BIOS support on Motherboards
While building my new rig I came across a problem I’ve experienced before, but for some reason has never been seen by anyone else here at pcGameware, which quite surprised me.
Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to document what happened and how I went about resolving the issue. This problem has been around for quite a while now when building new rigs which contain a new Motherboard with an up to date CPU, so read on for more details as you may have come across the same problem!
So one day you decide to upgrade your PC, or maybe you have even decided to switch platforms from Intel to AMD or vice versa for whatever reason, just like I did. This means you need to buy an appropriate motherboard which is suitable for your given socket type and also an appropriate CPU to go with it. In my case I purchased the following:
At the time, all I knew was that the CPU I had purchased was supported by the motherboard and I thought nothing else of it. Of course when it came to assembling my rig I came across a problem I had seen before which I totally forgot to think about when using a latest CPU, but this didn’t however become apparent until I actually tried to boot the PC!
So I was happy with the way the build had gone and it was time to power up the PC. Pressing the power switch the fans came on and I waited and waited. Nothing happened! This is where you start to panic and think that one of the components you have purchased i.e motherboard, CPU or memory is faulty as the PC won’t POST.
Usually the motherboard has some sort of on-board diagnostics which you can use to diagnose the fault, and in this case each component has an LED next to it which is supposed to light/flash while the component is being checked, but there was nothing. This made me wonder if the motherboard was at fault at first as no LED was being lit next to the CPU, which should in theory be the first component to be checked.
I didn’t have a spare rig to test the CPU or memory as this was a completely new build on a new platform and nobody at pcGameware was running on an AMD platform. At that point I thought I was going to have to send something back, as obviously something was at fault. I then decided to re-check that the CPU was indeed compatible with the motherboard so I went to Asus to check again. Funnily enough my range of processor was the only one that had a different BIOS revision and this made me wonder if that is what the issue was. Had my motherboard been shipped with the older BIOS as the processor was indeed quite new? There was no indication on the packaging as to what revision the motherboard came with and even if there was, I doubt the vendor would check to make sure they weren’t sending older revisions out to customers.
So I was faced with a few options as to how I could proceed down this path:
- Return the motherboard to the manufacturer
- Return the motherboard to the seller
- Take the motherboard to a computer shop and have them update the BIOS
- Obtain a CPU which was supported by an older BIOS revision and update it myself
I wasn’t sure if the manufacturer would update the BIOS, I know some do but the turnaround would be quite long. Returning the motherboard to the seller was an option but again this was going to take time to get a replacement, time which I did not have. After contacting a local computer shop, they wouldn’t provide this service without also selling me a CPU as well as charging a fee, as they couldn’t just charge for updating the BIOS, as the CPU would then be classified as being used! I mean what computer shop doesn’t have spare used CPUs lying around surely! So the only option left was to buy the cheapest CPU on the list (AMD Sempron 145 2.8GHz at £29) and have it delivered by next day post.
When the CPU arrived, an older Sempron, I promptly installed it and again tried to get the PC to POST. It did indeed, proving that the motherboard was indeed shipped with an older BIOS, which was confirmed when the BIOS revision was displayed on the screen. I promptly updated the BIOS with the latest revision via USB and then replaced the old processor with the new.
I then turned the PC on for the final time, to check that it would POST now with the latest CPU. It did indeed and all the motherboard diagnostic lights lit up as well confirming that the motherboard, CPU and memory were also fully functional now.
So the lesson to be learned from this, is that if you plan on upgrading and you’re going to be replacing the motherboard or CPU and don’t have a spare compatible CPU lying around, double check with the seller that the motherboard being shipped to you has the latest revision of BIOS that is required for you to be able to POST. Otherwise you’re either going to incur more cost to yourself or have the hassle of having to send everything back to be replaced!
Maybe one day motherboard manufacturers will be able to get round this issue, but until then we will have to rely on the processor manufacturers giving them the up to date information they require prior to shipping the product, or for us to continue going through this whole process yet again…