Monthly Archives: March 2024

Do you want to flash the BIOS?

How to Update or Flash your Steam Deck BIOS from Crisis Mode

Anyone that is familiar with InsydeH2O® UEFI BIOS will know that it has a ‘crisis mode’. The crisis mode allows you to re-flash the BIOS if it bricks itself. We thought that the Steam Deck maybe had this mode, or maybe it did not. We did not know what the name of the file had to be on the USB storage to get it to work! In fact, maybe it also looks at the microSD card? Anyway, here is how to flash your Steam Deck BIOS in crisis mode.

If you simply want to update or revert your Steam Deck BIOS; or perhaps you have set bad BIOS options, then you will want to try this out. Before considering paying out to Valve or returning to Valve via RMA for repair or replacement. If you have outright ‘bricked’ your Steam Deck, and you have a chip programmer then you will want to use that to recover it. Or if you do not have a backup then you can put one together. You can still try this method out before going that far.

To follow this process, you will need a USB storage device, and a means to connect that to your Steam Deck. Either via a USB hub, or USB Dock, or using direct USB-C storage. The size of it needs to be at least 32 megabytes (yes, megabytes, you are only storing the BIOS file on it which is 16 megabytes approximately). It can be larger than 32 megabytes, but ideally blank with no other files on it.

Note: This does not clear or wipe your Steam Deck’s storage. It only affects the Winbond SPI flash BIOS chip. As this is an official method of updating the BIOS, and so long as you use trusted BIOS files, and the correct file, and it is not interrupted, no harm will come to your Steam Deck.

As an overview here are the steps:

  • Format any USB storage to FAT32, on a Windows PC. (Or if you have Linux and know how, you can do so there too).
  • Download the BIOS file that’s relevant for your Steam Deck
  • Boot into Crisis mode with the USB Storage attached
  • Follow the prompts (if there are any) and flash your BIOS
  • Enjoy the flashed Steam Deck

Where do I get the Steam Deck BIOS file?

For the Steam Deck LCD your BIOS file starts with F7A. For the Steam Deck OLED, it starts with F7G.

The BIOS files are available directly from Valve from this site:

https://steamdeck-packages.steamos.cloud/archlinux-mirror/jupiter-main/os/x86_64/

They’re in a file named something like:

jupiter-hw-support-xxxxxxx.x-x-any.pkg.tar.xz or

jupiter-hw-support-xxxxxxx.x-x-any.pkg.tar.zst

Where “xxxxxxx” is a date, in the format of yyyymmdd (year, month, date) and then version. There are also .sig files, which are ‘signatures’ to verify the file, we do not need these for now. You typically want the most recent version of the file, but of course older versions contain older BIOS versions.

For the Steam Deck LCD do not use BIOS versions before version F7A0105. For the OLED do not use versions before F7G0105. The 105 version for is the version used ‘at release’ of the Steam Deck, both versions.

The BIOS file is in the path usr -> share -> jupiter_bios directory tree in the archive. You want the file name that ends in the extension .fd. It will have a name such as F7A0121_sign.fd or F7G0109.fd.

If you have trouble opening the file that you have downloaded from Valve, you can also find the files at the evlaV gitlab repo.

On the USB storage / pen drive, you need to rename your BIOS file, for the LCD Steam Deck it should be:

  • F7ARecovery.fd

For the Steam Deck OLED name it:

  • F7GRecovery.fd

How to Flash the Steam Deck BIOS from Crisis Mode

Make sure that your Steam Deck is fully charged. Or plugged into a dock with external power while flashing the BIOS. Do not remove the power, or remove the USB storage while flashing the BIOS.

  • Do not have any other USB storage connected to the Steam Deck than the one with the BIOS file. Having your SSD installed and inserted into the nvme m.2 bay should be fine.
  • Make sure that the Steam Deck is shut down. Hold the power button for 10 seconds if it is already turned on.
  • Check that the unit is off, track pads should have no haptic feedback. The fan should not be on, and the screen should not be lit
  • While holding the Volume – and “. . .” buttons, press the power button once.
  • You can keep the Volume – and “. . .” buttons pressed a few seconds after letting go of the power button to be sure, then let go.
  • Your Steam Deck screen will remain black for a bit, and the power LED should constantly flash on and off. You will see some text at the bottom of the screen.

Note: As of Steam Deck LCD BIOS F7A0131, entering the crisis mode combination has changed behavior, and it may go into battery storage mode first. This means the Steam Deck will turn off and require you to plug in mains power for it to turn back on.

What Happens Now?

This option should then appear (though for some people, it apparently can skip this entirely):

BIOS flash prompt
On Screen Prompt to Flash Steam Deck BIOS

If you do not get this far, the file on the USB storage is either incorrect, or not named correctly.

You can navigate this pop-up with the track pad, or the d-pad. From this prompt, basically select ‘Yes’ to continue, or ‘No’ to stop. If you do not see this prompt, it will continue to move on to flash the Steam Deck BIOS.

If you are trying to recover your Steam Deck and flashing ‘blindly’ you can press the A button for it to continue at this prompt. You will have to wait to see if it has been able to continue successfully, it helps if your USB storage has an activity LED because you will see it flash as it reads the file from it.

Your screen should now change to show the h2offt flash firmware tool, and it may be in portrait mode:

h2offt BIOS Flash firmware tool

This will take some time to complete. Your Steam Deck will reboot after it has successfully flashed. Make sure not to remove the storage or power (if connected) during the flash.

Thanks to ghidra, and HxD for confirming what the blasted recovery filename should be. Make sure that you make a BIOS backup in future. Having a ‘dump’ of your BIOS chip and restoring with a chip programmer can still be necessary under some circumstances.