This post is part of the Motherboard BIOS Settings series and covers a specific motherboard the MSI Z170A SLI. To see the full list of motherboards covered in the series, please visit the parent post.
BIOS Version: 7998v3D BIOS Date: 2018/6/23
- Intel Z170 – 6 PCIe Slots (3x PCIe16 and 3x PCIe1)
- Core i7 / i5 / i3 / Pentium / Celeron (LGA1151)
- DDR4 3200*(*OC)/ 3000*/ 2800*/ 2600*/ 2400/ 2133
I normally get Windows and the graphics drivers installed and setup first before adjusting the BIOS. Be sure you install Windows using UEFI as that will also help with any issues when trying to get 5+ GPUs running.
You can run up to 4 GPUs on the MSI Z170A SLI out of the box at default settings. Note that you will need to run your GPUs off of 1x risers to utilize all 6 PCIe slots on this board.
I also recommend getting your miner software (Claymore, Phoenix, etc.) up and operational with up to four graphics cards at first. Once everything is running smoothly, shutdown and add your other two GPUs before making the BIOS modifications discussed below.
After making all of the below BIOS modifications and rebooting, when Windows comes back up, you will need to check the Device Manager to confirm that all 6 GPUs are detected and operating correctly.
If you get any errors you can try to reinstall the graphic drivers, of if you use any BIOS modded AMD GPU’s, you may need to run the AMD/ATI Pixel Clock Patcher and reboot.
Also be sure to switch any AMD GPUs over to compute mode if you are getting lower than expected hash-rates.
To get into the BIOS Settings screen of the MSI Z170A SLI motherboard, as with most motherboards you can press the Delete key as your system starts. A brief message should appear on your screen indicating when to do this, so have your finger already positioned over the Delete key as it can go by fast.
Another trick, if you have numlock on boot enabled, or other keyboard lights, is to watch for when they first light up and press the delete key at this time. This can help in cases where there is monitor lag to delay displaying the on-screen message before Windows starts booting.
Once in the MSI “Click” BIOS screen, first check your BIOS version/date. For this guide I am using BIOS Version: E7998IMS.3D0 with a build date of: 06/15/2018.
You may have luck with other BIOS versions, but this is the version I used for this guide and I know it works.
If you need to flash the BIOS, I have listed the procedure at the end of the guide.
Click on Settings on the left hand side of the BIOS configuration window. From here, click on Advanced and then select PCI Subsystems Settings.
Here we have 4 different settings:
- PEG0 – Max Link Speed: Change from Auto to Gen2 (or Gen1)
- PEG1 – Max Link Speed: Change from Auto to Gen1
- PCI Latency Timer: Leave at default (32 PCI Bus…)
- Above 4G memory/Crypto Currency mining: Change to Enabled
Now go to Settings->Advanced->Windows OS Configuration. You can click on the little return arrow icon to back up one level in the menu structure.
On this page set everything to disabled:
- Windows 8.1/10 WHQL Support: Change to Disabled
- Windows 7 Installation: Change to Disabled
- MSI Fast Boot: Change to Disabled
- Fast Boot: Change to Disabled
The above settings should be enough to get you going for mining with 5+ cards.
Optional Setting Changes:
These changes won’t effect getting 6 GPUs running, but can be useful.
Under Settings->Advanced->Power Management Setup I like to change Restore after AC Power Loss to Last State.
This returns the PC to the state is was (on or off) before the loss of power occurred. This can be useful if you have your miners setup to auto-start upon system reboot.
The other settings are Disabled, which leaves the machine powered off after a power loss event, and Power On which will turn the machine on after a power loss event, even if it was off before.
This last option is useful if you have your mining rigs powered into some type of controllable power strip, where you can effectively turn a rig on by power cycling the outlet that the machine is plugged into on the strip.
I also like to disable a few other unneeded things while we are in the BIOS configuration.
In Settings->Advanced->Super IO Configuration->Serial(COM) Port 0 Configuration, I set the serial port to disabled to save a few resources.
I also like to disable the onboard parallel (LPT) port one menu up from here in Settings->Advanced->Super IO Configuration->Parallel (LPT) Port Configuration.
In Settings->Advanced->HD Audio Controller [Enabled] I change it to Disabled to turn off the onboard audio, as I will not be using it all all for mining and disabling this will save some more system resources.
Once you have made the above changes, click on the X in the upper right of the screen and then select Save Changes and Reboot.
You will be presented with a screen showing you the changes you made to verify you want to commit them. Click on Yes to confirm.
Wait for the system to reboot and press the Del key when it shows on the screen to re-enter BIOS setup.
At this point I like to go into Board Explorer and verify the BIOS is detecting all of my GPU’s. All of your PCIe slots should be highlighted in white as shown in the above image.
If any populated slots are not highlighted, it means the motherboard is not detecting them and you need to resolve this before moving on to booting into Windows. If your GPUs are not detected here at the hardware level they will not be detected by Windows.
A common problem with beginners is when populating all the PCIe slots is that if you populate any of the full (x16) slots on the motherboard, enough PCIe lanes might not be freed up to run all the GPU’s. The best solution is to put all your graphics cards on risers as shown above.
Also be sure to double check all of your riser connections, especially any of the ones not being detected in the Board Explorer. Be sure the computer is powered off first, and either unplugged from the wall or the power supply switch is turned to off, before removing any cables. Sometimes simply re-seating the cables and ensuring they are firmly in place will resolve most issues.
Once you get your Board Explorer to highlight all of the PCIe slots that you have populated with graphics cards, as shown in the above image, you can then exit BIOS and boot into Windows.
In case you get stuck and locked out of both Windows and the BIOS with a black screen, you will need to reset the BIOS back to factory defaults.
You can do this by either removing the onboard battery and waiting a few minutes for any residue capacitor voltages to discharge, or use the reset jumper method below.
For this guide I am using BIOS Version: E7998IMS.3D0 with a build date of: 06/15/2018. The download link lists this BIOS as Version: 7998v3D with a release date of: 2018-06-23.
Update the BIOS by extracting and saving it to a USB stick and then Click the lower left of the screen within the BIOS setup to launch the M-Flash utility. The PC will then reboot.
When it comes back, you should see a screen similar to the one above. Here you can navigate the contents of your USB stick to find the BIOS files you downloaded.
Double Click on the correct BIOS image file to select it, you will get a message asking if this is correct, click on Yes to continue.
The current BIOS image will be erased and the new one will be written in its place. This operation takes several minutes, so be sure you are doing it at a time and place when there is little to no chance of power interruptions (i.e. not during a thunderstorm).
Once it has completed the flashing process it will automatically reboot.