Something a little different: My new Ryzen PC Part 4 – configuration

So this is the last post in a 4-part series about the Ryzen PC. In this part I’ll include build goofs, and general setup and configuration issues I encountered. Other parts have covered the core components I used, more detail on the case, fans, and PSU, and assembly.

Ryzen Build Goofs/Issues

Fans

Okay, so somehow when I first set this up, I didn’t realise the front panel had space for more fans, so I didn’t put any in and had bad temperatures. I know, I’m stupid. My temperatures were much better after this.

Also, it was a bit unfortunate that despite having many fan headers on the motherboard, I ended up using the fans’ built-in extensions to connect multiple fans to the same plug. simply because the cables weren’t long enough to reach. I don’t know if fans usually come with longer cables, but I think the case had them in the standard places. My guess is either the cables were short, or the fan headers on the motherboard are in a dumb place.

RAM

You might have noticed that I installed the RAM in slots 1 and 2, instead of 1 and 3 like usual. This way, I don’t get the benefit of dual-channel memory – small performance boost. The reason for this is that when I tried it, the motherboard wouldn’t complete POST (Power On Self Test)! It’s worth noting that this motherboard uses some LEDs for diagnostics, rather than beeps. It does look like you can connect a speaker, but I haven’t done that – I don’t see the need.

More recently, I tried again and it did work after a few automatic reboots, so either I was to impatient (very possible), or that a BIOS update fixed it. Either way, it works fine now, not that I’ve noticed the performance boost.

Ryzen PC Configuration

Firmware

I have always wanted a system with a highly configurable BIOS/firmware interface. However, there were so many options in this one I found it very overwhelming at first! Nevertheless, I eventually found the fan tuning setup and let it do it automatically. Note that it can be done manually, but the firmware seemed to do a good job, so I left it as it was. I wanted to make a video to show you how this works on my motherboard (Asrock X570 Phantom Gaming 4), but my video capture device was playing up so unfortunately I was unable to do it.

CPU Temperature

I noticed that even after I fixed the fans, my CPU ran up to 95 C under load! This is within spec, but it’s way too hot for comfort. So, I used my fancy firmware interface to undervolt the CPU slightly which fixed the issue. I would show you how I did it, but it’s very complicated. Either I can’t find the option or it’s moved and I can’t find it any more. I can find all of the other voltage and overclocking options, so I don’t know where it’s gone.

Fan Tuning

This motherboard has some fancy fan tuning options, including the ability to set custom fan curves using the firmware’s in-built tools. Personally, I find the automatic configuration (including duty-cycle calculations) to work just fine. I made a video to show you how to do it, which is below.

Setting Up Linux

I just cloned my Mint installation from the Alienware X51 R2 I was using before. Given the switch from Intel to AMD, and all the other hardware changes (like SATA to NVME drives), I was a bit apprehensive, but everything worked fine. It booted up first time, and was absolutely fine from there on, despite all the junk I have installed on it. With one exception…

Temperature Monitoring

Sadly, AMD Ryzen 3000 CPUs didn’t have temperature monitoring support in Linux at the time of release, as was planned. This has arrived in Linux 5.4, but many distributions (including Mint 19) don’t official support this kernel version at the time of writing. Linux 5.3 (currently the newest kernel Mint 19 supports), does let me see the edge and die temperatures, which is something, but I still can’t see core temperatures like on Windows, frustratingly.

Let’s face it: most people aren’t gonna care too much about this, but when you’re a control freak like me, it’s annoying. I have a readout in my panel at the top with all of this stuff for me to see :).

Setting Up Windows

Ugh. Yes, I have to run Windows from time to time. No, I don’t like it. Obviously, this is a completely different system so I couldn’t just clone my Windows install. After a fresh install of Windows 10 Pro (I got a really good deal that only cost as much as Home usually does), everything was pretty much fine.

I didn’t have any of the frequent corruption issues that I had on the Alienware, or really any other problems at all. I have no idea why it kept breaking on that system, but clearly something was wrong because it seems just fine now (touch wood).

Ryzen PC Summary

This system was really fun to build, despite the occasional hiccup (read: me being a bit dumb), and it works amazingly well. It’s way faster than the Alienware X51 R2 I had before, and it’s good fun to use.

Recently I also managed to get myself a second-hand laptop with an AMD A9-9420 APU inside, which I’m currently using to finish this post off with. It runs a bit hot but is very quick and much less frustrating to use than the old one. If you want me to do a post about it, let me know in the comments!

That’s all for now, but stay tuned as I have a lot of posts I’m going to be publishing soon.

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About Hamish McIntyre-Bhatty

I'm currently studying for a Computing and IT degree with the Open University, and am a software developer as well. I enjoy coding in Python, C++ (still learning), and Java. Having written 4 open-source programs (hosted on launchpad.net), set up my own website, and started volunteering at Wimborne Model Town to work on their river control system, I still find the time to enjoy cycling, acting, photography, and playing bass guitar. I go climbing every now and then as well. More recently, I wrote my first commercial program, Disk Verifier, and created a PSID Unlocker GUI for Parted Magic. I also create tutorial and other informative videos for Parted Magic LLC.

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