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How BIOS Updates Are Performed

Two different ways of updating a motherboard BIOS are available.

  • Replacing the physical BIOS chip—With older systems, a physical chip swap (also called a BIOS chip upgrade) is necessary. The original BIOS chip is removed, and a new BIOS chip is inserted in its place. The new BIOS must be customized to match the old system's motherboard and chipset, use its existing CPU, and provide the enhanced features specified by the upgrade BIOS manufacturer. The typical cost range is around $30–$60 for a single BIOS chip.

  • Performing a flash upgrade—With newer systems that have a flash-upgradeable BIOS, the update software is downloaded and installed onto a disk, which is used to boot the computer. Then the new BIOS code is copied to the BIOS chip in a process that takes about 3–5 minutes. If the BIOS update comes from a source other than the original system or motherboard maker, it will also cost as much as $60 for the update.

In either case, the system might need to be reconfigured, especially if the new BIOS was physically installed or if either a chip-based or flash-based BIOS is a different brand of BIOS than the original.

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