Dell M3800 BIOS Recovery

Discussion in 'BIOS Mods' started by WoodburyMan, May 1, 2018.

  1. WoodburyMan

    WoodburyMan MDL Novice

    Aug 2, 2015
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    Hello!

    I am attempting to recovery a Dell Precision M3800 from a bad BIOS flash. I was on A10 and went to update from A11 and it locked up mid flash via the Windows Utility.

    I was able to extract the HDR and ROM files from the setup files and places them on a USB Flash Drive formatted FAT32. I tried a few different names, M3800.HDR/ROM, M3800A10.HDR/ROM M3800A11.HDR/ROM. No luck. I try booting up while holding CTRL and ESC and I just get a blank screen. Holding END and plugging in the power cable results in it turning on and the fans going on, and blinking power LED. However the activity LED's on my Flash Drive NEVER blink making me think it's not a naming issue.

    M3800 is UEFI based system. It's almost like the XPS 9530.

    I also tried rename the Bios EXE file to BIOS_IMG.rcv, same luck.

    Any help on what I should try next would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. tqhoang

    tqhoang MDL BIOS Modder

    Apr 29, 2008
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    If you don't get the BIOS Recovery UI from holding CTRL+ESC and plugging in the power adapter, then your system doesn't seem to support it.

    From your description, it sounds like the old HDR BIOS recovery method from holding the END key may work. Typically the HDR file has to be a 7.3 filename format. Example: M3800XX.HDR

    Also another thing to try is all the different USB headers on the laptop. Sometimes only certain headers are available for recovery (side, back, etc).
     
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  3. WoodburyMan

    WoodburyMan MDL Novice

    Aug 2, 2015
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    #3 WoodburyMan, May 1, 2018
    Last edited: May 1, 2018
    (OP)
    Thanks for the info!
    I went through and used Andy P (MDL) Phoenix-Insyde-EFI SLIC Tool to find out the file name and got ZAU50A11.hdr and ZAU50A11.hdr.rom for my board name. It does seem this supports the older flash method like you send with Powercord + End Key.
    I also got A10, A09 ROM and HDR files from their BIOS update files on the drive as well, since I'm not 100% it had A10 on it prior to flashing A11. No dice.
    I tried plugging my flash drives (I tried a few just in case, formatted FAT32, and tried FAT too) in each of the three USB ports (Two are 3.0 which I assume probably aren't supported, and one 2.0), and each of them failed to even blink or light up with their activity light. Like it's not even quarrying the USB for the files/partition at all. I'm kind of at a loss here.
     
  4. tqhoang

    tqhoang MDL BIOS Modder

    Apr 29, 2008
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  5. WoodburyMan

    WoodburyMan MDL Novice

    Aug 2, 2015
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  6. tqhoang

    tqhoang MDL BIOS Modder

    Apr 29, 2008
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    #6 tqhoang, May 1, 2018
    Last edited: May 1, 2018
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  7. LatinMcG

    LatinMcG Bios Borker

    Feb 27, 2011
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    smaller than 4 gb flashdrive.. and sometimes the eSata port is the 2.0 usb port also.
    or get a full dump bios bin and a programmer
     
  8. Jay Peti

    Jay Peti MDL Novice

    May 18, 2018
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    A noob here. But I though I will add my experience [success] here about the m3800 bios issue I had; another noob like me might benefit.
    I had a bricked my m3800 trying to update my bios to A11. Cant describe what happened but the laptop froze for really long time during the upgrade and then when attempting to reboot blacked out.
    While researching I came across James White's article and tried to get the rom and hdr files from A09, A10 and A11 bios version exe [the only ones I could find on dell website]. I didn't know if I had A09 or A10 bios when upgrading to A11 so it there was a bit of trying involved.
    I followed the James White's article mentioned above. When I ran the command "m3800-a09.exe /writehdrfile /writeromfile" (or "m3800-a10.exe /writehdrfile /writeromfile" or "m3800-a11.exe /writehdrfile /writeromfile"), I would get two files amifldrv64.sys and m3800-a10.hdr but no .rom file. Then I tried "m3800-aXX.exe /writehdrfile" and "m3800-aXX.exe /writeromfile" seperately and I could get the rom file and hdr file (and also the sys file, though it that ultimately wasn't needed).
    In James White's article, the files names he used are VAUB0??? but that didn't work for me. So I downloaded the Andy P (MDL) Phoenix-Insyde-EFI SLIC tool, loaded the rom file in it and it gave me the file name to use (ZAU50AXX.rom and ZAU50AXX.hdr; Thanks WoodburyMan for the hint). I copied the files on a freshly formatted 16Gb flash drive (Formatted to FAT32) and inserted in the USB 2.0 slot [right-back on m3800; check the icons next to the usb slot. USB 3.0 have SS printed next to them). With the "end" key pressed, I inserted the power cable and the fan started spinning and the led on flash drive stayed on for few seconds, then kept blinking as it read the files. Since I didn't know what bios version I had before and what version would be useful, I went thru A09 (ZAU50A09.rom and ZAU50A09.hdr), A10 (ZAU50A09.rom and ZAU50A10.hdr) and was ready with A11 (ZAU50A11.rom and ZAU50A11.hdr). However A10 files worked for me and the flash was 'fixed' and the laptop rebooted to windows.
    Mine might be a simple case and some of you might have to go thru more pain but this is what I experienced. I didn't need a 4gb drive or format to FAT filesystem. I am not sure if I will be allowed to upload the bios files for archival purpose [I had trouble finding A09 file], but if I can do that, I will upload them after this post.
     
  9. Jay Peti

    Jay Peti MDL Novice

    May 18, 2018
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  10. mthomos

    mthomos MDL Novice

    Jul 11, 2018
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    Have you tried to load A11 bios again ?