ASUS Pro WS WRX80E-SAGE SE WIFI AMD Threadripper Pro EATX workstation motherboard

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Revision as of 17:43, 3 February 2022

Contents

Review of ASUS Pro WS WRX80E-SAGE SE WIFI

This review follows actual board installation and operation.

Adware injection into Windows OS

In the User Manual for this motherboard, only Windows 10 is listed as compatible Operating System. Yet we know, a priori, that any motherboard must be OS independent. After installing Windows, there is an Asus Armoury Crate icon in the System Tray (the right side of Taskbar). In the BIOS, there is a selection to disable Armoury Crate.

This means that the BIOS has contaminated a fresh installation of the Windows 10 Operating System; specifically, the C:\Windows\System32 folder holds executables named AsusDownLoadLicense and AsusUpdateCheck. This is the first instance we've seen of a BIOS injecting high-level executables into the OS. This practice is unprecedented and must stop. If not stopped now, by user backlash, then there will be no limit to the amount of adware, sludgeware, updateware, notifyware, and self serving telemetric spyware stealthily injected into the OS by a savvy BIOS.

Asus: The practice of OS alteration by any BIOS is unacceptable. Discontinue this practice. By that I mean, completely remove the option to inject Armoury Crate into the OS. Do not merely disable the default option; remove it altogether along with any stealth firmware that can inject executables into the OS.

Mounting booby-trap

Circular silkscreen, around all mounting holes, clearly indicates board-mounting screw's maximum head-diameter. But conical shaped bore, in uppermost left corner of board (near i/o shield top), is smaller than that maximum diameter. A screw that fits just inside circular silkscreen, elsewhere on board, is too large for uppermost-left mounting-screw position. A screw placed in that bore will get stuck, with certainty, inside the conical bore with no way to extricate it except by removing the entire board, disconnecting all cables, then drilling out the screw in peril of mechanical and electronic damage. This booby trap occurs because the conical bore jams the screw's head before its threads fully seat the chassis bolt. Turning the screw, in either direction, strips its head.

IPMI BMC interface

Why is there an absolute upper limit of 30 minutes on ASMB9-iKVM IPMI BMC web service interface? Why can it not be changed to a longer duration? We need to monitor over 24 hours without automatic logout. Where did the arbitrary 30-minute-limit gaffe originate?

blinking lights in absence of error condition

Every engineering school in the US teaches that blinking light denotes error condition. Every industrial OEM manufacturer, in the US, blink LEDs only on error condition or data transmission. (The only groups of people who prefer blinking lights are police officers and gamers.) Why does the BMC_LED blink green in absence of error? Why does the MESSAGE_LED not blink when reporting an error?

The motherboard is powered down and the BMC_LED still blinks. Why?

Zero-RPM fans disallowed

ASUS ASMB9-iKVM interface, for IPMI BMC, interprets 0 RPM as "Disconnected". But 0 RPM is a valid state of a connected fan. Setting 0 thresholds could be a way to work around 0 RPM being falsely reported as failure. Why can't upper and lower RPM thresholds be set on disconnected or 0 RPM fans?

No postage stamp LCD

There is a two-digit 7-segment LED display providing board status in hexadecimal code. These LEDs represent a throwback to 1983 when Z80 microprocessor demo-boards needed a display. Asus is very capable of providing an elegant postage-stamp size color LCD display right on the motherboard, as it does for gamers. As it is presently, we are forced memorize 256 hexadecimal codes or take an inordinate amount of time to look them up, presuming the motherboard's user manual is handy.

Asus: please put an LCD display on this board to communicate board status.

Chipset fan is problematic

Nbartowski reported the exact same issue on level1techs.com in May 2021.

BIOS would report a critical error: that Chipset fan was spinning down below critical level. Examining it through the IPMI BMC interface reveals its status as N/A. Error manifested as blinking LED notification on motherboard. This blinking error indicator would occur reliably when the power supply (PSU) line switch was turned on for a few minutes without subsequently turning on the computer (motherboard) itself.

Error indication stopped when powering the motherboard immediately followed supply of line voltage to the PSU. When that was done, the motherboard Q-code 7-segment LEDs began a countdown from hexadecimal FF. Error indication hasn't been seen since, Chipset fan only spins during POST, but BIOS still reports N/A Chipset fan (but no blinking LED).

ASUS customer support recommended returning the motherboard on an RMA, but this turned out to be a BMC firmware issue. BMC firmware installation has about 5 unnecessary steps. In the 17th step you are asked which of the 13 firmware modules, in particular, you want to flash. The problem here is that version numbers, associated with each submodule and currently installed module, are incorrect. So by selecting only a subset of modules to install, the Chipset Fan problem is introduced.

The solution is to flash the entire BMC firmware suite and to overwrite what is already there. Provide line voltage to the Power Supply Unit, then don't wait to power up the motherboard. The 7-segment Q-code LEDs will then go into countdown and later the BMC_LED will blink green. Then the IPMI BMC interface will report Chipset Fan at 0 RPM, which is probably normal under small load.

ASUS PRT (Placating Response Team)

I have little confidence in ASUS customer support because they couldn't answer simple questions about the board's operation, and I don't think they have actual access to ASUS products. Every time a question became a little beyond what they could find in the User manual, the problem got escalated. But I was never contacted by engineering, so it is impossible to get answers from someone at ASUS who actually knows what's going on. I can read manuals; I don't need ASUS' Placating Response Team to read the manual to me.

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