Sunday, November 24, 2019

Windows 7 on Ryzen 3000

My kids’ gaming PC died in early 2019. The motherboard or CPU fried and took the other with it.  It was an FX-8370 (AM3+) based MSI system with R9 270X Video Card. I gave them a choice: I build a new one around Ryzen 2, or they wait for Ryzen 3 and get more. I am happy they chose the latter, so we waited until Ryzen 3 came out. I decided to wait more for the MSI MAX boards which have a larger firmware (BIOS) chip. I finally got tired of waiting and was going to get an ASRock Steel Legend and found the MAX on NewEgg when I started ordering. I went with this config:
I already had the power supply, GPU, and storage from the old one to reuse. After assembly, I was pleased it came up on first try. I put Windows 10 and let my youngest play FortNite on it for a few hours. Who needs CPUBurn when you have a gaming kid...!

Before it went into "production" I wanted to get Windows 7 on it for ... Reasons. MSI, AMD, and other sites only say Windows 7 is supported on these Ryzen processors:
  • Bristol Ridge (APU)
  • Summit Ridge (Ryzen 1)
  • Pinnacle Ridge (Ryzen 2)
Since mine is a Ryzen 3000, its code name is Matisse and therefore unsupported. Which is fine really, as Windows 7 goes EOL in a very short few months. This motherboard is B450 based so it should have some support compared to the newer X570 chipset. As I've proven many times over with my deployment work, just because it’s unsupported doesn't mean it won't work. So away I went!

I put a 250GB SSD I keep as a spare on port 1 of the mobo and boot off my Windows 7 AIO USB. It also includes the NVMe, TPM2, and Post SP1 rollup on it. Get to the welcome screen, and nothing. Keyboard and mouse are dead. Try a couple other ports and even the "slow" ones by the NIC used for keyboard and mouse compatibility. NOTHING. Change some USB compatibility settings in the BIOS. STILL NOTHING. Unable to interact with the wizard makes it real hard to inject drivers. It might be a short trip. Instead, I swing by my dad’s and grab an old HP PS2 keyboard since this is a gaming board. Works! Get through the wizard to where it asks what partition to install onto and it wants drivers since it cannot see the storage.

Next problem. l pull a trick from ConfigMgr and MDT: inject drivers. I grab the MSI Windows 7 drivers as well as AMD's all-in-one and inject those drivers into the boot.wim on the AIO USB and reboot. No luck. I then mount the Windows PE BOOT.WIM and put the drivers on it in a folder so I can browse them in the wizard. Still no luck. Note to self: The installer's main volume is index 2 of BOOT.WIM and this is what you could browse. I also try the Windows 10 BOOT.WIM and it errors out in fantastic ways I need to revisit.

I then decide to use an older storage controller but don’t have any available so order one and got this ASM1061-based one which I know uses built-in drivers in at least Vista, and it says it is supported back to even XP. After installing it into the machine I get to the same spot, however, I can now browse the SSD as it had a single NTFS partition on it. But I still cannot proceed.

Next problem. I attach the SSD to a Linux VM and copy the MSI and AMD drivers along with others that I think might work as I did not have to mess with the BOOT.WIM since I reverted back to the original sealed one. The error dialog changes slightly from before and hints it could not find the install media. PE will use higher performance drivers. I burn the Windows 7 AIO to a DVD and hook up a BluRay player and SUCCESS!  It did not work off the motherboard but does work off the PCIe controller I got above. Windows 7 got installed!

After boot-up I still have chipset/USB issues as only the PS2 keyboard worked, so I open a shell and install the AMD all-in-one and got USB mouse and keyboard. I also install the NIC and Audio drivers. Out of curiosity, I move the SSD to the internal controller and it boots up fine now that it had the right drivers. It was happy and I could have used it after applying patches.

Now that I got what I wanted out of Windows 7, I move the (Windows 10) SSD and hard drive from the fried system to it and give it to the kids so they can run that for a while. I will keep an eye on sales over the holidays though. I do want to get this system over to M.2 NVMe. So told the kids it will get rebuilt from scratch when I obtain those. This instance of Windows has been in about 5 or 6 different PCs. Additionally, my FX-8350 system is showing its age so I'll move to Ryzen in a few months and hand this down to my backup server. Maybe I'll have to do this again or just move the kids to a 3950X and X570 system while I take the guts from this one. Their games push a system more than my work does.

-Kevin





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