Need help understanding a BIOS/hardware bug


pokeefe0001

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Somewhat off-topic but I don't know where else to post this. Sorry.

A BIOS upgrade to a Dell laptop has caused instability in the laptop's wireless adapter. I would like to understand what this implies a the hardware level, and what (if any) hardware changes might fix the problem. (Dell doesn't seem interested in fixing the BIOS.) My lack of understanding of computer architecture is getting in the way.

Details:
  • In early 2021 my wife's laptop was dying. We got a Dell Inspiron 17 - 3793 as a replacement. All was well for many months.
  • In Nov 2021 (I think) a BIOS upgrade was included in Windows maintenance.
    (I shortly thereafter disabled getting BIOS maintenance that way ... but I don't remember how. :( )
  • In Jan 2022 I noticed that all weekly Macrium Reflect image backups in December had failed. Daily file & folder backups succeeded.
    Reflect logs showed that all image backups had died with a network failure. By manually running some I discovered that the wireless adapter would go disabled sometime during the backups - sometimes immediately; sometimes after many minutes.
  • I tried the newest driver plus a couple old ones. That did not work.
  • I eventually went back to the old BIOS and everything worked again.
  • There have been 10 BIOS upgrades since the one that came with the laptop. I tested 9 of them and all had the problem.
  • External (USB-attached) wireless adapters have no problem, regardless of the BIOS level.
I eventually found a couple other things that would kill the wireless adapter. Copying a large VeraCrypt container or a large encrypted .vhd to a NAS (or to a shared file on another Windows computer) will cause the adapter to die. I think the problem is provoked by sending any large stream of unblocked data. It could be that the adapter overheats, but for the life of me, I can't think of how a BIOS change would cause or prevent that overheating.

And throw in a complication, there was a firmware upgrade to the Intel Management Engine (whatever that is) that went along with at least some of the BIOS upgrades so I suppose this could be a problem with the IME instead of BIOS.


I obviously could stay with the working BIOS, but Dell has been cranking out BIOS upgrades about every 2 months. I assume some of the upgrades might be important so I'd rather not stay that far back-level.

So now to my actual questions. I don't understand how a BIOS change effect the behavior of a wireless adapter in this way. Is it possible this is really a change to PCIe behavior? (The adapter plugs into an M.2 slot.) If so, the change doesn't seem to effect NVMe "disk".

The adapter could be bad; I could try replacing it.
The adapter is a Qualcomm QCA9377 but the doc claims it has an Intel 9560NGW; I could try the Intel card.
But if the problem is with the PCIe interface neither of those solutions will work.
I just don't know enough of how this works to come up with a solution. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

BTW, I've been working with (or perhaps against) Dell support for months but have gotten nowhere.

BTW #2, somewhere in this history there was an upgrade from Win10 Pro to Win11 Pro. That had no effect.


S
 
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Win 11 Pro x64 22000.978

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Dru2

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I think for what you're asking the best place for such a question would be the Dell forums.

With the myriad of questions, you're asking I think it would be hard for anyone to give a specific answer, and especially since you also admit lack of knowledge in this area.

Good luck.
 

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    Custom built
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    Intel i9-9900K
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    Gigabyte Aorus Z390 Xtreme
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    32G (4x8) DDR4 Corsair RGB Dominator Platinum (3600Mhz)
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    Radeon VII
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    NEC PA242w (24 inch)
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    1920 x 1200
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    5 Samsung SSD drives: 2X 970 NVME (512 & 1TB), 3X EVO SATA (2X 2TB, 1X 1TB)
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    EVGA Super Nova I000 P2 (1000 watt)
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    Cooler Master H500M
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    System used for gaming, photography, audiophile media center, work.
  • Operating System
    Win 10 Pro 22H2 (build 19045.2130)
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    Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga X1
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    Intel i7-7600U
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    Intel
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pokeefe0001

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That's probably a good idea. I'll try that.
 

My Computer

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  • OS
    Windows 11
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    PC/Desktop
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    Microsoft
    CPU
    Intel Core i5-8400
    Motherboard
    ASUS PRIME H370-PLUS
    Memory
    16GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel UHD Graphics 630
    Sound Card
    On board
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Samsung SyncMaster 2043BWX
    Screen Resolution
    1680 x 1050
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SSD 850 256GB
    WDC 1TB NVMe
    WD 3TB external USB drive
    PSU
    I don't remember
    Case
    Fractal Design R4
    Cooling
    Air CPU + 2 case fans
    Keyboard
    DAS S Pro (Cherry Brown)
    Mouse
    Logitech USB of some sort

pokeefe0001

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Well, I don't think the Dell forum idea is going to be productive. Someone in the "Dell Cares" team (their customer placation team, as near as I can tell) responded in the private message - in a thread of private messages that has been unproductive for many months - that this should be handled via private message. Maybe I'll get some responses from knowledgeable users, but I think I'll restate a simplified version of my question here, too.

If a BIOS upgrade causes a wireless adapter (plugged into a PCIe M.2 socket) to have intermittent but reproducible problems, is there any hope that different wireless adapter - same or different make and model - plugged into the same PCIe socket might fix the problem? Or would the BIOS upgrade effect things only at the PCIe interface level?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Microsoft
    CPU
    Intel Core i5-8400
    Motherboard
    ASUS PRIME H370-PLUS
    Memory
    16GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel UHD Graphics 630
    Sound Card
    On board
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Samsung SyncMaster 2043BWX
    Screen Resolution
    1680 x 1050
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SSD 850 256GB
    WDC 1TB NVMe
    WD 3TB external USB drive
    PSU
    I don't remember
    Case
    Fractal Design R4
    Cooling
    Air CPU + 2 case fans
    Keyboard
    DAS S Pro (Cherry Brown)
    Mouse
    Logitech USB of some sort

spapakons

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You may try to downgrade to an earlier BIOS version. You can also try installing latest wireless driver directly from manufacturer (if different than Dell). As a last resort I would use a tiny USB wireless dongle and forget about the internal adapter.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 22H2 64-bit (build 22621.1105)
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Extensa 5630EZ
    CPU
    Mobile DualCore Intel Core 2 Duo T7250, 2000 MHz
    Motherboard
    Acer Extensa 5630
    Memory
    4GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Mobile Intel(R) GMA 4500M (Mobile 4 series)
    Sound Card
    Realtek ALC268 @ Intel 82801IB ICH9 - High Definition Audio Controller
    Monitor(s) Displays
    1
    Screen Resolution
    1280x800
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SSD 850 EVO 250GB SATA Device (250 GB, SATA-III)
    Internet Speed
    VDSL 50 Mbps
    Browser
    MICROSOFT EDGE
    Antivirus
    WINDOWS DEFENDER
    Other Info
    Legacy MBR installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, no WDDM 2.0 graphics drivers, cannot get more unsupported ;) This is only my test laptop. I had installed Windows 11 here before upgrading my main PC. For my main PC I use everyday see my 2nd system specs.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro v22H2 (build 22621.1105)
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom-built PC
    CPU
    Intel Core-i7 3770 3.40GHz s1155 (3rd generation)
    Motherboard
    Asus P8H61 s1155 ATX
    Memory
    2x Kingston Hyper-X Blu 8GB DDR3-1600
    Graphics card(s)
    Gainward NE5105T018G1-1070F (nVidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB GDDR5)
    Sound Card
    Realtek HD audio (ALC887)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Sony Bravia KDL-19L4000 19" LCD TV via VGA
    Screen Resolution
    1440x900 32-bit 60Hz
    Hard Drives
    Patriot Burst Elite 480GB SSD as system disk, Western Digital Caviar Purple 4TB SATA III (WD40PURZ) as second
    PSU
    Thermaltake Litepower RGB 550W Full Wired
    Case
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    Cooling
    Stock Intel CPU Fan, 1x 8cm fan at the back
    Mouse
    Sunnyline OptiEye PS/2
    Keyboard
    Mitsumi 101-key PS/2
    Internet Speed
    100Mbps
    Browser
    Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Windows Defender
    Other Info
    Legacy BIOS (MBR) installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, WDDM 3.0 graphics drivers, WEI score 7.4

pokeefe0001

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You may try to downgrade to an earlier BIOS version. You can also try installing latest wireless driver directly from manufacturer (if different than Dell). As a last resort I would use a tiny USB wireless dongle and forget about the internal adapter.
I ran on the down-level BIOS for months but I believe some of the BIOS upgrades had security patches in them so I'd rather be more current. (I'm not sure I understand BIOS-level security exposures, but I guess they could exist.) I'll see if I can get drivers directly from Qualcomm.

I tried a tiny USB adapter but it got too hot to touch. I figured that would severely limit its life so I went for a much bigger external adapter. It's been working fine but is a bit unwieldy and will probably eventually get broken. It's actually faster than the internal adapter - no surprise there - but I'd like to have the internal adapter available for when the external adapter gets broken.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Microsoft
    CPU
    Intel Core i5-8400
    Motherboard
    ASUS PRIME H370-PLUS
    Memory
    16GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel UHD Graphics 630
    Sound Card
    On board
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Samsung SyncMaster 2043BWX
    Screen Resolution
    1680 x 1050
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SSD 850 256GB
    WDC 1TB NVMe
    WD 3TB external USB drive
    PSU
    I don't remember
    Case
    Fractal Design R4
    Cooling
    Air CPU + 2 case fans
    Keyboard
    DAS S Pro (Cherry Brown)
    Mouse
    Logitech USB of some sort

spapakons

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See these links:
Any Vista 64-bit driver and higher should work. Don't look only for Windows 10 or 11 drivers. If you find Windows 7 64-bit drivers fine. Windows 8.1 64-bit even better. The newer the better, but in the worst case even Vista 64-bit would do. Google the hardware IDs ot use a utility such as Aida64 to identify the exact model.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 22H2 64-bit (build 22621.1105)
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Extensa 5630EZ
    CPU
    Mobile DualCore Intel Core 2 Duo T7250, 2000 MHz
    Motherboard
    Acer Extensa 5630
    Memory
    4GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Mobile Intel(R) GMA 4500M (Mobile 4 series)
    Sound Card
    Realtek ALC268 @ Intel 82801IB ICH9 - High Definition Audio Controller
    Monitor(s) Displays
    1
    Screen Resolution
    1280x800
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SSD 850 EVO 250GB SATA Device (250 GB, SATA-III)
    Internet Speed
    VDSL 50 Mbps
    Browser
    MICROSOFT EDGE
    Antivirus
    WINDOWS DEFENDER
    Other Info
    Legacy MBR installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, no WDDM 2.0 graphics drivers, cannot get more unsupported ;) This is only my test laptop. I had installed Windows 11 here before upgrading my main PC. For my main PC I use everyday see my 2nd system specs.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro v22H2 (build 22621.1105)
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom-built PC
    CPU
    Intel Core-i7 3770 3.40GHz s1155 (3rd generation)
    Motherboard
    Asus P8H61 s1155 ATX
    Memory
    2x Kingston Hyper-X Blu 8GB DDR3-1600
    Graphics card(s)
    Gainward NE5105T018G1-1070F (nVidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB GDDR5)
    Sound Card
    Realtek HD audio (ALC887)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Sony Bravia KDL-19L4000 19" LCD TV via VGA
    Screen Resolution
    1440x900 32-bit 60Hz
    Hard Drives
    Patriot Burst Elite 480GB SSD as system disk, Western Digital Caviar Purple 4TB SATA III (WD40PURZ) as second
    PSU
    Thermaltake Litepower RGB 550W Full Wired
    Case
    SUPERCASE MIDI-TOWER
    Cooling
    Stock Intel CPU Fan, 1x 8cm fan at the back
    Mouse
    Sunnyline OptiEye PS/2
    Keyboard
    Mitsumi 101-key PS/2
    Internet Speed
    100Mbps
    Browser
    Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Windows Defender
    Other Info
    Legacy BIOS (MBR) installation, no TPM, no Secure Boot, WDDM 3.0 graphics drivers, WEI score 7.4

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