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My T480 won't boot Windows based but will boot everything else [Please read the OP before commenting].

T430-T490, T530-T590 Series
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Dossing Around
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My T480 won't boot Windows based but will boot everything else [Please read the OP before commenting].

#1 Post by Dossing Around » Sun Oct 01, 2023 5:08 pm

This is my first post so I'd like to start by saying a hearty hello to everyone!

I also just waned to ask that, as the title says, that can you please read this post before commenting? Thanks.

I've already posted about this issue elsewhere, and with each of those threads, I get many comments from users that, whilst well intentioned, clearly didn't read my original post before they posted a suggestion that I have already tried and listed in my post, which that makes it clear that this isn't just another "Windows won't boot!" thread, where the solution is one of the same small handful of BIOS settings or hardware issues.

-------------------------

I have a rather frustrating issue with my T480. An issue that is now further complicated by the passage of time, as I've been grappling with this issue, on and off, for over a year now.

I bought my T480 new, with the factory install of Windows 10 installed on the 1TB HDD that came with the system. My first order of business was to buy a 2242 NVMe disk to install in the unused WWAN slot, create a fresh install of Windows on the 2242 disk, and install a 2.5" Crucial MX500 SSD in place of the 1TB HDD, so that I could install Linux. For months on end, I used Ubuntu as my primary OS and booted into Windows on the odd occasion I needed to use something Windows specific.

Skip ahead a year or so and I had decided it was time to upgrade. So I added a second, matching, 8GB DIMM of Samsung RAM. And at the same time, I also replaced the 2.5" SSD with a 2280 NVMe disk. I transferred my Ubuntu install to the new drive by using a Macrium Reflect bootable ISO. I then ran one or two full rounds (of 4 tests) of MemTest86 without issue, just to confirm that the DIMMs were seated correctly and in working order. Ubuntu booted up just as it should and I carried on with my business....

Then, a little while after the upgrades, I found I needed to boot my Windows 10 install. I selected it from the GRUB menu, the boot process began, getting as far as the spinning white dots of the Win 10 loading screen, before rebooting back to the GRUB menu. I tried booting Windows several times after that and I would variously get the spinning dots, or the Windows Startup Repair screen. I also tried booting directly from the 2242 Windows disk by selecting it from the F12 menu, or by setting the relevant boot options in the BIOS menu. But each attempted boot would fail in the same way, with a reboot to GRUB.

I tried various things, including (and in no particular order)-

* Resetting the BIOS to Factory Defaults
* Enabling / Disabling Secure Boot.
* Enabling / Disabling EUFI and Legacy CSM booting.
* I reset the EUFI keys
* I updated / reflashed the BIOS several times.
* I updated the IME.
* Removing the new 8GB DIMM, leaving just the original 8GB matching DIMM untouched.
* Swapping DIMM slots, both with just the original DIMM, just the new DIMM, and each DIMM in either slot.
* I tried removing the new 2280 NVMe disk, and tried booting with the 2.5" empty and with the old MX500 SSD re-installed

Nothing worked.

I should stress that this all happened quite a while ago now, so the timeline may be a bit wrong, so please don't judge me to harshly when I say that the next thing I did (or perhaps I did it much earlier in the process?) was to try booting Macrium Reflect in order to create an image of my Windows 10 install. I should also just make it clear that the Windows disk in question (and it's data), was and still is fully accessible from Linux, and passes S.M.A.R.T. tests just fine. It's also accessible from Windows, when the disk is installed in a different system.

Macrium Reflect would not boot though. So I think I either ended up using Clonezilla to make an image or I moved the 2242 NVMe disk to my main computer and imaged it using Macrium Reflect. With my data backed up, it was time for a fresh install but before I nuked the T480 Windows install, I tried boot from the 2242 NVMe when it was installed into my main computer... it had to do Startup Repair but it booted.

Back to the T480, I downloaded the latest Windows 10 ISO and copied it to my USB boot device. I tried booting the ISO but it failed in the same way that the hardware installed would. Then it clicked that Macrium Reflect is Windows based, so I tried booting my various other ISOs. Here's a quick list of what did (Y) and didn't (N) boot. Do you see the running theme?

Y - Ubuntu
Y - Debian
Y - Mint
Y - Manjaro
Y - MemTest86
Y - pfSense
Y - FreeNAS
Y - Slax
Y - Lenovo's BIOS updater ISOs
N - Windows 10 install ISOs (various versions)
N - Windows 8.1 ISO
N - Windows 7 ISO
N - Macrium Reflect (Windows based)
N - Avira Rescue Disc / UBCD (?)... or something like it, also Windows based.

All of the above will boot on my main system but wanting to rule out my USB boot device or it's method of serving up ISOs being the issue on the T480 but not my main computer, I also tried connecting an external ODD to my T480 and booting into a retail copy of Windows 7. It starts to boot, getting as far as showing the dark blue splash screen of the Win 7 installer, before bluescreening with a warning about the BIOS not being ACPI compliant (error 0x000000A5 if memory serves).

So as things stand now, I have a T480 that will boot to anything I throw at it... except anything Windows based.

To make all this infinitely worse... searching for solutions to such an issues yields countless pages of users who can't boot into Windows for any number of other, unrelated and easier to diagnose and fix issues. Each research season means wading through countless forum threads where the OP just needed to change a BIOS setting. Every once in a while though, I would stumble upon another user who was seemingly facing the same issue as myself. A system that won't boot Windows regardless of BIOS settings but will boot Linux. Some of these results were from the mid 2000's and some were as recent as a year or two ago. Of this small number of relevant results, there was not running theme in regards to the hardware. A couple of the threads I found did mention the issue occurring after adding more RAM but the other threads did not.

So, short of buying a used replacement motherboard of eBay, I don't know what to do next. Not being able to use Windows isn't the end of the world but it would be nice to have the option but above all else, the thing that's frustrating about the whole affair is the mystery of it all. I just want to figure out what in the hell would stop Windows based stuff booting but nothing else?! Could it be some kind of motherboard or CPU issue that only affects Windows based OSs?

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Re: My T480 won't boot Windows based but will boot everything else [Please read the OP before commenting].

#2 Post by RealBlackStuff » Mon Oct 02, 2023 12:31 am

If I read your long story correct, your problems started here:
Skip ahead a year or so and I had decided it was time to upgrade. So I added a second, matching, 8GB DIMM of Samsung RAM. And at the same time, I also replaced the 2.5" SSD with a 2280 NVMe disk. I transferred my Ubuntu install to the new drive by using a Macrium Reflect bootable ISO.

AFAIK Macrium never liked Linux and v.v.
Have you considered starting from scratch?
Lovely day for a Guinness! (The Real Black Stuff)
Lenovo: X240, X250, T440p, T480, M900 Tiny.

PS: the old Boardroom website is still available on the Wayback Machine
.

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Re: My T480 won't boot Windows based but will boot everything else [Please read the OP before commenting].

#3 Post by axur-delmeria » Mon Oct 02, 2023 1:22 am

Question: what software are you using to make a Windows 10 installation disk?
Planned Purchase: T480s i5-8350 FHD Touch
Impulse Buy: Thinkpad not named for safety reasons :lol:

Old Faithful: X220 4291-C91 i7-2620M

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Re: My T480 won't boot Windows based but will boot everything else [Please read the OP before commenting].

#4 Post by TPFanatic » Mon Oct 02, 2023 8:19 am

What happens if you remove all storage drives except for a blank storage to which you intend to install Windows, and attempt to install Windows 10 on it?

Windows 7 installer is a red herring, it will never work properly on Kaby Lake and newer.

My experience with modern EFI boot and Windows is any change in boot configuration such as changing a boot device is going to break Windows. Can't clone a drive to another drive and carry on. MBR is a lot simpler but theoretically less secure. In any case I've had to teach myself how to manually repair the windows EFI bootloader because "startup repair" does absolutely nothing.

The best practice is now to use one native OS and virtualize any other OS within it.

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Re: My T480 won't boot Windows based but will boot everything else [Please read the OP before commenting].

#5 Post by Dossing Around » Tue Oct 03, 2023 2:45 pm

RealBlackStuff wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2023 12:31 am
If I read your long story correct, your problems started here:
Skip ahead a year or so and I had decided it was time to upgrade. So I added a second, matching, 8GB DIMM of Samsung RAM. And at the same time, I also replaced the 2.5" SSD with a 2280 NVMe disk. I transferred my Ubuntu install to the new drive by using a Macrium Reflect bootable ISO.

AFAIK Macrium never liked Linux and v.v.
Have you considered starting from scratch?
I've never had an issue with using the Macrium boot ISO but I haven't exactly used it a lot. I'm curious though... surely if it's just imaging a disk, and not manipulating the partitions in anyway, shouldn't the disk being Linux be irrelevant?

As for starting from scratch, it's a cart before the horse situation. If I can't boot a Windows installer, then I can't start anything from scratch... other than reinstalling Linux, which as I said, works without any issues.

Dossing Around
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Re: My T480 won't boot Windows based but will boot everything else [Please read the OP before commenting].

#6 Post by Dossing Around » Tue Oct 03, 2023 2:51 pm

axur-delmeria wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2023 1:22 am
Question: what software are you using to make a Windows 10 installation disk?
I've used Microsoft's own Media Creation Tool, and Rufus. But here's where my setup does veer slightly towards the unusual... I'm also using a device called the iODD 2531, which is 2.5" external enclosure that you connect to your system via USB. Along with acting as an external disk, it can also emulate a virtual optical drive, and mount VHD(?) images as if they were thum drives. Think Ventoy but better and all hardware based. You just copy the ISO to the "_iso" folder on the root of the disk inside the iODD, and select it from the boot menu as you would with any other USB optical drive (which I've also tried with my Win 7 disk).

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Re: My T480 won't boot Windows based but will boot everything else [Please read the OP before commenting].

#7 Post by Dossing Around » Tue Oct 03, 2023 3:00 pm

TPFanatic wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2023 8:19 am
What happens if you remove all storage drives except for a blank storage to which you intend to install Windows, and attempt to install Windows 10 on it?
I've just tried it, albeit without a target disk (as I don't have one spare at the moment). I tried booting a few different Win10 ISOs and all of them exibited the same behaviour. I get the blue Windows icon splash screen, the white spinning dots appear briefly, then the screen goes black as the T480 reboots.
TPFanatic wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2023 8:19 am
Windows 7 installer is a red herring, it will never work properly on Kaby Lake and newer.
I might have to look into that with a bit more detail. Windows 7 does boot appear to get a little further along in the boot process. Which makes me wonder whether the bluescreen I get when booting Windows 7 is a separate issue entirely, and whether Win 7 would boot if not for the fact that the T480 has a Kaby Lake chip. Or to put it another way, I wonder whether the issue only affects Win 10?... I might have to try... *blech* installing Windows 11!
TPFanatic wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2023 8:19 am
My experience with modern EFI boot and Windows is any change in boot configuration such as changing a boot device is going to break Windows. Can't clone a drive to another drive and carry on. MBR is a lot simpler but theoretically less secure. In any case I've had to teach myself how to manually repair the windows EFI bootloader because "startup repair" does absolutely nothing.

The best practice is now to use one native OS and virtualize any other OS within it.
I've found it to be a little more forgiving personally but as I said in my original post, my T480 Windows 10 install will boot if I connect the disk to my desktop computer... I really am starting to think that the issue lies with the motherboard, or some kind of CPU or BIOS code issue. It's jsut all so strange...

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Re: My T480 won't boot Windows based but will boot everything else [Please read the OP before commenting].

#8 Post by TPFanatic » Tue Oct 03, 2023 5:27 pm

Super weird.

I know windows is more sensitive to memory errors and will have boot problems if there's faulty memory. but you already tested each stick.

Wild idea, does clearing the TPM change anything?

I've managed to get Windows 7 to run on Kaby Lake by having it already installed on a SATA drive from an Ivy Bridge system, then physically moving the drive to the Kaby Lake machine.

Edit: also curious if some PXE boot setting is at fault. But really just guessing here.

Starting to agree with your conclusion that new motherboard will be necessary.

Edit: just saw this on the subreddit, https://www.reddit.com/r/thinkpad/comme ... g_windows/ maybe something
Last edited by TPFanatic on Wed Oct 04, 2023 6:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: My T480 won't boot Windows based but will boot everything else [Please read the OP before commenting].

#9 Post by RealBlackStuff » Wed Oct 04, 2023 2:00 am

With starting from scratch I meant using fresh drives that have not yet been molested by Windows, Linux or Macrium.
You're messing with copied disks, which IMHO is asking for trouble.
Lovely day for a Guinness! (The Real Black Stuff)
Lenovo: X240, X250, T440p, T480, M900 Tiny.

PS: the old Boardroom website is still available on the Wayback Machine
.

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Re: My T480 won't boot Windows based but will boot everything else [Please read the OP before commenting].

#10 Post by Dossing Around » Thu Oct 05, 2023 3:54 pm

TPFanatic wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2023 5:27 pm
Super weird.

I know windows is more sensitive to memory errors and will have boot problems if there's faulty memory. but you already tested each stick.
Speaking from experience, MemTest86 isn't 100% reliable. It really pays to try different versions of the software and to leave it running for as long as you can bare.

I've used MemTest86 (and sometimes 86+) on every system I've built, upgraded, or tinkered with for the last decade or more. And I've had systems that wouldn't boot or that bluescreen, that passed MemTest86, whose issues stopped as soon as I replaced the supposedly good RAM... Reinstalling the old RAM would bring the issue back, so poor installation was fairly unlikely.
TPFanatic wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2023 5:27 pm
Wild idea, does clearing the TPM change anything?
Clearing and / or disabling the TPM doesn't change anything.
TPFanatic wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2023 5:27 pm
I've managed to get Windows 7 to run on Kaby Lake by having it already installed on a SATA drive from an Ivy Bridge system, then physically moving the drive to the Kaby Lake machine.
I've got a couple of Sandy Bridge system right next to me... I might have to give that idea a go.
TPFanatic wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2023 5:27 pm
Edit: also curious if some PXE boot setting is at fault. But really just guessing here.

Starting to agree with your conclusion that new motherboard will be necessary.
I've never messed with PXE but it would be a little odd if it were at fault as I definitely didn't change any PXE related settings around the time the fault first occurred.

I might just keep an eye open for the cheapest T480 with the same specs as mine (and hopefully a backlit keyboard, which I regret not speccing with my original purchase). At the end of the day though, I haven't used modern Windows by preference, for a few years now. It sucks that there's something wrong with my laptop and I would like to find a fix but hey-ho, worse things happen at sea.

If only the tech support was worth a darn. Perhaps the most frustrating thing about this issue is that I can’t find any information in regards to whether such an issue is possible as the result of a hardware or firmware fault. I’d like to know out of curiosity as much as anything.
TPFanatic wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2023 5:27 pm
Edit: just saw this on the subreddit, https://www.reddit.com/r/thinkpad/comme ... g_windows/ maybe something
I don't know much about S states and there are no explicit S State settings in my T480's BIOS. I did just try disabling the power and clock speed stepping settings but you've guessed it. The issue is the same as ever.

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Re: My T480 won't boot Windows based but will boot everything else [Please read the OP before commenting].

#11 Post by Dossing Around » Thu Oct 05, 2023 4:01 pm

RealBlackStuff wrote:
Wed Oct 04, 2023 2:00 am
With starting from scratch I meant using fresh drives that have not yet been molested by Windows, Linux or Macrium.
You're messing with copied disks, which IMHO is asking for trouble.
TPFanatic mentioned being able to get Win 7 to run on Kaby Lake by installing it on older architecture first, and then moving the SATA disk to a Kaby Lake system. I'm eager to try that, so I'll try your suggestion of starting from scratch at the same time too... The install will have to take place on another system though. I'm pretty sure my parents have a Kaby Lake (or newer) system that I could use, as I think doing it on my Ryzen desktop is asking for weirdness, and I haven't got anything else as modern.... unless I buy an external NVMe enclosure that is. Don't you just love it when you find a good excuse to buy something you've been wanting for a while?

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Re: My T480 won't boot Windows based but will boot everything else [Please read the OP before commenting].

#12 Post by Dossing Around » Fri Oct 13, 2023 10:54 am

I might have found the cause of my T480's problems... or at least a very plausible theory.

I found a new lead by way of a thread over at Reddit. Quite why the thread didn't show up in numerous previous searches, I don't know. I'd prefer not to link said thread because the reddit owners and admins can get stuffed, and the thread doesn’t really provide any additional info beyond this thread, aside from what’s below.

Basically, the OP had a T480 with all the same boot symptoms as mine but they had also noticed that their MX150 wasn't working on Linux. Nor was it showing up when running various terminal commands, such as lspci.

I tried running some of the same commands and low and behold, my MX150 has seemingly left the building, road off into the sunset, and joined the bleedin' choir invisible... or it's just not toggling on or something. I'm not quite sure. It’s a new development that requires looking into.

For now though, I think my best bet is to bypass the issue, so I’m trying to figure out whether there's a way of forcing Windows to only use the iGPU, or of somehow completely disabling the MX150.

[EDIT] It looks like disabling the MX150 for Windows would require being able to boot into Windows, which would require a working T480 motherboard. I do wonder whether it'd be possible to create a Windows install in a VM, and somehow disable a specific model of GPU in the VM?

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