Thursday, July 18th 2019

MSI MAX AM4 Boards Real: 32MB BIOS ROMs and Ryzen 3000 Out-of-the-Box Support

MSI is among the motherboard manufacturers who had to significantly modify their UEFI firmware packages to cram in AGESA ComboAM4 1.0.0.3ab microcode on their AMD 300-series and 400-series chipset motherboards, due to firmware ROM size limitations. Most older MSI AM4 motherboards have 128 Mbit (16 MB) SPI flash ROM chips, which proved insufficient to integrate the latest AGESA microcode alongside its feature-rich ClickBIOS 5 UEFI setup program. MSI addressed the issue on two fronts. For its existing motherboards that have 128 Mb flash chips, it released BIOS updates that have AGESA 1.0.0.3ab, but shed some bulk on the setup program, by replacing ClickBIOS 5 with the "GSE-lite" setup program. The company is also releasing newer revisions of many of its AMD B450 chipset motherboards anticipating demand from the section of 3rd gen Ryzen buyers who don't want to spend at least $170 on an AMD X570 motherboard.

These revised motherboards feature "MAX" in the name, and come with 256 Mb (32-megabyte) SPI flash ROM chips, enabling MSI to combine AGESA ComboAM4 1.0.0.3ab with ClickBIOS 5, and not compromising on any of the motherboard's BIOS-level feature-set. These motherboards also come with out-of-the-box support for all of the 3rd generation Ryzen processors launched so far, as indicated on the box. The boards also retain support for A-series "Bristol Ridge" and "Raven Ridge" Athlon APUs that had faced the axe with the latest BIOS updates. The B450 Tomahawk MAX and Mortar MAX are characterized by matte-black heatsinks replacing silver; while the B450-A PRO MAX has the "MAX" logo clearly printed on the VRM heatsink. Pricing of these boards are expected to be on par with the models they're replacing.
Add your own comment

40 Comments on MSI MAX AM4 Boards Real: 32MB BIOS ROMs and Ryzen 3000 Out-of-the-Box Support

#1
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
If you have mad solder skills and are willing to take a big risk, you can replace your original Tomahawk's 128 Mb ROM with a 256 Mb ROM and use the MAX BIOS image via USB Flashback.
Posted on Reply
#2
The Quim Reaper
As someone who wants to build in the mATX format it looks like the only half decent MicroATX boards for Ryzen 3xxx will be the the Max B450 Mortar & Pro Max boards in this line up. Seeing as the only mATX board in the 570 line up is from Asrock (Pro M) and that by all accounts isn't really up to much.
Posted on Reply
#3
Apocalypsee
The Quim Reaper, post: 4082937, member: 116062"
As someone who wants to build in the mATX format it looks like the only half decent MicroATX boards for Ryzen 3xxx will be the the Max B450 Mortar & Pro Max boards in this line up. Seeing as the only mATX board in the 570 line up is from Asrock (Pro M) and that by all accounts isn't really up to much.
I guess they wait for mainstream chipset that will come out later then they make the new mATX board. I'm waiting for decent mATX board.
Posted on Reply
#4
lynx29
Apocalypsee, post: 4082941, member: 28330"
I guess they wait for mainstream chipset that will come out later then they make the new mATX board. I'm waiting for decent mATX board.
asus tuf b450m micro atx is on sale on newegg for $59.99, it even has usb 3.1 gen 2 on it. and type C. not bad for the price and brand new. and has a heatsink. not sure if it will work out of box or you need to use AMD's free CPU to update the BIOS or not.
Posted on Reply
#5
olymind1
And they couldn't release MAX series before july when they clearly knew that they can't fit all the microcode into the current lineup's eeproms?!?! :mad:

I wish they would have annouced it before so i would have bought a MAX version of my B450 Tomahawk.
Posted on Reply
#6
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
olymind1, post: 4082983, member: 166087"
And they couldn't release MAX series before july when they clearly knew that they can't fit all the microcode into the current lineup's eeproms?!?! :mad:
ComboAM4 1.0.0.3AB is much larger in size than 1.0.0.2, which isn't much different from the ComboPI 0.0.0.7. MSI and other manufacturers who used 128 Mb ROMs weren't ready for 1.0.0.3AB.
Posted on Reply
#7
kanecvr
The Quim Reaper, post: 4082937, member: 116062"
As someone who wants to build in the mATX format it looks like the only half decent MicroATX boards for Ryzen 3xxx will be the the Max B450 Mortar & Pro Max boards in this line up. Seeing as the only mATX board in the 570 line up is from Asrock (Pro M) and that by all accounts isn't really up to much.
I disagree. My B450 mortar is bricked (unknown UEFI or EEPROM issue), and I can't fix it because the EEPROM chip is soldered... I'll have to buy a special clip for my programmer so I can re-flash it w/o desoldering. In the mean time I've been using a Gigabyte B450 Aorus M, and I love it. Better build quality then the MSI, better power delivery and no firmware issues so far. On the Mortar I couldn't even OC the ram past 3200MHz w/o instability, but on the Aorus M I can get the ram up to 3666 CL16 and the CPU to 4.1GHz w/o any difficulty, dispite gigabyte's rudimentary and cumbersome UEFI.

I used to be a huge fan of MSI's mid end boards, but the seem to have gone downhill in the last couple of years...
Posted on Reply
#8
Raendor
kanecvr, post: 4082996, member: 168605"
I used to be a huge fan of [Insert brand name] mid end boards, but the seem to have gone downhill in the last couple of years...
I see that sentiment in every news/thread related to motherboards from different people for pretty much all major brands. Asus, MSI, Asrock, gigabyte, etc. Makes it very confusing, because sour apples can pop up anywhere, unless it's very poorly designed model by default.
Posted on Reply
#9
john_
I guess those MAX motherboards will also come at higher prices because putting 16MB BIOS ROM chips was a customer's mistake.
Posted on Reply
#10
Deathy
Honestly, I don't get the uproar. I've personally bought a B450M Mortar for a good price from Amazon to use with the R5 3600 (3900x when that is better available and priced) last week. Reasons were because I need mATX, wanted BIOS flashback and the MSI has a good VRM+heatsink combination (shoutout to Buildzoid!), enough to even run a 3950x eventually or really push the 3900x. It was very cheap for the features and I don't have issues with MSI (H87M right now, Z87 before that, although my last Gigabyte and AsRock were good, too). It was known that we would lose the A-Series support (some other motherboards lost that when introducing Ryzen 2000) and the non-GUI UEFI is pretty much a bonus im my mind, mouse support was never great in any GUI UEFI I've used. All the features are still available as far as I know, just not as pretty and limited to Ryzen CPUs, not A-Series. If you just found out about all of this now, you need to read more tech news, this have been leaked for months now. And overall MSI B450, X470 has seen pretty good Ryzen 3000 support, most motherboards I checked are on AGESA xxx3AB while other manufacturers are still on xxx1 or xxx2 and have thus worse Ryzen 3000 and memory support. In the forums I frequent at least.

For the person with a bricked BIOS: I can really recommend having something like this around: https://www.ebay.de/itm/263572007947 . Let me save a few motherboards/controllers already, pretty easy to use with a Rasperry Pi. Also, desoldering the SPI Flash is not that big of a deal either. If you have a fine tipped soldering iron or a heatgun it works really well if you are careful. Did that to a display controller board that I bricked (one of those to convert laptop LCDs into VGA/HDMI monitors). If you have a (cheap chinese) desoldering station even easier.

Will be interesting to know if we can replace the 16MB chip with a 32MB one ourselve and flash the GUI BIOS. I'm probably not going to try though, just a funny thought.
Posted on Reply
#11
Metroid
So mortar b450m is back, that is a very good news. All of these new max boards are coming with better heatsinks and still the same crap vrm in order to keep the price down. Put more heatsinks and hope for the best ehhe
Posted on Reply
#12
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
john_, post: 4083029, member: 137560"
I guess those MAX motherboards will also come at higher prices because putting 16MB BIOS ROM chips was a customer's mistake.
Price difference between 128Mb and 256Mb chips is $0.70 USD.
Posted on Reply
#13
Metroid
btarunr, post: 4083071, member: 43587"
Price difference between 128Mb and 256Mb chips is $0.70 USD.
But you know they will charge at least $20 more for them because the hype is enormous at the moment hehe
Posted on Reply
#14
zlobby
Metroid, post: 4083076, member: 178915"
But you know they will charge at least $20 more for them because the hype is enormous at the moment hehe
Probably even more.
Posted on Reply
#15
Metroid
3700x is being sold for $400 at moment, thankgod 3600 still available to buy for $200, if not then the 3700x would be $600 and 3900x $1000 at moment ehhe, supply hype demand hehe

Never underestimate the hype hehe
Posted on Reply
#16
LocutusH
But where is the titanium version, with proper VRM cooling?

I still think the ASUS TUF B450M-Pro is a better choice. Bigger BIOS or not.
Posted on Reply
#17
HD64G
Any info on when they will go on sale? Not available here yet.
Posted on Reply
#18
brian111
Metroid, post: 4083085, member: 178915"
3700x is being sold for $400 at moment, thankgod 3600 still available to buy for $200, if not then the 3700x would be $600 and 3900x $1000 at moment ehhe, supply hype demand hehe

Never underestimate the hype hehe
Newegg and Amazon have it for list price. If it's overpriced, it's probably a third party seller.
Posted on Reply
#19
Metroid
brian111, post: 4083265, member: 101827"
Newegg and Amazon have it for list price. If it's overpriced, it's probably a third party seller.
It was, the 3600 was shipped by newegg, reason msrp $199.
Posted on Reply
#20
brian111
Metroid, post: 4083269, member: 178915"
It was, the 3600 was shipped by newegg, reason msrp $199.
I mean the 3700x. Maybe it wasn't earlier when you posted...
Posted on Reply
#21
Metroid
brian111, post: 4083273, member: 101827"
I mean the 3700x. Maybe it wasn't earlier when you posted...
I meant the 3700x, then I said the 3600 was sold by newegg, reason was $199. Third party vendors take advantage of the situation.
Posted on Reply
#22
moob
Deathy, post: 4083041, member: 181802"
Honestly, I don't get the uproar. I've personally bought a B450M Mortar for a good price from Amazon to use with the R5 3600 (3900x when that is better available and priced) last week. Reasons were because I need mATX, wanted BIOS flashback and the MSI has a good VRM+heatsink combination (shoutout to Buildzoid!), enough to even run a 3950x eventually or really push the 3900x.
I don't get it either. I just put together a 3700X/B450 Gaming Pro Carbon, used USB flash to update the BIOS and it all works great. The BIOS looks like the BIOS I had on my Sandy Bridge board. It's perfectly functional. Besides, I only went in there after the initial boot to change the usual settings and then again after I had Windows up and running to change the boot sequence. I probably won't go back unless something bad happens. I realize this is TPU but not everyone overclocks or has to fiddle with the BIOS constantly.
Posted on Reply
#23
Deathy
LocutusH, post: 4083115, member: 150559"
But where is the titanium version, with proper VRM cooling?

I still think the ASUS TUF B450M-Pro is a better choice. Bigger BIOS or not.
Both Mortar's have the same heatsink, unless you count the coloring.
And the Asus seems like a good board, but lacks BIOS flashback (depends if you need it), rear panel IO is a bit reduced compared to Mortar (DVI but not DP, 2 fewer USB 3.0, no optical out and only 3 audio jacks), only three fan headers (I know people who don't like splitter cables), those fewer USB 3.0 aren't even available as internal headers, no diagnostic LED (according to the website I have open). And the second M.2 slot is a 3.0 x2 vs 2.0 x4. Depending on your drive it matters or it doesn't (for me it doesn't but someone with a x4 2.0 SSD would have better results in the Mortar vs the TUF). The only actual improvement I see is the better audio codec (ALC1220 vs ALC892). And the Google Doc AM4 VRM says it performs worse in that regard as well vs the Mortar. And it is 10€ more expensive where I live. So while a good choice for some. I don't see it being the better one overall. Oh and the Mortar being discontinued was only a US thing last I checked. It's been available throughout in the European countries I check.
Posted on Reply
#24
Metroid
For whoever think on buying a b450, this video can help you



moob, post: 4083285, member: 176553"
I don't get it either. I just put together a 3700X/B450 Gaming Pro Carbon, used USB flash to update the BIOS and it all works great. The BIOS looks like the BIOS I had on my Sandy Bridge board. It's perfectly functional. Besides, I only went in there after the initial boot to change the usual settings and then again after I had Windows up and running to change the boot sequence. I probably won't go back unless something bad happens. I realize this is TPU but not everyone overclocks or has to fiddle with the BIOS constantly.
The problem may lie ahead, you will be stuck with that bios and any future updates to it even if there are unfixable things cause it requires a larger bios. Raid support is broken, msi says it will return, not sure about that.
Posted on Reply
#25
biffzinker
Deathy, post: 4083041, member: 181802"
and the non-GUI UEFI is pretty much a bonus im my mind, mouse support was never great in any GUI UEFI I've used.
Mouse support is still included.
Posted on Reply
Add your own comment