There was a time when updating your BIOS (Basic Input and Output System) was a process that involved some danger. Without the ubiquity of the Internet, sage Youtube advice and, depending on your part of the world, a higher potential for a power outage, it was a job for the experienced and the fearless.
As time passed and technology improved, the number of enthusiasts out there has become far greater than it has ever been, while the knowledge threshold needed for a BIOS update is smaller and the information easier to find. Also, the BIOS itself has evolved into UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface), which offers a much nicer UI and easier usage (although everyone still calls it BIOS).
Why Would You Even Want a BIOS Update?
There are several potential reasons for wanting to update your BIOS. The primary one is, of course, is improved hardware support, which could bring about better performance of your components. This was the case with the latest AMD CPUs and their boost clocks on some motherboards. Speaking of motherboards, if you are looking to update your hardware as well, check our choice of the best motherboard for gaming.
The other reason is security. Even the best Intel CPUs have had several vulnerabilities discovered recently, known as Spectre and Meltdown, which in turn caused users to need to update their BIOS several times, as new vulnerabilities came to light.
An update does not have to be a necessity always, but since it is easier to do than ever before, why not avail yourself of the benefits that come for free?
BIOS Update: Detailed Guide
Let’s get to the meat of it; here’s how to update BIOS easily, step by step:
Step 1 – Figuring Out What Version You Are Running
One thing you should bear in mind is that there are two CPU manufacturers (Intel and AMD), and the chipsets on the motherboards require different BIOS updates, even if they are made by the same company. We will use examples of AMD motherboards, since their owners had the most need to update, with an excellent new series available (check out our list of the best AMD Ryzen 3000 CPUs as well), but the process is almost identical for their Intel counterparts
First things first – check your version of BIOS. You can do this by entering BIOS when turning the computer on. The most common way is by pressing the DEL key, while the system is turning on, just before the Windows logo comes on (if you are using Windows, of course). On the initial overview screen, you can probably see the version and you can compare it with the one that can be found on the website of the motherboard manufacturer.
This will tell you whether you need to update or not.
Step 2 – Safest Way to Update
Let us assume you are moving from a series 1000 or 2000 Ryzen processor to series 3000, but keeping the same motherboard. You have checked and found that your motherboard is running an older BIOS and you have found the latest one. There are two ways to proceed.
The first one, and the one we recommend as safer is to download the updated BIOS installation from the website of the motherboard manufacturer (in our case Asus) to a USB stick, which you will later be able to access from BIOS.
The second option is to update BIOS directly from the BIOS interface if your motherboard supports this. There is nothing inherently unsafe in this, however, if your download starts having issues, the whole procedure might end up longer than if you were using a USB. This, in turn, means that you are more at risk in case you lose power.
Step 3 – Update Time
After you have the latest BIOS version on your USB, you should restart your PC again to access the BIOS and follow the update procedure. In most cases, this is pretty straightforward and you will find the update button either on the initial screen or in the Advanced section of the BIOS interface.
Choose your USB stick and find your update file. Start the update and hope you won’t be losing power in the next minute or two. Voila! You have an updated BIOS now, with all the new bells & whistles and security updates that the manufacturers decided to put in it.
Step 4 – Does Everything Work?
You are most likely be greeted by the following message immediately after the update, as whatever setup you were running in your BIOS, it has been returned to default settings:
After entering BIOS for one final time, make the necessary changes (or just exit, if you don’t want to do any changes) and you should boot into windows normally. Remember that you will have to enable the XMP or D.O.C.P. profile for your RAM to run at a higher than base frequency. Different manufacturers use different names for this profile, so don’t be surprised.
If by accident, you experience problems after the update, you can downgrade your BIOS following the same procedure, just downloading the previous version of your BIOS that was operating normally from the manufacturer’s website.
Hopefully, this gives you an insight into what updating a BIOS really is – a relatively short and painless procedure that can help your computer work safer or better, so you won’t have to look for a new best CPU for gaming just yet. It is not without risk, but that risk has really been minimized today as opposed to a decade ago when these updates were best left to professionals.