Is it necessary to upgrade the BIOS on your computer?
Keeping your computer’s operating system and software up to date is critical. However, we’ve already discussed why you shouldn’t upgrade your hardware drivers in general, though gamers will undoubtedly want to update their graphics drivers. What about BIOS upgrades, though?
BIOS updates will not make your computer quicker, will not bring new functionality that you require, and may cause problems. Only update your BIOS if the new version contains a required feature.
What’s a BIOS?
The BIOS (basic input/output system) is an acronym for a basic input/output system. When you turn on your computer, the BIOS takes over and starts the power-on self-test (POST) before handing over control to the boot loader. This is how your computer’s operating system gets started. The BIOS is low-level system software that should “simple function” without interfering with your day-to-day activities.
Instead of the classic BIOS, computers now come with UEFI firmware. UEFI is low-level system software that serves a similar purpose.
Unlike your operating system
Flashing a BIOS
Manufacturers frequently release BIOS updates. IF YOU CONSTRUCTED YOUR PC, a BIOS update would come from your motherboard vendor. These updates can be “flashed” onto the BIOS chip, thereby replacing the BIOS software that came with the machine with a new version.
BIOSes are computer (or motherboard) specific; therefore, you’ll need the BIOS for your unique computer model (or motherboard) to upgrade your computer’s BIOS.
Why You Probably Shouldn’t Update Your BIOS
BIOS updates aren’t major software upgrades with new features, security patches, or performance gains. BIOS upgrades usually have relatively short change logs—they might repair an issue with a piece of esoteric hardware or add support for a new CPU model.
If your computer is up to date and running, you generally don’t need to update your BIOS. There’s a good chance you won’t notice a difference between the new BIOS and the old one. In rare circumstances, a new version of the BIOS may introduce additional issues, as the BIOS that arrived with your computer may have undergone more testing.
It’s not as simple as installing a software update to flash a BIOS. Because difficulties can occur while flashing from Windows, you’ll often want to flash your computer using DOS (yes, DOS—you may need to build a bootable USB stick with DOS on it and restart into that environment). For flashing a BIOS, each manufacturer has a unique set of instructions.
When You Should Update Your BIOS
Given the likelihood that updating your BIOS would not result in any improvements, the possibility of new flaws, and the risk of errors during flashing, you should only do it if necessary. Here are a few examples of when it’s a good idea to update:
Bugs: If you have an issue that is fixed in a newer version of the BIOS for your machine (see the manufacturer’s website for the BIOS changelog), you may be able to repair it by updating your BIOS. If you call tech support and have a problem that can be fixed with an update, the manufacturer may urge you to update your BIOS.
Hardware Support: Some motherboard makers offer support for new CPUs and maybe additional hardware in BIOS upgrades. You may need to update the BIOS if you wish to upgrade your computer’s CPU to a new one—possibly one that wasn’t available when you bought your motherboard.