Friday, March 22, 2013

Windows 8 Ultra Fast Boot on ASRock Z68 Extreme4

Remember few days ago I posted about ASRock releasing a beta UEFI for my aging Z68 Extreme4 motherboard that allowed me to enable Ultra Fast Boot? When I enabled that option in UEFI, the first problem I had was with my graphics card. I got an error saying that the Graphics Card's firmware didn't support GOP (). I asked for a supported firmware from Palit, the manufacturer of my Jetstream GTX670. They were very supportive and provided me with the necessary firmware. The firmware flashing went without any odd event, and that error message about the graphics card not supporting Ultra Fast Boot did not appear. Instead, every time it would go straight into UEFI when I enabled Ultra Fast Boot. UEFI would automatically change that option from Ultra Fast Boot to Fast Boot.

After a little bit of browsing the Internet, I managed to find out that for this Ultra Fast Boot to work, I needed to have Windows 8 installed in UEFI. I had no idea what that meant then, but one thing was certain. The boot drive had to be formatted in GPT. The old way is formatting the drive as MBR. When you format your drive as GPT, you have to have UEFI supported motherboard if you want to boot from that drive. Sure, my ASRock Z68 Extreme4 is UEFI supported. So I won't have a problem.

But there was one problem. Everyone was saying that I had to start fresh. That means, I had to install Windows from the scratch if I wanted to do a UEFI install. I didn't wanna do that. There was a time when I was more than willing to start fresh. That was when I didn't have an SSD. With HDDs, the speed and responsiveness of the OS would drop after a while. I'm very sensitive to these slow downs. I cannot tolerate it. I was so used to formatting and reinstalling Windows and all the applications that I could do it within 90 minutes.

Anyways, now I'm all grown up. I don't wanna spend the little time I have to play Crysis 3 on reinstalling Windows just to shed away few seconds off the boot up time. So I waited till I really had to reinstall Windows. But then something nice happened. Some guy from Germany having the same problem with his Jetstream GTX670 and his Gigabyte motherboard had spotted my previous post about the graphics card not supporting GOP. I wrote at the end of the post that if anyone wanted the firmware that Palit gave me, just write so in the comments section. So he asked me for the firmware that Palit gave me and he for his problem resolved. Then I told him my problem and he pointed me to a guide on how to convert MBR formatted hard drive which already has Windows 7 or 8 installed to GPT formatted hard drive without losing any data.

Click here for the guide.

One of things you have to do according to that article is the actual conversion part. You have to download and run an application from the Internet. Remember when you run it, you have to run it as Administrator or it will fail. It cannot see certain information about the drive and if you proceed by entering settings manually, I don't know what might happen.

The article mentions that you get BSOD after convention, but I didn't get any. Windows just worked without any problem until I rebooted. It would not boot. So I had to boot using the USB installer I had, go into repair mode, launch command prompt and do the things in diskpart. After that, I checked if it booted fine and I noticed what's different about UEFI boot.

It's like the POST of the motherboard and Windows' boot process are combined! I don't see the Windows 8 logo anymore. The ASRock boot screen is visible till you enter desktop. The progress indicator comes up on the ASRock boot screen. Wow! Then I enabled Ultra Fast Boot from UEFI. (I could enter UEFI because the fast boot option was still at Fast Boot setting. When I switch to Ultra Fast Boot option, I won't be able to get into UEFI just by pressing the DEL button.)

Here's the final result. Enjoy. 

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