Best way to flash my BIOS
May 11, 2008 4:09 PM   Subscribe

A little advice required about flashing the BIOS on a new Gigabyte motherboard, and reducing the chances of killing it.

I've got a Gigabyte (GA-MA770-DS3) motherboard and an AMD Phenon X3 (8450) CPU. The BIOS needs to be flashed to F4 for these two to play together.

Long story short, I killed this motherboard with what I thought was a successful flash (through the QFlash utility from the BIOS setup screen, which said the flash worked OK, then left me unable to even get to POST). I've managed to get a replacement board, but I'm worried about a repeat. So, after reading these previous questions, and browsing the web, I have a couple of questions:

1.) There are three ways I can flash the BIOS on this motherboard - from the BIOS setup screen (QFlash), by booting from a floppy disk with the BIOS upgrade and the upgrade program on it, and from Windows (@BIOS). Is one of these options more likely to succeed than the others?

2.) The BIOS is currently F2. I want version F4. Should I flash F3 first, or is jumping straight to F4 no more risky in that respect?
posted by malpractice to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
With regard to #2: There's no more risk in "jumping" over F3 as F4 will have all changes F3 has and then some, and will not require F3 be there prior in any way. In fact, there would be more risk doing F3 and then F4 considering you're just increasing the statistical chances of it getting borked.
posted by tybeet at 4:16 PM on May 11, 2008

I've always had success in doing BIOS upgrades from Windows. Only about 5-10 occurrences in my life, but all 100% successful.

2 days ago I used a Windows LiveCD (MiniPE-XT) on my Ubuntu laptop to upgrade the BIOS.

I would also jump straight from F2 to F4.
posted by Sonic_Molson at 4:35 PM on May 11, 2008

I haven't had to flash a bios in a while, but I've never killed a board yet. But I always boot to DOS and do it that way. Seems like the least error prone, and most tried-and-true method.

I wouldn't use the same method you used before, no matter what you do though. Clearly, something is broken. Could be that particular flash program, or that BIOS file is bad.

Every one I've done does a CRC check on the file, then flashes, then does a CRC check on the flash memory contents to make sure it is the same.

It's curious that it killed the board too- I though all modern boards had a fail-safe boot option. Where even if the main BIOS fails, a backup BIOS would be available to fire up the system to reflash...?
posted by gjc at 6:21 PM on May 11, 2008

newer gigabyte (and most other) boards (bought a 690g one somewhat less than a year ago, and a 780g one recently) definitely have fail safe / fallback type bios action. generally if you mis-flash and it's super hosed, you need to make a certain type of cd or floppy and press certain keys as it starts up (even if you don't see post, it's ok) -- check the manual.

in any case, I've flashed from:
-- bootable cd (dr-dos + generic cd-driver)
-- q-flash + usb cardreader
-- bootable usb (again, dr-dos)
-- @bios within windows32

never a problem with any of the above. do what's most convenient for you. I like q-flash, but then I only use lunix and xp64 these days.
posted by dorian at 8:38 PM on May 11, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers everyone.

I had another go at getting the "dead" motherboard to work, by connecting up the floppy drive and putting in a disk with the flash utility and upgrade file on it, then turning the PC on. Unfortunately the floppy drive wasn't even engaging, so no luck. However, I was able to flash the BIOS successfully on the replacement motherboard (by booting into DOS off a floppy and using the flash software from there) so it's all back on track.

I managed to track down some information about the fail-safe on most modern BIOSes - apparently they have a boot block that - as long as its not damaged itself - checks the main part of the BIOS to see if its corrupted, and if it is, automatically boots from the floppy drive (which you can then flash the BIOS from). I'm guessing that in my case, I managed to corrupt the boot block, which meant that this fail-safe didn't kick in. (I noticed when I was flashing the second time, there was an option to "flash boot block" - I didn't select this, to be on the safe side).

Thanks again!
posted by malpractice at 1:22 AM on May 13, 2008

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