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My daughter has an Asus Zenbook UX330UA that is stuck in a boot loop (gets to the Asus logo with spinning balls beneath, hangs there, eventually powers off and restarts only to repeat that process).

After some research, I used the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool to create a USB installation/recovery device.

After some tinkering with BIOS settings (disable secure boot and fast boot, enable CSM support and Launch PXE OpROM policy) I was finally able to get the boot menu to show my USB media. It shows both as a UEFI OS option and also without the UEFI designation.

If I choose to boot to the UEFI OS option, it seems to very briefly engage the USB stick (there's a status light on the device) and then move on to trying to boot from the SSD, which goes back to the same problematic boot loop.

If, however, I choose the NON-UEFI option for the USB media, it engages the USB stick and produces the simple window logo with the 5 spinning balls beneath it. UNFORTUNATELY, though, the screen then turns black and I can no longer register any input. SO FRUSTRATING!!

I know the USB Tool is good, because I tested it with another laptop and it booted properly from the USB stick.

I just CANNOT figure out why it is starting to boot from the USB stick but then goes to that damned black screen.

I have also tried removing the SSD (laptop has no HDD) to see if that would force it to boot from USB, but then it simply goes to bios and on the boot menu says "system could not find any bootable devices".

Please help if you can!
 

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Before doing anything drastic, leave the black screen on for 5 minutes. If you get the sign in screen, disable fast boot.
 
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What software did you use to burn the USB Flash Drive? Did you use the Media Creation Tool (Download Tool Now)? If you used another app like Rufus, you have to change the Partition Scheme to GPT not MBR, then the USB drive will show up under the UEFI Bios options where you can Move it to First Boot Device. If letting it sit at the black screen for several minutes does not work, Try reburning you Windows 10 installer with either of these options.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Before doing anything drastic, leave the black screen on for 5 minutes. If you get the sign in screen, disable fast boot.
Thanks, I'll try that now. Don't know that I've let it go that long after the final black screen yet.
 

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What software did you use to burn the USB Flash Drive? Did you use the Media Creation Tool (Download Tool Now)? If you used another app like Rufus, you have to change the Partition Scheme to GPT not MBR, then the USB drive will show up under the UEFI Bios options where you can Move it to First Boot Device. If letting it sit at the black screen for several minutes does not work, Try reburning you Windows 10 installer with either of these options.
Thanks for replying. I used the MCT and chose the option to create removable media (USB). I've chosen to boot from USB again and I'm at the black screen, and I'll let it wait for at least five minutes.

If that doesn't work, I will try reburning the installer as you suggested and will post back here with results. Thanks again.
 

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What software did you use to burn the USB Flash Drive? Did you use the Media Creation Tool (Download Tool Now)? If you used another app like Rufus, you have to change the Partition Scheme to GPT not MBR, then the USB drive will show up under the UEFI Bios options where you can Move it to First Boot Device. If letting it sit at the black screen for several minutes does not work, Try reburning you Windows 10 installer with either of these options.
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UPDATE: I created a second USB installer using Rufus (thought that might help), using GPT partitioning. Even with the first USB installer, I was seeing it (and able to move its boot priority) in the UEFI Bios options. That was also true with the new installer. So I moved it to first priority and one thing did change - during the first moments of booting, it displayed the following screen, which soon featured endlessly spinning balls (for at least 30 minutes). Maybe this gives someone a clue?
IMG_20210110_192451918.jpg
Seems like there is a problem launching bootx64.efi?

Bios settings were as follows:
USB installer set to first boot priority
Secure Boot and Fast Boot were both disabled
CSM Support disabled AND enabled (same result both ways)

Interesting to me is that the ONLY way I've ever seen the windows logo was using the original USB installer (made w/ Microsoft Media Creation Tool) which contained both UEFI and Legacy files. And the only way I could see it was to ENABLE CSM support AND choose the USB option listed WITHOUT the UEFI designation as the first boot device (two versions were listed as boot priority options when using that USB installer - UEFI and NON-UEFI). Perhaps that's just a cosmetic difference and the eventual black screen in that scenario is equivalent to the endlessly spinning balls of the second installer?

Either way, this is close to making me nuts! Anyone have anything? Could this be a RAM issue maybe? RAM listed in Bios is accurate, but perhaps there's a bad stick? I sure hope not because it's soldered in on this machine.

Thanks in advance for ANY help you can offer!
 

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Check in the Bios for any other settings. Hard Drive mode should be set to AHCI, not Legacy/IDE or RAID.
Your most recent picture shows a Linux type Boot loader? Try removing the SSD again, use your most recent GPT formatted USB Flash drive, pressing F12 at bootup and selecting the USB Flash Drive. If that doesn't work, create a Windows 10 Boot USB with Rufus for MBR and see if you get any further.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Check in the Bios for any other settings. Hard Drive mode should be set to AHCI, not Legacy/IDE or RAID.
Your most recent picture shows a Linux type Boot loader? Try removing the SSD again, use your most recent GPT formatted USB Flash drive, pressing F12 at bootup and selecting the USB Flash Drive. If that doesn't work, create a Windows 10 Boot USB with Rufus for MBR and see if you get any further.
Every time I've removed the SSD, the machine goes straight to Bios on startup - no boot happens at all. And even if I've previously set the USB installer as the first boot priority, it won't show up if the SSD is removed. And the Bios says the system cannot find any bootable devices. So I'm guessing it's just a no-go unless something is plugged into that SATA slot?

As for the linux-style bootloader, that's there because I chose NTFS when making the installer with Rufus. So Rufus creates a bootloader in a small FAT32 partition on the installer to get things going. That's my poor explanation of what is better explained in this video.

Anyway, I will try making a couple of different versions of the installer (including one that's fully FAT32) with Rufus to see if I can get a better result.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Check in the Bios for any other settings. Hard Drive mode should be set to AHCI, not Legacy/IDE or RAID.
Your most recent picture shows a Linux type Boot loader? Try removing the SSD again, use your most recent GPT formatted USB Flash drive, pressing F12 at bootup and selecting the USB Flash Drive. If that doesn't work, create a Windows 10 Boot USB with Rufus for MBR and see if you get any further.
Tried a third installer (made w/ Rufus) with MBR and both Legacy and UEFI files. (BTW, I believe this is close to how the Microsoft MCT puts its installer together.) It had the same result as the MCT installer: Windows logo quickly followed by black screen with blinking cursor in upper left then windows logo again with circling balls then black screen and permanent hang.

I'm really beginning to wonder if this might be a RAM problem? My understanding from some brief reading is that even when booting from USB, the RAM would be utilized to load some instructions. If there is a RAM problem, that would seem to explain why it can't load beyond an early point in the process. And would also explain why the same USB installers work fine in a machine with no hardware issues.

If RAM is (or might be) the culprit, how does one go about testing soldered on RAM when the machine won't boot? And if it's bad, I assume it can be replaced -- even if that's more laborious/costly than it would be with DIMM sticks.

Ugh... my daughter goes back to college Friday. Sometimes I hate technology.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
If RAM is (or might be) the culprit, how does one go about testing soldered on RAM when the machine won't boot?
Well, I made a bootable USB with Memtest86 on it. One full pass and no errors. I'll let it run overnight and see if anything changes. So, I guess it's not likely to be a RAM issue.

Could it be a SSD issue perhaps?
 

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Could it be a SSD issue perhaps?
The USB Boot Flash drive should Boot with or without an SSD in the computer.
Tried a third installer (made w/ Rufus) with MBR and both Legacy and UEFI files
The Flash Drive should be formatted FAT32, you should burn ONE ISO image of Windows 10 on it, nothing else. If the Partition Scheme is MBR, the Flash drive will show up in the Boot menu of the computer under CSM/Legacy, if it is GPT, it should show up under the UEFI Bios. If that drive is selected at bootup, it should Boot the flash drive then start the Windows logo, (no Boot Loader) then show you the Windows 10 Menu to Choose Your Language.
 

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POSITIVE BREAKTHROUGH!! But now a new problem. (BTW, 5 passes of memtest, no errors. So RAM is NOT the issue.)
The USB Boot Flash drive should Boot with or without an SSD in the computer.
Made a new USB installer w Rufus: GPT/UEFI only/FAT32. Also disabled CSM (legacy) support in the Bios. Secure boot was left disabled. BINGO! The USB installer then showed up as a bootable device -- even with the SSD removed -- and I was able to successfully boot from it!

Unfortunately, if I re-connect the SSD, the system can no longer boot from the USB installer. It reverts to the old behavior, even if I choose the USB installer as the first boot device. It briefly engages the USB drive (indicator light on drive flashes for a few seconds) and then it just hangs on the ASUS logo screen with the spinning balls until it eventually shuts itself off and reboots. The old boot loop.

If I remove the SSD again, the USB installer works fine. So, it would seem the SSD is the problem, correct?

If that's the case, I'm not sure how to proceed. Insert a new blank SSD and do a fresh install of windows to it with the USB installer? If I do that, how do I deal with the Windows registration key being on the original SDD?

I suppose I could get a USB enclosure for the original SDD and try getting data and windows registration info off it that way? Could I even try to use a system restore point if I connected it through a USB enclosure and booted (with the laptop's other USB port) from the USB installer?

I would GREATLY appreciate any advice and I thank you very much for your help so far!
 

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The SSD is the problem. The Windows 10 Product key is embedded in Bios. Put the new SSD in, Boot from the installer, choose your Language and then choose Custom Install. If this is a Brand New SSD, then the drive will show up as all Unallocated Space, if this is a used SSD then Delete All Partitions till the drive is all Unallocated Space, then press Next. Windows will create partitions and format them during the install. If by chance it asks for a Windows Product key (it shouldn't) just click, "I do not have a Product Key" When Windows finishes installing, it should be Activated. If not for some reason, the product key should be on the bottom of the laptop. Or you can attach the old SSD via a USB Adapter and use a product like Belarc Advisor to retrieve the Product key. If there are any files you want to recover from the old SSD attaching it to the laptop with a USB Adapter will allow you to do that too.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Terrific! New SSD incoming, along with a USB enclosure to (hopefully) access the faulty SSD and retrieve data. Thank you VERY much for taking the time to help me. All the best to you.
 

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So I had to make my usb boot device use UEFI the same partition scheme that the hard drive had before it would boot. I know that doesn't make sense but the USB boot drive would not boot with fat32 or NTFS on that particular laptop until the same file system was on the USB Boot Drive. Wierd? Yeah!
 
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