Do you need to RMA your motherboard?

Do you need to RMA your motherboard?

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Problems with Intel 12th Generation DDR5. DDR5 XMP still bothers new builds with different Q codes, the most common of which is 55, is it time to RMA your motherboard?

Intel’s 12th generation CPUs were released on the market just less than a year ago, and with them came some issues around DDR5. This was expected since DDR5 at the time was a brand new RAM standard. And we expected a few dental problems.

Problems with DDR5 persist, however, with users (including ourselves) experiencing fatal errors with DDR5 on new 12th generation CPUs and motherboards.

Read now: Best Intel 12th generation CPU

mobo and cpu

Do not panic, we are here to give you some friendly advice as this problem bothered one of our internal PCs for a week or so and definitely made us scratch our heads for a while. Was it RAM? The CPU? The motherboard? Let’s find out.

Problems with Intel 12th Generation DDR5

The problem seems to be only with DDR5. We have not seen or experienced any issues with DDR4 on the 12th generation platform. Not only that, we have also not seen any reported issues from the 11th generation platform on the LGA1200.

For reference, the first RAM set was the 16GB Corsair Dominator DDR5 @ 5600MHz 40-40-40-77.

What is the problem?

From what we can understand, the motherboard’s BIOS (Basic Input Output System) automatically sets incompatible RAM times. However, this does not happen just once, as it will continue to do so even after you remove the CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor).

This is the component on the motherboard that is battery powered so that it can retain things like system time and BIOS configurations.

This results in the BIOS not being able to read the RAM, or directly detecting its presence in the first place. All our ASUS Maximus Hero Z690 did all day was throwing Q code 55 all day. Q code 55 means that the motherboard does not detect any installed RAM, here is a list of fixes we tried.

  • Removes CMOS
  • BIOS update
  • Downgrades BIOS
  • Tries different RAM at different speeds and times
  • Different RAM DIMM slots on the motherboard
  • Manual change of RAM times
  • Other CPU
  • Enable / disable XMP

The interesting thing is that when we tried to start up with a stick with DDR5 RAM, we had no problems, this was with and without XMP was enabled. But this was not the case in all motherboard RAM slots.

Corsair Dominator DDR5 RAM 1

When we introduced some RAM stick to the A2 RAM slot, the error persisted. So, that’s it, right? Just a dead DIMM slot? Well no. The A2 DIMM slot works fine with XMP disabled. Suggests that there is more at stake here than just the BIOS by default for incompatible timing.

After all our testing, we just assumed that the ASUS ROG Maximus Hero Z690 was dead, or that there was something wrong with a memory controller, and we ended up sending it for an RMA. But after a bit of searching on the internet, you found a forum that suggested activating gear speed ratios or turning up the voltage on your RAM by 100mv or so.

Be aware of: We do not blame anyone for this, especially not Corsair. This is just the RAM brand we found the problem with, the problem also persisted with XPG RAM.

What is gear?

Simply put, Gear mode is the relationship between memory and the processor’s memory controls. Intel Gear is just as it sounds, it’s about conditions. Gear 1 runs RAM and memory controllers at the same speed in the ratio 1: 1. Gear 2 runs RAM at twice the speed of the memory controller in a 2: 1 ratio. However, giving 2 comes at the expense of increased latency, but will increase the memory speed supported by the CPU.

Dram tension increase

If you want, you can try adding stability to your DDR5 set, this means you have to adjust the voltages and this is no easy process – it’s more of a mix between art and trial and error. Here’s what is the difference between DDR4 and DDR5 if you have just switched.

  • The DRAM voltage is gone (at least on this ASUS Maximus Hero z690 motherboard).
  • DDR5 introduces power management on the module. Each memory stick has its own power management IC (PMIS) which is responsible for reducing the 5V input from the motherboard to the required DIMM voltages.
  • All available PMIC control parameters are available under ‘Ai Tweaker \ Advanced Memory Voltages’ but the two main rails of interest are DRAM VDD and DRAM VDDQ, as these are the only useful overclocking settings. The recommended voltage for each is 1.25v, so try not to exceed it if you can.
  • Each pin with RAM requires different voltages depending on the performance. Some are rated for much higher voltages than others, but as a general rule we would never suggest going above 1.5V.
  • The recommended voltage baselines for different brands of memory modules are as follows: 1.25v VDD and VDDQ for Hynix, 1.25 VDD 1.35 VDDQ for Micron, 1.35 VDD 1.35 VDD for Samsung.

To try to overvoltage your RAM, find the Headings Memory VDD Voltages and VDDQ Memory Voltages under Extreme Tweaker / Advanced Memory Voltages in the Advanced tab of the BIOS. Do not exceed the recommended voltage baselines above.

Is it time to RMA ?: ASUS Z690s recalled

Problems with Intel 12th Generation DDR5

As we said before, we have RMA made our motherboard, if it is under warranty you should consider it. This is especially true if you have an ASUS ROG Z690 motherboard, since all were recalled in December 2021 due to a major memory slot design error. It may just be possible you have one of the bad trays that were somehow saved for the trash.

Even if you make ASUS aware of this issue, we are sure they will not reject you. They want a complete list of serial numbers showing affected products, and it’s worth asking if you have an ASUS Z690 motherboard.

Last word

You are free to try some of the solutions we did to fix your motherboard, but we told you about our experience to save you time and money in the long run. We’re afraid this time an RMA is probably the way to go. We know they’s frustrating and believe me, more than a few of us wanted to turn our Z690 into the world’s most expensive frisbee, but it’s best to let the manufacturer take care of it.

You should not be outside your warranty yet, the boards are not old enough. But if you are, comment below, and hopefully we can find a solution for you. We hope you enjoyed this Intel 12th Generation DDR5 Edition article and hope it helped you a little.

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