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…
  • C:
  • 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 :)