Challenge of Building a PC,” right then, it resonates with me. I totally feel both the reward and frustration when you successfully finish building your very own PC.

Today, we will walk through one of my frustration when it comes to upgrading my own AMD Ryzen build from a Ryzen 3 1200 CPU (or any Ryzen 1000 series) to Ryzen 7 3700x Zen 2 (3000 series, or 3rd Gen Ryzen) CPU while keeping everything else the same. Some background sets the stage so you can reference if you have trouble upgrading the CPU when it comes with yours. I’m running:

  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-AB350M D3H
  • CPU: Ryzen 3 1200 (was) => Ryzen 7 3700x (new)
  • 4 slots of DDR4-2400 RAM each with 8GB from Samsung (this became important information later on)
  • Graphics Card: Radeon RX 560 Series
  • SSD: 250GB HP M.2
before the upgrade

Like I mentioned in a previous post on what you need to know when it comes to upgrading your CPU.

The key information here is the B350 chipset. If your motherboard is from another manufacturer (i.e. MSI), you too can follow this guide; it should be very similar, but some specific steps might be different. This chipset, according to AMD, should support up to the Zen2 series of CPUs which is the lineup named with the Ryzen 3000 series. You also want to check with your motherboard to ensure it supports the CPU you wish to upgrade. It is also worth mention that reinstalling Windows is NOT required for this upgrade to work.

Troubleshoot Why CPU Upgrade Didn’t Work

After I followed all the steps were in the previous post. I started up the desktop, and nothing loads. I get a blank screen, and around 10 seconds, the PC would power cycle and continue reboot itself. And the motherboard I have does not have onboard diagnoses LED, so you can’t tell which part of the motherboard panic and didn’t even load the BIOS screen.

What ends up helping me solve the issue is the user manual and Gigabyte Support website. I missed two key steps when it comes to preparing the upgrade. First, I had no recollection of when and how I upgraded the existing motherboard’s BIOS. All I know it’s not running the original, and it’s the second most up-to-date BIOS version, which should support the new CPU that I’m upgrading to. This post a problem as, according to the Gigabyte GA-AB350M-D3H manual, you have to upgrade the BIOS in sequential steps! While you can jump and upgrade the BIOS to the latest, it often doesn’t contain the proper function if you skipped some required version.

The other missteps I made was if you want to use all four RAM slots on the motherboard with the new CPU you need to run the “EC FW update Tool” and this also requires the chipset to be upgraded. Otherwise, you cannot run even if you upgraded the BIOS with the proper step upgrade.

1. If you are using Q-Flash Utility to update BIOS, make sure you have updated BIOS to F31 before F40.
2. Before update BIOS to F40, you have to install EC FW Update Tool (B19.0517.1 or later version) to avoid 4DIMM DDR compatibility on 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen™ CPU.
3. Due to BIOS ROM size limited, NO Bristol Ridge (AMD 7th Gen A-series/ Athlon™ X4 series) APU support.

As a result, the EC FW update Tool upgrade triggered the backup BIOS to load and my BIOS was completely reset to the original F version.

So this actually made the upgrade easier as the first required upgrade is F31, the next would be F40 and lastly, the latest upgrade is F51c. That is 3 BIOS upgrades if you wish to upgrade to the latest.

Once you are on the latest then try to swap the new CPU in again. This time it worked after many failed attempts.

I was about to open a return order for the new CPU and thought to give this one more try and this time it paid off. This speaks to how important to read every single instruction and have it well prepared if you want to do a heart surgery for your desktop. It worked for me hopefully it will work for you! I’m counting on this new build to last for another 10 year down the road.

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