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T-420 04W2049 (NVS-4200) motherboard perpetual reboot problems

Posted: Fri Sep 18, 2020 3:24 pm
by wsalomon
This concerns my T-420 with the 04W2049 motherboard (Nvidia NVS-4200-M Intel HD-3000 Optimus GPU). I am using a modded BIOS 1.52 (83uj33us) (Oleh), but the same things happen with both stock 1.51 (83uj32us) and 1.52 (3uj33us) BIOS (with Intel AC-7260 WiFi card removed).

A number of months ago the system suddenly started to perpetually reboot after Shutting down Windows 10. Exactly what version of 10 it was I cannot recall (this might have been before the New Year and might have been ver 1911). Since then, I have tried doing a clean install of Win 10 2004 since I had been through at least 3 every-6-month updates and "it was time". In installing 2004, I discovered that Win 10 (in a clean install), deleting all pervious partitions, and letting Win 10 do the "work", for a 3 user-defined partition system (C:, D:, and E:), that MBR partitions no longer work as Win 10 now installs not 1 but 2 hidden/system partitions, requiring one to use GPT instead of MBR to get the 3 user-defined partitions.

After the reload, the same Shutdown / Reboot problem happened. So I checked online for Windows 10 problems that might lead to such a problem including:
1. Turning off Fast Start-up in Power Options
2. Turning off Magic packet Wake-up
3. Turning of Hibernation
4. Trying a forced shutdown with > shutdown /f /s /t 0 (it restarted anyway)
5. Turning of Wake-On-LAN in the BIOS

None of this worked, especially as the Windows 2004 image was from a completely wiped disk (or so I think). I used DiskPart to manually remove the existing partitions, but what I think I did not do is to use DiskPart Clean to go even deeper (some where I think I remember that one of the hidden partitions, like MBR, had information retained between reboots - such as when a program says it's going to reboot to finish an installation). (I had done this for an X-1 7th gen after it had it's motherboard replaced on warranty after it had died after 1.5 years).

A this point, I wondered if this is a motherboard failure (this is seemed unlikely as motherboard failures usually involve a dead non-rebooting board or one non working section like sound or graphics, not a perpetually rebooting board), so...

I order an identical replacement used motherboard (04W2049). And, (surprise, surprise) it does the same thing (reboots after shutdown). I have not put the old board back in, nor done an entirely ne rebuild of the Windows 10 2004.

Before I do that (and return the "new" board), does anyone have any ideas. One thought I had was to install a fresh Linux Distro and see if the same thing happened in case this really is Windows related.

Any thoughts much appreciated in advance.

Re: T-420 04W2049 (NVS-4200) motherboard perpetual reboot problems

Posted: Fri Sep 18, 2020 4:43 pm
by atagunov
wsalomon wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 3:24 pm
One thought I had was to install a fresh Linux Distro and see if the same thing happened in case this really is Windows related.
Hi, Ubuntu installation is very quick and easy compared to Windows. Go for version 20.4 perhaps, the latest LTS (long term support). I have it and it works okay on a T520.

You "put" the distro on a USB somehow (since I have a lot of other Ubuntu machines around I just do it under Ubuntu but there should be an easy way under Windows too).
I prefer to do it on a completely fresh disk, without any partitions on it, I just allow Ubuntu to grab all of it.
The whole process takes no more than 30mins

However it's even better. Once you have prepared the USB stick for installing Ubuntu you can boot from it and choose to "Try Ubuntu" instead of installing it. "Try Ubuntu" means it will start straight from this USB stick almost as normal. Yes startup will be darn slow probably because USB sticks are nowhere as fast as SSD-s. But it will startup. And once it starts up you can shut it down and see what happens.

P.S. probably unrelated to this discussion but to get a completely clean SSD here's what I do: I do "Try Ubuntu" as described above, put Thinkpad into suspend, wake it up (this is required to get the SSD into the correct state) and then issue several hdparm commands: set some funny password then do a "secure erase". "Secure erase" is good because it fully resets internal structures of the SSD: all blocks are marked as free etc. The process is described in multiple places on the net, here's one that came on top when I searched for it just now: They use some trick to put computer to sleep, but I think you can just use one of the icons at top-right of the screen to invoke "Power Off/Suspend".

P.P.S. I was reading recently about "computrace" a nasty backdoor in Thinkpad BIOS. It needs to be switched in BIOS to "permanently disabled" btw. While learning about it I came accross a new thing about erasing SSD-s. It's described here on this forum. Apparently SSD-s (or even HDD-s too?) can have a completely hidden area called HPA. I think it's a good idea to check if HPA is enabled by any chance before doing the secure erase and if it is it's a good idea to remove it as described in that post.

P.P.P.S. I suppose you have already tried to restore all BIOS settings to defaults? There should be such an option in BIOS. I vaguely remember seeing smth similar to your problem with Ubuntu but honestly I have forgotten the details and thankfully it disappeared soon. It must have been either on T520 or on X220.

Re: T-420 04W2049 (NVS-4200) motherboard perpetual reboot problems

Posted: Sat Sep 19, 2020 2:07 pm
by wsalomon
@ atagunov - I did the Ubuntu 20.04 install as you suggested (it looks a whole lot better than it did years ago!) after a Secure Erase of my Samsung SSD.

As suggested, I used ' hdparm -I /dev/sda ' and hparm -N /dev/sda ' to look for the HDA area that might be there - nothing present.

It was also helpful to find pm-suspend to unfreeze the SSD. (Wish there was something like this for Windows, it may be SysInternal's PsShutdown but haven't tried it - the "frozen" warning from Samsung's Secure Erase is almost unsolvable with an SSD in an internal slot.)

That said, *nothing* has fixed the reboot problem, and no difference between Ubuntu and Windows 10.

I guess my conclusion is bad motherboard, unresponsive to BIOS flash.

Any other thoughts appreciated in advance.

Re: T-420 04W2049 (NVS-4200) motherboard perpetual reboot problems

Posted: Sun Sep 20, 2020 6:11 pm
by atagunov
Just to make sure: do you now have two motherboards that are bad in the same way? Both motherboards keep rebooting both under Windows and Linux?.. And one of the motherboards is new?

Re: T-420 04W2049 (NVS-4200) motherboard perpetual reboot problems

Posted: Sun Sep 20, 2020 10:47 pm
by wsalomon
@ atagunov -

Believe it or not, they both have the same problem (this reboot problem is what got me to get a "new" motherboard in the first place). Hence my being fastidious in trying to narrow this down to being a software problem (corrupt Windows 10, SSD, etc., or motherboard itself.

The replacement board is not "new", but a "pull". In the past day, there have been some "unusual" corruption of the boot message with "dots" occurring when the boot alternative message (referring to the ThinkVantage blue key, and, if I recall correctly, there is a ThinkPad "splash" BIOS logo screen that not longer appears (since I have been "living with this", I'm not sure if they occur with the TW-4520's (meaning T-420, T-520 and W-520 since I have one of each), or whether this was on my T-61's which have been "moth-balled". I have not checked the Nvidia GPU to see if this suffers from the well-known GPU defect, but at this point it no longer matters.

My hunch is that the "new" board was a "pull" that passed the "Does it boot to BIOS?" test, and no one complained about the perpetual reboot issue. Welcome to "eBay-world", and at least it was on a decent credit card should the vendor balk at taking it back or providing a replacement (it was from the UK and I'm in the US).

I have relegated the old board to the "recycle" pile, and have not done the Linux test. Perhaps I should, but I have put way too many hours into this.

Both boards had the Intel AC-7260 WiFi cards removed and the latest stock BIOS re-flashed back to F9 "defaults" and the Wake-On-LAN options disabled, so unless there was some bizarre "hold-over" from the Modded BIOS that survived the re-flash process, there should be nothing left from previous BIOS "Advanced" settings (the only thing that was changed was getting all USB ports active - I thought it was a little strange that one or two USB ports were disabled in the T-420, T-520, and W-520 BIOS, and were not the same although these boards are very similar).

Re: T-420 04W2049 (NVS-4200) motherboard perpetual reboot problems

Posted: Tue Oct 06, 2020 2:02 pm
by wsalomon
Problem solved (this is very embarrassing, but a lesson learned...)

The reason this was happening was from a ruined palm-rest into which something had been spilled, and caused some kind of short circuit.

Even though I have removed every other part (including the keyboard), this was the one remaining part I never swapped out.

A new palm-rest fixed this.

Re: T-420 04W2049 (NVS-4200) motherboard perpetual reboot problems

Posted: Tue Oct 06, 2020 2:11 pm
by atagunov