Soft-bricked NP300E5E-S01PL (boot loop)- - > Attempting to solve the issue

Discussion in 'Samsung' started by chimney343, Sep 8, 2018.

  1. chimney343

    chimney343 Newbie

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    PROBLEM HAS BEEN SOLVED - HERE'S A BRIEF SUMMARY
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The laptop model in question is a NP300E5E-S01PL manufactured in 2013 for Polish market with a pre-installed Win 8 and it's recovery partition. I wanted to swap drives from HDD to SSD and install a clean Win 7. To do this, I disabled Secure Boot and switched mode to CSM ONLY in BIOS so I could install Win 7. After saving changes, the laptop soft-bricked and entered a boot loop - didn't start from old HDD, ODD or USB.

    Steps taken:
    1) Disassemble the laptop and remove CMOS battery for half an hour. I followed youtube guides to disassemble the laptop. (I've never done this before, so if was able, you'll be able too)
    2) Removing the CMOS battery made the BIOS reset and now it's possible to boot with an ODD.
    3) Burn some PE Windows. I burned Gandalf's Windows 8.1 PE.
    4) Boot Windows PE.
    5) Run msinfo32.exe and find current BIOS family. Download the BIOS update package according to isosunrise' guide. As @Dannemand stated, it doesn't have to be the newest one, we just need one tool from the package. In my case, BIOS family was P02RBD and I downloaded ITEM_20130102_927_WIN_P02RBD.
    6) Open the package on the laptop (I just used an USB stick to transfer it) and extract all the tools from temporary _SamsungUpdate folder. In my case, I found the files on a RAMDISK created by Gandalf's PE.
    7) Copy the files to some other location.
    8) Run command prompt as an administrator.
    9) Navigate to the folder where the files are stored.
    10) Run sflash32 /cvar /patch or sflash64 /cvar /patch depending on how many bits your version of PE has. Mind that there are spaces before each slash! After runtime, laptop will close automatically and clear NVRAM.
    11) NVRAM cleared, BIOS access restored. In the end, I easily installed Win 7 on SSD. I kept the Secure Boot disabled and the mode set to CSM only.

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

    Hello,
    I own an NP300E5E manufactured in 2013 that came with a pre-installed Windows 8. I wanted to upgrade this laptop, put an SDD and expand RAM to 8 GB - and here my problems began. Here's a list of things I did since acquring the SDD yesterday.

    1) I've disconnected the ODD and put a caddy with SDD in it's place to no avail -- > both BIOS and Windows couldn't see the drive. I set AHCI to manual (common thing to try as I've read the internet). No effect.

    2) Then I disconnected both the HDD and SDD caddy, putting the ODD back with a Windows 7 installation disc drive, just to see if it'll start from ODD. No effect.

    3) Now it start's to be funny. I disabled the Secure Boot AND set the device into CSM mode only, as I thought it'll allow the Windows 7 to run from DVD and pull it from there. No effect.
    BUT
    I put the DVD out and screwed old HDD back in. From then on, I've got an indefinite boot loop. Samsung/Phoenix splash screen shows up for a second, the bar underneath loads in half a second, reboot, rinse, repeat.

    I've tried:
    - booting win 7/gandalf win 8 PE/ gandalf win 8.1 PE from USB in GPT and MBR configurations with two different sticks, both USB 2.0 and 3.0: no effect

    tl;dr
    I changed BIOS settings from UEFI to something akin CSM ONLY and disabled Secure Boot. No playing with diskpart, mbr, nothing. Effect == Infinite boot loop.

    I went through most common guides here and so far I've removed the BIOS battery, see if it'll do anything afterwards, and I'll try booting some PE from ODD, if it'll boot, I'll try flashing the BIOS as advised in all the guides posted on the forum.

    I create this thread because maybe somebody will have an idea why just disabling the Secure Boot and setting the mode to CSM simply soft-bricked the laptop, all other changes were purely hardware connected (screwing something out, screwing something in, and so on)

    UPDATE:
    Removed and placed BIOS Battery back, plugged in old HDD. No effect. I didn't "drain" power with the power on/off button, so I'll retry tomorrow. I'll also try using an external ODD once I get it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  2. Dannemand

    Dannemand Decidedly Moderate Super Moderator

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    Hi chimney343, welcome to NBR.

    I'm afraid this will be a very quick response, as I'm just heading out for the rest of the day.

    But if you changed from UEFI to CSM mode and you DIDN'T change your partition style (and re-install Windows) then that's the problem: UEFI can only boot from a FAT32 partition on a disk with GPT partition layout. CSM can only boot from a disk with MBR layout.

    Check the following link from our Samsung Forum Sticky List:

    Unable to boot USB: UEFI mode vs legacy BIOS mode (CSM)

    I am sorry to leave you here. I'll check back, hopefully tomorrow.
     
  3. chimney343

    chimney343 Newbie

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    Hello Dannemand,
    thanks for immediately fast response! I've sifted through many of your answers and posts on this topic and that gave me a good understanding of what actually I'm facing here. I'll definitely check your link tomorrow, I'm heading out for work as well.

    I removed the battery again, this time with "draining" the power. I screwed it all back together and plugged just the internal ODD.

    Effects:
    a) Can't access BIOS
    b) Can't boot from old HDD
    c) Can't access new SSD
    d) CAN initialize Win 7 and presumably some Windows PE from ODD.

    What I can do and probably will have to do is to update the BIOS with Windows PE so I can plug in the SSD, install Win 7 on SSD and hopefully get the HDD in ODD slot after much hassle.
     
  4. Dannemand

    Dannemand Decidedly Moderate Super Moderator

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    Thank you for the update. Another short reply here (from my phone, and I'm not a great phone typist):

    If you're unable to enter BIOS with F2, then you've likely run into the issue with corrupted NVRAM which is common on this generation of Samsung laptops.

    Check the link in our sticky list under Bricking called "Unable to enter BIOS with F2". There is a procedure to clear NVRAM without updating or rolling back BIOS.

    The fact that you're able to boot Win7 or WinPE is a huge advantage -- but one you can easily lose with a misstep at this point. I suggest you go for that NVRAM clearing first thing. It's best if you have another computer for the preparations.
     
  5. chimney343

    chimney343 Newbie

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    I've burned some Gandalf's Windows 8.1 PE and managed to run it with the ODD.

    If I understood correctly, now I have to clear NVRAM using SFlash, and to do that I have to determine BIOS version and so on?

    Will update.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2018
  6. Dannemand

    Dannemand Decidedly Moderate Super Moderator

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    Yes, that is your next step. Or rather, which BIOS family you have (Platform ID). Then just download the latest BIOS update file with that Platform ID (using the links in isosunrise's guide). It doesn't matter which version you currently have.

    I wrote a post not too long ago in that BIOS rollback thread with some additional guidance and examples. May help to study that. It's linked in the opening post.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2018
  7. chimney343

    chimney343 Newbie

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    Steps taken:
    1) Booted Win 8.1 PE
    2) msinfo32.exe to check current BIOS version and 'family'. Confirmed as P02RBD. Family == RBD.
    3) From isosunrise' guide, I've downloaded this family latest version, which is ITEM_20130102_927_WIN_P02RBD.
    4) Ran the ITEM_20130102_927_WIN_P02RBD.exe according as an admin and extracted all the files to a separate folder. Here are all the files inside. What exactly should I run?

    https://imgur.com/a/vI0ixLn
     
  8. Dannemand

    Dannemand Decidedly Moderate Super Moderator

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    You have done very well there, following the guides and getting this far. Great job!

    Seeing in your screenshot that you have SFlash64, I would use the command sflash64 /cvar /patch. Open an Administrator Command Prompt and run it from there.

    Fingers crossed for you!

    Edit: Once you have done this, you should be able to enter BIOS with F2. From there just keep following the steps in the NVRAM clearing guide.

    As for installing on your new SSD, I normally recommend installing in UEFI mode on Win8 computers and newer, and in legacy BIOS/CSM mode on older ones. But you've seen the risks of UEFI mode on these older Samsung laptops, so you have to weigh that.

    If you still have Samsung Recovery Solution on your HDD (F4), you can also choose to clone that to the SSD or re-image it using a factory image backup on a USB flash drive (see the post here). Personally I'd prefer a clean installation of Win10 or Win8.1.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2018
  9. chimney343

    chimney343 Newbie

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    Update!
    1) Booted WIN 8.1 PE from ODD
    2) Opened the Administrator Command Prompt, navigated to files I extracted yesterday from ITEM_20130102_927_WIN_P02RBD.
    3) Ran sflash64 /cvar /patch. ERROR
    4) Panic. Checked PE version for being 64 bit. Found 32 bit.
    5) Panic stopped.
    4) Ran sflash32 /cvar /patch. Executed successfully.
    5) BIOS ACCESS RESTORED

    I still have the HDD with Samsung Recovery Solution onboard, however, the Win 8 (not 8.1 -.-) version is full of bloatware. I'd like a clean Win 7 installation on the SSD. Secure Boot is still disabled in the BIOS, and the mode is set to CSM only. Now I'll check if the BIOS at least sees the SSD...

    Update:

    It does see the SSD but only if it's plugged in one of the SATA ports, the one where HDD resided before. If plugged in place of ODD - it's not recognized. I hoped to plug the SSD as ODD and stay with the wiped old HDD as a store drive.

    The reason is that the ODD SATA slot lacks a certain interface that is in the HDD SATA slot, like, the motherboard's designer had no idea that the user might want to install a HDD in ODD... Strange, but still, it's a 5 year old budget laptop.

    I'll proceed to install Win 7 on the SSD and report back. ; >

    @Dannemand, I think we could link this thread in sticked list of succesful un-bricks, as actually everything went according to the presented procedure. I could write a proper summary of the problem and steps that were taken.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
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  10. Dannemand

    Dannemand Decidedly Moderate Super Moderator

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    Once again very well done there!

    Boy is it easy to help people when they just follow the guides :)

    The fact that you were able to boot WinPE from ODD was a big win. Some people can't boot anything, no matter how many things they try -- although many also tend to focus only on USB flash drives, and forget about ODD. Or they don't have an ODD.

    I seem to recall you're not the first to find BIOS wouldn't recognize your SSD in the Optical Bay. There are also performance benefits to having it connected to SATA1 (where the HDD used to be).

    I had already thought I would include a link to this thread in the NVRAM clearing guide -- which in turn is the one linked in our Samsung Forum Sticky List. I'll do that when I get to a PC tonight.

    Once again well done!

    Edit: I added a link to this thread to our NVRAM clearing guide. If you would be willing to write a more complete summary of your symptoms and the steps you took, that would obviously be great. I am sure it would be helpful to others who might find this on Google or otherwise :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
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