Getting started guide with a bare motherboard

If you want to get started with a naked 11th Gen motherboard, you should take following points into consideration:

Please also always check the end of this thread for updates, this post cannot be easily edited by myself as users lose access / edit rights if a post becomes too old!

Power:
If you have a BIOS version 3.0.7 or newer on your motherboard, it will work with a 60 Watt USB C Powersupply. If not, you’ll need a 100 Watt one. You can attach your USB-C cable to any of the 4 ports. Make sure the cable is of good quality so that it can provide the needed power. If you want to power on the motherboard without a case or the needed ribbon cable, see below for SW1.

BIOS:
Upgrading the BIOS and all needed links are described here: Framework Laptop BIOS and Driver Releases (11th Gen Intel® Core™)
Please also note that there are BIOS versions in Beta stage available at the forums, e.g. currently the 3.10 ( 11th Gen Intel Core BIOS 3.10 Release ). While those versions are considered Beta / testing, they might contain important security fixes and bugfixes to problems you might encounter. It might be worth trying those versions out and giving feedback so that they can rapidly mature to the next stable release (if you got the time :slight_smile: )

BIOS Upgrade without a battery (from Windows)
Flashing via Windows, Guide:

  • Disclaimer: If the power fails, your laptop is a nice brick. Thats why battery backup is mandatory in the default settings. I am not responsible for any damages, but I need to describe this knowledge as it is the only way for the “Motherboard only Owners” to get critical security updates into their system. And we cannot have security holes in our appliances. Framework is currently working on an official solution, so this is a “hack” for the time being.

( Tip by @Geert_Schuring : Use a USB-C powerbank with sufficient output between the wall outlet and the motherboard USB-C connector. This at least minimizes the risk of the motherboard loosing power during flashing. )

  • Apply power via the left side of the motherboard (important!)
  • Disable secure boot in BIOS
  • Boot to Windows (I used Windows 11)
  • Download the latest windows update file ( e.g. from here: 11th Gen Intel Core BIOS 3.10 Release )
  • Unzip the .exe file with 7zip
  • Open the platform.ini
  • Look for following area
; Supports on DOS WIN SHELL flash.
[AC_Adapter]
Flag=3
BatteryCheck=1
BatteryBound=20
  • Change it to
; Supports on DOS WIN SHELL flash.
[AC_Adapter]
Flag=1
BatteryCheck=0
BatteryBound=20
  • save file
  • make sure your setup is in a good configuration, no running backups, quit all other programs, do maybe unplug not needed hardware, make sure to introduce as little disturbance into the setup as possible
  • start H2OFFT-W.exe
  • the system will prepare and then boot into flashing the BIOS and shut off afterwards
  • this will however only have updated BIOS, EC and Right side PD controller
  • Put the power source on the right side of the motherboard
  • Boot into windows, start H2OFFT-W.exe again
  • System will start updating, skipping the already updated parts and only update the Left side PD controller and power off
    (more details at this post: Getting started guide with a bare motherboard - #6 by Kieran_Levin by @Kieran_Levin )

BIOS Upgrade without a battery (from USB/UEFI)
Flashing via USB, Guide:

  • Disclaimer: If the power fails, your laptop is a nice brick. Thats why battery backup is mandatory in the default settings. I am not responsible for any damages, but I need to describe this knowledge as it is the only way for the “Motherboard only Owners” to get critical security updates into their system. And we cannot have security holes in our appliances. Framework is currently working on an official solution, so this is a “hack” for the time being.

( Tip by @Geert_Schuring : Use a USB-C powerbank with sufficient output between the wall outlet and the motherboard USB-C connector. This at least minimizes the risk of the motherboard loosing power during flashing. )

  • Apply power via the left side of the motherboard (important!)
  • Disable secure boot in BIOS
  • Prepare your USB stick
  • Download the latest windows update file ( e.g. from here: 11th Gen Intel Core BIOS 3.10 Release ) and the latest EFI update file.
  • Unzip the windows update .exe file with 7zip
  • Extract the platform.ini and open it for edit
  • Look for following area
; Supports on DOS WIN SHELL flash.
[AC_Adapter]
Flag=3
BatteryCheck=1
BatteryBound=20
  • Change it to
; Supports on DOS WIN SHELL flash.
[AC_Adapter]
Flag=1
BatteryCheck=0
BatteryBound=20
  • save file
  • Extract contents of EFI update zip folder to a fat32 formatted usb drive.
  • Also save the platform.ini to the root of that same drive (it will be loaded and override the battery flags)
  • Reboot the system, power applied to the left side of the motherboard, press F12 and UEFI boot from the USB stick
  • Let startup.nsh run automatically.
  • the system will prepare and then flash the BIOS and shut off afterwards
  • this will however only have updated BIOS, EC and Right side PD controller
  • Reboot the system, power applied to the riht side of the motherboard, press F12 and UEFI boot from the USB stick
  • Let startup.nsh run automatically.
  • the system will prepare and then flash the remaining components and shut off afterwards
    (thanks at @Kieran_Levin )

RAM:
Make sure your RAM is compatible. The list of tested modules can be found here:

DDR4 SO-DIMMs at up to 32GB each are compatible with the Framework Laptop. While memory that meets that standard should work, the memory we sell in the Framework Marketplace is tested for compatibility.

We recommend using one of:

  • Crucial CT8G4SFRA32A
  • Crucial CT16G4SFD832A
  • Crucial CT16G4SFRA32A
  • Crucial CT32G4SFD832A
  • Kingston KVR32S22S6/8
  • Kingston KVR32S22S8/16
  • Kingston KVR32S22D8/32
  • Samsung M471A1K43DB1-CWE
  • Samsung M471A2K43DB1-CWE
  • Samsung M471A4G43AB1-CWE
  • SK Hynix HMA81GS6DJR8N
  • SK Hynix HMA82GS6DJR8N
  • Micron MTA4ATF1G64HZ-3G2E2
  • Micron MTA8ATF2G64HZ-3G2E2
  • Micron MTA16ATF4G64HZ-3G2E2

Note: We do not currently have XMP memory support on the Framework Laptop. We recommend using DRAM that natively runs at DDR4-3200 speeds. While XMP memory should safely fall back to a slower speed, we have seen customer reports of some XMP memory modules from HyperX and other brands not booting, especially when used in Channel 0.

POST Codes:
A naked motherboard will always keep on blinking red in a one second interval. There is a “detector switch” to allow the motherboard to detect when it is out of the case. You can find it directly between the middle curve of heatpipe and left above the left most memory slot. You can tape it down with some kapton or similar tape. This will make the LED cease blinking and make it far more easy / possible to read the POST code upon a failed boot to know what is wrong with your motherboard.
Also its easiest to record the POST sequence with a mobile phone camera is its very hard to note down the fast sequence by hand - just record and review later frame by frame.

The POST codes are described here:

Reseating the CMOS Battery:
(sometimes helps with a Laptop not wanting to boot)

Starting the motherboard
The motherboard has a “SW1” labeled switch to start if not installed in its case. It can be found in the right upper end directly next to a white arrow, its a small form factor foil switch. Pressing it will power up the motherboard.

Changelogs:

  • 2022-07-23: Added latest Beta BIOS Link
  • 2022-07-24: Added method to flash BIOS without battery from Windows
  • 2022-08-01: Thanks to @Kieran_Levin - the BIOS upgrade hack will now be complete with both PD controllers getting updated :slight_smile:
  • 2022-08-02: Thanks again to @Kieran_Levin - the BIOS upgrade hack now supports EFI update
  • 2022-08-02: Added POST Code Tip
  • 2022-09-16: Added @Geert_Schuring Tip about using a USB-C powerbank between wall outlet and motherboard as UPS - also, editing this post becomes problematic due to users losing access to edit posts after some time. Check the end of this thread for updates in the future.
16 Likes

Great guide! Hopefully someone with permission can pin this!

1 Like

Pinned!

(padding)—

2 Likes

Great guide! I wish it was around when I first got my mainboard hoping to build a cyberdeck or some such diy computer with it. Fortunately, Frameworks support was able to help me get it up and running.
Can’t wait til the battery becomes available to buy so I can make something portable with it!

1 Like

@nmaas87
Could you update your post with the following notes.

Framework is working on an official update process for bare mainboards without battery.

As a note, you should do the following process to update your mainboard to properly update the PD controllers if following your hack. As when they are updated, they will power off the main board unexpectedly. So you need to do a 2 step update.

Background: The full update steps are:

  1. BIOS
  2. EC
  3. Right side PD controller.
  4. Left side PD controller
  5. Reboot

To make sure both PD controllers are updated correctly:

  1. Plug the power source to the left side of your mainboard.
  2. Run bios update with your changes.
  3. system will reset when left side PD controller starts updating and system will power off.
  4. Plug the power source to the right side of the mainboard.
  5. Run the bios update a second time. It will skip the update on the right side PD controller as it is already updated. And update the left side PD controller successfully.
5 Likes

Thank you very much @Kieran_Levin for your awesome feedback. I incorporated your comments into the main post and linked to it again for better transparency. Thanks a lot!

@nmaas87
You should also be able to copy the platform.ini to the root of the EFI update disk and it will override the current settings, if updating using the EFI method.

2 Likes

@Kieran_Levin Right on the money, worked perfectly. I tried it to reflash my motherboard and I saw both PD controllers getting updated (as I started my earlier windows update while having my power source plugged into the RIGHT side, so no PD was updated at all). I edited the main post to incorperate the infos. Thanks!

1 Like

Do you know what the case switch is actually for?

1 Like

Chassis intrusion detection. There’s a feature where the firmware will ask you to enter your password after the top cover has been removed.

3 Likes

aah, to be used in conjunction with bitlocker for data protection just like the Thinkpads.
Nice.
Problem is, human is inconsistent and they will forget passwords (both to bitlocker and the BIOS password) even if they write it down somewhere

1 Like

Especially if it’s written down in a file on the same device!

1 Like

Well, I don’t know about you, but that seems like quite a blunder. What would make sense is a USB key or something. If you lose the key, no big deal you can just generate a new bitlocker key and get a new flash drive.
Yeah that would actually make sense. But like, the biggest loss from a stolen device would be, for most people, the device. Sending reset-password request to 20 sites is just a mild inconvenience. If it belongs to the corporation the user would not need to deal with these in the first place.

Yes, it would be a blunder, but I know people that are not computer savvy that would do such a thing.

The comment was mostly meant to bring a smile to the reader.

Best wishes and don’t lose those passwords.

2 Likes

Did someone succeed with HDMI on a bare gen11 motherboard?

On mine I had to use Display port direct to a display port of my monitor to get boot screen.

1 Like

I cant get a display output at all on the standalone board. Its in the 3d printed case and the fans start spinning but i cant get to a bios trying with an hdmi connector, but based on the above should i try a usb c to display port adapter?

As in, via a USB-C to HDMI expansion card?

I would try different ports first, but I believe DP via USB-C is more native

2 Likes

As @Xavier_Jiang says, I would try using an USB-C to DP cable. Also I would suggest recording the POST code and see if there is something abnormal there. But most possible, its just an issue with the adapter cable (which will not be shown by the post code).

1 Like

most of the USB-C to HDMI adapters I’ve seen, are basically “USB-C DP Alt-Mode trigger + DisplayPort to HDMI” in a single IC - which is to say, they shouldn’t behave differently from a USB-C to DisplayPort expansion card. I wonder if there’s something else wrong with the mobo, whether it’s the aforementioned BIOS update fox, or something like bad RAM.

I received my board through the developer program, and it’s worked wonders for me so far - didn’t require any kind of BIOS update, just worked, with two different USB-C to HDMI adapters.

2 Likes