A couple of weeks ago I found a really good deal on a Socket AM4 motherboard that supports the newest AMD Ryzen CPUs. The motherboard is an ASRock A520M/ac. It’s a very basic motherboard which doesn’t appear to be sold by any of the usual retailers anymore, but I couldn’t pass up on the deal, especially with the potential it had for being a fun learning project.

The reason I got such a good deal on it was because it was sold in non-working condition, but the seller and I both had a pretty good hunch about what was wrong. The seller said that they had bought it as an open box unit, but couldn’t get it to POST. However, they had only tried CPUs in it that were not compatible with the original BIOS version. I decided to have some fun and see if that was indeed the only problem. I didn’t have an older CPU available to easily test that theory. I did have a new Ryzen 7 5700G, which is only supported by BIOS revision P1.60 or newer.

Typically, there are several simple options for using a newer CPU with a motherboard that needs a BIOS update in order to support it:

  1. Borrow an older CPU just long enough to install an updated BIOS. AMD has a program for handling this if you don’t have an easier way to borrow one. I don’t know if this is a valid option if I’m not the original buyer of the motherboard. AMD’s documentation requirements in order to participate seem pretty stringent based on the linked instructions.
  2. Use the “USB BIOS Flashback” feature to update the motherboard’s BIOS even without a CPU installed. This particular motherboard doesn’t support that option.
  3. Send it back to the retailer or manufacturer to update it for you. I have no idea which retailers/manufacturers might do this. There’s no way that Amazon, for example, would provide this service.

It’s possible that ASRock would have tried to help me out if I had asked, but I decided to turn this into a fun personal challenge instead: upgrade the BIOS on my own without using an older CPU.

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