Flash Motherboard BIOS

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I know most people and sites I have read are against this.. In the past
as recent as last year I have always updated my motherboards to the
latest BIOS for nice updates such as sempron support etc. With no
problems what so ever

Today I am presented with a new problem, and would like as much input
as possible.. I have a couple year old Dell Dimension (not sure of the
model off of the top of my head).  Anyway, it has a ECS motherboard in
it.  The model and version are printed right on the board :).  The
board "Dell tatoo'd" with their BIOS does not boot from USB.  I went
online to check and called and there are no updates to the board from
Dell that do.

I went to the ECS site and found that exact motherboard and version,
and it has a firmware update with the feature of allowing booting from

Now since I know its the exact model , since again its printed on the
board, is it as safe as it has been in the past, or since Dell has
tattoo'd it with their BIOS, is there a risk that flashing it with the
manufacturers bios could prove problematic, again all input is


Re: Flash Motherboard BIOS

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*any* bios flash could be problematic...
so be sure to have a source for a replacement bios before you give it a try

Re: Flash Motherboard BIOS


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Obviously someone with the exact same setup and has done it has the
best knowledge.

I think it probably is OK. However I did kind of the same thing with a
emachines board --- looked up the model /make and flashed the bios
with their upgrade and killed the board.  The site was really
confusing so I might have made a mistake.

Boy is this topical for me - as Im going through hardware HELL now.
One disaster after another. I  mean disaster!  In fact I just killed
my nforce4 board after flashing.

One thing.  Frankly Im the type who has always flashed even with
winflashers and had very little problems. Only 3 times out of zillions
of flashes and most were cheapo weird boards that had the problems.

Use the flasher to SAVE your old bios. Dont overwrite the BOOTBLOCK if
there is that option. WINFLASH the windows based flasher does. On the
otherhand some people believe WINDOWS flashers have a much higher
failure rate than DOS flashers. Anyway --- if the bootblock is intactm
then even if you mess up the flash your system can still do a basic
boot from floppy though you might not get video etc. You then follow
the instructios to set up a bootable floppy disk with autoexec.bat
with instructions to execute a dos flasher you have on the disk too
and the xxxxx.bin  bios file - the old one.

Thats supposed to work. If it doesnt --- find out if DELL will give
you a new bios chip or reflash it for you.  Even then most firms are
SLOWWWWWW.  Youll have your system down during that time so its good
to have a backup system. The other thing you can do is look at firms
like BADFLASH.com and othersites. They usually have bioses but not
sure if they have any DELL proprietary bioses if they have such a
thing. Maybe they can take your old bios you saved and reflash that if
you send it to them.

Anyway --- I spent a month planning to move all my data to different
HDs and RAID my system to cope with increasing chores that seem to
load my system down more than I like. I finally had all the pieces and
RAIDED my system ---- DISASTER !!!!  It worked I think fine and did
actually help cope with multitasking chores.  Corrupted my data like
crazy and then crashed.  RAID was a complete disaster.

I then find that RAID and nforce4 systems and even 3 ---- theres a
continuing low level buzz about data corruption. So why isnt this a
hot topic? Its like its being swept under the rug.  And many other
users say its not even RAID. Its some Hitachi , Maxtor disks and
nforce.  The fix ? Move to other brands. But my system was using
SEAGATES. And others with WDs claim they had problems.

Maxtor did supposedly come out with a hardware firmware update. And
some motherboard makers came out with bios upgrade fixes. But its like
its being kept quiet. Theres still lots of claims of different
problems. Some say its when there are large file transfers. Others say
when the system is being stressed with large data transfers.

On top of that ---- Chaintech, any other brands? Anyway Chaintech --
its claimed if you use WINFLASH the newest version and the newest BIOS
which ads X2 dual core compatibility --- many single core users end up
with a dead board thats not fixable unless you reflash the chip. Thats
what happned to me. I flashed it 4 times before no problems with older
bios and older WINFLASH.

Theres just seems to be lots of weird stuff going on though others
with similar equipment have no problems thats whats so maddening. That
leads people to say --- there is no problem. But its not just one or
two people. Theres a string of Chaintech users who ended up with dead
boards and a fair amount of posts spread around talking about data
corruption with nforce4 boards.

Another issue - Creative Sound cards and nforce4 boards. Some people
are having huge problems with the new XFi cards but they claim
Creative is fixing them if you RMA them.

And yet there isnt this huge wave of grumbling etc bashing nforce4. I
have to admit though my Chaintech has been overall pretty decent
except for the recent bios issue and RAID. RAID seems to be a MESS.
Im still going to tackle that one when I get my bios flashed and board
going again.



Re: Flash Motherboard BIOS

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Ive not done a Dell but Ive bios flashed many motherboards and the only time
it stuffed up was a TINY computer with a MSI board that had a TINY bios on
it so it showed the TINY logo on bootup. I flashed it with correct MSI bios
for that board and the board was dead afterwards. My advice is don't do it.

Re: Flash Motherboard BIOS

Chances are that even if it's clearly made by ECS the bios has been
customized to some degree by Dell for their particular hardware needs. If
you really need USB for booting and want to keep this board running go find
a mb that will allow USB booting.

Jan Alter
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Re: Flash Motherboard BIOS

On 2 Dec 2005 05:00:15 -0800, "Matthew C Rice"

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So you're not going to share the secret model and version

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How do you know?
Do you feel that not seeing a USB-boot option is evidence of
this?  It isn't necessarily, some Dells don't outwardly
appaear to boot from  USB boot devices but when you plug a
thumbdrive into it, there's an option in the F12 boot menu
that appears for it... maybe a new entry in the main bios
menus too, but I never felt the need to change that since
the thumbdrive was only a temporary boot scenario.

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IF this is an ECS board, AND the original ECS board was able
to do it, the current board might be able to, too.  Realize
that anything Dell is no confident in supporting to the
extent of making it a marketable feature, is "unsupported",
is something it does not "do" according to anyone at Dell
fielding support calls... and that's not an entirely bad
position for them to take, but on the other hand it doesn't
mean there's a clear-cut, "this Dell box won't boot USB but
after a bios swap it would", situation here even if you
managed to get the bios swapped.

Is the EEPROM socketed?
If so then the easiest thing to do would be to get a 2nd
bios chip flashed with your target bios then swap out old,
in new, clear CMOS then try to boot from this new bios.

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having a "feature" to boot USB, does not mean the feature
works.  Further, it doesn't mean it would necessarily work
with any particular (randomly selected) USB device.  It
might though, and we can only assume you have already
supplied a USB device that's configured to be bootable to
test the system as-is already, a device demonstrated able to
boot on some other system via USB.

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ECS boards may use different bios for different revision,
the model # alone may not be enough.

I assume you've checked a few important parameters first,
that the chipset including both north and southbridge are
the same.  I'll assume you've confirmed that the super-io
chip is the same as well.  Sound could also be an issue...
If those are the same there's a quite good chance that IF
you get the new bios into an EEPROM, that EEPROM being on
the board through flashing it while on-board or manual
swapping of EEPROMs, then the system may still run in some
state... maybe fully working, probably fully working if
above chips are same but no guarantees, it's not the kind if
thing one does.

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It's fairly safe to flash correct bios to a stable system.
You're not flashing correct bios so the degree to which it's
safe depends entirely on what you're doing.

If the bios is socketed and you have the ability to flash
EEPROMs outside of a motherboard, yes it'd pretty safe as
you dont' have any problems swapping a prom back and forth.
Lesser skill sets mean less and less safety.

For starters, you can just run ami or awardflash and flash
it... different bios id string... deliberate, it's not
supposed to be flashed with anything but a bios intended for
it.  There are ways around that, you could try uniflash for
example, which may or may not work.

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Yes, board could never boot again unless you then remedy the

Why not just replace the motherboard?  None of the Dell
software nor OS will recognize this as a Dell system anymore
after the bios change so you might as well just pick the
motherboard you want and avoid all this... plus if it's an
ECS board that alone is another good reason to swap the
board as it seems you have some project in mind for a low
quality board due to be retired of old age.

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