I knew going in that there’s a good chance that the Ryzen 3 2200G won’t work out of the box with the motherboard I ordered. Many boards on the market come with older BIOSes, which aren’t compatible with Ryzen APUs, even though newer, compatible BIOSes are available for download.
So it wasn’t a real surprise that when I got the AB350M-HDV board there wasn’t a ‘AMD Ryzen Desktop 2000 Ready’ sticker on the box, which signifies that the board is compatible with the new APUs. I checked the BIOS sticker on the motherboard (following instructions on ASrock’s site) and saw that it was 3.10, a BIOS from July 2017, and certainly not compatible.
I also knew up front that AMD was offering boot kits to solve the issue. It’s possible to contact AMD and it will send a low end older APU, guaranteed to be compatible, which would enable the BIOS to be updated. The APU is then sent back, at AMD’s expense.
What I didn’t know was that it wasn’t really that easy.
It’s hard to find good help
I got the motherboard on the 7th of March (it was the last component to arrive). I contacted ASRock immediately through their support page (because AMD wanted to know that I tried to resolve things that way first, and, being an honest person, I didn’t want to just lie and said I did), and promptly got a form response telling me that that they will have technical support personnel contact me soon, and suggesting that I contact my dealer.
Four days passed with no support person contacting me (and I haven’t received anything further to this day), so on the 11th I went to AMD’s RMA page and submitted a request for a boot kit. I got an acknowledgment on the 12th and a response on the 13th, told AMD that I tried to contact ASRock without success, that they suggested that I contact my dealer, and that indeed a joint might help see the situation in a better light, but otherwise my dealer probably couldn’t help with the technical issue. I also clarified that I don’t actually have a dealer but that I like puns. Yes, that’s the kind of nonsense I write to tech support people.
I also sent AMD photos of my CPU and a copy of my Amazon receipt, and waited. On the 15th I got a reply telling me that unfortunately there is no direct logistics support provided in my region and that processing a boot kit would take 2 or 3 weeks, and suggesting that I contact a local reseller or retailer (they didn’t use the word ‘dealer’). My reply was to ask if they knew of any reseller or retailer providing the needed service.
Getting out the big guns
I then did the only thing I felt was left to do; the measure which would fix all things: I contacted Amazon.
Amazon is great. I have very good experience with Amazon support. From taking back an SFX PSU which didn’t perfectly fit the case (case fan interfered with the cable), including sending it back at Amazon’s expense, to refunding me 10% of the Wii U price because it had to be re-sent a couple of times until it arrived, Amazon always does its best to keep me happy.
When buying the 2200G and motherboard Amazon had already refunded me some money and gave me a bit of credit just because I asked them some questions about the carriers and how to get in touch with them. Weird, but I’m certainly not complaining.
I figured that Amazon might be willing to take the motherboard back (shipping at their expense) and maybe send me back one with a compatible BIOS. What actually happened was that they said ‘we’ll refund you the CPU without you having to return it, and send you another motherboard free of charge without you having to return the old one, and we’ll make sure it has the sticker’.
I was kind of floored, but didn’t complain too loudly. 🙂
That was on the 15th, eight days after I received the motherboard. Days came and went, and by the 19th the new motherboard had not yet been sent, and I also noticed that the 2200G order said the refund was waiting for the return. So I contacted Amazon again, and they assured me the MB will arrive on time (with expedited shipping), and they made sure the money got refunded without the need for returning the CPU. They also gave me another $10 credit just for asking about the other $10 of credit they previously gave me.
That pacified me.
Kit me baby one more time
Then, 3 hours later, to my utter surprise, I got a mail from AMD telling me that the RMA has been approved and I will be getting a boot kit.
I contacted Amazon, told them they can cancel the order for the replacement motherboard, and started waiting anxiously for the boot kit.
On the 25th I had my hands on a beautiful little A8-9600. I had been expecting an A6-9500, and figured I’d just use it to install the BIOS and then let the 2200G take over. But looking at its big brother, I figured: why not do some testing with it before I return it?
I’ve always considered the A8-9600 the best value for money from the Bristol Ridge family, and pretty much the only one worth getting. Which is of course rather silly. The A6-9500 has higher GPU and CPU clocks (at stock) and is basically an A10-9700 with two cores surgically removed, so it would in theory perform better in games which are either GPU bottlenecked or lightly multithreaded.
Still, love (and bias) isn’t rational, and the A8-9600 burrowed its way into my heart, so it was hard to pass on the opportunity to test it. Not too deeply, mind you (I’d feel bad keeping it for a long time), but enough to get an inkling of how it performs.
2200G and its baby brother
It’s now time put the components together, make sure they all do work, and upgrade the BIOS. Then I will install Windows and do some basic testing with the A8-9600 before I go on to remove it, replace it with the 2200G and send it back to AMD.
I’m planning to use the money I got from Amazon to order another 4GB DIMM from them. I may be slightly insane for going for the 4GB configuration in the first place, and I’m still definitely going to review it, but I do realise that dual channel 8GB will be much better. My original thought was to wait until RAM prices drop significantly and get 16GB, but my plans are fluid as always, and getting half of what I paid back (as a refund and store credit) certainly allows me to feel good about splurging on a second DIMM.
I tried to create a ‘tl;dr’ version by highlighting parts of the text. What do you think, helpful or distracting?