Flashing a BIOS - Is it really so scary?

  Strangely Brown 10:43 07 May 03

I have an ASUS A7A266 motherboard running an AMD Athlon 1.33Ghz CPU.

The latest BIOS update (2 days ago) provides support for CPU's up to the Athlon XP 2600+.

I'm planning to go for an XP2400+ as they are now available for under £80 but before I do, I have a couple of questions:-

1) I've read all of the update notes regarding flashing the BIOS from the ASUS website and it seems to be rather simple if you follow them correctly. Am I missing a trick here or is it really that simple?

2) Am I really going to notice a performance improvement as a result of this upgrade or is it a bit of a waste. I'm running Windows XP, with 512Mb of PC2100 DDR RAM and a GeForce4 Ti4200 64Mb graphics card. I use the machine for gaming mainly but my wife does a lot of work with MS Office as part of her job.

Your input is very much appreciated

  Elrond 10:47 07 May 03

It is that simple, but the possible consequences of it going wrong are scary.

  Gongoozler 10:55 07 May 03

Hi Strangely Brown. I am not basing this reply on experience because I am still running a Duron 850 and using the original BIOS, but this is my opinion based on what I have read, mostly on this forum.

Flashing BIOS is not difficult, you simply follow the instructions. What makes BIOS flashing so different is that if it does go wrong you have an unuseable motherboard, and so cannot have a second try. With software upgrades, at the very worst you can reformat your hard drive and start again, but not with BIOS flashing. It is worth making a note of the address of Biosupgrade.co.uk click here who claim to be able to recover your BIOS chip, or sell you a new one if your BIOS flash fails.

A doubling of processor speed should give you a noticeable performance improvement in gaming. The figure I have seen quoted is that you need to increase the processor speed by 50% to see an improvement. Your wife is unlikely to see any improvement in office applications.

  Strangely Brown 11:05 07 May 03

Thanks Gongoozler,

I wasn't really interested in whether Mrs Brown saw an improvement. As long as I can!!!

Interesting point about Biosupgrade.co.uk too. It may be worth considering using them either as an alternative to flashing it yourself of in a disaster recovery situation.

Hmmm, 25 quid though!

  MartinT-B 11:15 07 May 03

I am assuming you have the Award Bios on your Asus Mobo. I do with my A7N8X Deluxe.

I flashed mine twice yesterday. From 1002 to 1002a (mistake!) and then to 1003, but I used the AWD flash utility built into the board by Asus.

I press Alt+F2 when booting to go into the program. The Mobo then asks me to insert the floppy with the new Bios. You then enter the file name. In my case a7n1003.bin Asus does the rest and you have an 'update monitor'

Blue squares are unchanged. White ones Successful updates, Red failed. You can continue to flash until it's successful, just reboot.

I hope you have this option on your PC. Check when you boot up next time. There should be two messages on the bottom of your boot screen.

1) Press Alt+F2 to Enter AWD Flash Utility

2) Press Del to Enter Set-up.

Alternatively, you can copy the AWDFlash.exe Or the flash program you need) from the Asus site.
Make two floppies.
1) with just the flash program
2) with the flash program and new bios.

Then, put first floppy into drive and reboot. Choose the option to save the current bios. Then continue to boot.
Put second disk into floppy, reboot and flash new bios.

That way you can always revert to original if needs be. This method does not work with XP using NTFS. If that's your set-up you need to use the first method above.

All utilities and Bios updates are best downloaded from the Asus GLOBAL SITE. Not US or European. GLOBAL, based in Taiwan - Why? because most people use US site which is often Not Available as a result :)

Good Luck.


  MartinT-B 11:17 07 May 03

Asus post FULL printable instructions on Flashing your BIOS on their site.

  Strangely Brown 11:20 07 May 03

Thanks Martin,

The instructions do appear to resemble that from the ASUS website and, yes, I am using the Global address.

When you say 'Make 2 floppies', I assume these are booth boot floppies?

Once again, thanks for the input.

  MartinT-B 12:36 07 May 03

Yes they are bootable.

One to copy Original BIOS (to keep), the other one with New BIOS.

  MartinT-B 12:42 07 May 03

One last thing - TEST YOUR BATTERY!

Make sure that it's got power. Get a new one to make sure.

Most BIOS failures are because the battery only has 2.6v or so, which is enough to retain date, but not enough to flash. I bought a new Duracell which had 3.3v to be on the safe side.

  Paranoid Android 12:44 07 May 03

The biggest problem with flashing BIOS is people who don't take the trouble to identify their exact motherboard spec properly, or who don't follow the instructions. In most cases the process is painless, but always make a backup copy of the original BIOS.


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