How to Fix A Corrupt BIOS for Alienware Area-51 R2 (Bricked Motherboard)

Tug

Member
Dec 7, 2021
19
3
Dnever
Yes, unfortunately, I bricked my own motherboard and I will show you how you may be able to also fix your bricked motherboard. However, before I run into the fix I did, I want to give a background on how my BIOS got corrupted and what you should take note of before starting the process.

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.
Before Flashing Your BIOS:

1. Did you hear any beeps coming from your BIOS?
In my case, I heard 10 short beeps meaning "CMOS Shutdown Register Failure". You can do a quick Google search on "definition of beep codes on a PC". So make sure to count those beeps if it happens to you to get a better idea of what is the root cause.

2. Did you reset your BIOS? Before you start this process, you need to unplug the power cord from your PC and hold onto the power button for 5 seconds to drain any residual power. Then, ground yourself before working on your PC by touching metal. Any electric shock can ruin your PC. It is best to do this on an anti-static mat or somewhere that will not produce static electricity. You can also do this with an anti-static wrist wrap.

Remove both panels and lay the tower on the right side (looking at the front of your PC) exposing your motherboard. Now, remove the CMOS battery (CR 2032 Lithium Battery). Then, locate and remove the jumper plug (it says "CLEAR_CMOS1") from pins 2 and 3 and fix it on pins 1 and 2. Put the battery back in after 5-10 seconds. After the battery is secured, wait 5 more seconds then put the jumper plug back on pins 2 and 3. Here is a more detailed guide on the jumper plugs if you need it - Alienware Area-51 Service Manual.

Now, reassemble your PC and plug in your monitor and power cord. If you turn it on and do not see any video feedback, you can move on to the rest of the instructions.

3. Try replacing your CMOS battery with a new one. You can purchase one at Walmart. The size of the battery should be CR2032.

How to Restore A Corrupt BIOS for Alienware Area-51 R2:

In my case, a System Firmware update bricked my motherboard. After the update was finished, I restarted my PC only to hear my BIOS beep at me 10 times. It was a scary moment. After the beeps, my PC shut down then turned on and off in an endless loop. My tower would light up for a short second but the keyboard and mouse would not. To get it to stop the endless loop I disconnected the power cord.

This is when I reset my BIOS by removing the CMOS battery and placing the jumper plug on pins 1 and 2 (as explained in "Did you rest your BIOS?" above). After I accomplished this, it no longer turned on and off; it just stayed on. My keyboard and tower lit up but my mouse did not. I also did not get any video feedback so there was no way for me to get into my BIOS or start-up in safe mode.

I am going to go over everything I did in detail so you can attempt the same thing. This should save you from having to purchase a new motherboard.

Requirements:
First Things First:
  1. Unplug everything from your tower.
  2. Press and hold onto the power button for 5-10 seconds to drain out any residual power.
  3. Remove both the left and right panels.
  4. Lay the tower on the right side with the motherboard exposed.
  5. Remove your GPU completely from the motherboard.
  6. If you installed an SSD in the PCIe x16 slot, remove that as well.
  7. Install both CH341 drivers (PAR/SER) on your working PC.
  8. Download AsProgrammer.
Alienware Motherboard.jpg

Assemble the CH341A programmer and test clip. I will show you an example photo of how I had it set up below. Make sure it is the chip that has 25XXX on it. You can get a much more detailed explanation on how to use it here - https://youtu.be/OttN8wQ1HhE

CH341A.jpg
As you can see in the photo above, the chip has 25XXX for the 25 model BIOS chips. The red wire is for pin 1 for both the BIOS chip and USB chip. You can easily find pin 1 on the BIOS chip because it will have a dot indicating where pin one is. There will also be a diagram of how to install either the 25 or 24 series chip to the USB programmer. There will be a lever on the USB programmer that needs to be in the upright position while you put the pins in the programmer. Once you have it seated, push down the lever to lock the chip in place.

NOTE: Make sure you plug the USB in a 3.0 or better USB port. If you are unsure that you have one then check the color of the USB port, it should be blue. If you don't have any blue-colored ports, you should see an "SS" (SuperSpeed) next to the USB icon.

Now that the CH341A is assembled properly and both of the drivers are installed, plug in the USB programmer to your working PC then connect the test clip to your BIOS chip. You could plug in the USB programmer after you attached the test clip as well; either way will work fine, do what is easiest for you. This will be the toughest part. Once you got it in, it can pop off pretty easily so try not to move the test clip. In this process, you should see a white light turn on inside your chassis when you have connected it properly. It is okay to bend the pins beneath the BIOS chip (SPI1). There is no way of avoiding this, unfortunately...unless you know how to desolder and solder. Then just buy a new BIOS chip. Here is another video explaining how to install and use CH341A - https://youtu.be/4qX2zihB6UE.

The key thing to know is the teeth of the clip need to seat in between the gaps of the BIOS chip's metal legs. You can feel the clip gripping the chip. It should not move up and it should feel like it is locked on. When you are centered on the chip move it ever so slightly towards you so it fills those gaps. It will be challenging but you got this. Remember, when it is on, the white light (located in the first photo) will turn on and stay on.

(Continue on in the reply below)
 

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Last edited:

Tug

Member
Dec 7, 2021
19
3
Dnever
Once you have the clip connected successfully and the USB connected to your working PC, open AsProgrammer. The Hardware tab needs to be set to "CH341a":

asprogrammer-hardware-jpg.4018

Then, click on the "Read ID" button to populate the BIOS chips:

asprogrammer-read-id-jpg.4019

If the test clip is connected properly, you will see a list of BIOS chips populate in a new window. Choose your BIOS chip by double-clicking on it then exit out of the window. Mine is MX25L12873F (MACRONIX):

asprogrammer-bios-chip-model-jpg.4020

Once you have chosen your Bios chip, click on the "Read IC" to read your BIOS chip. There will be a green progress bar at the bottom of AsProgrammer while it reads your chip. It took me about 2 minutes.

asprogrammer-read-ic-jpg.4021

You will see the contents of the drive. Now, save the contents of your BIOS chip as a BIN file. For example, "MX25L12873F_(MACRONIX)-12_11_2021-BIOS_Image.bin".

Once that is saved, go ahead and open the stock BIOS image BIN file you downloaded by clicking on the open file icon in the top left.

Once the BIOS image is open, click on the arrow icon of the Programm IC and choose "Unprotect -> erase -> program -> verify" from the dropdown.

asprogrammer-program-jpg.4022

This will take some time. It took me about 5 minutes or so. You will see the green progress bar at the bottom of the window. Once it is complete, you are now done programming your BIOS!

Next Steps:
  1. Remove the test clip from your motherboard.
  2. Then, remove the CMOS battery then place the jumper plug on pins 1 and 2. Wait 5-10 seconds and place the battery back in place. Wait 5 seconds then put the jumper plug back on pins 2 and 3.
  3. Then, reassemble your GPU and SSD if applicable.
  4. Reassemble the panels.
  5. Plugin your power cord, monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
  6. Turn on your PC and you should now see your computer startup.
You may get an error screen like I did stating what kind of failure it was. In my case, it was " CMOS Battery Fail !!". Just press F1 to boot up.

You have now fully restored your Alienware Area-51 R2. I hope this tutorial has helped you as it helped me.