MSI X79-GD65 (8D) and Intel i7 3820 Nightmare and SOIC BIOS replacement

After many countless hours and out-of-pocked expenses I thought I would share the experience of MSI’s X79-GD65 (8D) motherboard and the Intel i7 3820 CPU.

The MSI X7-GD65 (8D) was purchased from PC Case Gear for $299, the Intel i7 3820 for the same price.

Once it was all hooked up I got the following symptoms on power-up;

  • No video
  • CPU phase LED showing constant 3 bars
  • CPU fan spinning
  • No digits on the debug LCD
  • Unable the switch the computer without a hard shutdown on the PSU

After Googling it turns out that old BIOS’ that were shipped with the early boards are not compatible with the late model Intel i7 3820. This is not uncommon, as how can manufactures be expected to design for hardware that isn’t even released yet.

What annoyed me was the lack of options going forward to resolve this situation;

  • MSI have no means of claiming Warranty Internationally, they cop-out and chime to take it back to the store. What kind of company does that?
  • The BIOS chips are soldered on to the board, yes, you read that right, this saves them money. It now it isn’t a straight forward procedure to replace the chips, I will show you have you can do it further on.
  • The firmware updater requires a working CPU, even ASUS realise the need to be able to flash your BIOS with minimal hardware.
  • MSI recommend to purchase an Intel i7 3930k and then flash the BIOS, if I could afford a $550+ chip in the first place I wouldn’t have purchased the 3820.
  • Borrow a 3930, the problem is the Sandy Bridge hardware isn’t cost effective; it is rare for people to own these system.

So where did this leave me, with a $300 paper weight, I wasn’t going to give up so soon.

I spotted updated MSI X79-GD65 (8D) BIOS chips on eBay for $20 including shipping so decided to give it ago.

Have a look on YouTube for SOIC (the surface mount chip packaging) desoldering or SOIC removal with a hot-air gun.

I tried the first attempt desoldering, by running a piece of wire under the legs pulling on it once heated to lift it off the pad, unfortunately I removed one of the solder pads.

Fortunately, this board has two BIOS chips.

The second attempted was the hot-air gun approach, this was a lot easier, sprayed with hot air the chip can simply be removed.

The board now booted up which was a relief except only sometimes and I could never work out what was the reason. Searching the forums and there are others with the same problem, a Clear CMOS basically sometimes allows the board to boot.

I ended up getting rid of the board on eBay for $40, yes, I lost money, but I was happy to have it out of my life. And purchased an ASRock Extreme 4.

While I’m ranting, why do MSI place that giant Military Class III sticker on the socket protector, have you ever tried replacing the protector, you are bound to damage some pins in the process.

The faulty MSI X79-GD65 (8D) with old firmware
A red dot on the BIOS chip indicates an older firmware model
Remove the southerbridge heatsink to expose both the BIOS chips
The BIOS chip B removed from the PCB