The Minimal 2200G Build – It’s Aliiiive!

DHL picked up the A8-9600 yesterday to get it back to AMD. Goodbye, Bristol Ridge APU, I hardly knew you.

The board now has the Ryzen 3 2200G installed in it, and it’s working. I got the 2200G fully settled in its new home, or rather, the old case, after taking out the AM2 motherboard + Athlon X2 240 which was its previous resident, and had enjoyed its gothic environment of dust, cobwebs and the ghosts of DDR2 RAM.

Now that everything is working, I will relax a little, try to get some photos added to the existing posts (like this one), learn how to edit videos so I can post some captures on YouTube, and start playing around with it.

In the meantime, here’s a little more about the process of installing and testing the A8-9600. It’s pretty boring stuff, and expert builders might scoff at this, but perhaps some noobs might find helpful tidbits here.

Installing the A8-9600

I don’t install CPUs every day, so each time I come to that, there’s a little fluttering in the heart, butterflies in the stomach, chihuahuas barking in my brain, you know the stuff.

It started easily enough: I verified that the golden triangle on the CPU should match the small line on the socket, and put it in.

Then came the harder part, putting the CPU cooler in place. I don’t remember a cooler which went in willingly. They always require a bit of fiddling. (That’s not quite true, the 2200G’s cooler was quite easy to install.) This one is like the old AM3+ coolers in terms of retention. I hooked it at one end, tried to hook at at the other, it slid all over the CPU, smearing thermal grease on it, but with no success.

The APU comes with instructions for cooler installation on AM4, TR4, AM3+/FM2+, none of them exactly matching what I was seeing. The motherboard manual had instructions for 3 different coolers, none of them matching exactly.

I finally realised that the lever needs to be pushed down into its groove to be able to fit the second tab (the AM3+ coolers didn’t have that nonsense), and that solved things.

Up up and away

Now I had a CPU and cooler installed. I put the RAM in the rightmost slot (farthest from the CPU), hooked the board to the power button and case speaker, plugged the power from the power supply, plugged the HDMI cable, keyboard and mouse into the right ports and pushed the power button. (Note: no hard drive at this point.)

Nothing. Well, not exactly nothing, the CPU fan did turn (which brings up the question: do CPU fans turn in their grave?), but there was no video, no beeps, nothing.

I unplugged the HDMI and plugged in a VGA cable, just to make sure the lack of picture isn’t a matter of HDMI not doing its job. I’m using an old (about 9 year old) 40″ Samsung TV which has a VGA input. Still nothing.

I removed the RAM, plugged it in the other slot, turned the power on and voila, I could see the BIOS in all its glory. I suspect that the RAM was simply not seated well in the other socket. Still no beeping from the case speaker, but that’s a minor issue that I’m not going to investigate.

To the job at hand

The A8-9600 came to do a job, and nothing would stop it from doing that job. That’s the kind of dedicated APU it is. So after a few seconds of glancing at BIOS screens, I turned to the Tool tab, clicked on Instant Flash, realised that I didn’t have the USB stick plugged in, put it in, the BIOS scanned it and found BIOS version 3.40 (a bridge BIOS), and installed it.

After a restart, the Windows 10 installation started (it was on the same USB drive that I hadn’t removed), so I forced shut down the PC, removed the drive, got back to the BIOS, back to Instant Flash, and (after plugging the flash drive back in) this time it found both versions 3.40 and 4.70 (the latest). Not sure why it would display the existing version as a valid upgrade, but I’m not stupid enough to select it, except by mistake, which I almost did. 🙂

(The mouse I used is a really bad one. I couldn’t find my spare wireless one, and although I found it now, I haven’t yet found its receiver.)

A short time later, 4.70 was installed, and the PC was ready for not only to have a 2200G installed but also Pinnacle Ridge, if I chose to get one.

On the other hand, and the other job

Now it was time to do with the A8-9600 what it wasn’t meant for: browse porn. Erm, I mean, some testing. All that ‘hand’ and ‘job’ just messed with my mind.

So I turned the PC off, connected the 4TB drive I won from TechSpot / Hardware Unboxed (many thanks to them; it’s a cool site and YouTube channel), left the USB drive in, and installed Windows 10 Pro. Which was pretty painless except that in retrospect it turned out that it only allocated 2TB of the 4TB drive.

By the way, I left it unactivated. I might move the license at some point from the old desktop, depending on which PC I decide to keep active once I finish benchmarking (probably the 2200G one), or downgrade the laptop back to 10 Home from 10 Pro and use that license. It seems like the only limitation of an unactivated Windows 10 is inability to change the desktop background, and a watermark urging to activate (which is overlayed even on games). But that watermark seems to go away for a while on a reboot.

I installed Steam, copied a selection of games with built-in benchmarks which I had prepared before on an external drive, and ran a few benchies. I also copied Metro: Last Light Redux which I bought on GOG, and totally forgot to benchmark with it. Which is a pity, because it has really nice output formatting, an HTML page with graphs. I only remembered it while writing this and now I feel bad for missing out on testing with it.

Drivers

After running some benchmarks I realised that I was benching with the driver that Windows downloaded automatically. Which (far as I remember) was 17.1.1.

So I went to AMD’s site, and downloaded the latest APU drivers, 18.2.1, as well as the latest discrete GPU drivers, 18.3.4, just to test if they’d work.

Unfortunately, the 18.3.4 didn’t want to install, claiming that I’m a bad boy who doesn’t have suitable hardware. So I had to settle for 18.2.1. Remember the days of AMD’s Never Settle campaign? Well, that’s long gone. Now it’s AMD Settle.

I tried to run the benchmarks again, but had to restart again to get them to not crawl. After that it was smooth sailing. I ran a few game benchmarks and PCMark 8.

Then I remembered that it’s boring to see benchmark videos without frame rate data, so installed MSI Afterburner (yes, I know, NVIDIA GPP…, but it’s a useful tool and MSI doesn’t get any money for that). Then I benchmarked a little again.

Goodbye Bristol Ridge

Finally (all the above took about 2 days) I disconnected the motherboard from all peripherals, the case and the PSU, removed the A8-9600 (after pulling hard on its cooler to remove it), put the 2200G in, installed its cooler, put everything back together, and made sure it booted.

Windows went up nicely, except that it reverted to 1024×768 resolution for some reason. But it looks like the 18.2.1 drivers are working, except that MSI Afterburner is no longer showing any GPU details. It’s possible that other things are amiss. I’ll check these drivers and then move to the official Raven Ridge drivers.

I cleaned up the A8-9600 from the thermal paste, put it back in the box it came in and sent it back to AMD. They told me to keep the heatsink so I did.

I removed the old motherboard from the case I planned to use, cleaned it, put the new one in, connected everything, and I now have a working PC.

What next?

As I said up front, I plan to add photos and videos. I’m not going to run more benchmarks soon, and it would likely be some time before any videos are up. I have a job and a family, and won’t be able to dedicate as much time to this as I might like, but I do plan to continue with this.

 

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