How to Do a BIOS Update for a New Motherboard

3D illustration of a motherboard with a digital chip

How to Do a BIOS Update for a New Motherboard

Updates are a way of life for many aspects of computing. You can expect to see updates with software, operating systems, and even the BIOS for your system’s motherboard. Actually performing updates can be a simple task. In most cases, it’s just a matter of approving the update and letting it run its course. This process, of course, is completely different when updating the BIOS for your motherboard. So, with this in mind, how do you actually update the BIOS on your new motherboard?

For novices in the world of computing, this can be a somewhat daunting task. Motherboard manufacturers are quick to point out the risk of harm, but with the right sort of knowledge, you should be in good hands. Let’s take a closer look at how to actually update your motherboard’s BIOS.

What is the BIOS?

Your motherboard’s BIOS is the basic method by which all the components connected communicate. A motherboard houses the CPU, RAM, network interface card, and any additional peripherals. While your operating systems will handle the function of most of these, the system itself needs a way to communicate between devices at a low level.

BIOS is short for Basic Input/Output System and handles the basic functions of the computer and its boot cycle. Once all components are brought online, then the actual computing is handled by the operating system loaded on a hard drive or solid-state drive.

a new zotac motherboard 1630 out of the box
The motherboard is the main printed circuit board, holding the CPU, RAM, network interface card, and more.

©Marlon J. Manrique/CC BY-SA 2.0 – License

Why Should I Update My BIOS?

While most BIOS comes with preloaded firmware, there are certain occasions when you might want to update it. A more recent example bringing compatibility to a CPU for the motherboard. AMD Ryzen CPUs have used the same CPU socket for a number of years, but using an older motherboard might not always be compatible with the most recent CPU. In this instance, you would want to update the BIOS to take advantage of your new hardware.

Updating the BIOS can also bring with it stability fixes. It is a rare occurrence, but sometimes even BIOS can have bugs that hinder the performance of your system. In this event, a hotfix or update for the BIOS should realistically fix whatever problems you might have.

Generally speaking, updating the BIOS just brings with it the same sort of benefits you might expect from updating an app or your operating system. It can bring new features, stability, and compatibility for new hardware or accessories.

How to Update the BIOS

As you might expect, updating the BIOS for your motherboard can be a slightly more involved process than other updates. Since it is a critical hardware component being updated, there are certain steps to take when actually applying the update. This isn’t by any means the definitive method of updating your BIOS, but are some common steps to both apply the step and verify functionality after the fact.

Checking Version

Before applying an update, you’ll need to check the version your current BIOS is on. Some hardware manufacturers don’t have cumulative patches, meaning there might be a specific update order needed to get your BIOS to the most recent firmware. There are two methods of checking your current BIOS version.

The first method is through rebooting your computer and using the hotkey needed to enter the BIOS/UEFI menu. This can differ by manufacturer, but there should be an information panel that gives all the pertinent information for your BIOS. You’ll usually find the current BIOS version here.

Another method is done through Windows. This can differ between the different Windows versions, as things are always prone to change from the separate versions of the operating system. You can usually find the current BIOS version through the system information panel. This can be accessed in Windows 10 and 11 by simply typing in “System Information” to the search bar next to the start menu.

BIOS update new motherboard
You can locate the BIOS version in Windows by accessing your system information.


Downloading the Update

You’ll need to download the update from your motherboard manufacturer’s website. This can differ for each manufacturer, and in the case of pre-builts might be located on their unique support page. Whatever the case may be, take care to note any specified install order. It isn’t enough just to keep it in mind, but also to take notes on which updates need to install and in what order.

Downloading the update is a simple affair, and usually comes in the form of a compressed archive. Installation instructions for the BIOS update should be contained either on the website or within the downloaded file. Make notes for these or print them off, it’s better to have this in a concrete form to remove the chance of errors occurring.

Formatting a Flash Drive

This might not be absolutely necessary but is still heavily recommended. Having a clean and freshly formatted flash drive is going to make this whole process easier as a whole. You can do this through any particular means you find to work best for you. Some BIOS might need a specialized file structure, like exFAT or FAT32, so the typical Windows NTFS isn’t going to work for this purpose. It also helps because you have something dedicated solely to the BIOS update, so there are fewer chances for fatal errors to occur.

Backing Up Settings

If you’re running default settings on your BIOS, this isn’t a crucial step. If you have a particular boot order or overclocking settings, then you’ll want to perform this step. After booting into your BIOS, take photos or take physical notes on particular settings you want to preserve.

BIOS updates can sometimes load the default settings after installation. This isn’t such a bad thing if you leave everything in its base state. Users who have specialized settings will want to replicate them again, however. This is especially true for overclocks, where settings are dependent entirely on user-led testing and configuration.

Updating Through Windows

Some motherboard manufacturers will support directly installing an update through the Windows operating system. This isn’t typically the norm, but it does reduce the chance of errors. To conduct an installation of your BIOS update through Windows, make sure to read up on the process.

Some manufacturers will provide service utilities where you can load the update and conduct the installation. After this, it might be as simple as just rebooting your PC to have the update applied. This method isn’t always foolproof, and relies heavily on the Windows utility being regularly updated to be effective.

Updating Through Boot

Updating through boot is the most common way of updating your BIOS. This is a relatively simple process but does have some requirements. You’ll need to have an installation media in the proper file structure, which should have been covered through formatting your flash drive. You’ll need to point your BIOS to the actual update file, which can differ depending on the requirements of the manufacturer.

Make sure to take care to follow the aforementioned installation instructions to the T, as well as make sure nothing is compromised like reliable power to your PC during the update process. If all goes well it should just ask to reboot and your new BIOS should be installed.

The Final Word on Updating the BIOS for a New Motherboard

Updating your BIOS isn’t a difficult process. It is an involved one for sure, and there is a multitude of ways an inattentive user can compromise their system. That said, if you follow the steps outlined in this guide, as well as take note of any special installation considerations from your motherboard’s manufacturer, it should go off without a hitch.

If you’re worried about potentially compromising your PC, another alternative is to take it to a specialist who does IT work. You get a little extra assurance in regard to system functionality, and a trained professional can be a safeguard against any potential errors.

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How to Do a BIOS Update for a New Motherboard FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

If my system is running just fine, should I update my BIOS?

If you’re happy with the stability of your system, there is no reason to update your BIOS.

Can updating my BIOS brick my system?

If your system loses power, then that is a very real risk. That said, it isn’t advised to try and update your BIOS during terrible weather or brownouts.

Are BIOS and UEFI the same thing?

Technically, no, they are different implementations. In practice, however, they are functionally the same thing.

Will a BIOS update help with my graphics card?

If there is some sort of underlying issue with the BIOS and the PCI-E lanes, possibly.

Does updating my BIOS void my motherboard's warranty?

If you’re using unofficial patches, possibly. BIOS updates are provided by the motherboard manufacturer, and as such pose no threats to your warranty.

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