The Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) is a section of code that lies on the firmware of a motherboard. It is designed to initialize the main components of the computer, then load the operating system. The BIOS is a critical part of a computer, a given computer will be unable to boot if the BIOS is corrupted. While the BIOS is still in great use today, it is slowly being replaced by the more modern and easy to use UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface).
Flashing the BIOS
Incorrectly flashing your BIOS can result in an inoperable system. Thus, only do it if you absolutely know what you are doing
Like any bit of code, the BIOS can updated. Because it is stored in ROM on the motherboard, the BIOS must be flashed to be updated. These days, most BIOS updates are supplied in the form of a bios image included with a flashing utility (consult your motherboard manufacturer's website for detailed instructions).
In the past, flashing the BIOS would require booting into a utility, running the tool, and hoping for the best. These days, most flashing tools will run inside Windows and just require a quick restart. Most gaming motherboards will also allow you to flash the firmware inside the BIOS menu. Some even offer the ability to store a backup of the BIOS in case the firmware becomes corrupted. Check your motherboard manual to see if it offers any of these features.
The primary reason that BIOS updates are released are to enable the use of newer CPU's or RAM on a motherboard. Some are released to correct other problems or incompatibilities with existing hardware.
Oftentimes the system will work perfectly fine with the BIOS version included out of the box, so it is only recommended that you flash the BIOS if you are experiencing trouble and there is a new version to update to.
Most of the time the BIOS will detect the correct settings for your hardware. Despite this, there may be situations where an incorrect setting in the BIOS may cause system instability, or perhaps there is a setting you need to change.
Some more common situations may include:
- Manually setting the RAM voltage, timings, and speed.
- Changing the boot device order
- Enabling/disabling Hardware Virtualization.
- Monitoring system idle voltages.
If you need to do any of these but are unsure how to do them, try googling your motherboard along with what you are attempting to do. Chances are you will find a general tutorial, if not something more tailored to your motherboard.