Refer to my new guide: Unified Extensive Firmware Interface (UEFI)
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- Determine your BIOS Revision using System Information
- Downloading the Latest BIOS Update
- Installing the Latest BIOS Update
- Determining if your system has a UEFI BIOS and SecureBoot and Notes Regarding the Windows 10 Upgrade
- Upgrading to a Solid State Drive and Altering the SATA Operation in the (UEFI) BIOS Setup
This guide has a complementary tutorial video.
1. Determine your BIOS Revision
Press [Windows] and [ r ] to bring up the run command:
In the run box type in
Then press ok.
Take a note of the:
- System Manufacturer
- System Model
- BIOS version and date
If its available (Windows 8 and later) also take a note of the:
- OS Name
- OS Version
- BIOS Mode
- SecureBoot State
Take a note of the:
- System Manufacturer – Dell Inc.
- System Model – XPS 8300
- BIOS version and date – A06
Also take a note of the:
- OS Name Windows 10 Pro
- OS Version 10240
- BIOS Mode Legacy
- SecureBoot State Unsupported
2. Downloading the BIOS update:
I do not recommend downloading the BIOS update from Dell Drivers and Downloads because sometimes BIOS updates require older BIOS as a prerequisite. e.g. the attempted update from A03 to A12 may state that A06 should be installed before A12. Dell Drivers and Downloads only lists the latest revision whereas the Dell FTP website lists all the revisions for the model.
Example 1: XPS 8300
Press [Ctrl] and [ f ] on your browser this will open up the search on the page.
Type in the digits of your model number in the search box and press the right arrow until you find your model:
Left click your model number:
Scroll down to BIOS
You will see the latest revision at the top and all subsequent versions Dell released.
In the case of my XPS 8300 it already has version A06 and hence is up to date. So theres no need to attempt update.
Note the release date on this page may be slightly different to the date of the BIOS revision on system information because it takes Dell some time to test the update before they make it public.
If you have a BIOS revision lower than the latest version. For example on an Optiplex 760 which had BIOS revision A03 significantly out of date compared to the latest A16 release.
Select the download button and then select Save. Do not select run as you shouldn’t have background programs when running the BIOS update. In most cases it will not work anyway as the BIOS update needs elevated permissions. I advise moving the downloaded update from Downloads to the Desktop.
3. Installing the Latest BIOS Update
The BIOS update is a firmware update. This type of update updates the firmware for your system BIOS. You launch the BIOS update within Windows but the computer restarts and updates the BIOS within BIOS. Therefore once a BIOS update is applied it remains applied even if Windows is reinstalled.
As the BIOS update has the potential to change the functionality of your hardware, additional security measures are put into place to make sure that you actually want to run the BIOS update. Note An incorrect BIOS update has the potential to kill your computer entirely.
Before updating the BIOS its advisable to make sure all programs are closed.
Right click the BIOS update and select run as an administrator.
The BIOS update will then launch and tell you what revision you have and what revision the BIOS flash is.
If you are up to date or equal to the BIOS revision or its unsupported as in the case of my XPS 8300 it will tell you and will not allow you to flash only giving you the option to quit:
If its supported it will allow you to select continue:
The computer will then restart and restart the BIOS update.
DO NOT DISTURB THE COMPUTER DURING THIS TIME and certainly do not cut power. If you do then likely you will kill the computer entirely.
Once the computer loads into Windows some of the BIOS updates will re-launch automatically but then will tell youthat you have the latest version already so just click cancel. You may then delete the BIOS update from the Desktop.
Some BIOS updates may require perquisite BIOS updates as mentioned. Try to update the BIOS in the least number of steps.
4. Determining if your system has a UEFI BIOS and SecureBoot and Notes Regarding the Windows 10 Upgrade
For optimal performance Windows 10 TH2 should be clean installed using a UEFI BIOS with SecureBoot enabled if your computer has these technologies. The Bootable USB should be formatted as GPT partition scheme for the UEFI BIOS using Rufus.
So lets give a basic explanation of all these acronyms…
What is Basic Input Output System (BIOS)?
Basic Input Output System (BIOS) as the name suggests is the very basic Operating System embedded into your systems i.e. firmware. The BIOS setup allows you to change some of your hardware settings and to boot from installation media with a proper Operating System e.g. Windows 10.
What is Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI)?
Associated with BIOS is the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) which is essentially a modern more advanced version of BIOS that has increased functionality and additional security. Because of the strong connection and familiarity of end users to BIOS this is usually denoted UEFI BIOS and not just UEFI.
What is Master Boot Record (MBR)?
This is the legacy partition table associated with BIOS. It has the limitation of a maximum of 4 partitions and also a maximum drive capacity of 2 TB. Moreover because there is a single Boot Record if this becomes corrupt the Windows OS will be corrupt and need to be repaired from installation media (possibily resulting in data loss).
What is GUID Partition Table (GUID)?
This is the revised partition table and requires a UEFI BIOS. It allows up to 128 partitions and supports drives larger than 2 TB. Because this partition table can create a large number of partitions it does not restrict users like MBR and allows the Windows 10 OS to make both a primary and secondary Boot Record. If the primary Boot Record becomes corrupt it can easily automatically be fixed using the secondary boot record making it more robust.
What is SecureBoot and why Should I use it?
This is a firmware security technology and requires a UEFI BIOS. The advantages of SecureBoot are covered in this schematic. Essentially its a firmware protection feature when SecureBoot only Microsoft verified code is allowed to boot which means Windows 10 loads alongside its inbuilt security processes before any nasties get a chance to load. Conversely when SecureBoot is disabled the nasties may load before Windows disabling any inbuilt Windows 10 Security features from loading leaving your computer computer vulnerable to attack.
Note although this guide is focusing on Windows 10, Linux Ubuntu, Linux Mint and Linux Fedora instalaltion media have all been updated to pass SecureBoot. Likewise utilities such as Acronis.
If your Computer came with Windows 8, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 Preinstalled
All Windows 8 and later computers have a UEFI BIOS and both UEFI and SecureBoot should be enabled from the factory. You can confirm this by looking at your system information if your BIOS Mode is UEFI and your SecureBoot State is On you likely have Windows 8 64 Bit or later preinstalled and hence already have the optimal settings for proceeding with a Clean Install of Windows 10 64 Bit TH2. For such configurations you do not need to check your UEFI BIOS setup.
If your Computer was Downgraded to Windows 7 or is a Late Windows 7 System
If you had Windows 7 preinstalled instead of Windows 8 or later or manually Downgraded to Windows 7 yourself SecureBoot will have been Disabled as Windows 7 installation media was never updated past 2011 and hence not verified by Microsoft to pass SecureBoot. Moreover Windows 7 may be installed using the MBR partition scheme with the legacy BIOS setting applied.
If you have UEFI and SecureBoot enable both and install Windows 10 using the GPT partitions scheme.
Note there are a handful of early UEFI systems that have a UEFI BIOS without SecureBoot.
If your Computer is an Early Windows 7 System
It should be noted that systems have came preinstalled with Windows 7 as early as 2009. As a rule of thumb systems with a BIOS revision <2011 won’t have a UEFI BIOS and Windows 10 will have to be installed in MBR. There is a grey area for 2011 systems. If your system BIOS revision is >2011 and you don’t have these settings enabled you should check the BIOS setup to see if they are supported. SecureBoot will be disabled in systems that have Windows 7 loaded for instance as Windows 7 doesn’t support SecureBoot. I advise exiting the BIOS without saving changes so you can prepare a Windows 10 TH2 bootable USB with the appropriate settings on your current Windows installation. Once you have made the Windows installation media you can then adjust the BIOS settings to the optimal settings your hardware supports.
The (UEFI) BIOS Setup
To enter the BIOS setup Power Down your computer. Wait 10 seconds and power it up. Press F2 at the Dell BIOS Screen. Other OEMs may have a different key sequence.
Example 1 of an Inspiron 13 7347 BIOS. The Boot list mentions SecureBoot and UEFI. Both are enabled.
- SecureBoot is Enabled (which means UEFI is enabled)
- UEFI is Enabled
- The Bootable USB should be formatted as GPT partition scheme for the UEFI BIOS. The system can take advantage of the GPT scheme and preboot security.
Example 2 of a Latitude E5510 BIOS. The Boot list mentions UEFI but not SecureBoot. UEFI is supported but secureboot isn’t.
- There is no option for SecureBoot.
- UEFI is enabled.
- The Bootable USB should be formatted as GPT partition scheme for the UEFI BIOS. The system can take advantage of the GPT scheme but not the additional preboot security.
Example 3 of a XPS 8300 BIOS. The Boot list does not mention UEFI or SecureBoot. Both these technologies are unsupported.
- There is no option for SecureBoot.
- There is no option for UEFI.
- The Bootable USB should be formatted as MBR partition scheme for the Legacy BIOS. The system cannot take advantage of the GPT scheme or additional preboot security.
5. Upgrading to a Solid State Drive and Altering the SATA Operation in the (UEFI) BIOS Setup
The cost of large enough capacity Solid State Drives to use as a Windows Boot Drive is now economic and so replacement of your old mechanical Boot drive with a Solid State Drive is now recommended for systems with only one Hard Drive bay. This will give your system a marked difference in system performance.
For maximum performance its advised to upgrade to a 250 GB or superior Solid State Drive and to use this SSD as a Boot Drive with no additional caching. To determine how feasible this upgrade is on your system you should refer to your Service Manual or Owner’s Manual which instruct in the removal of the drive(s). This can again be found on Downloads.Dell.com I advise searching for en-us when on your models page. Most Dell systems are well designed so that accessing the HDD/SSDs is pretty straight forward.
Once you have ordered your SSD ensure that you have Downloaded Windows 10 TH2 Installation Media and made the Bootable USB.
Once you have your SSD installed and your computer is back together you should check the SATA operation in your (UEFI) BIOS.
Power up your system and press [F2] at the Dell BIOS screen to enter the BIOS setup.
You will be taken to the main BIOS tab
Use the → arrow key to move to the advanced tab. Then press the ↓ key to take you down to the System Configuration and Press Enter.
On the advanced tab press the ↓ arrow key to move to SATA Mode. Press Enter to modify the category between AHCI and RAID or other options such as IRST. Use ↓ and ↑ to select your setting and once again press Enter.
Press [F10] to save changes and exit.
Select Yes when prompted to Save Configuration and Exit. If you are using a system with a single SSD Boot Drive you are now ready to install Windows 10 TH2 on your new SSD.
If you are using a system with multiple drives (SSD and HDD) before Windows installation boot from the Windows 10 TH2 installation media and Clean the HDD and the SSD to prevent an unwanted dualboot. See Cleaning up a Drive for more details. After doing this you should be ready to install Windows 10 TH2 on your new SSD. You may also want to Change the Location of Librariees (User Files) in Windows 10 TH2 after installation…