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Beginners Guide: Flashing a Video Card BIOS

Beginners Guide: Flashing a Video Card BIOS - PCSTATS
Abstract: While not something for the novice to undertake, flashing your video card BIOS may lead to performance and feature enhancements.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Aug 24 2004   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

The procedures for Flashing an ATI BIOS

Now let's look at the actual procedure of flashing your video card's BIOS. Please keep in mind that this procedure can render your card useless if something goes badly wrong. Proceed at your own risk, and make a BIOS backup as detailed below.

! Warranty And Safety Issues !
Be aware that flashing your video card BIOS in an attempt to change or upgrade the card will certainly void any warranty you may have with the manufacturer, so perform this procedure at your own risk. Certain manufacturers, most notably ATI, consider any attempt to flash the BIOS as a violation of warranty terms and will withdraw support even if you were not attempting to change the card's capabilities. Also note that if you attempt to considerably increase the performance of your video card by this method, as in overclocking, you are increasing the stress on the hardware, which may cause it to fail.

BIOS Flash for ATI video cards

What you will need:

  1. At least one blank 1.44 HD floppy disk
  2. A copy of the FLASHROM utility
  3. A compatible BIOS file for your video card. Try here or search the web for other compatible BIOS files and information.
  4. Any drivers that may be required. If you are attempting to change your BIOS to that of a different video card, you should check to see if it requires different drivers.

1. Making an ATI BIOS flash boot disk

All video BIOS flash operations need to be performed in DOS, so we will need to make a DOS boot disk first. There are two easy ways to do this; the first is to go to bootdisk.com and download one of the DR DOS disk image files they link to on the website. Run the .exe file to create a clean DOS boot disk in your A:\ drive.

Otherwise, you can create a boot disk from within Windows XP by inserting a floppy and opening 'my computer' then right clicking on the 'A:\' drive and choosing 'format.' From the format window, check the 'create an MS-DOS startup disk' option and click 'ok.' Now that you have a DOS boot disk, copy the BIOS file you downloaded and the FLASHROM.exe file onto the disk.

2. Making a backup of your ATI video card BIOS

Before we flash the card with the new BIOS version or type, you should always make a backup of the current BIOS, in case of disaster.

To do this boot your computer with the BIOS flash disk we just created. At the 'A:\' prompt, type 'flashrom.exe -s 0 backup.rom' and press ENTER. The FLASHROM utility will create a backup of your video card's BIOS (backup.rom) on the BIOS flash disk. We can use this to restore your card's original BIOS if necessary.

3. Flashing your ATI video card's BIOS

To flash the BIOS of your ATI card, type the following from the 'A:\' prompt:

'flashbios -p 0 (the name of the new BIOS file you downloaded including the file extension)' then press enter.

FLASHROM will proceed to overwrite your old BIOS with the contents of the new file. If you see any error messages, make sure not to restart the system. Instead, consult the troubleshooting section at the end of this article.

Note that in certain cases (such as if you are trying to replace your video card's BIOS with that of another card) the procedure may halt if the BIOS types do not match. In this case, you can use a separate switch (-f) to force FLASHROM to do the operation despite the potential problem. You should only do this if you are absolutely sure that the new BIOS file will work with your card.

To force the BIOS flash type:

'FLASHROM -f -p 0 (the name of the BIOS file you downloaded including the file extension)'

If everything seems to have gone correctly, restart your system. Watch the post screen for the video card information (it will be the first item displayed on the screen after you boot). Make sure the new BIOS has taken hold and that your operating system boots correctly. Depending on the BIOS version you used and the video card, you may need to install new drivers too.

Congratulations! You have successfully changed your video card's BIOS. Next, PCstats.com looks at the procedure for flashing the BIOS of an nVidia based videocard.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guide: Flashing a Video Card BIOS
 Pg 2.  — The procedures for Flashing an ATI BIOS
 Pg 3.  The procedures for Flashing an nVidia BIOS
 Pg 4.  Troubleshooting Section - What If Something Went Wrong?

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