FAQ: Windows 8, UEFI and graphics cards (updated)

FAQ: Windows 8, UEFI and graphics cards (updated)

Learn how to change the graphics card in your new Windows 8 computer

All new Windows 8 computers rely on something called the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface – or UEFI – and Advent PCs are no exception. You won’t need to give this a second thought most of the time but if you’re thinking about changing your computer’s hardware make-up then there are some things you need to know. Read on to find out more.

Question: What is UEFI?

Answer: In simple terms, UEFI provides a way for a PC to get itself up and running before an operating system such as Windows 8 can take over.

This used to be the job of something called the BIOS (Basic Input-Output System) but UEFI has effectively replaced BIOS on all new Windows 8 PCs. This won’t have any impact on the day-to-day use of your PC but if you need to make any fundamental changes to it, you may need to deal with its UEFI.

Question: What models of Advent PC have UEFI?

Answer: All new Advent PCs with Windows 8 preloaded have UEFI in place of the traditional BIOS . This includes Advent DT2410 and DT2412 desktop models, and all models in the Advent Monza T and Monza V laptop series. Basically, if you buy a new Advent PC with Windows 8 preloaded, it will have a UEFI.

All new Advent PCs use UEFI as part of the requirements for running Windows 8

Question: Why has Advent implemented UEFI in Windows 8 PCs?

Answer: Manufacturers who install Windows 8 on new PCs are required by Microsoft to support UEFI. In other words, to sell new Windows 8 PCs UEFI had to be included. Older style BIOS dates back to the earliest PCs and it can no longer keep up with modern computing hardware.

If your existing PC uses a BIOS , you probably know through experience that accessing it involves tapping a certain key soon after switching on the PC. With the development of faster processors and solid-state disks (SSDs), you may struggle to hit this key before Windows takes over. UEFI, on the other hand, can be accessed via the Windows 8 Settings screen.

You can now access the UEFI directly from Windows.

Question: What key things do I need to know about upgrading my Windows 8 Advent PC?

Answer: To sell new Windows 8 PCs, Microsoft requires us to disable something known as the Compatibility Support Module (CSM), and to enable a technology called Secure Boot. While there are good technical reasons for these demands, they can cause some issues. For example, with CSM disabled it’s not possible to install certain other operating systems; and with Secure Boot switched on, newly installed hardware may prevent the PC from starting up (or booting).

Question: Which components can and cannot be upgraded?

Answer: Windows 8 PC components can be upgraded in the same way as any other PC. However, if you buy a new PC with Windows 8 preloaded then the aforementioned Microsoft requirements mean that some hardware changes may cause problems. Specifically, if you buy a graphics card that isn’t compatible with UEFI and fit it to a Windows 8 PC, the computer may not start (or boot).

The trouble is that very few graphics cards are UEFI-compliant, as Windows 8 still has a relatively small market share. This may change over time but for now it means that replacement graphics cards might stop your Windows 8 PC working.

Before replacing the graphics card in your Windows 8 desktop PC, read this article

Question: What if I purchase a non-supported graphics card?

Answer: If you buy a non-UEFI-compatible graphics card and fit it to a PC with Windows 8 preloaded, there’s a likelihood that it won’t work. Some graphics cards may work but they will not be able to display anything until Windows has launched. So if a problem arises that requires a tweak in the UEFI/BIOS you will be unable to do this, as the graphics card will be unable to display UEFI/BIOS pages.

Question: Is there a workaround for this problem?

Answer: Yes, depending on your particular PC. In some cases, a simple UEFI/BIOS tweak is all that’s required; other models may require a firmware update. If you have an Advent DT2410 PC, you'll first need to download and install a BIOS update for your PC - access the DT2410's download page from here, then click the download link next to "Updated BIOS to support legacy graphics cards under UEFI BIOS ". Save the file (BIOSUpdate.exe) to your hard drive, then double-click it and follow the instructions to install the BIOS update. Advent DT2412 PC owners can skip this step.

Now restart your DT2410 or DT2412 PC and press Delete ([Del]) to access the UEFI/BIOS . Click Settings on the left. In the Main Menu screen, use the cursor keys to highlight Advanced and press [Enter]. Highlight the Win 8 Configuration option and press [Enter] again. Choose Windows 8 Logo Requirement and press [Enter]. Select Disable and press [Enter]. Now press Escape ([Esc]) twice to return to the Main Menu screen.

Next, highlight Boot and press [Enter]. Select Full Screen Logo Display and press [Enter] again, then choose Disabled and press [Enter]. Now highlight Boot mode select, press [Enter] and choose UEFI before pressing [Enter] again. Press [F10] followed by [Enter] to save the settings.

In both cases, the PC will restart. Let Windows 8 launch to check that all is well then shut down the PC. Follow the manufacturer instructions to fit your new graphics card then restart the PC.

Configuring the Advent DT2412 to accept new graphics cards is a relatively straightforward affair

Question: What graphics cards will work with my Advent PC?

Answer: The good news is that after applying the above tweaks, most - if not all - new graphics cards will work in your Advent DT2412 PC. Of course, all upgrades are carried out at your own risk.

However, we obviously cannot guarantee that all cards will work with all PCs. For more information, check out our article on how to upgrade your desktop PC’s graphics card.