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Should I update my BIOS?

Last response: in Motherboards
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January 2, 2010 2:59:08 AM

Hello. I hope this is the right place to post this. I'm somewhat new to building computers, so please take that into consideration while reading. I have built a PC with the following components:

Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H Motherboard
2-2gb Crucial RAM
Seagate Barracuda 500gb Sata hard drive
Phillips sata Dvd-r drive
AMD phenom II X4 810 processor

Initially I had windows xp installed onto an IDE hard drive, and have recently upgraded to Windows 7 32bit which I put on a brand new sata HD. The computer has some issues. #1 is that at idle, with no programs running cpu usage fluctuates between 9 and 18%. While watching one youtube video in Firefox, that percentage jumps to about 60%. As I stated earlier, I'm a novice pc builder, but that strikes me as odd. In the task manager, it's recognizing the 4 cores.

I'm thinking that I have either a driver issue, or a motherboard BIOS issue. Is it common to get BIOS updates when upgrading operating systems? Or are the problems I listed 'normal' for the equipment I have?

More about : update bios

a b V Motherboard
January 2, 2010 4:42:30 AM

While it should never be painfull to add the most current bios I doubt thats responsible for what your seeing. At 9-18% the cpu/system is not idle in this opinion. You have multiple settings in bios for power control and these will vary by the version of bios and or the update.
Suggestion is to set windows 7 power scheme to balanced initially. Enable all power settings in bios, C1E, awaymode, coolnquiet,etc... as mentioned these will change with bios version. Make sure drivers load for all such features then use taskmgr to see if useage drops to 0-2%. If not look at what is running to see if you can recognize any of it.
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a b V Motherboard
January 2, 2010 1:15:16 PM

A BIOS update you do not need, unless you are having a hardware compatibility issue somewhere, and the update was specifically written to address the exact issue you are having. Other than that, leave your BIOS alone.

Click and type msconfig to the search field, then press enter.
Choose Services tab to see what services are running, Startup tab shows you which programs are started when you boot.
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a c 177 V Motherboard
January 2, 2010 10:19:42 PM

There are a couple ways to look at the issue of BIOS upgrades (and peripheral firmware upgrades, and, for that matter, driver updates); there is the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it view', and there is the 'upgrade as a simple matter of maintenance'... It is always possible to get something bolixed up as a result of the 'latest and greatest' code, but, often, if you don't do the upgrades, you don't know what you're missing (and, a lot of times, after the upgrade, you still don't know what it was about...)! A good example of the possibilty of improvement versus screwing something new up is the recent (like about six months back) series of GB BIOS releases to accomodate the new Intel RAID BIOS code released for the ICH's, from which I found about a 4-6% throughput speedup; followed by the botched 8.9.1023 Intel driver/manager package, which randomly trashed RAIDs - ya' win some, ya' lose some!

One of the contributing problems is that GB, like nearly everyone in the entire hardware channel, does a piss poor job of documenting changelogs; if you get a three word description, consider yourself lucky!

You can usually figure out microcode upgrades, by the BIOS revs versus CPU support list on their website; other issues - you're on your own! There is one current situation for which I recommend everyone 'hang on' each GB release, even if the documentation is inscrutable - the 1156/1366 platforms are really 'beta', and 'works in progress' - every BIOS rev is probably worth glomming onto, as they're conducting a 'fix of the week' program (kinda like RealTek's 'driver of the week club'...)

My advice to most is to consider your experience level - if the idea of flashing firmware gives you cold sweats, and the heebie-jeebies - don't do it, unless, as jit said, you know you have a problem that you know is addressed in a later GB release - and, for god's sake, DON'T use @BIOS! Also, never erase a BIOS file itself - you never know if it'll be around to be found later, should you discover the flash wasn't all that great... If flashing is no big deal to you, and you're confident in your procedure, go ahead - if it's a 'crapper', you can always flash back to the last thing that worked well for you. Do get in the habit of backing up your CMOS parameters to removable media - it makes the whole flash & set-up process so much easier, and GB/Award hardly ever (I won't say 'never', but it's very rarely a problem) 'break' a BIOS so that CMOS tables saved in the last release won't load into the latest release...
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January 2, 2010 10:42:23 PM

Great post bilbat, very well put. :) 
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a b V Motherboard
January 7, 2010 4:23:07 AM

Great Post bilbat - though I'd also add that most newer GB MOBO's have the Dual Bios so even if something does happen in the process of flashing - the MOBO will usually recover itself by using the secondary Bios so Updating the BIOS is not as risky as in years past where a power fluctuation during the process could easily leave you with a dead MOBO
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a b V Motherboard
January 7, 2010 10:40:38 AM

It's not so much a power fluctuation as it is usually a user fluckuation.
The new Dual BIOS's are a life saver though.
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a c 177 V Motherboard
January 7, 2010 2:54:24 PM

Yeah jit - god knows, we've got our share of LNBK problems (loose nut behind keyboard...) here!
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