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Intel ME and BIOS Updates - General Advice

iBruceypoo
Level 16
Thread created for JohnAb

Take it away John. 🙂
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ROG Z790 Apex / Intel 13900KS SP111 P121 E93 MC83
Gskill 8000 kit - TM5 stable at 8200MT/s 38 48 48 121 VDD and VDDQ 1.5v
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79 REPLIES 79

JohnAb
Level 17

I haven't been able to create a new thread for some reason, so I asked Brucey to do it for me. What a nice man :). So without further ado, here is the first post...

I've seen a lot of threads about Intel ME and BIOS updates, so in the spirit of trying to be helpful, I'm going to summarise what I've learnt from the web, other threads and user's experience, including MoKiChU, who also does a great job with driver thread updates. Before worrying about updating Intel ME (which only applies to Intel processors) and your BIOS, it's a good idea to check that all of your other motherboard and Windows drivers are up to date. Once that's done and your PC is running as it should, then there are 3 components associated with Intel ME and the BIOS to be aware of:

1) Intel ME Firmware. This is flashed to your motherboard and is independent of the OS. It remains in place unless updated.
2) Intel ME interface (MEI) drivers for Windows. These will need to be installed every time you do a fresh install of Windows.
3) The BIOS itself.

INTEL ME INTRODUCTION
Intel don't say much about ME, so the following is a summary of what I believe to be true from various sources. When the CPU starts, it loads the ME code into the chipset and it can operate independently of Windows. The CPU itself also has ME dedicated silicon and in addition, the BIOS and OS (if running) also communicate with ME.

WHAT DOES IT DO?
ME can communicate with just about all system components, even before the OS has started, using code within the CPU, chipset and BIOS. One of the ideas behind ME is that it can be used to support a feature called Active Management Technology (AMT). This can be used to control computers remotely, even when in a sleep state. It would be unusual for this to be enabled on a domestic PC as it's really a feature for corporate machines. It's claimed that Intel ME has full access to your system hardware, including your system memory, the contents of your display, keyboard input, and even the network. Some argue that this is a privacy risk, but unless AMT is enabled, it seems to be generally accepted that this is unlikely.

SO WHY UPDATE INTEL ME AND THE BIOS?
ME is also used to prevent certain requests from being executed and eliminate known exploits. It appears to be a completely independent mini-OS, based on MINIX that is totally invisible to the end-user. The most important thing it does for most of us is provide security and protection.

It's worth mentioning that every BIOS requires the correct ME firmware to operate correctly. For example, for the Z690 Hero, BIOS 2103 is associated with ME firmware v16.1.25.1885 (or later). The next BIOS due out for the Hero is 2204 and when it's released, that will require firmware v16.1.25.2020 (or later). Your support page should always provide correctly matched versions of the current firmware, Windows drivers and BIOS.

HOW TO UPDATE INTEL ME
You should always update Intel's Windows drivers (MEI drivers) and ME firmware BEFORE updating the BIOS. Otherwise, you might get problems such as not being able to read from your M.2_1 NVME drive. If that happens, you might not be able to boot back into Windows if your OS is located there. If this has happened to you, it can be fixed by moving your NVME drive to another slot, rebooting and then doing the drivers and firmware updates. Inconvenient to say the least. So here is my recommended way to do the updates:

First...

1) UPDATE ME Interface (MEI) WINDOWS DRIVERS
These are located on the DRIVERS & TOOLS tab under CHIPSET. They will named as, for example:
Intel ME V2229.3.2.0 for Windows 10 64-bit and Windows 11 64-bit
or
Intel Management Engine Interface V2145.1.42.0 (SW 2201.16.0.2645) For Windows 10/11 64-bit
Just select the most recent release.

2) UPDATE INTEL ME FIRMWARE
The firmware will be located on your motherboard's BIOS & FIRMWARE tab under the INTEL ME section. Download the latest MEUpdateTool and once the folder is extracted, run MEUpdate.exe. Let that work it's magic and then reboot. DO NOT update ME firmware in Windows unless your machine is stable. It's a very good idea to turn off XMP as well before doing this for maximum stability. A crash during the update could brick the motherboard. 

Then...

3) UPDATE THE BIOS
Before updating the BIOS it's a good idea to backup all of your files, passwords, website favourites, game saves etc etc. Regardless of updating the BIOS, you should be doing this regularly anyway!

Next, check the other threads to see if the new BIOS is causing any problems. There is always a (small) risk that a new BIOS could cause memory speed support or overclocking/voltage/temperature issues, although it is unlikely that a BIOS update will prevent booting. Note that some of the more recent BIOS versions won't allow you to flashback to older versions, that's why I suggest you always do a little research before going ahead. It's also worth saying that unless a new ME/BIOS combination addresses a security concern or offers support for new CPUs that you want to upgrade to (for example 13th Gen on a Z690 board), then it's OK to stay on an older BIOS. Personally, I do like to keep the BIOS up to date, but of course the choice is yours.

If you want to proceed, download and place the BIOS file on the root of a USB stick formatted as MBR/FAT32. You can flash the BIOS using either a) the EZFlash tool within your current UEFI/BIOS, or b) rename the BIOS file using the supplied tool and then use the Flashback USB port if your motherboard has one. Personally, I find the EZFlash method more convenient because I don't need to reach around to the back of my machine.

During the BIOS update process, you PC will restart a few times and the entire process will take some time. Do not panic and DO NOT turn off the power. Just wait. Then you will get a screen with various messages asking you to press F1 to enter the BIOS which will be reset to defaults. As a minimum, set XMP and any other specific settings you need.

I hope this little guide is helpful to some people and if I've have made any errors, please correct them.

Advice updated Sep 2023

Z690 Hero, 12900K, BIOS 3701, MEI 2407.6.1.0, ME Firmware 16.1.32.2418, 7000X Case, RM1000x PSU, ASUS TUF OC 3090TI, 2 x 16GB Corsair RAM @ 5200MHz, Windows 11 Pro 23H2, Corsair H150i Elite AIO, 4x Corsair RGB fans, 3x M.2 NVME drives, 2x SATA SSDs, 2x SATA HDs.

Special thanks to MoKiChU for correcting a mistake that I made. The change is that Windows drivers should be updated before the firmware.

The above post has now been edited and is correct. If anything else can be improved, please just add a comment below thanks.
Z690 Hero, 12900K, BIOS 3701, MEI 2407.6.1.0, ME Firmware 16.1.32.2418, 7000X Case, RM1000x PSU, ASUS TUF OC 3090TI, 2 x 16GB Corsair RAM @ 5200MHz, Windows 11 Pro 23H2, Corsair H150i Elite AIO, 4x Corsair RGB fans, 3x M.2 NVME drives, 2x SATA SSDs, 2x SATA HDs.

JohnAb wrote:
I haven't been able to create a new thread for some reason, so I asked Brucey to do it for me. What a nice man :). So without further ado, here is the first post...

I've seen a lot of threads about Intel ME and BIOS updates, so in the spirit of trying to be helpful, I'm going to summarise what I've learnt from the web, other threads and user's experience, including MoKiChU, who also does a great job with driver thread updates. Before worrying about updating Intel ME and your BIOS, it's a good idea to check that all of your other motherboard and Windows drivers are up to date. Once that's done and your PC is running as it should, then there are 3 components associated with Intel ME and the BIOS to be aware of:

1) Intel ME Firmware. This is flashed to your motherboard and is independent of the OS. It remains in place unless updated.
2) Intel ME interface drivers for Windows. These will need to be installed every time you do a fresh install of Windows.
3) The BIOS itself.

INTEL ME INTRODUCTION
Intel don't say much about ME, so the following is a summary of what I believe to be true from various sources. When the CPU starts, it loads the ME code into the chipset and it can operate independently of Windows. The CPU itself also has ME dedicated silicon and in addition, the BIOS and OS (if running) also communicate with ME.

WHAT DOES IT DO?
ME can communicate with just about all system components, even before the OS has started, using code within the CPU, chipset and BIOS. One of the ideas behind ME is that it can be used to support a feature called Active Management Technology (AMT). This can be used to control computers remotely, even when in a sleep state. It would be unusual for this to be enabled on a domestic PC as it's really a feature for corporate machines. It's claimed that Intel ME has full access to your system hardware, including your system memory, the contents of your display, keyboard input, and even the network. Some argue that this is a privacy risk, but unless AMT is enabled, it seems to be generally accepted that this is unlikely.

SO WHY UPDATE INTEL ME AND THE BIOS?
ME is also used to prevent certain requests from being executed and eliminate known exploits. It appears to be a completely independent mini-OS, based on MINIX that is totally invisible to the end-user. The most important thing it does for most of us is provide security and protection.

It's worth mentioning that every BIOS requires the correct ME firmware to operate correctly. For example, for the Z690 Hero, BIOS 2103 is associated with ME firmware v16.1.25.1885 (or later). The next BIOS due out for the Hero is 2204 and when it's released, that will require firmware v16.1.25.2020 (or later). Your support page should always provide correctly matched versions of the current firmware, Windows drivers and BIOS.

HOW TO UPDATE INTEL ME
You should always update Intel's Windows drivers and ME firmware BEFORE updating the BIOS. Otherwise, you might get problems such as not being able to read from your M.2_1 NVME drive. If that happens, you might not be able to boot back into Windows if your OS is located there. If this has happened to you, it can be fixed by moving your NVME drive to another slot, rebooting and then doing the drivers and firmware updates. Inconvenient to say the least. So here is my recommended way to do the updates:

First...

1) UPDATE ME WINDOWS DRIVERS
These are located on the DRIVERS & TOOLS tab under CHIPSET. They will named as, for example:
Intel ME V2229.3.2.0 for Windows 10 64-bit and Windows 11 64-bit
or
Intel Management Engine Interface V2145.1.42.0 (SW 2201.16.0.2645) For Windows 10/11 64-bit
Just select the most recent release.

2) UPDATE INTEL ME FIRMWARE
The firmware will be located on your motherboard's BIOS & FIRMWARE tab under the INTEL ME section. Download the latest MEUpdateTool and once the folder is extracted, run MEUpdate.exe. Let that work it's magic and then reboot.

Then...

3) UPDATE THE BIOS
Before updating the BIOS it's a good idea to backup all of your files, passwords, website favourites, game saves etc etc. Regardless of updating the BIOS, you should be doing this regularly anyway!

Next, check the other threads to see if the new BIOS is causing any problems. There is always a (small) risk that a new BIOS could cause memory speed support or overclocking/voltage/temperature issues, although it is unlikely that a BIOS update will prevent booting. Note that some of the more recent BIOS versions won't allow you to flashback to older versions, that's why I suggest you always do a little research before going ahead. It's also worth saying that unless a new ME/BIOS combination addresses a security concern or offers support for new CPUs that you want to upgrade to (for example 13th Gen on a Z690 board), then it's OK to stay on an older BIOS. Personally, I do like to keep the BIOS up to date, but of course the choice is yours.

If you want to proceed, download and flash the BIOS using either a) the EZFlash tool within your current UEFI/BIOS, or b) rename the BIOS file using the supplied tool and then use the Flashback USB port if your motherboard has one. It's best to use a USB stick formatted as MBR/Fat32 for Flashback. Both methods are equivalent, although I find the EZFlash method more convenient.

I hope this little guide is helpful to some people and if I've have made any errors, please correct them.


Well done..

As promised, I've done my best to create an up to date list of ME Firmware and BIOS versions (as of 3rd Jan 2023) for Intel (610, 660, 680, 690 and 790) chipsets.

Combined with the huge number of motherboard variants, this was a much bigger job than I expected and I might have missed some. I'm beginning to realise that this might be in vain, since you can always use ME Firmware which is later than the version required for a specific BIOS. Therefore, I think that all you really need to do is flash the latest Intel ME Windows drivers and ME Firmware before updating the BIOS (to either later or earlier versions, as permitted by the current BIOS).

Anyway, I've made the list now, so I might as well provide it. It applies from now and I will continue to update it moving ahead. Note that I have not listed the Windows Intel Management Engine Interface drivers (currently v2240.3.4.0) as without checking again, I believe that all support pages listed this latest version, but please check for your own board. The intention is for this list to become useful as a reference over time, not to be a support page replacement.

Sorry that I can't provide much historical information as dates have been removed from the support pages 😞 As always, any mistakes, then please point them out and ALWAYS check your support pages before making any changes...



H610 (Prime H610M -A/E/K/R and H610I-PLUS Models)
==========================================
ME Firmware = 16.1.25.1885v2_S_NonZ. BIOS 2014
NOTE: BIOS 2014 does not allow rolling back

B660 (Strix B660-A Models)
=====================
ME Firmware = 16.1.25.1885v2_S_NonZ. BIOS 2015
NOTE: BIOS 2015 does not allow rolling back

B660 (Strix B660-F/G/I Models)
========================
ME Firmware = 16.1.25.1885v2_S_NonZ. BIOS 2012
NOTE: BIOS 2012 does not allow rolling back

B660 (Prime B660M-K, B660-PLUS and TUF Gaming B660-PLUS Models)
======================================================
ME Firmware = 16.1.25.1885v2_S_NonZ. BIOS 2014
NOTE: BIOS 2014 does not allow rolling back

W680 (Pro WS W680-ACE & ACE IPMI Models)
==================================
ME Firmware not listed. BIOS 0203.
No rolling back information available

Z690 (Maximus, ProArt, TUF, Strix and Prime-A Models)
===========================================
ME Firmware = v16.1.25.1885. BIOS 2103
ME Firmware = v16.1.25.2020. BIOS 2204
NOTE: BIOS 2004 does not allow rolling back to previous versions.
NOTE: BIOS 23xx (when released) might not allow rolling back either.

Z690 (Prime-P Models)
=================
MEI Drivers = 2229.3.2.0, ME Firmware = v16.1.25.1885v2_S. BIOS 2212
NOTE: Cannot roll back to anything earlier than 2014

Z790 (Maximus, TUF and Strix Models)
==============================
ME Firmware = v16.1.25.1917. BIOS 0502
ME Firmware = v16.1.25.2020. BIOS 0703

Z790 (Prime D4 Models)
===================
ME Firmware 16.1.25.2020v2_S_Z. BIOS 0805

Z790 (Prime non-D4 Models)
======================
ME Firmware 16.1.25.2020v2_S_Z. BIOS 0806
Z690 Hero, 12900K, BIOS 3701, MEI 2407.6.1.0, ME Firmware 16.1.32.2418, 7000X Case, RM1000x PSU, ASUS TUF OC 3090TI, 2 x 16GB Corsair RAM @ 5200MHz, Windows 11 Pro 23H2, Corsair H150i Elite AIO, 4x Corsair RGB fans, 3x M.2 NVME drives, 2x SATA SSDs, 2x SATA HDs.

JohnAb wrote:
I haven't been able to create a new thread for some reason, so I asked Brucey to do it for me. What a nice man :). So without further ado, here is the first post...

I've seen a lot of threads about Intel ME and BIOS updates, so in the spirit of trying to be helpful, I'm going to summarise what I've learnt from the web, other threads and user's experience, including MoKiChU, who also does a great job with driver thread updates. Before worrying about updating Intel ME (which only applies to Intel processors) and your BIOS, it's a good idea to check that all of your other motherboard and Windows drivers are up to date. Once that's done and your PC is running as it should, then there are 3 components associated with Intel ME and the BIOS to be aware of:

1) Intel ME Firmware. This is flashed to your motherboard and is independent of the OS. It remains in place unless updated.
2) Intel ME interface drivers for Windows. These will need to be installed every time you do a fresh install of Windows.
3) The BIOS itself.

INTEL ME INTRODUCTION
Intel don't say much about ME, so the following is a summary of what I believe to be true from various sources. When the CPU starts, it loads the ME code into the chipset and it can operate independently of Windows. The CPU itself also has ME dedicated silicon and in addition, the BIOS and OS (if running) also communicate with ME.

WHAT DOES IT DO?
ME can communicate with just about all system components, even before the OS has started, using code within the CPU, chipset and BIOS. One of the ideas behind ME is that it can be used to support a feature called Active Management Technology (AMT). This can be used to control computers remotely, even when in a sleep state. It would be unusual for this to be enabled on a domestic PC as it's really a feature for corporate machines. It's claimed that Intel ME has full access to your system hardware, including your system memory, the contents of your display, keyboard input, and even the network. Some argue that this is a privacy risk, but unless AMT is enabled, it seems to be generally accepted that this is unlikely.

SO WHY UPDATE INTEL ME AND THE BIOS?
ME is also used to prevent certain requests from being executed and eliminate known exploits. It appears to be a completely independent mini-OS, based on MINIX that is totally invisible to the end-user. The most important thing it does for most of us is provide security and protection.

It's worth mentioning that every BIOS requires the correct ME firmware to operate correctly. For example, for the Z690 Hero, BIOS 2103 is associated with ME firmware v16.1.25.1885 (or later). The next BIOS due out for the Hero is 2204 and when it's released, that will require firmware v16.1.25.2020 (or later). Your support page should always provide correctly matched versions of the current firmware, Windows drivers and BIOS.

HOW TO UPDATE INTEL ME
You should always update Intel's Windows drivers and ME firmware BEFORE updating the BIOS. Otherwise, you might get problems such as not being able to read from your M.2_1 NVME drive. If that happens, you might not be able to boot back into Windows if your OS is located there. If this has happened to you, it can be fixed by moving your NVME drive to another slot, rebooting and then doing the drivers and firmware updates. Inconvenient to say the least. So here is my recommended way to do the updates:

First...

1) UPDATE ME WINDOWS DRIVERS
These are located on the DRIVERS & TOOLS tab under CHIPSET. They will named as, for example:
Intel ME V2229.3.2.0 for Windows 10 64-bit and Windows 11 64-bit
or
Intel Management Engine Interface V2145.1.42.0 (SW 2201.16.0.2645) For Windows 10/11 64-bit
Just select the most recent release.

2) UPDATE INTEL ME FIRMWARE
The firmware will be located on your motherboard's BIOS & FIRMWARE tab under the INTEL ME section. Download the latest MEUpdateTool and once the folder is extracted, run MEUpdate.exe. Let that work it's magic and then reboot.

Then...

3) UPDATE THE BIOS
Before updating the BIOS it's a good idea to backup all of your files, passwords, website favourites, game saves etc etc. Regardless of updating the BIOS, you should be doing this regularly anyway!

Next, check the other threads to see if the new BIOS is causing any problems. There is always a (small) risk that a new BIOS could cause memory speed support or overclocking/voltage/temperature issues, although it is unlikely that a BIOS update will prevent booting. Note that some of the more recent BIOS versions won't allow you to flashback to older versions, that's why I suggest you always do a little research before going ahead. It's also worth saying that unless a new ME/BIOS combination addresses a security concern or offers support for new CPUs that you want to upgrade to (for example 13th Gen on a Z690 board), then it's OK to stay on an older BIOS. Personally, I do like to keep the BIOS up to date, but of course the choice is yours.

If you want to proceed, download and place the BIOS file on the root of a USB stick formatted as MBR/Fat32. You can flash the BIOS using either a) the EZFlash tool within your current UEFI/BIOS, or b) rename the BIOS file using the supplied tool and then use the Flashback USB port if your motherboard has one. Personally, I find the EZFlash method more convenient because I don't need to reach around to the back of my machine.

During the BIOS update process, you PC will restart a few times and the entire process will take some time. Do not panic and DO NOT turn off the power. Just wait. Then you will get a screen with various messages asking you to press F1 to enter the BIOS which will be reset to defaults. As a minimum, set XMP and any other specific settings you need.

I hope this little guide is helpful to some people and if I've have made any errors, please correct them.


What if it's a new build? I'm building my first pc and will be using the z690-e and 13700k. I plan on flashing the BIOS (2204) prior to installing anything (no other choice really - don't have a 12th gen lying around/don't want to go out and get one :T). Have you heard of or come across any issues with booting/POSTing in these situations?

Thanks in advance!

reddeath
Level 9
One problem that I have encountered is that ASUS website does not provide a mapping between the ME firmware and MEI driver. Moreover, the matching MEI driver is not always provided for a given motherboard together with the ME firmware and bios.

The ideal situation would be to have a thread on the forum that would provide the mapping between bios versions, ME firmware versions and MEI drivers, as well as provide the links to the MEI drivers so that everyone knows what versions should be used together.

JohnAb
Level 17
Hi reddeath

I had assumed that the correct versions are normally matched on the support pages and I think that's true as far as I have seen, but I'm not disagreeing if that's your experience. One thing to note is that I've been told that you can install firmware that goes beyond the current BIOS. What I mean is that in the examples given above, it would be OK to install firmware v16.1.25.2020, even if you were still running BIOS 2103 (which only requires v16.1.25.1885). Having said that, I don't think there is anything to be gained by doing this, probably better to wait until your support pages are updated.

Please also note that I created this thread to be helpful. I am not a BIOS expert and I don't work for ASUS, that's why I say it's better to stick with support page versions - that's the official ASUS position. I do agree with you though, having the correct mappings stated somewhere would be really useful. Perhaps we should start it here.

=====================
So for Z690 Hero we have:
BIOS 2103 = v16.1.25.1885
BIOS 2201 = v16.1.25.2020 (2201 is not released yet)
=====================

Please add any new known matching combinations. If everybody contributes, it won't take long to get a good summary and this thread will become more useful...

If you are using a much older BIOS, please do the same. You can easily find out what BIOS and ME firmware you have by looking at the MAIN page when you next go into your BIOS. At the very least, we will know that certain combinations are working OK and that might be helpful to know as well.
Z690 Hero, 12900K, BIOS 3701, MEI 2407.6.1.0, ME Firmware 16.1.32.2418, 7000X Case, RM1000x PSU, ASUS TUF OC 3090TI, 2 x 16GB Corsair RAM @ 5200MHz, Windows 11 Pro 23H2, Corsair H150i Elite AIO, 4x Corsair RGB fans, 3x M.2 NVME drives, 2x SATA SSDs, 2x SATA HDs.

iBruceypoo
Level 16
Got my 3-step installation gameplan ready to go:

1) MEI drivers latest
2) ME firmware latest
3) Bios Z790 Apex latest
Z790 Epiphenomenal Raptor Bench

ROG Z790 Apex / Intel 13900KS SP111 P121 E93 MC83
Gskill 8000 kit - TM5 stable at 8200MT/s 38 48 48 121 VDD and VDDQ 1.5v
WD_Black SN850X 1TB 7300MB/s Reads 6300MB/s Writes
LG 32in 4K IPS 32UP83A-W

reddeath
Level 9
ROG STRIX Z790-A GAMING WIFI D4

BIOS: 0703, ME Firmware: 16.1.25.2020, MEI Driver: 2229.3.2.0

Install in reverse order to above.