When last we left our tale of woe, the server was running but without video. Messages to AMD and Gigabyte were unanswered, and the internet was not much help other than to suggest a BIOS update was needed.
Since then much has happened. I did finally hear from both vendors; more on that later.
In the meantime, I decided to try one internet suggestion – adding a separate graphics card to flash the BIOS. The motherboard has three PCI slots, but I didn’t have a PCI video card. I called a local computer shop to inquire whether they might have something in a “junk bin”, and they did. I went to town (literally) and picked it up… FREE.
Back home I plugged it in, and it worked. I now had VGA video, which is all I really need for a server, and certainly sufficient to flash BIOS.
With video, I managed to flash the BIOS from the older version (F2), first to F3 and finally to F4 (the latest). There were a few issues along the way, but by now I had downloaded a full manual and used it as a guide. I did notice a few issues with the motherboard and USB data keys that bothered me at the time, such as booting with some keys locked up the USB keyboard, but set that aside for the time.
With the BIOS updated to “latest”, I removed the PCI graphics card, powered on, and… STILL no video. I was flummoxed.
However, help came from a surprising source. FINALLY I heard back from both vendors. Both said the same thing: the AMD Ryzen 5 2600 CPU does not have on-board graphics. This was a surprise to me as there was NOTHING on the manufacturer sites or manufacturer materials supplied to Amazon.ca to suggest this was the case when I chose these components. However, given what I was seeing, it made sense. As it turns out, AMD sells two “things”: a CPU with no on-board GPU, and a thing called an APU which has the GPU on-board. Who knew?
I decided I could live with this and sourced a cheap PCI low profile graphics card as the free one was full height and won’t fit in the 2U rack case.
I decided also to install my server OS – Ubuntu 18.04.01 (server) as the video card wouldn’t be an issue as I always use VGA on servers.
Here is where the USB issue finally bit me. More than half of the time, the install failed with a USB error. Sometimes it locked up the USB keyboard as well. Only once out of perhaps 12 attempts did it start to load the OS, and then it failed when I plugged in the network cable by scrambling the video (what???).
Ultimately I decided the USB was flakey and initiated a return from Amazon.ca for the Gigabyte motherboard (reason: defective… ‘flakey USB’). It’s already boxed and mailed back as I write this.
I decided to keep everything else, as I do like the other components and am willing to give the AMD Ryzen a chance. I would have kept the Gigabyte motherboard as well were it not defective. However, given the several reports of similar USB flakey-ness by other reviewers, I decided to buy an ASUS motherboard designed for this CPU.
One last annoying tidbit – the ASUS site actually states that the AMD chip does not have on-board graphics and you’ll need to buy a video card. I wish I’d gone with ASUS from the start – at least I would not have been surprised and wasted 3 days chasing phantom video problems.