How do I reset the BIOS on an HP ze5375us laptop?
August 14, 2007 9:29 AM   Subscribe

So, I used the wrong BIOS flash on a HP laptop ze5375us. It is now bricked. My girlfriend is rather pissed......

HP's site had me download the incorrect BIOS for the laptop (thanks HP!), it froze, and now it will not start. If this were a desktop I would've had it fixed within minutes, however, after reading the service manual for this line, I don't know if I will be able to fix this. I am not afraid to tear open the thing (its WAY out of warranty), but I would love some advisement from anybody with a little more background in laptop repair. Thanks MF.......
posted by lattiboy to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Is it worth the hassle to 'phone HP support? They might help even if it's out of warranty, if you explain that their web site misled you into screwing it up.
posted by cmiller at 9:41 AM on August 14, 2007

Response by poster: Is it worth the hassle to 'phone HP support?

Working with their printer tech support quite regularly at my job, I would guess it would not be worth the hassle.....
posted by lattiboy at 9:54 AM on August 14, 2007

Best answer: It looks like your mainboard is HP 326682-001, which is used in about 40 models of HP and Compaq notebooks. You might have a socketed BIOS chip, depending on your graphic card options, and any subversion of the mainboard assembly you happen to have. With the right low level tools, you could reprogram the BIOS flash from scratch, using the appropriate binary. Or, you could replace the mainboard, which is the generally suggested repair. Salvaging the current processor, memory and related bits from the current board, and getting them in the replacement board, plus re-assembly, you're talking about 5 hours of technician time, start to finish.

It's an uneconomic repair to have done, as the repair cost greatly exceeds the value of the machine. If you're doing it yourself, it's still not a very good deal. But maybe better than losing your SO...
posted by paulsc at 10:06 AM on August 14, 2007

Response by poster: paulsc, thanks a lot for your answer. I'm used to having a lovely set of jumpers on my motherboard that reset the bios. Its amazing to me that laptops have no such feature. Just so I don't sound too dumb, the "binary" you mentioned is done through a serial cable by a repair tech, correct?
posted by lattiboy at 10:43 AM on August 14, 2007

I think many laptops lack this feature to enhance the security of bios passwords.
posted by caddis at 11:04 AM on August 14, 2007

Resetting the bios won't magically unflash it. Open it up and see if you can find a computer tech/store to reflash it. If not, you're pretty much SOL.
posted by mphuie at 11:13 AM on August 14, 2007

The best way to fix this is to buy her a new laptop, unfortunately. PaulSC nailed it.

But to answer your second question, yes flashable chips can be programmed via Serial or USB using an appropriate programmer and software. A shop that does HP repairs may have this equipment, but it's so much cheaper and faster to just replace the board, I doubt you'll have any success with that. (not to mention that HP probably contracted with some other company to build the boards and a number of spares to begin with, and the problem gets a lot more complex.)

To be clear, a BIOS reset is different completely from a BIOS flash. One just resets programmed options to factory or "safe" defaults and the other completely reprograms the chip.

Hope this helps, and good luck.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:24 AM on August 14, 2007

This company claim to supply programmed BIOS chips and reprogram existing ones for a fairly modest price. I'm sure there are others.
posted by Freaky at 12:47 PM on August 14, 2007

"... Just so I don't sound too dumb, the "binary" you mentioned is done through a serial cable by a repair tech, correct?"
posted by lattiboy at 1:43 PM on August 14 [+] [!]

As Pogo_Fuzzybutt replied, the usual way of reprogramming a flashable BIOS chip after a failed upgrade is to remove it from the mainboard, and reflash it in a programming station, or, if your board supports Boot Block Jumper Mode, inserting some programming jumpers, and then using a special diskette from a floppy drive to load BIOS code into the chip. If your board has a socketed flash chip, you generally take it out of the board if you need to reprogram it completely, but if it doesn't have a socket, you'd expect to be able to use Boot Block Jumper Mode. Boards that have BBJM can be damaged beyond repair by static or by failed flashing process, whereas socketed boards can have their BIOS chips replaced by externally programmed ones, as Freaky mentions. But BBJM boards cost a little less to manufacture, and are supposed to be a bit more reliable in standard operation. So, you might want to take the machine apart to see if your board has a socketed chip, to determine if you can get a replacement BIOS chip you can just pop in. At this stage, a BBJM board might well be toast.

And as Pogo_Fuzzybutt points out, you'd be just as hosed on a desktop board by a failed BIOS update, unless that board was one like the top end ASUS and SuperMICRO boards that have the dual BIOS copy feature, where they can maintain two copies of BIOS code, and revert "automagically." Popular with overclockers and tweakers, but not a common feature of laptop boards, which try to minimize power cost and size of mainboards.
posted by paulsc at 2:19 PM on August 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

I once worked in HP Notebook support. If you're out of warranty, you're generally SOL, most of the phone jockeys won't bother helping, especially with such an old model.

As paulsc said, you can repair it, but when new notebooks can be had starting around $500, dropping $300 and a good chunk of your time - probably more than the 5 tech hours if you're not familiar with laptop repair - its more economical to just buy a new machine (and maybe some flowers for your girlfriend).
posted by jjb at 2:57 PM on August 14, 2007

Response by poster: Well, I called a local repair shop I've dealt with before, and he said he had actually dealt with this exact problem (on the same model) about a month ago and he thought he could fix (if the chip isn't fried) for $30. I'm dropping it off after work. Thanks again for all your help guys, you saved me from getting in over my head with stuff I clearly don't know.
posted by lattiboy at 3:04 PM on August 14, 2007

« Older What native plants can make a lawn in Montreal?   |   How much to ask for? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.