An Odd Fix for “Q-Code 06” (ASUS Crosshair V Formula-Z Motherboard)

On the official ASUS “Republic of Gamers” forums, you can find only two posts regarding “Q-Code 06” on this particular motherboard. One user in particular who encountered this error had similar hardware: an AMD FX-8350 CPU (exact same model as mine), and a combination of SSD and HDD drive(s). The error occurred about half of the time they rebooted their PC, but it had never happened to me before. There was another post about the same issue but they had different specs than I did.

The fix is at the bottom of the page, but I strongly suggest reading this post!

For the uninitiated, some newer motherboards (such as the ASUS Crosshair V Formula-Z) have small displays attached to the board itself, which show codes that can help users diagnose hardware and BIOS-related issues. This board has one on the top right:

I encountered the same symptoms in the same order, with the exception of getting this message: “Updating iROG firmware now. DO NOT reboot or turn off computer.” I’d turn on my rig and five to ten seconds later, it would freeze, with “06” remaining on the Q-Code display.

The user manual includes a table with descriptions of each Q-Code. In this case, “06” represents “loading microcode,” (manufacturers can have different definitions of the term, however) so everyone in the forums thought this was a BIOS-related issue. I performed the usual steps and then some to troubleshoot issues like these, completely purging the system of residual power and rebooting between each step–all of which didn’t work, of course:

  • Hit the “DirectKey” (on this particular board) to go straight to the BIOS.
  • Reflash the BIOS with the latest version. This fixed the issue for a couple people.
  • Unplug all non-essential USB devices.
  • Remove and replace the CMOS battery.
  • Unplug hardware (one piece at a time).
    • Remove individual RAM sticks one-by-one.
    • Remove any non-essential PCI express cards.
  • Reseat connectors to every power-related port.
  • Straight up remove every single USB device, including keyboard and mouse, because why not?

…and nothing. I’m almost out of ideas at this point. I’ve got a couple of drives connected via SATA cables, but there’s a very slim chance that they have anything to do with the problem at hand… Let’s remove ’em, I guess!

I unplugged everything connected via SATA cables–the only components still connected to the board. CD drive, unplugged. Nope. HDDs, unplugged. Nope. The last piece of hardware that remains connected is my SSD, which my OS is installed on. So I remove the SSD–my last shot at fixing the issue. If this didn’t work, I’d have to buy a new motherboard, as this one was way out of warranty.

Unplug, power off, power on. I wait 10 seconds… and THE Q-CODE CHANGED. “06” was GONE. And would you look at that–I can enter the BIOS now!

I learned something REALLY interesting… I was able to narrow the problem down to the SSD, but not necessarily at a hardware level. When I plugged the SSD into another computer, it too would not boot successfully. The weirdest part was, after the operating system was loaded, I was able to access all my data on the SSD–it showed up as a normal drive, all partitions accessible. An offline Windows error-check revealed no issues, and tests performed with Samsung’s tools (I have a 1TB 860 QVO) and other third party software couldn’t seem to find the problem.

After copying all the data to another location, I wiped my SSD, and tried rebooting with it still connected to my PC. Incredibly, it worked as expected, and didn’t prevent any system from starting up. So my best guess is that somehow, at some point, some bad data got written to the drive, and when the BIOS attempted to read that data, it froze. I don’t know why, and I really don’t care anymore.

TL;DR: If you have a motherboard that gets stuck “loading microcode,” try also unplugging your internal storage devices. It just might save you the better part of a day. Or a (couple) hundred bucks.