Computers & Electronics

ASUS Zenbook UX305CA-UHM4T Issues and Fixes thread

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  • Apr 2nd, 2021 1:22 am
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Sr. Member
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Jul 26, 2008
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Hugh wrote: Bummer.

Getting the logo on screen means a lot of the system is working. That's hopeful.

Being able to enter the firmware setup screen is even better.

Here are some easy things to try:

When you were in the settup screen, did you look around at the current settings? Did any of them look odd? Does it see the SSD? Does it see the RAM?

Can you reset the firmware settings to the default? If so, does that make any difference?

Most notebooks have two batteries: the big rechargeable battery, and the "CMOS" battery, a little coin cell that allows the firmware settings and the clock to function with no mains power. Is that coin battery dead?

(Since two out of two of our UX305CAs had SSDs die, I'm quite suspicious of them. But it sounds like you've ruled that out.)

Sometimes a connector stops working perfectly. Perhaps it has worked loose. Perhaps a little corrosion develops on the contacts. Disconnecting and reconnecting them often fixes such a problem.

Since you are having trouble powering off, the first connector I'd look at is the one that connects the power button to the motherboard (or whatever).

The second would be the keyboard (probably a weird ribbon cable connector: be careful, there might be a clamp you have to release). If you really did remove the motherboard, you probably already did this.
Yeah good tips , Could not find a coin cell, ( after your post I double check and found the cell ) and I had the main board out of the system. I pulled and reset every ribbon cable. I was actual hoping I would cause some real damage so it would not even poweron, call it a total loss and move on. But no it till powers on to that Asus logo . I should have done a reset bios default and will try that if I can get back in. I must have tried a hundred time today no go. The laptop was working fine and I recall all this started after a windows update. On one of failed boot attempts I recall seeing an error message, text on the bios screen that I googled and found a link to a fail Intel management engine firmware update. I suspect that this was pushed out via Windows Update, failed and and is not stopping the boot process for working.

after finding the coin cell I removed, it no change so I removed the ribbon cable for the the entire daughter board and still no change only booting the Asus logo.
the oin cell is in red on this picture.
Image
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naimc wrote: On one of failed boot attempts I recall seeing an error message, text on the bios screen that I googled and found a link to a fail Intel management engine firmware update. I suspect that this was pushed out via Windows Update, failed and and is not stopping the boot process for working.
Ouch. That sounds plausible.

I wonder if a faulty IME update is less of a problem if you disable Secure Boot in the firmware setup. A hail Mary pass.

Asus *might* have a way for recovering from a bad firmware update, which might include a bad IME update.

All this (except disabling Secure Boot) requires more research than I've done.

How about booting from a USB stick (I recommend a live Linux like Fedora or Ubuntu) while the SSD is disconnected?
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More thoughts.

I would bet that Intel and Microsoft go to a lot of trouble to make an IME update all-or-nothing. So the message about the IME might be a red herring.

Consider attaching a USB keyboard to the notebook. See if you can get into the boot menu more reliably using that keyboard.
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Hugh wrote: More thoughts.

I would bet that Intel and Microsoft go to a lot of trouble to make an IME update all-or-nothing. So the message about the IME might be a red herring.

Consider attaching a USB keyboard to the notebook. See if you can get into the boot menu more reliably using that keyboard.
When the system is stuck at the Asus logo, the cap lock button works so I think the keyboard works. I will try using an external keyboard. I am a sucker for lost causes so multiple time during the day I try to enter bios, this morning on a cold start I got in the Bios !

I selected the reload defaults saved and exit, and its that moment that I saw the strange intel message , it flashed by so fast I was not able to take a picture but it was something like : Me FW Downgrade - Request MeSpiLock Failed which a google search shows is a common issue with no clear resolution. I will try reflashing the latest bios version for this device which is 304.

I know that there are some bios tools that allow you to go in a Bios file and examine the contents and cut out and replace certain components, The Bios ROM is like a zip file that contains sub items for the multiple firmware parts, code that allow a system to run. I know of the existance of these tools but not how to use them.

Here is screen capture for one such tools called MMTool having loaded the last bios released for this device, UX305CA-AS.304 we can see the section for hte MeFmDowngrade code.
Image

Its possible I am seeing this error message because of a faulty Bios chip that intermittently works , I guess a pro would find the chip on the motherboard and replace it ?

I think I found the bios chip, a WinBond 25064FV10 It tiny, I can't tell if this inserted in a socket or surface mount, the spec sheet show this chip comes in ball, pin, pad formats. https://www.winbond.com/resource-files/ ... 142016.pdf

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Naimc:

Good research.

I have no experience with what I'm about to say. Don't trust it. But it might help you think about the problem.

The Winbond chip is a flash memory. It has an SPI bus interconnect. It has no smarts but it holds (almost?) all the firmware that needs to be loaded to initialize the computer. This includes the IME firmware and the UEFI firmware. There might be a different flash (tamper resistant) for the most important security stuff.

Some little tiny secret computer in the notebook is in charge of transferring (some of) the flash to RAM at the very beginning of the power-on process. A computer cannot execute code directly out of a flash with a serial interface.

I don't remember how many little computers are secretly inside the notebook. One is known to run MINIX! Even the author of MINIX didn't know that until the last year or so. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_Management_Engine

You are right about the structure of the firmware. You could disassemble that module and try to puzzle out what it does. I've done that kind of thing in the disant past, but it's quite hard. A simple thing is to just run the UNIX "strings" command on the binary to see if you can see the actual message string in there.

The SPI flash is surely soldered on in a way that is inconvenient for people like us to deal with. But I do see 4 soldery spots on the north side of the package and four on the south. That adds up to the number of pins expected. So it looks like you might be able to play like this guy did: https://www.rototron.info/recover-brick ... pberry-pi/

There are lots of firmware hacking things on the internet but I haven't taken the time to study them.
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Thanks for the explanation, "The Winbond chip is a flash memory. It has an SPI bus interconnect. It has no smarts but it holds (almost?) all the firmware that needs to be loaded to initialize the computer. This includes the IME firmware and the UEFI firmware. Their might be a different flash (tamper resistant) for the most important security stuff."

While fiddling around in the bios I got access to Easy flash, put the current bios on the usb key, Attempted to reflash with the current BIOS and got an msg that the BIOS file is too old. On this screen I typed

Image
risky enter, the bios update went ahead, everything seems to have worked but machine stayed frozen on the last screen where it says rebooting in 2 seconds.


Image

I powered on and off, now back to square 1, stuck at the Asus boot logo !

So based on the fact the flash reprogramming went ahead without any errors there was an erase, write and verify phase I conclude the SPI chip is find and it's another more complex issue.

If any one you have a unit with a defective screen I can sell you my unit or purchase yours to get your MB just PM me.
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Namic:

So much of your computer is working. But notebooks are sometimes all-or-nothing.

Have you figured out a way of reliably getting to the firmware settup screen?

Is "fast boot" enabled in the firmware "Boot" settup screen? Try turning it off. That initializes more of the hardware and it may show diagnostics like "memory counting".

Did you try booting off a live USB stick? Without the SSD installed?

Is there a firmware setting to not display the logo? On some computers that shows you more about what's going on during POST.

Is any odd beeping going on? Some computers give you distress signals as a sequence of beeps.

I guess you could try going back to an old firmware version.
Newbie
Aug 17, 2020
1 posts
Hello,
I found a problem on my UX305CA, I didn't have hotkeys support (fn+f7, fn+f8, fn+f9, and probably more), so here is how I solved it:
-firstly I uninstalled ATK package (it is the newest version 1.0.0061),
-then I installed an older atk package (v.1.0.0050),
-and repaired ASUS Smart Gesture (from control panel add and remove programs, then searched for ASUS Smart Gesture, and button repair on the visible bar),
-finnaly I rebooted to see changes.
It is probably important to note that it was on the newest Windows 10 update, with ASUS Smart Gesture driver v.4.0.12.
Hope that to someone it helps.
Sr. Member
Sep 29, 2007
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Well guys.. it's been over 5 years now and it's finally my turn to have some issues with this laptop. My charging connection seems to work intermittently.. I think the connection internal to the laptop is the problem. Is there any way I can get this repaired or should I just buy a new laptop at this point? I can't even get it to say "Charging" anymore.
Last edited by RD616 on Apr 2nd, 2021 1:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RD616 wrote: Well guys.. it's been over 5 years now and it's finally my turn to have some issues with this laptop. My charging connection seems to work intermittently.. I think the connection internal to the laptop is the problem. Anyway I can get this repaired or should I just buy a new laptop at this point? I can't even get it to say "Charging" anymore.
Key questions:
  • How handy are you?
  • What have you got to lose?
  • What have you got to win (i.e. how much is the notebook worth to you, working)?
  • How risk averse are you?

We had a charger go. We knew because the charger from another Asus NB worked with this NB. Otherwise, it's hard to tell whether the NB or the charger is at fault.

Connectors on the NB motherboard get a lot of stress and are a common failure point (as you suspect). I'd have thought fixing might be an easy solder job, but I don't know. The scale of everything on modern circuit boards is so small.

I've had a couple of notebooks that stopped charging (with a working battery) that I haven't figured out. So there's a significant chance the problem is a bit tricky. But often enough problems are just from bad connections.

Do you know a good place to repair it? I don't. Maybe a cell phone repair place would take a stab at it.

In this thread, there is a guy from Durham Ontario who seems to take on pretty tricky repairs for a fee. thread-about-microsoldering-2333187/
If are going to scrap the computer, and you are willing to deliver it to me, I might be willing to buy it off you for a scrap price.

Good luck and tell us how it turns out.
Last edited by Hugh on Apr 2nd, 2021 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
Sr. Member
Sep 29, 2007
756 posts
116 upvotes
Hugh wrote: Key questions:
  • How handy are you?
  • What have you got to lose?
  • What have you got to win (i.e. how much is the notebook worth to you, working)?
  • How risk averse are you?

We had a charger go. We knew because the charger from another Asus NB worked with this NB. Otherwise, it's hard to tell whether the NB or the charger is at fault.

Connectors on the NB motherboard get a lot of stress and are a common failure point (as you suspect). I'd have thought fixing might be an easy solder job, but I don't know. The scale of everything on modern circuit boards is so small.

I've had a couple of notebooks that stopped charging (with a working battery) that I haven't figured out. So there's a significant chance the problem is a bit tricky. But often enough problems are just from bad connections.

Do you know a good place to repair it? I don't. Maybe a cell phone repair place would take a stab at it.

In this thread, there is a guy from Durham Ontario who seems to take on pretty tricky repairs for a fee. looking-7-9-windows-tablet-not-expensive-2452242/

If are going to scrap the computer, and you are willing to deliver it to me, I might be willing to buy it off you for a scrap price.

Good luck and tell us how it turns out.
Thanks for the tips! I did find a spare charger actually (although it's a 65W rather than 45W) and now the laptop seems to charge just fine. Seems like my other charger just stopped working for some reason. Pretty relieved because I definitely wasn't up for the do-it-yourself repair approach that you were proposing. Thanks anyway though.

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