Wednesday, August 10, 2022

How to update the BIOS and why to do it

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In simple terms, the BIOS is the firmware with which the computer can turn on at all. It performs hardware initialization and many other interesting things, but this is not about that now. If you decide to update the BIOS of your PC, but don’t know how to do it, let’s figure it out now.

A small lyrical digression: under the BIOS in the article, we will consider not only and not so much the Basic Input Output System that is fading into the past, but also its modern substitute in the face of UEFI.

Why update

A logical question: why do you need to update it at all? The list could go on and on, but here are some of the reasons:

support for new processors;
increase in work stability;
improved compatibility with other hardware (such as RAM or PCI-E devices);
closing “holes” in the protective mechanisms of the CPU (remember the notorious Meltdown and Specter) or updating AGESA for AMD processors;
adding new functions or opening the necessary menus in the BIOS;
error correction.
Some points, however, can work exactly the opposite. From a recent one, for example, I recall cutting out microcodes to support the “A” series CPU on AM4 motherboards or support PCI-e 4.0 in the same place.

Usually, each BIOS version posted on the official website has a description with a list of changes. Not necessarily this list will be complete and exhaustive, but it remains on the conscience of the manufacturer.

How dangerous?
Updating the BIOS has always been a rather risky business. It is dangerous, first of all, to turn off the power. There are also problems with the update file itself. As a result, you can get a non-working computer that only turns the fans.

However, if the Boot block (boot sector) is not overwritten, then most manufacturers, in any case, the big four – Asus, AsRock, Gigabyte and MSI – for sure, have various recovery mechanisms. For example, AsRock and Gigabyte can have two bios chips soldered – main and backup. If the first board fails, it can start from the backup board and carry out the recovery procedure. And Asus and MSI have CrashFree BIOS 3 and Flash BIOS Button technologies for such a case.

Find out the version
To understand if your board has new BIOS versions, you need to determine which version is currently installed. There is more than one way to find out, but we list only the simplest.

In Windows, press the key combination Windows + R, the “Run” window will appear, then enter the command “msinfo32” and click “OK”. A window will appear where you can find it in the “BIOS version” column.

If we discard the built-in capabilities, then this procedure can be carried out using various programs. For example, the free CPU-Z utility . Download the program, run it, go to the “Mainboard” tab, “BIOS” section, “Version” item. Here is the information we are looking for.

Where to get
You can download or at least check for a new BIOS version on the official website of your motherboard manufacturer. Consider the sequence of actions for each manufacturer of the “Big Four”.

Asus
Let’s go to the site . Click on the magnifying glass icon in the upper right corner of the screen.

There is a search bar at the top. Enter the name of your motherboard there. As you type, the site will automatically show you the most suitable options. Once you see the model you are looking for, click on it.

The board page opens. At the top right, select the “Support” section.

In the window that opens, first select “Drivers and Utilities”, and then, a little lower, “BIOS and Software”.

We will see a list of bios available for download with a brief description of the changes.

Asrock
We open the site . At the top right, in a small field, enter the name of the board and press “Enter” or on the magnifying glass icon.

In the window that appears, find the desired model and click “Download”.

On the page that appears, scroll up a little and select “BIOS”.

We will see a table with a list to download.

Asrock offers two BIOS options to choose from, depending on how you install it – via BIOS or Windows. They differ only in the presence in the second version of the files with the flash driver.

By the way, right there, in the “Update BIOS / How to update” column, you can find a link to instructions for the selected update method.

Gigabyte
We go to the official website . Click on the magnifying glass in the upper right corner.

In the search bar that appears, enter the name of the search and press “Enter”.

In the output that appears, we find the desired board model and revision (a postscript in the form of Rev. and numbers) and click either Driver or Utility.

Scroll down a little and select the “BIOS” subsection.

Here are all versions available for download.

MSI
We open the site . Scroll to the bottom and select “Drivers and Downloads”.

In the window that opens, also scroll a little lower and select “Downloads”,

… and Motherboards.

In the second column we put “Chipset”, in the third we select it, in the fourth we need the board. Her image will appear on the right. We press “Search”.

We immediately find ourselves on the page for downloading the BIOS.

The algorithm for all manufacturers is almost identical. You can also go a longer way: go to the products / products section, select motherboards, and search for yours long and hard with the help of filters. But it takes much longer.

And the easiest and fastest option is to enter the name of your board in your favorite search engine. Almost always the first or second line will be a direct link to your MP page.

Check each letter in the name, for Gigabyte motherboards also check the revision. This is important so as not to get a brick for several thousand rubles after the procedure.

For example, MSI X470 GAMING PLUS MAX and MSI X470 GAMING PLUS, in terms of BIOS versions, different boards and BIOSes are also different.

How to flash
With the current state of affairs, there are two main (!) Options for updating:

via BIOS;
via Windows.
But first, preparations. Before flashing, you need to unpack the archive downloaded from the site in order to access the update file. If you have made any settings in the BIOS, then write down or remember them, because after the update all settings will be reset to “default”, and the saved profiles may either be erased or not be applied due to a version change. In general, it is highly desirable to reset the settings before the update procedure.

Update through the built-in functionality of the BIOS itself.
Let’s show the Gigabyte Z370 HD3P and MSI X470 GAMING PLUS MAX.

To enter the BIOS, in most cases, the DELETE key is used.

Gigabyte
We enter the bios.

Press the ALT key to see hints. We are looking for Q-Flash, and we launch it.

In the window that opens, you can both update (Update) and save (Save) the current version.

Select the update file. In our case, it is not necessary to have a file on a USB flash drive, you can also flash from another drive installed in the system by selecting it in the drop-down list at the bottom of the screen.

We select the update mode (if you don’t know which one, choose Intact) and wait for the message and reboot.

MSI
Copy the BIOS file to a USB flash drive (must be in FAT32 format). We enter the bios.

We launch the utility for firmware “M-Flash” with the button in the lower left corner.

After the reboot, the utility menu will appear. If everything is fine, then you will see the contents of your USB drive.

Select the BIOS file, confirm.

After a while, you will receive a notification that the update was successful and your computer will restart.

Update through a specialized utility of the motherboard manufacturer, from the operating system (Windows family)
On the example of Gigabyte.

To update from the operating system, Gigabyte has a fairly simple utility for a long time – @BIOS.

We download from the official site from the “Utilities” section (right under the section with bios). We launch. On the main page, among other things, we see the version of the already installed BIOS.

On the second tab, you can update from the Internet.

Select the “Update from file” tab, click “Browse” and select our downloaded file.

Here, in the top paragraph, they suggest running “Face wizzard” – a utility for changing the image that appears upon loading.

The Update backup BIOS makes it possible to update the backup chip as well.

We read the warning and select “Ok”.

After a message about a successful update, you will need to restart your PC.

Through a built-in mechanism triggered by a separate button
This is a rarer update option. This feature is available on some boards, but it’s worth mentioning.

Asus
USB BIOS Flashback – in Asus terminology – a utility for updating BIOS without the need to install a processor, RAM and video card.

The downloaded BIOS file must be renamed, you can use the BIOSRenamer program.

Connect a USB drive to the USB Flashback port (usually white, but it is better to check according to the instructions for the board).

Press and hold the BIOS Flashback button for three seconds until the Flashback LED blinks three times.

When the indicator turns off, the process will be completed.

The Asus website has two instructions on this topic ( 1 and 2 ).

MSI
On the boards of the company, this function is called the Flash BIOS Button and also allows you to flash the firmware without a processor, RAM and video card.

The process is very simple:

rename the downloaded BIOS to MSI.ROM (yes, you need to change not only the name, but also the file extension) and upload it to a USB flash drive;
we connect the motherboard to the power supply;
insert the USB drive into the version 2.0 port (check in the manual for the board) and press the Flash BIOS Button;
after five seconds, the red LED will start flashing, which indicates the firmware process;
after a while the LED will turn off – the bios is flashed.

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