If you’ve bought a new motherboard in recent years, you might have noticed a new addition to the input/output (I/O) area: a BIOS Quick Flash button.
Typically found alongside a dedicated BIOS Flash USB port, this tiny button enables you to update the BIOS or UEFI on your motherboard without installing any hardware, handy if you buy a very new motherboard that doesn’t yet support certain CPUs.
Read on to learn what the BIOS Flash button is, how to use it, and what to do when the BIOS Flash button doesn’t work.
What Is the Motherboard BIOS Flash Button?
On the rear of the motherboard, you’ll find the various inputs and outputs required for connecting your monitors, USB devices, audio hardware, and any other peripherals. Collectively, this area is known as the motherboard I/O, and the plate covering it is known as the I/O shield.
Some modern motherboards now feature a special USB port and an accompanying button that allow you to update the system BIOS before you fire up the rest of the machine and complete your PC build.
Why Do You Need to Use the BIOS Flash Button?
Typically, the BIOS Flash button is used to update a motherboard with a BIOS that supports a new, previously unsupported CPU.
A prime example of this is AMD’s Ryzen 5000 CPUs. The Ryzen 5000 CPUs are largely compatible with the same motherboards running AMD Ryzen 3000 series CPUs, the previous generation. But to make sure the motherboard and new CPUs work properly (or, at all), the motherboard BIOS needs updating to a new version that supports the newer CPUs.
This isn’t just for AMD CPUs and compatible motherboards. Intel CPUs and motherboards also feature a BIOS Flash button to upgrade hardware support, although the process is the same for both hardware manufacturers.
The BIOS Flash button is also handy if you want to upgrade your BIOS without installing the CPU. On older motherboards, the bare minimum required to update the BIOS was the CPU and potentially some memory (RAM). With these modern motherboards, you no longer have to install the CPU to flash to a newer BIOS version, making it easier to upgrade to the latest hardware.
How Do You Use the BIOS Flash Button?
The BIOS Flash button is fairly simple to use, though it does have some quirks. The button itself should be marked clearly on the motherboard and is normally found in the I/O area for ease of use. Furthermore, most manufacturers clearly mark a specific USB port to use for flashing the BIOS.
Now, the process for using the BIOS Flash button differs slightly between manufacturers but does follow a fairly similar process. Below, you can read a general overview of how to use the BIOS Flash button, but you should always check out the specific instructions for your motherboard. Instructions are found on the motherboard manufacturer’s website, and you can find them by completing an internet search for something like “[motherboard name] bios flash button.”
- Head to the manufacturer’s website and download the correct BIOS file for your motherboard. If you’re upgrading to support a new CPU, make sure you read the description properly to ensure the BIOS you choose delivers that support.
- Once the download completes, extract the files from the archive.
- Rename the BIOS file to [manufacturer].bin. The manufacturer instructions will tell you exactly what to name the file.
- Now, you need a small capacity USB 2.0 drive. Low capacity is typically 32GB or smaller, and it must be a USB 2.0 drive unless stated otherwise.
- The drive must also use the FAT32 file system. Insert the drive into your computer, then right-click and select Format. Under File System, select FAT32. Make sure Quick Format is checked, then hit Start. The format process shouldn’t take long.
- Once the drive format completes, you can copy the renamed BIOS file to the root of the USB drive. That means just the BIOS file, not within another folder, copied directly into the USB drive.
- Before inserting the USB BIOS drive, you need to connect the 24-pin and 8-pin power connectors to your motherboard (otherwise, it won’t switch on).
- After connecting the power supply, you can insert the USB drive into the manufacturer-specified BIOS Flash USB port on the motherboard.
- Now, with the power supply switched on, press the BIOS Flash button.
The BIOS flash process can take up to 10 minutes, and sometimes more, depending on the size of the new BIOS installation. Most motherboards with a BIOS Flash button also have a progress indicator of some sort, be that a blinking LED or a visual display on the motherboard. When the process completes, the motherboard will restart, or it may shut down depending on the manufacturer. If the BIOS flash process extends beyond 15 to 20 minutes, it’s a safe bet that it isn’t working and that you should try again.
The BIOS Quick Flash Didn’t Work
The BIOS Flash button isn’t always guaranteed to work. Frustratingly, it might not be apparent that the BIOS flash has failed until you attempt to install your new CPU or enter the BIOS. Different motherboards have different quirks when it comes to using the BIOS Flash button, too.
For example, the standard information is that you should use the BIOS Flash button without any other hardware installed on the motherboard (that means no GPU, no RAM, no SSDs or HDDs connected). However, you’ll find multiple reports online of the BIOS upgrade only working with hardware installed.
Another thing to check is that you have the correct BIOS version for the motherboard. Even if your version is compatible, it might require you to try a few different BIOS versions to get the right one. If you’re upgrading a BIOS for a new CPU, it might be that the first compatible BIOS version for the new CPU works and the latest version (which you’d think would deliver better support) doesn’t install properly.
The main thing is, don’t panic. You’re very unlikely to cause damage to your motherboard or other hardware components so long as you follow the steps, use the correct hardware and BIOS versions, and just take your time.
Updating Your BIOS Just Became That Bit Easier
If you’re upgrading to a new, unsupported CPU, using the motherboard BIOS Flash button can save you time and effort. Upgrading the BIOS using the dedicated BIOS flash USB port makes it just that little bit easier to upgrade your shiny new hardware, and you’ll have your new CPU installed in no time at all.
To get into the BIOS, you usually press a specific key at the right time. Learn how to enter the BIOS on Windows 10.
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