[SOLVED] Alienware Area 51 R2 BIOS Corrupted?

Jhorg4

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Hi,

Specs:
  • BIOS A14
  • Alienware Area 51 R2 i7 6800K
  • Intel X99 Motherboard
  • Windows 10
My Story:

I have a software called Driver Booster 9 by IObit and I have been using it for about a year now with no issues. However, yesterday I saw there was an update for system firmware that was very out of date. Unfortunately, I installed it and cleaned up my PC afterward with Dell Support Assist.

After the cleaning was finished, I restarted my computer. As it was rebooting my PC gave about 10 weird beeps and then restarted, then shut down, and it continued this in an endless loop. Every time I attempt to turn on my PC, it does that endless on and off loop. I cannot even get into the BIOS nor do I see any video feedback and my keyboard doesn't light up.

I did some research and found out that I may have bricked my motherboard. I don't want to post links here because I don't want to be spammy but the one tutorial on my same PC has the Dell-Area-51-R2-Stock.bin BIOS image. I have no idea how he got that file nor do I know how to create it myself, which I would feel much more comfortable about doing.

So I have done the following:
  • Bought the KeeYees SOP8 SOIC8 Test Clip and CH341A USB Programmer Flash (currently on its way from Amazon).
  • Downloaded AsProgrammer.
  • Downloaded CH341SER.EXE – USB to serial driver and CH341PAR.EXE – Multiprotocol interface driver.
  • And downloaded the Dell-Area-51-R2-Stock.bin BIOS image (16MB). My BIOS is A14.
All I need now is the motherboard chip name, which I am going to have to use a magnifying glass app to see it. I just need to do some research on that chip. I assume it holds 16MB, which is the file size of the BIN file.

I am just trying to make sure that I am on the right track to flashing my BIOS and getting my PC back. I want to be as thorough as possible because this is a scary process as I am completely new to this side of technology. Also, the Intel X99 motherboard is not a cheap motherboard so I would prefer to avoid having to purchase it.

My questions:
  1. Did I really brick my motherboard?
  2. If I follow through with those steps above, would I be on the right track to recovering my PC?
  3. How would I get a BIOS image for A14? Or is the Dell-Area-51-R2-Stock.bin BIOS image solid?
  4. Are there any pointers or other information I am missing to start the process tomorrow?
Thank you for any help I receive or for just taking the time to read it. I appreciate having this opportunity to get help! I hope I didn't leave anything out.
 
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My questions:
  1. Did I really brick my motherboard? (possibly never let a 3rd party program update your bios)
  2. If I follow through with those steps above, would I be on the right track to recovering my PC? (Yes)
  3. How would I get a BIOS image for A14? Or is the Dell-Area-51-R2-Stock.bin BIOS image solid? (Solid)
  4. Are there any pointers or other information I am missing to start the process tomorrow? (worst case you may be able to find a replacement bios chip that isn't messed up on ali-express or other sites.)
I have ran into this type of issue a few times over my years in my shop, But every time that I did I just replaced the bios chip off donor boards.
 
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My questions:
  1. Did I really brick my motherboard? (possibly never let a 3rd party program update your bios)
  2. If I follow through with those steps above, would I be on the right track to recovering my PC? (Yes)
  3. How would I get a BIOS image for A14? Or is the Dell-Area-51-R2-Stock.bin BIOS image solid? (Solid)
  4. Are there any pointers or other information I am missing to start the process tomorrow? (worst case you may be able to find a replacement bios chip that isn't messed up on ali-express or other sites.)
I have ran into this type of issue a few times over my years in my shop, But every time that I did I just replaced the bios chip off donor boards.
 
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Jhorg4

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Thank you! I feel a lot more confident. Still a bit nervous, hopefully, it works.

I had no idea that I could replace my chip, I am going to make a note of that.

I reset my CMOS and it no longer turns off then turns on in an endless loop. It just turns on and does nothing.

Thanks again for your insight and help. I appreciate it.
 

Jhorg4

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Dec 9, 2020
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Hi,

I recently opened a thread and it helped me with starting the process of flashing my BIOS. So I followed the steps in an article that has helped out so many others and it fixed my bricked BIOS issue...well, temporarily.

I bought the KeeYees SOP8 SOIC8 Test Clip and CH341A USB Programmer and connected it then erased, programmed, and verified my stock BIOS. It worked! I could finally get into my BIOS.

However, it would not boot from my SSD. Since my motherboard does not have an M.2 slot I had to purchase an adapter a while back and change some BIOS settings to get it to work as my boot drive.

So, after I was finished flashing my BIOS, I started up my PC and I could get into my BIOS. I remembered I had to change it from Legacy to UEFI if I am not mistaken, so I did that in the Boot settings. I saved then restarted it.

It was starting up and saying it was getting things ready then, all of a sudden, I heard 10 beeps again and now it just turns on then off in an endless loop just as it did before. I read up on what 10 beeps mean and I am a little confused on what exactly it is (CMOS Shutdown Register Failure).

As explained in my previous post:

[...]I saw there was an update [via Driver Booster 9 Pro] for system firmware that was very out of date. Unfortunately, I installed it and cleaned up my PC afterward with Dell Support Assist.

After the cleaning was finished, I restarted my computer. As it was rebooting my PC gave about 10 weird beeps and then restarted, then shut down, and it continued this in an endless loop. Every time I attempt to turn on my PC, it does that endless on and off loop. I cannot even get into the BIOS nor do I see any video feedback and my keyboard doesn't light up.
Now that I finally got to count the beeps, does anyone know what in the world could be causing this failure and what is the best way to fix it? I read that I would completely need to replace the motherboard. It just confuses me if it works but caused a fit in UEFI mode.

Thanks in advance!
 

Jhorg4

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Dec 9, 2020
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Hi,

My Alienware Area-51 R2 Specs:
  • Intel Core i7-6800K CPU @ 3.40GHz 3.40 GHz.
  • 64-bit operating system, x64-based processor.
  • Windows 10 Home.
  • Intel c610 series/X99 chipset (stock).
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (stock).
  • Samsung 970 Evo Plus (boot SSD drive w/M.2 to PCIe adapter).
  • 16GB RAM (stock).
  • BIOS A14.
So I installed a Samsung 970 Evo Plus on my Alienware Area 51 R2 with an M.2 to PCIe adapter as my boot drive a long while ago. My BIOS Boot setting is set to UEFI.

My question is, should I disable Legacy OPROM? Touching the BIOS settings scares me and I just want to ask someone who has the knowledge on whether it would mess anything up with booting, my SSD boot drive, etc. Would it be safe?

I recently had a software update brick my motherboard and I had to recover it but the software driver that caused the issue is still in the Device Manager but it is showing as a Code 10. I am just being extra cautious.

Ever since I had to flash my BIOS with a programmer to recover it, my PC has been running insanely smooth but it boots up slower. I now see the alien along with my BIOS version just as I did when I had my HDD as my boot drive. I am thinking the Legacy OPROM has something to do with that?
 
Hi,

My Alienware Area-51 R2 Specs:
  • Intel Core i7-6800K CPU @ 3.40GHz 3.40 GHz.
  • 64-bit operating system, x64-based processor.
  • Windows 10 Home.
  • Intel c610 series/X99 chipset (stock).
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (stock).
  • Samsung 970 Evo Plus (boot SSD drive w/M.2 to PCIe adapter).
  • 16GB RAM (stock).
  • BIOS A14.
So I installed a Samsung 970 Evo Plus on my Alienware Area 51 R2 with an M.2 to PCIe adapter as my boot drive a long while ago. My BIOS Boot setting is set to UEFI.

My question is, should I disable Legacy OPROM? Touching the BIOS settings scares me and I just want to ask someone who has the knowledge on whether it would mess anything up with booting, my SSD boot drive, etc. Would it be safe?

I recently had a software update brick my motherboard and I had to recover it but the software driver that caused the issue is still in the Device Manager but it is showing as a Code 10. I am just being extra cautious.

Ever since I had to flash my BIOS with a programmer to recover it, my PC has been running insanely smooth but it boots up slower. I now see the alien along with my BIOS version just as I did when I had my HDD as my boot drive. I am thinking the Legacy OPROM has something to do with that?
yes, you could turn legacy oprom off, also dont forget to install samsung 970 pro driver. Also do you mind to share the A14.bin files or just zip the whole package?
 

Jhorg4

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Hey Koekieez,

Thanks for getting back to me! I will disable it then unless there is some kind of benefit from keeping it on. I also have that driver installed and Samsung Magician. Everything seems to be up to date.

I am not sure how to get a hold of the A14.bin file? I know it's an executable file from Dell - https://dl.dell.com/FOLDER05163565M/1/Alienware_Area_51_R2_A14.exe

The POST takes about 45 seconds. Then Windows 10 and all applications loads pretty much instantly.
 

Jhorg4

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I also want to give a little background to it since no other forum (including the Dell community) really knows how to fix it.

I had Driver Booster 9 Pro and they said there was an update for system firmware, so I updated it, unfortunately.

I then restarted my computer and my BIOS beeped at me 10 times then turned off and on in an endless loop. I had to disconnect it from power. Every time I attempted to turn on my PC, it did that endless loop. I couldn't get into the BIOS nor did I see any video feedback. My keyboard or mouse never lit up, but my tower did for a brief second each loop.

That software update bricked my motherboard. I took out the CMOS battery and reset my CMOS with the jumper plug. After doing so, the endless loop was gone and my PC turned on and the tower and keyboard lit up, but the mouse did not. I still did not get any video feedback.

So, I had to buy a programmer and test clip to flash my BIOS directly on the BIOS chip. After I did this, I got video feedback and was able to enter the BIOS, but it could not read a boot drive. So, I changed it from Legacy to UEFI (what it was before the hiccup), saved, then restarted. My BIOS beeped at me 10 times again and went on the endless on and off loop again.

I then changed out my CMOS battery and it booted right up and found my boot drive automatically.

However, I saw that system firmware update that caused the issue in the first place in Device Manager. It has an exclamation mark next to it giving a Code 10.

I then went to the Dell Support site and downloaded the updated BIOS version for my PC. The installation wizard said my current BIOS and the new BIOS are the same version. I installed it anyway. The system firmware that caused the issue was still there in the same state as before.

Here are some screenshots of my Device Manager:
The Hardware IDs of the system firmware:
  • UEFI\RES_{7039436b-6acf-433b-86a1-368ec2ef7e1f}&REV_C
  • UEFI\RES_{7039436b-6acf-433b-86a1-368ec2ef7e1f}
I, unfortunately, have not ran into someone who knows how to fix it.

I was thinking about downgrading my BIOS to the previous version (A13) then get back on the A14 gravy train.

I believe that system firmware—or lack thereof—is causing a slow POST. I see the alien for about 6 seconds then see an underscore blink for like 800ms in the top left then I see the loading insignia. This whole process takes about 45 seconds until I see the Windows login screen.

This POST was very similar to when I had my HDD as my boot drive. When I made the switch to the SSD, I never saw the alien. The POST was much quicker.

I am really curious to what I can do to fix it and get the correct system firmware on my PC. There is nothing on the Dell site. I was also told that a complete fresh Windows install may do the trick.

Any pointers or other ideas?

Thanks for the help by the way. I appreciate any help or just taking the time to read it.
 
I had Driver Booster 9 Pro and they said there was an update for system firmware, so I updated it, unfortunately.
it is better to update drivers if it's needed, manually. because those app sometimes messes up with our system, the reason i personally distrust on that kind of "driver booster" app.


I am not sure how to get a hold of the A14.bin file? I know it's an executable file from Dell -
Okay nevermind, i managed to extract it myself ^^, here's the .bin file (along with other component) if you want (with the latest 2021 microcode).

also if you were about to clean install windows, make sure you updated the bios again (using the .bin file), restore everything to default/load optimized, then find Legacy option, disable it, and disable CSM support and bios is on UEFI only, no legacy, then save and exit, and proceed installing windows, choose custom install, delete di SSD drive partition that contains windows, and install windows in it. (installing windows full uefi only, on gpt partition, so better to backup your important files on C: drive, and the other if there is another partition on the ssd).

after the installation is finished, dont connect to internet yet, install chipset driver first and samsung 970 driver first, reboot, and the rest is up to you. just dont use that driver booster app again..

but if you were lazy to do that, try this (read till end first):
  • Disconnect from internet
  • Uninstall gpu driver DDU (clean and do not restart).
  • Uninstall all the processors and the chipset in system device (if available) on device manager (should be 12 on yours, also when it asks for restart, click on no) like this:

    Chipset (usually labelled as LPC something~):


    and uninstall the "system firmware".

  • Restart the pc to bios, and update to the latest bios. Then go to bios again after update, and load default or optimized settings, find HPET or High Precision Event Timer and disable that, disable any legacy option and csm support (but enable legacy usb support, but if it wont boot just enable the legacy option and csm support) , then save and exit.

  • boot up to windows and install the latest Chipset driver (do not restart yet), then Samsung 970 Evo Plus driver, reboot, and connect to internet.

  • Install the latest nvidia driver

    *do this all offline until reboot after installing chipset driver, also you may reboot to bios after all of this to set the XMP (and previous settings you did). Download needed files (highlighted word) before doing step 1, do the step by orders.

  • Then run cmd as admin, then do chkdsk /x /f /r, after that do sfc /scannow

  • And check windows update if there is any and install them (except chipset in optional update). Enable hardware accelerated graphics scheduling (available in the latest windows update) in graphics settings and reboot, it should be like this:


  • Make sure the psu connected to the gpu is 1 pcie cable per 1 slot (use main cable, not the branches/split) like this:
 
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Jhorg4

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Wow, thank you for this! I really appreciate the time you took to write this up for me. I will attempt this tomorrow or sometime soon when I get the time and I will report back to you. Thanks again, that is awesome of you.
 
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Wow, thank you for this! I really appreciate the time you took to write this up for me. I will attempt this tomorrow or sometime soon when I get the time and I will report back to you. Thanks again, that is awesome of you.
personally at this point i just clean install windows with the step i gave above, so making sure the partition for windows is gone (and it's other partition that's not in letter, like reserved ones, MSR partition, etc), and installing the windows on full UEFI after updating the bios that i gave (no legacy option left except for usb only), and install windows on full uefi. Just remember, after windows install, disconnect from internet and install chipset then the ssd driver, reboot, then all is set.

But I Hope you all the best sir :D
 
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Jhorg4

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Dec 9, 2020
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Hi,

My Alienware Area-51 R2 Specs:
  • Intel Core i7-6800K CPU @ 3.40GHz 3.40 GHz.
  • 64-bit operating system, x64-based processor.
  • Windows 10 Home.
  • Intel c610 series/X99 chipset (stock).
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (stock).
  • Samsung 970 Evo Plus (boot SSD drive w/M.2 to PCIe adapter).
  • 16GB RAM (stock).
  • BIOS A14.
  • BIOS Chip: Macronix MX25L12873F
A Background of What I Have Done:

I, unfortunately, installed the wrong system firmware. I did not know at the time.

I then restarted my computer and my BIOS beeped at me 10 times then turned off and on in an endless loop. I had to disconnect it from power. Every time I attempted to turn on my PC, it did that endless loop. I couldn't get into the BIOS nor did I see any video feedback. My keyboard or mouse never lit up, but my tower did for a brief second each loop.

That software update bricked my motherboard. I took out the CMOS battery and reset my CMOS with the jumper plug. After doing so, the endless loop was gone and my PC turned on and the tower and keyboard lit up, but the mouse did not; I still did not get any video feedback.

So, I had to buy a programmer and test clip to flash my BIOS directly on the BIOS chip. After I did this, I got video feedback and was able to enter the BIOS, but it could not read a boot drive. So, I changed it from Legacy to UEFI (what it was before the hiccup [GPT partitioned SSD]), saved it, then restarted. My BIOS beeped at me 10 times again and went on the endless on and off loop again.

I then replaced my CMOS battery with a new one and it booted right up and found my boot drive automatically.

However, I saw the system firmware update that caused the issue still in Device Manager. It is giving a Code 10.

I then went to the Dell Support site and downloaded the updated BIOS version for my PC. The installation wizard said my current BIOS and the new BIOS are the same versions. I installed it anyway. The system firmware that caused the issue was still there and in the same state as before.

What I am going to do to fix it:

I am going to flash my BIOS again to A14, but, this time, I am going to do it via the one-time boot menu (F12) and with the BIOS A14 BIN file extracted from the Dell Alienware BIOS exe file.

I am doing this because I am having a longer POST and Windows startup than before, and Windows updates along with an incorrect system firmware that a normal BIOS update will not fix. I am then going to do a clean Windows installation right after I update my BIOS.

I have been doing a bunch of research on how to use the A14 BIOS BIN file extracted from the Alienware BIOS exe file from the Dell Support site as the file I can update my BIOS with. I am not very confident so I would love to hear someone who has more knowledge on this.

I have found that I could use Awdflash on the boot USB and it will update my BIOS to A14 using the BIN file. However, I have found many articles stating I just need the BIN file along with Awdflash 8.99. I have also found that I would need a bat file but I do not have one.

Here are the contents of the exe file someone kindly extracted for me (exe content photo):
  • a14.bin
  • AFUWIN64.exe
  • amifldrv64.sys
  • FWUpdLcl_w64.exe
  • gzip.exe
  • me.rom
  • NTIOLib.sys
  • NTIOLib_X64.sys
  • Wipeall.exe
My Questions:

  1. Will I need any of the files above along with the BIN and Awdflash or just the BIN file and Awdflash on a USB boot drive?
  2. Will I need any other file other than the BIN and Awdflash? I have read that Awdflash would bid farewell to CONFIG.sys and AUTOEXEC.bat
Thank you in advance for the help or for just taking the time to read this!
 
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Jhorg4

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personally at this point i just clean install windows with the step i gave above, so making sure the partition for windows is gone (and it's other partition that's not in letter, like reserved ones, MSR partition, etc), and installing the windows on full UEFI after updating the bios that i gave (no legacy option left except for usb only), and install windows on full uefi. Just remember, after windows install, disconnect from internet and install chipset then the ssd driver, reboot, then all is set.

But I Hope you all the best sir :D
Okay, so I have not got around to doing it yet, I have been a bit busy especially with Christmas coming up. I am going to do it either Friday or Sunday. I expect it to take a couple of hours to completely finish, including reinstalling my applications.

I found out I have an AMI BIOS and that the AFUWIN64.exe you gave me is the AMI software that I will use to flash my BIOS (what you already knew).

I just want to confirm that after I format my USB as a boot USB, I place every file in what you extracted into the USB, then boot from it and the AFUWINx64 program then takes over?

I am going to look at tutorials on how someone else has done it so I know what it looks like and I get the feel of it.
 
I just want to confirm that after I format my USB as a boot USB, I place every file in what you extracted into the USB, then boot from it and the AFUWINx64 program then takes over?
afuwinx64 means that you could flash it through windows, if you want it using afudos, then make a bootable freedos using rufus, place all the bios file there, and flash it. there is plenty of tutorial on youtube on how to flash using afuwin or afudos.
 

Jhorg4

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Thank you for this! I ended up not using it, but it would definitely fix the issues I had no doubt, so I marked it as the solution to help anyone else. However, I found out that the BIOS I had flashed was missing the machine specifics in NVRAM.

I ended up going to the Win-Raid forum and the person who helped me actually wrote up a BIOS region for me to flash to my chip using DOS and restored most of my NVRAM stores that cannot repopulate automatically. He compared my "bricked" backup BIOS image with the BIOS I had flashed, and they were identical but had stock NVRAM so my service tag, etc. were gone. That is now restored, and I now have the correct firmware. I did not need to do a clean Windows installation, which is a plus and my PC is doing great.

I could have flashed my "bricked" BIOS back to my chip since the firmware update was believed not to write to my BIOS but not all of the binary code could be examined and there could have been corrupted NVRAM stores.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas!
 
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