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New PC performing well, is it really necessary to flash BIOS?


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#1 skymaster191

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 12:58 PM

I am using a new PC that I built. Is it really necessary to flash the BIOS? I only loaded drivers from the motherboard support CD. I didn't flash the BIOS at that time because I did not have an Internet connection set up yet. In fact, I didn't go into motherboard BIOS menu at all.

Thanks,
Dave

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#2 MrBruce1959

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 04:47 PM

If your computer is performing well, I would not recommend flashing your BIOS chip at this point in time.

The purpose of updating the BIOS chip is primarily to support newer hardware, or to fix a bug that was missed in the initial release candidate of your present BIOS.

BIOS firmware is usually released in private testing as Alpha and Beta software, before it is released as a "release candidate" to motherboard vendors.

Sometimes a bug is over-looked in the beta version and ends up in the vendor/public release version.

This is when it is recommended to re-flash the EEPROM with a more stable version.

Most BIOS updates are listed on motherboard web sites, they should include a release version number and a brief description of what was written into this release version.
Such would be fixes such as "Fixes a problem the way computer comes out of suspend or sleep mode."
Or "Adds support for newer processors".

My descriptions above should not be held as accurate wording of BIOS update descriptions, but they should give you a basic idea of how they may be written.

Unless, you intend to upgrade your system with a processor that the BIOS update mentions, or unless your having a bug issue with your present BIOS firmware, there is NO NEED to flash with a newer update.

I want to warn you, that not all BIOS chip flashes are successful either.
There are GREAT RISKS involved with the flash failing and bricking the motherboard.
Bricking is a term meaning your motherboard's BIOS can no longer boot up anymore, the chip is corrupted and there is no longer a BOOT BLOCK as it is called.
Powering up the motherboard in this case would lead you to think the board is dead, in actuality it is dead, because the BOOT ROM is no longer there to tell the motherboard to power up and execute its POST.

So, unless you really, really need to update your BIOS chip, my recommendation is....DON'T!

Bruce.
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#3 skymaster191

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 05:26 PM

See, this is what I was concerned about. I'm new to this PC building thing. Something told me. hey, if it's running really well could flashing the BIOS foul up something?

I'm glad I asked.

#4 MrBruce1959

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 07:18 PM

I am glad you asked.

As you research computer related problems on the web, one of the most common questions you'll see in motherboard related support columns is how do I recover from a "Bad BIOS flash?"

I have assisted many people here in the BC hardware forums with this issue.

In most cases, I have to refer the person to a web site that sells BIOS chips, this of course depends on if the motherboard's BIOS chip is installed in an IC socket, which makes it easier to replace.

Chips that are soldered into the motherboard are harder to replace, because special soldering skills are needed to replace the chip.

The whole problem with the flash procedure is if for any reason power is interrupted to the motherboard, or if the video was to konk out leaving you blind as to what is happening on the screen, of if someone panics and hits the reset button before the flash utility finishes writing a new boot block and requests a restart, the block becomes half written to and is thus what we call corrupted.

Some motherboard makers have implemented what is known as a FAIL-SAFE BIOS update program, which is ran while you are actually booted into the windows operating system.

It does not Flash every memory address built into the CMOS chip also called an EEPROM chip.
There is a recoverable area which is inaccessible to the flash program, to which, the computer's CMOS chip can recover from a bad BIOS flash automatically if the POST fails its self-test do to a corrupted BIOS.
If this is recognized by the CMOS, it reverts back to its original BIOS which is written in a non-volatile area of the ROM (Read Only Memory) chip.

I hope you didn't mind me ranting here, I figured you should know a little bit about the process and what dangers are involved. But also that some motherboard manufactures do add some safe form of doing this.
But not all do, so be careful if you do try to flash a BIOS chip.
I have had one bad BIOS flash in my history, but I had enough electronics back-ground to replace the CMOS chip.

Bruce.
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