BIOS Hotswap with LT Hartly

Welcome back to the site. Today we’ve got an excellent little fix for you… a BIOS hotswap! A friend of mine, LT namely, had a BIOS flash go awry and we decided it would be a fun project for the site. Now, we found out later that a new BIOS chip cost us less than the tool we bought, but that’s beside the point. We did this for the fact that we could!

Now, be warned that putting metal objects into a computer that is currently running is extremely dangerous, and YOU SHOULD NOT ATTEMPT THIS. You have been warned. Aside from tempting death, the process itself is pretty simple.

It's LT!
It's LT!

The culprit BIOS.
The culprit BIOS.

The brokeded mobo!
The brokeded mobo!

The messed up board is an nForce 5 chipset. The board we used to re-flash the BIOS is an nForce 2. They have the same socket, so they work great. Make sure you get the right flashing program and firmwares or you’ll get in pretty deep before you have to start all over again.

Copy over all the necessary files to a *bootable* floppy (we will be using DOS after all) and start the nForce 2 board up with it’s stock BIOS. If you don’t know how to create a bootable floppy you can click here for a rather useful tutorial. After the computer has booted from the floppy (this *may* take BIOS settings on some computers, but if your doing this you know how to change settings in a BIOS) run whatever program it is that you’ve downloaded. Most will be distributed WITH instructions; run the help flag with your program to find it’s manual.

Both BIOS chips.
Both BIOS chips.

Get them chips out!
Get them chips out!

Begin Ze Transfer!
Begin Ze Transfer!

Once the system has booted from your floppy and you know what commands to run for your system, it’s time to physically swap the chips. We attempted this at first with a multi-tool, and pulled out about an inch from the board. Something didn’t smell right… figuratively speaking, of course. We looked around the room for something non-conductive and stumbled across some sewing thread. We tried tying it around the stock chip before we put it in initially, but the thread easily broke. These chips are not as easy to get out of their sockets as one might think.

Ze cheeps! Ze ar tiny!
Ze cheeps! Ze ar tiny!

Yeah, we tried string.
Yeah, we tried string.

The new tool!
The new tool!

So… long story short, we ordered a tool from eBay (around $7 i think) and had to wait a week. Once the new BIOS is in, run the software and flash the broken junk back to life. After this, the process is complete and you can shut down the computer. Simply take the fixed BIOS and pop it back into it’s original board. There are no worries here as the boards should be off. Your new/old board should be ready to go!

Of course, we could have easily just ordered a new BIOS chip for only $5 and not had to do this whole process, but why not? We’re nerds, man!

Happy Hacking.
Mic-B

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