If you're a regular Windows 10 PC builder then you're probably already familiar with the BIOS, also now referred to as UEFI. The BIOS is, in simple terms, what makes your computer boot up at all. Many folks will never update their BIOS in the whole life of their PC, but sometimes you just have to.
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Indeed, there is a case to be made for just leaving it alone, as a bad BIOS update can completely brick your PC in an extreme case. But even if you buy a pre-built desktop PC or one of today's best laptops, there are times you will not only have to go into the BIOS but update it. Critical fixes, for example, are one such reason everyone should update.
But how do you actually do it? The BIOS is somewhat detached from Windows 10 or Linux, so how do you get the updates in there? Sadly, there is no one size fits all explanation, but we can direct you on the right path, starting with identifying the current version of the BIOS on your PC.
How to check your current BIOS version
If your BIOS is already the latest version then you won't have to worry about updating it. The simplest way to check on your current version can be done within Windows or Linux.
On a Windows 10 PC, press "Win+R" and type "msinfo32". Click "OK" and the "System information" window will open. In the first window presented you will see an entry labelled "BIOS version/date". Take a note of the information here.
If you're on Linux you can also easily access your BIOS version information. Open a terminal and enter the following command:
sudo dmidecode --type bios
You will now see a printout of your BIOS information, including the vendor, version number and release date. From here, you'll need to open up your web browser for the next step.
How to update your BIOS
This is where things will differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. In some cases you will be able to download an installer that runs within Windows 10 that will do the hard work for you. But in many others you'll need to go into the BIOS yourself and manually flash the update.
The BIOS will come from the support pages of the manufacturer of your motherboard. It's therefore important to know exactly which model you have. If you built your PC yourself then you probably already know this, but if you need to find out you can do so with ease.
1. How to find your motherboard information on Windows 10
There are two methods you can easily use on Windows 10 to locate your motherboard information. The first involves 'Command Prompt', so go ahead and open it up, either from the Start Menu or by pressing 'Win+R' and typing 'cmd' into the box. When the terminal window opens up, enter this command:
wmic baseboard get product,Manufacturer,version,serialnumber
You'll now get a print out of the important information you need to identify your motherboard to download a BIOS update. If you're looking for something with a user interface, you can download an app called 'Speccy'. Grab it either directly, or if you're using Windows Package Manager you can install it with 'winget install speccy'.
Speccy will show you much more than just your motherboard information, offering an easy to digest summary of all the hardware on your PC.
2. How to find your motherboard information on Linux
Would you be surprised to find out that gathering your motherboard information on Linux is as simple as typing a command into the terminal? Of course not.
Open up a new terminal window and enter this command:
sudo dmidecode -t 2
You'll now receive a print out of all the most important details including the model and serial number.
3. Download and install the BIOS update
The first thing to do is head to your manufacturer's website. If it's a pre-built PC or laptop, then go to the PC-makers site and locate the support section. If you built your own, do the same but for the maker of your motherboard.
This is where an element of self-discovery will come in. Updating the BIOS will vary. In some cases, you may have an executable installer you can run, in others a .zip file containing the BIOS and instructions on how to do it. In some cases, you'll have to use a USB flash drive and apply the update directly from within your BIOS or UEFI.
The good news is, you'll never be left high and dry. It's a fairly technical process and getting it right is absolutely crucial, so all the manufacturers will have instructions on their own particular implementation.
Using ASRock as an example, not only will the support site direct you towards the correct BIOS update for your motherboard, it offers an in-depth, step-by-step guide on using its instant flash feature to apply the update. Just make sure you read the instructions carefully first, or better still open them up on another device to have handy while you apply the update.
BIOS updates aren't something you need to worry about regularly, and in many cases if it isn't broke, don't fix it. BIOS updates aren't issued nearly as regularly as say, a Windows 10 update, but they do still come out sometimes.
If your PC is working well then you're fine leaving it alone. It's worth checking in from time to time though with your manufacturer to ensure that there are no critical fixes that a new BIOS update has been issued to fix.
It can be a little scary to apply if you haven't done it before, but take your time, make sure you know exactly what BIOS you need and how your particular machine applies its updates and it'll go without a hitch.