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Downgrading X230 Firmware

X230 through X280, plus X390 series specific matters only
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chanunnaki
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Downgrading X230 Firmware

#1 Post by chanunnaki » Mon Dec 09, 2019 9:11 pm

I got this X230 with a X220 keyboard, but the bios wasn't flashed with the custom BIOS found here: https://github.com/hamishcoleman/thinkpad-ec.



I'm looking into doing it, but the BIOS has been upgraded to 2.77, and according to that GitHub page, my X230 is "locked". What I'm wondering is if there is a way to downgrade the firmware or am I completely SOL?

Any advice here would be greatly appreciated.

RealBlackStuff
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Re: Downgrading X230 Firmware

#2 Post by RealBlackStuff » Tue Dec 10, 2019 2:05 am

For doing that, you will need a CH341A SPI programmer and an 8-pin SOIC clamp/cable.
Further you'll need an X230 BIOS dump from V2.76 or older.
Those parts are dirtcheap, but take an eternity coming from China.

Alternative 1: unsolder the BIOS chip and replace it with one with on older version

Alternative 2: put an X230 keyboard in until you have your SPI gear (or want to keep it that way)

If all that is beyond your capabilities, try Laser on the Dundrum Road in D14: https://www.laser-computers.com/services
Lovely day for a Guinness! (the Real Black Stuff). And pigs CAN fly!
Check out The Boardroom for Parts, Mods and Other Services.

"Computers don't lie, but liars can compute." (Terry Hayes: I Am Pilgrim)

jursky
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Re: Downgrading X230 Firmware

#3 Post by jursky » Tue Dec 10, 2019 4:48 am

I think I read somewhere that Windows BIOS flash utility (for W530, but I believe it will be similar for X230) is checking what is the current BIOS version on chip and refuses to flash older one after a certain version, but supposedly when you create a bootable DOS USB stick and flash it from DOS, then it should work - but I am not certain of that, but it is worth a try if you don't want to mess with external flashers.
Last edited by jursky on Thu Jan 09, 2020 5:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
W530 i7-3840QM (K2000M, 32GB RAM, WCG (Wide Color Gamut) FHD LCD (AUO B156HW01 V.4)) and one X230 i7-3520M (with Nitrocaster mod Rev.6 + FHD 13.3" 99% sRGB IGZO IPS panel LC133LF2L01).

thinkhop
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Re: Downgrading X230 Firmware

#4 Post by thinkhop » Thu Jan 09, 2020 12:31 am

jursky wrote:
Tue Dec 10, 2019 4:48 am
I think I read somewhere that Windows BIOS flash utility (for W530, but I believe it will be similar for X230) is checking what is the current BIOS version on chip and refuses to flash older one after a certain version, but supposedly when you create a bootable DOS USB stick and flash it from DOS, then it should work - but I am not certain of that, but it is worth a try if you don't want to mess with external flashers.
I can confirm that this method worked for me. I downloaded and installed BIOS version 2.75 without any issue. I, too, automatically installed the latest bios when I got a new motherboard and thought I was stuck with 2.77 and a crappy keyboard. Not so!

n4ru
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Re: Downgrading X230 Firmware

#5 Post by n4ru » Sun Jan 12, 2020 11:47 am

You can flash *any* BIOS version whatsoever directly from Windows without any bootables using WinFlash if BIOS protections are disabled. Just point it to the FL1 file, which directly contains the 4MB bios region.

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Re: Downgrading X230 Firmware

#6 Post by jursky » Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:48 pm

n4ru wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 11:47 am
You can flash *any* BIOS version whatsoever directly from Windows without any bootables using WinFlash if BIOS protections are disabled. Just point it to the FL1 file, which directly contains the 4MB bios region.
Yes, but it is worth noting that you have to execute the winflash.exe directly yourself (from command line, with proper arguments, disabling verification), otherwise when you try to flash an older bios by normally running the bios flasher utility exe file, clicking next, next, next, then it will not work, despite the "Secure rollback prevention" setting set to off in BIOS. I did not try it myself but I believe that it will work that way (from cmd), or as confirmed by you.
W530 i7-3840QM (K2000M, 32GB RAM, WCG (Wide Color Gamut) FHD LCD (AUO B156HW01 V.4)) and one X230 i7-3520M (with Nitrocaster mod Rev.6 + FHD 13.3" 99% sRGB IGZO IPS panel LC133LF2L01).

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