A computer’s Basic Input/Output System, or BIOS, is the firmware that handles turning on and booting up your computer. Whether or not you realize it, you’ve seen your screen do its thing countless times. Typically you’ll see the motherboard manufacturer’s name as well as a few “Press F12 for Settings” type prompts on the bottom.
Typically this firmware, which is provided by your motherboard’s manufacturer, doesn’t need to be updated very frequently. In fact, you shouldn’t need to update it at all unless you’re having problems with your computer’s hardware. If you’ve started having hardware glitches, updating your motherboard’s BIOS is a typical troubleshooting step. It rules out firmware issues and allows you to focus on whatever hardware problems may exist.
A note to our expert readers: I’ll use the term “BIOS” throughout this article, but I’m referring to both the older BIOS standard and the newer UEFI system. If you want to learn more about the difference between the two, check out our post on the difference between BIOS and UEFI.
Also, I’ll be following the BIOS update steps for my Gigabyte board. The update process should be roughly similar for most other boards, but it may not be identical to your board’s process. Refer to your motherboard manufacturer’s instructions for the exact steps for your motherboard model.
Note: the following process is done on a Windows desktop.
1. Determine Your Motherboard Model and BIOS Version
Your motherboard may or may not have an updated BIOS available. If it does, you’ll be able to find the files at the motherboard manufacturer’s website. But first, you’ll need to find out a little bit more about your BIOS and motherboard.
1. Run “msinfo32.exe.” You can start the program by pasting “msinfo32.exe” into the Start Menu or by navigating to “C:\Windows\System32\msinfo32.exe.”
2. You’ll see the System Information window which gives you information about your computer’s hardware. Under “System Summary” look for “BIOS Version/Date,” “BaseBoard Manufacturer” and “BaseBoard Model.” As you can see below, all the information may not be present, but at the very least we can get access to the BIOS version and motherboard manufacturer.
You can also find this information in your computer’s BIOS.
1. Reboot your computer. At the BIOS splash screen you’ll see some text along the bottom prompting you with something like “Press F2 to Enter Setup” or “[F1] – SETUP.” The exact key and text depends on your motherboard’s manufacturer, but F1, F2, F10 and Delete are all common options. On my Gigabyte board I press the “Delete” key.
2. The exact location of your system information will vary from motherboard to motherboard. On my Gigabyte BIOS I found the BIOS version number and motherboard model name under the “System” tab.
2. Finding Your Updated BIOS
Once you know your BIOS’s version number and motherboard model name, you can go to the manufacturer’s website and search for updated files.
1. Navigate to your motherboard manufacturer’s support page.
2. Find your motherboard model’s support page.
3. Click on the “Support” or “Downloads” link.
4. Find the updated BIOS files.
5. Download the most recent version of the BIOS.
3. Preparing BIOS Files
You’ll need to get your BIOS update files onto an external USB drive, which must be formatted as FAT32 or FAT16 to work.
1. File the ZIP file containing the BIOS files in your Downloads folder.
2. Extract the ZIP archive.
3. Copy the unzipped BIOS files to a USB drive. The USB drive must be formatted as FAT32. NTFS and ExFAT drives will not work.
4. Installing BIOS Files
Now that we’ve done our research and preparation, we’re ready to install.
1. Make sure your USB drive is plugged into a USB 2.0 port on the back of your computer. These ports are connected directly to the motherboard and are more reliable than case or “header” ports.
2. Reboot your computer and access your BIOS by pressing the appropriate key (typically Delete or F2).
3. My Gigabyte board has a BIOS update utility called “Q-Flash.” To access it, I’ll press F8.
4. I’ll confirm I want to open Q-Flash by selecting “Yes.”
5. I’ll select “Update BIOS From Drive” to begin the BIOS update process.
6. Select your USB drive, which in my case is called “Mass Storage Device.” If you don’t see your USB drive, try plugging it into a USB 2.0 port on the back of your PC.
7. Select the BIOS update file on your drive. It will typically have an unusual extension, like “.F1” or, in my case, “.16H.”
8. Confirm you want to update the BIOS one last time.
9. When the update is complete, your computer will reboot as normal.
If you need to update your motherboard’s BIOS, the steps above should work as a general guide. Just be sure to also refer to your motherboard manufacturer’s instructions for your motherboard’s exact update process.