Note: Getting into BIOS on a Zotac Mag – Delete Key, keep on pressing it till you get in!
I recently bought a Zotac Mag (<– USA site, their Japanese site is horrible), it’s a micro PC (although most call them “mini pc’s“) you can use it for an everyday desktop or if you know how you can turn it into anything you want because; for its size it’s relatively quick.
The one from NewEgg where I purchased it was a decent package.
- Intel 330 Atom (Dual Core)
- 160 Gig SATA hard drive
- 2 Gig of RAM
- $308 out the door including tax + shipping
One problem though (well, not the “only” problem), was how to upgrade the BIOS without using the Windows utility they include. After racking my brain on this one for literally HOURS and trying different things I put in a support ticket out of frustration. I suppose that for a “geek” putting in a support ticket with a vendor is the modern equivalent of a guy asking for directions because he’s lost while driving and scouring his routes over on the map to no avail. Shortly after submitting my support ticket though I took another look at the current BIOS boot options. There is was, their BIOS makes NO SENSE.
What their BIOS does (and no other BIOS to my knowledge) is only lets you boot your “1st device” and it doesn’t show USB disk devices as a bottable device. By default the first boot device is the on board internal hard drive and even though you may have a USB Pen drive plugged in it doesn’t see it. How completely dumb is that? If you have a USB floppy, CD or DVD ROM drive it shows up in the list as an option to make them 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc but a USB Pen drive IT DOENS’T DO!!!
So – here’s what YOU need to do for upgrading your BIOS in a Zotac Mag because their BIOS is completely, mmmmmm – dumb (to be kind). I suppose this isn’t totally without Windows since I have a few laptops with Windows my instructions for making the boot disk leverage those to make the pen drive BUT I know you can also do the same thing from Linux…I just didn’t have to ;)
1- Have a pen drive with at least 256 meg of storage (it’ll get erased so backup your files)
2 – Download Ultmate Boot CD (the 4.11 ISO)
3 – Download Pen Drive Linux
4 – Download the latest BIOS from Zotac
5 – Extract the BIOS zip file from Zotac
6 – Use Pen Drive Linux to create your bootable USB version of Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD)
7 – Create a folder on the pen drive called “BIOS”
8 – Follow this set of instructions:
- Put your Pen Drive in the Zotac and fire it up
- To get into the Zotac BIOS keep pressing the “Delete Key”
- Once you’re in the BIOS Menu: Boot > Hard Disk Drives > Change “1st Drive” to your bootable Pen Drive with UBCD on it > Escape key > Escape Key > confirm you want to “Save and Exit” which will reboot your Zotac Mag. Note that this has NOTHING to do with the “Boot Device Priority” where a “normal BIOS” would have put your pen drive. This will make the Zotac use your Pen Drive as the main hard drive, you won’t even see the onboard hard drive in the boot priority list after making this change BUT it’ll get reset back after the BIOS upgrade automatically.
- UBCD boots off of pen drive – Get into the Dos Utilies, select Free Dos, don’t touch your keyboard just let it time out on the defaults.
- Execute these DOS Commands because the first prompt is a Q: drive…
- cd BIOS
- afudos old.rom /o
- afudos putnameoframfilehere.rom /B /P /N /X /C
- Reboot with a control + alt + delete
* Note that “afudos xxxxx.rom /o” simply backs up your current BIOS in case anything should go badly.
Done – let me know how it goes because I couldn’t find ANYTHING on the net about this problem, remember…I wasted HOURS of my life on it. Remember me in your will :)
Tried this, now the machine won’t boot at all. Any idea how I would reinstate the old.rom if I can’t get any display out at all?
I tried to use FreeDOS installed from Unetbootin and when I try to run the afu303,exe it just reboots the Zbox ID42. I made sure the flash drive was FAT.
Hi Rafael – thanks so much for your direction – i am so close to sorting out this horrible buffer problem i have with the Zbox but am still stuck. I have followed all of your steps but when i load Freedos is says NO CD ROM DRIVE TO USE, Cannot open CD Driver FDCD000 SDHDX33a cannot load. This means that the drive stack appears empty and I cannot run the BIOS update! Is there anything you can suggest to help?
with your fantastic support I was able to solve the problem and am now watching a smooth 1080p movie over my Zbox with no skipping!! thanks for the support.
FreeDOS couldnt recognise my ZipDrive which made updating the BIOS impossible so we had to run FDISK which identified the disk as C:
we then couldnt find the DOS version of the EXE file but ran the 303 version using the following keystrokes.
afu303.exe * c:\bios\a1910509.rom * /B * /P * /N * /X * /C There. * = a space
Thanks again :)
Levi graciously tipped me $30 dollars yes $30 dollars via PayPal – UNBELIEVABLE. You’re a generous guy Levi – thank you! I’d also like to note for others that you must make sure your pen drive is formatted fat or fat32 or else freedos won’t see it or be able to read it (I think). If freedos doesn’t mount your pen drive as “c:” you can use fdisk then I think it was option 5 in the fdisk menu to see the disks. Levi also had another interesting problem and that was his dos version of the updater exe file was called “afu303.exe” and not “afudos.exe” so look for that. When in doubt you can always call an exe with the “/?” question mark to see what it will do. Example: “afu303.exe /?” and if it’s a dos program you should see output with options or a help message. You can also rename “afu303.exe” to “afudos.exe” if that makes things easier and it should still run and work. One last note. Because Levi had his bios updates in a subfolder (c:\bios) he needed to call the full path of the ROM file as noted in his comment because we didn’t use relative paths. I’d have to play around with it and it’s not worth out time to use relative paths. I noticed there’s an update.bat file in the firmware download – it would be useful to see what they’ve got going on inside that file. I see there’s a “choice” in that file which assumes you’ve got the choice dos file on your boot disk however, freedos doesn’t seem to have it or know what to do with it when you use the update.bat file. Either way…thanks to Levi for the genrous coffee contribution! I will enjoy many cups and think of our emails back and forth to solve your problem :-)
Right i followed ur guide but i still have the checksum error here is a pic http://www.twitpic.com/40qddz
right quick update i have fixed it now. thanks so much for the guide as all the tech support said was to return it to the retailer.
So what Lee did was reset his BIOS back to default which resolved his issue after upgrading the BIOS. Just FYI as he didn’t explain what “fixed it now”. :p
right i followed the ur guide but i keep getting the checksum error http://www.twitpic.com/40qddz
Thank you! Just finished updating bios on ZBOXHD-ID40-U. Great work-out – haven’t touched DOS in a while ;)
Worked fine for a HD-ID11, thanks.
I had USB stick plugged in when booting and was able to set it as first boot device.
I used FreeDOS. First I created an empty floppy image with dd, 2880 kB. Mounted it over loop. Then I copied FreeDOS files over to it, added BIOS upgrade files. Used Qemu to get into that image and run sys A:, used dd again to put this image to very beginning of USB stick.
Awesome – Thanks!
Turns out my Zotac IonITX F-E boots fine from a usb drive. But I used your instructions to run Seagate tools on the HDD without having to install windows or hook up an ODD/floppy drive.
hey, used this Advice on a zotac x58 which was giving me a checksum error, worked wonderfully, Thank you, you helped me when hours of cursing couldn’t :P
Also worked on a HD-ID11
Well Done! Works for me, but i cant do this “Change “1st Drive” to your bootable Pen Drive with UBCD on it”. I dont get the Pen Drive in this Menu.
I only set first boot priority to Pen Drive