MSI Z170A-Pro (MS-7971) cannot boot Win10 from M.2 nvme

forthing15ab02e6

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Hello everyone and thanks in advance for your responses.

First of all I'd like to mention that I ve broken my head with this problem and read tons of forums (including this one, because there were people facing the same problem but in my situation the solution haven't work) and im deeply sorry for my English because it is not my mother language and I try to do my best.

I had a dream ... to get my system to SSD as I had troubles with my old hybrid HDD-SSD. I made a decision to change HDD for a SSD, chose Samsung 970 evo plus NVMe m.2 for 2 tb. I have MSI Z170-A Pro (MS-7971) mobo which is confirmed by BIOS and system settings. I made the latest update of BIOS from official web page of MSI dated by 2018 (which was a tough one too but I did it). I understood that I don't need nothing more than documents and wanted to do a clear installation. I bought Win10 and have a key, I made my install-flash drive by official windows media creation tool. I checked that my disk is listed in the disk storage tool in windows and it is working with files. That's a setup.

I turned off my PC, PLUGGED OFF everything except M.2, flash drive with Windows witch is obviously plugged directly in mobo's port, peripherals (mouse, keyboard and headphones), monitor. Then I entered MSI BIOS and changed boot only to UEFI and placed the boot order 1st UEFI USB ... (win10 installer), followed by 2nd - UEFI Hard disk. Then I SAVED changes, rebooted my PC and entered in the installation process witch ran smoothly without errors (I chose to instal it manually and I chose my SSD drive which was the only one listed), then PC made the installation and said it needed a reboot. After the reboot, I entered BIOS and changed priority to 1st UEFI Hard Disk - 2nd UEFI USB ... (win10 installer). I pushed F10, saved changes and rebooted.

And here is a problem: after a reboot, it starts an installation process again, like if I haven't done it at all but with one exception: when it comes to a step with choosing a disk for installation I have 3 tomes of my SSD (instead of 1 full clear) which means that it has separated SSD correctly, but again after that: installation - reboot - installation - reboot - installation, etc. If I unplug an USB during the reboot, it says that I need to chose a boot device and that's it.

To check that im doing everything correctly, I made a clear installation to my old hybrid drive and it works right now, so I think I understand when I need to plug in and plug off something.

I've read some stuff about security boot, clearing mapping and SATA raid mode, etc. but I haven't found any consolidation about it, some people say it is dangerous and won't help, some not and also there is no clear "guide" what to do exactly, because my motherboard UI differs from the others, so any help with this thing if it is needed is appreciated too.

I hope someone can help me with this one, because im desperate right now and don't know what to do more.
 

citay

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You don't need to manually change the boot order in the BIOS like that.

Do the following: Clear CMOS by bridging two pins with a metal object (it's explained in the manual, which you can also download):
https://www.msi.com/Motherboard/support/Z170-A-PRO#down-manual

Enter the BIOS and set it to UEFI mode. If you want, you can also enable Secure Boot, it's a safety mechanism. And if you want to install Windows 11 one day, also enable fTPM (Intel calls it PTT):
https://www.msi.com/blog/Windows-11-guidance and https://www.msi.com/blog/How-to-Enable-TPM-on-MSI-Motherboards-Featuring-TPM-2-0

In Advanced View (F7) under Settings -> Security, set Secure Boot to Enabled, it will probably tell you that a reboot is required to enroll the keys, do so. Then enter BIOS, go to Settings -> Security again and set the Secure Boot Mode to Standard, not Custom. Finally, under Settings -> Boot, set both Fast Boot to Disabled. Press F10 to save & reboot.

There's usually some kind of message when you enable Secure Boot and set it to Standard mode. It could say that it needs to reboot to install the Factory default keys or something else. That means, set Secure Boot to Custom/User and choose "Enroll all Factory default keys" or something similar, then press F10 to save & reboot, enter the BIOS again, and then set it to Standard. The process is weird and people get confused by it. But usually after two minutes, you should be able to have Secure Boot enabled and set to Standard.

Now to the Windows 10 installation. What you do is, prepare a USB stick with the latest Media Creation Tool from here: https://www.microsoft.com/software-download/windows10

Boot from that by pressing F11 during start for the boot menu, then you can install Win10 onto your M.2 SSD, and don't need to change anything in the boot order manually. Once Win10 is installed, the "Windows Boot Manager" on the M.2 SSD should automatically be the primary boot option.
 

forthing15ab02e6

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You don't need to manually change the boot order in the BIOS like that.

Do the following: Clear CMOS by bridging two pins with a metal object (it's explained in the manual, which you can also download):
https://www.msi.com/Motherboard/support/Z170-A-PRO#down-manual

Enter the BIOS and set it to UEFI mode. If you want, you can also enable Secure Boot, it's a safety mechanism. And if you want to install Windows 11 one day, also enable fTPM (Intel calls it PTT):
https://www.msi.com/blog/Windows-11-guidance and https://www.msi.com/blog/How-to-Enable-TPM-on-MSI-Motherboards-Featuring-TPM-2-0

In Advanced View (F7) under Settings -> Security, set Secure Boot to Enabled, it will probably tell you that a reboot is required to enroll the keys, do so. Then enter BIOS, go to Settings -> Security again and set the Secure Boot Mode to Standard, not Custom. Finally, under Settings -> Boot, set both Fast Boot to Disabled. Press F10 to save & reboot.

There's usually some kind of message when you enable Secure Boot and set it to Standard mode. It could say that it needs to reboot to install the Factory default keys or something else. That means, set Secure Boot to Custom/User and choose "Enroll all Factory default keys" or something similar, then press F10 to save & reboot, enter the BIOS again, and then set it to Standard. The process is weird and people get confused by it. But usually after two minutes, you should be able to have Secure Boot enabled and set to Standard.

Now to the Windows 10 installation. What you do is, prepare a USB stick with the latest Media Creation Tool from here: https://www.microsoft.com/software-download/windows10

Boot from that by pressing F11 during start for the boot menu, then you can install Win10 onto your M.2 SSD, and don't need to change anything in the boot order manually. Once Win10 is installed, the "Windows Boot Manager" on the M.2 SSD should automatically be the primary boot option.
I've tried to do everything you stated and It hasn't worked. I add images in case of my misunderstanding of your points.
Don't know if the pictures showed up correctly, but 2 last images of disk spacing during the installation is the proof that disk Is separated properly, but it just doesn't boot up from it

Did it 2 times, just to make sure
 

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citay

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That's weird. So the Win10 installation finished? Or did it abort in between? Normally it reboots a couple times, during which you don't have to press F11 for the boot menu again, just let it run through by itself. Then after it's finished, you get to the desktop. Then you can remove the USB stick, and after further reboots, it will boot right to Windows.

So it's like above, during one of the reboots, it starts the installation process all over again?
 

forthing15ab02e6

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That's weird. So the Win10 installation finished? Or did it abort in between? Normally it reboots a couple times, during which you don't have to press F11 for the boot menu again, just let it run through by itself. Then after it's finished, you get to the desktop. Then you can remove the USB stick, and after further reboots, it will boot right to Windows.

So it's like above, during one of the reboots, it starts the installation process all over again?
Yes, it ran smoothly without any problems, it doesn't abort, it comes to the final stage with all green marks and says that it needs to automatically reboot and then starts the loop with another installation, but it separates the drive's space correctly as you can observe

I can make another photo of it as a proof later if you need it, but as I said, I made the same process with clean installation on my HDD and it works fine, so I know how it should be, but here I don't understand what happens
 

citay

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So you were on the Win10 desktop after it finished?
 

citay

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Can you make screenshots of all the BIOS pages within the "Settings" menu?

For pixel-perfect screenshots instead of photos, insert a USB stick formatted with FAT32, then you can save each page by pressing F12 and saving the file to the USB stick.
 

forthing15ab02e6

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Can you make screenshots of all the BIOS pages within the "Settings" menu?

For pixel-perfect screenshots instead of photos, insert a USB stick formatted with FAT32, then you can save each page by pressing F12 and saving the file to the USB stick.
can you specify witch screenshots you want? of every step of the process (I can do that of course as I need this) or just of all of the directories after I made what you stated?

Nah, I better do everything :)
 

citay

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Basically, all the submenus from this screen:



From System Status down to Security.
 

forthing15ab02e6

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BIOS_boot_0_security_CIC.jpg

BIOS_boot_0_security_TC.jpg

So, that's the starting point. Now i made changes as you stated:
3) Boot1 changes:
1. UEFI:
BIOS_boot_changes_1_Boot.jpg

2. PTT:
BIOS_boot_changes_1_Security_PTT.jpg

3. Secure Boot (i need to enable win8+ support to open secure boot settings):
BIOS_boot_changes_1_advanced_WinOsConf_0.jpg

BIOS_boot_changes_1_advanced_secure_boot_0.jpg

4. Then i needed a reboot to enter key management:
BIOS_boot_changes_1_reboot_1.jpg

5. Entered keys and checked that all are factory keys:
boot_1_advanced_WinOsConf_SecureBoot_1.jpg

6. After that i set secure boot back to standard:
boot_1_advanced_WinOsConf_SecureBoot_2.jpg

7. Then, to make secure boot active i needed a reboot and it was active:
boot_1_WinOsConf_SecureBoot_active.jpg
 

forthing15ab02e6

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8. Then i switched fast boot to disabled
boot_1_WinOsConf_SecureBoot_FastBoot_disable.jpg

9. So i have fast boot disabled and secure boot active with standard factory keys:
boot_1_advanced_WinOsConf_FastBootDisSecureOn.jpg


Soooooo, before installation:
BeforeInstallation_SystemStatus.jpg

BeforeInstallation_Advanced_PCISubsystemSet.jpg

BeforeInstallation_Advanced_ACPI.jpg

BeforeInstallation_Advanced_IP.jpg

BeforeInstallation_Advanced_IGC.jpg

BeforeInstallation_Advanced_I(R)TB.jpg

BeforeInstallation_Advanced_USBConf.jpg

BeforeInstallation_Advanced_SuperIOConf_COM.jpg
 
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forthing15ab02e6

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BeforeInstallation_Security_TrustedComp.jpg

BeforeInstallation_Security_CIC.jpg



Aaaand now i reboot with F11 to enter WinSetup: (obviously i have disconnected flash drive with screenshots before the installation)
1.jpg

I choose the second option for experienced users to choose the drive to install Win10:
InstChoice.jpg

This is my SSD recognized, has 3 tomes: system (300 mb), MSR (16 mb) and general 1.8 tb (as i said after previous installations, it separates properly)
SSD before.jpg

I clean it totally:
SSD clean.jpg

And start a process:
Installation1.jpg

Which is finished without any troubles:
InstallationOK.jpg

Everything is OK and rebooting the system automatically:
Reboot.jpg

And after the reboot i have the same installation-start-screen
SameScreenAfterReboot.jpg
 

citay

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Thank you. Ok, it all looks pretty good. Theoretically, it should work like this. But there's clearly an issue in the BIOS, perhaps a bug. Because there is something missing on this screenshot.

You should have this menu entry:



And in there, your M.2 SSD should appear as "Windows Boot Manager: M2_1 Samsung 970" or so.




So you need to get that option available there if you want to have a chance of booting from your M.2 SSD. You don't need to change or set this option manually, but it's not there at all for you.

If you switch the BIOS back to LEGACY+UEFI, maybe there's a chance of making it available? It's not so easy to troubleshoot when i'm not sitting in front of it. But your Win10 seems to have installed fine, now it's just the BIOS that cannot see the Windows Boot Manager...
 

forthing15ab02e6

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Thank you. Ok, it all looks pretty good. Theoretically, it should work like this. But there's clearly an issue in the BIOS, perhaps a bug. Because there is something missing on this screenshot.

You should have this menu entry:



And in there, your M.2 SSD should appear as "Windows Boot Manager: M2_1 Samsung 970" or so.




So you need to get that option available there if you want to have a chance of booting from your M.2 SSD. You don't need to change or set this option manually, but it's not there at all for you.

If you switch the BIOS back to LEGACY+UEFI, maybe there's a chance of making it available? It's not so easy to troubleshoot when i'm not sitting in front of it. But your Win10 seems to have installed fine, now it's just the BIOS that cannot see the Windows Boot Manager...
To make sure, i made another WMCT with English version of installation and repeated the process of installation. I obtained this option of BBS... but only with WinInst USB drive:
AfterEnglishVers.jpg

AfterEnglishVers_01.jpg

And i cannot swith back to legacy, only UEFI is availible
 

citay

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To switch back to LEGACY+UEFI, you would probably have to turn off some options again, or you could do a Clear CMOS and start from there, it will default to that. This is one thing i would definitely try though.

In general, a SATA SSD like the 860 Evo for example would give you no trouble at all, i have a Z170A Gaming Pro Carbon in another PC where i could install and boot Windows 10 no problem. This board has a largely identical BIOS changelog to yours, so it's the same basic BIOS code, even though the BIOS is in color for me.

I think these boards in general weren't tested very extensively with a lot of M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs, certainly not the (very good) Samsung 970 EVO Plus you are using, way too new. You can see from the changelogs that they improved compatibility of NVMe SSDs several times (but obviously older ones, like Intel 750 or Samsung 950 Pro), suggesting that there were compatibility problems before: https://www.msi.com/Motherboard/support/Z170-A-PRO#down-bios

When you see a complete changelog, like you can sometimes find for a beta BIOS from unofficial sources, you will rub your eyes how much is changed behind the scenes. I commented about it here, https://forum-en.msi.com/index.php?...-windows-10-update.360984/page-2#post-2049297

A further sign that M.2 didn't have the highest priority yet is that they're not even listed in the "System status" page of Z170 boards, only later boards added them:



It's possible that the BIOS has some issue with this particular SSD and it's not detected properly as a boot device. Then some other M.2 SSD might work. It's possible that only old M.2 SSDs from that era work properly. What will definitely work is a normal SATA SSD.

If you wanted to buy a new mainboard + CPU, and you like Intel like me, then i would honestly wait a couple more months, the launch of the revolutionary CPU generation "Alder Lake" is about two months away. It will suddenly make all the current CPUs look at bit old. And then you can install Windows 11 on it right away. If you want to bridge the time until then, either try a different PCIe NVMe SSD, or go to a SATA SSD.

But first try if you can get Windows Boot Manager to appear somehow in the boot options, that is the key to get it working with this M.2 SSD.
 
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