Owners of Lenovo gaming laptops have experienced issues in some reported cases due to a recently released BIOS update that went live in April.
Since its launch a month ago, more and more people have updated the BIOS version ‘GKCN53WW’, and there have been more and more complaints on various online forums (including the platform’s own form of Lenovo) regarding serious issues encountered after -upgrade. Windows Latest, which spotted this, observes that the issues primarily affect Lenovo Legion gaming laptops.
Badness caused by BIOS update in some cases includes blue screen of death crashes with ‘DEVICE_POWER_STATE_FAILURE’ error (or driver power failure) or even boot failure, and freezing during gaming sessions, as well as frame rates dropping badly at times.
A resident of Reddit posted, “I installed this on a Legion 7 16ACHg6 that I’ve had for 7 months. After playing games for about 10 minutes, the laptop throttles severely for a few minutes. In terms of performance, it was impossible to ignore. Going from 75-140fps in FFXIV Online to around 15-20fps. This limitation would repeat itself approximately every 10 minutes.
“I reverted to GKCN49WW and the problem went away. Pretty bad bug for a gaming laptop BIOS update being pushed as ‘critical’.
Lenovo indeed considers this BIOS update a critical upgrade to install, likely because it contains fixes for some nasty BIOS vulnerabilities disclosed by the laptop maker last month, as well as a bunch settings for power-related parameters.
Analysis: Avoid the update, then? You could, but it comes with its own risks
First, we should note that there are people on these various Reddit threads (and others) who have reported installing the GKCN53WW update without any issues. So, it may be a relatively small percentage of Legion owners who experienced issues with this BIOS update – we can’t know the exact numbers, of course, but how many Reddit threads suggest this isn’t a rare occurrence, at least.
Therefore, the best course of action might be to give the GKCN53WW update a gap for now, arguably; but that said, those aforementioned BIOS vulnerabilities aren’t something you want to leave lying around. However, you don’t need GKCN53WW to fix them, according to Lenovo’s security advisory on this, these holes are fixed by updating GKCN51WW (as well as GKCN53WW). So if you are already on 51WW, you are protected against these exploits.
The catch is, if you want to grab GKCN51WW now, you can’t – we don’t know why, but the only option to download is the new GKCN53WW, with its possible crashing and framerate drop issues . Hopefully Lenovo fixes this BIOS update soon enough, but we haven’t heard anything from the manufacturer yet – and in the meantime, you have the tough choice of upgrading and risking the crashes, or sticking and going. risk vulnerabilities instead. (If you’re on GKCN51WW and managed to grab this build before it disappeared, we very strongly suggest sticking with it for now).
If you update to the latest BIOS and have problems, Windows Latest highlights that you can revert to the previous BIOS version, which is now GKCN50WW: it can be downloaded directly as an EXE file here (but of course, it doesn’t have those vital security patches).
To restore the BIOS of your Lenovo laptop, simply double-click the EXE file of the previous version that you want to install and follow the instructions given by the wizard that appears. You may need to enable BIOS flashing to a previous version before you can restore it, which is done in the Lenovo BIOS setup screen – to access it, see the instructions here.
Once in the BIOS setup, there is an option related to BIOS version rollback, and you need to enable it (note that on some Lenovo machines there may be a rollback prevention option which is enabled by default – and in this case, to revert to a previous BIOS version, you must disable it).
However, restoring the BIOS is a process that can go wrong, so you do it at your own risk – and whatever you do, make sure the laptop doesn’t shut down while applying a new BIOS (this is how devices can be bricked).
All in all, not a good situation for less tech-savvy Lenovo laptop owners, who may not want to mess with BIOS rollbacks, but might feel compelled to, if crashing issues after the update are really bad. And indeed, they may well think it’s best to sit on an older BIOS to avoid this scenario – understandably – but that’s not ideal from a security perspective either. So, I hope Lenovo will seek to resolve these reported issues on a priority basis…