Update ThinkPad BIOS with Bootable Flash Drive

This is the original draft of a KB article written for the Lenovo forums.  It may be old news, but I’ve only recently come across it.  There are likely other ways to do this using the ISO instead of the .exe – perhaps grub2 + loop-mounting, grub2 + memdisk, geteltorito – but this is the “official” Lenovo approach.

Full disclosure: I haven’t yet actually had occasion to build the flash drive and test the BIOS update process.

Traditionally, ThinkPad BIOS updates have been provided for download in two formats:  a Windows .exe installer, and an ISO that can be used to create a bootable CD.  The CD version was useful for those who aren’t running a Windows OS, or who have a damaged main drive or OS that won’t boot.

These days, an optical drive is becoming a rarity – requiring the use of an external drive.  Fortunately, with recent ThinkPad BIOS updates using a bootable flash drive has become an option.  The instructions and tools are included in the Windows .exe.  It’s necessary to run the 1st stage of the install to access them, so a Windows PC or virtual machine is required.

We’ll use a 1st generation X1 Yoga BIOS in this example.  Be sure to use a BIOS .exe that matches your laptop model, not the one in this example.

The first step is to download  the .exe for the BIOS installer desired.  Start with the Lenovo main support page https://support.lenovo.com/us/en enter your laptop model in the search box, select the appropriate model from the list offered, navigate the Drivers and Software link to the BIOS download.

The way the .exe is built it’s necessary to run the first stage of the install to be able to access the contained files.

Locate the downloaded .exe and run it.  You’ll be offered a target folder and the option to browse for a target folder of your choosing.  Make a note of where the driver files are going and proceed.

The next phase of the process will ask to actually install the BIOS on the current PC or virtual machine.  Don’t let it.  Un-check the “Install ThinkPad BIOS Update Utility Now” check box and click Finish.

Now you can navigate to the installer files.  You should see something like the below.  Read and follow the instructions.

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More ThinkPad Retro News…

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Net Neutrality At Risk

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Retro ThinkPad: It’s Alive!

(Image Lenovo)

At last!  Official word from David Hill that the Retro ThinkPad project is a reality.

Wonderful news!

Retro ThinkPad: It’s Alive

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Lenovo’s New ThinkPad Yoga 370 – It’s Silver!

yoga-370-full-better

Talk about an embarrassment of riches! Another Lenovo laptop has arrived! It’s a pre-production ThinkPad Yoga 370 – an advance sample of one of the new products due to be announced at CES 2017.

First things first: From time to time the nice people at Lenovo send me a gadget. They’re handy to have around – both for my own use and when trying to help out in the Lenovo forums. I do some testing and writing as well. I’m not otherwise compensated, and opinions are my own. I DO NOT speak for Lenovo.

I’ve done my best to gather correct specs here, but please keep in mind that the Yoga 370 is a pre-production unit. It’s not likely that things will change when it becomes available for purchase – but it’s possible. The specs available to me are also preliminary. Please verify anything you read here – about either model – before using it to make a purchase decision.

The TP Yoga 370 is a successor to the TP Yoga 260. Since I also have a ‘260 we’ll follow the same format used to introduce the (non-ThinkPad) Yoga 910 here and compare the two ThinkPads’ specs and features. Of course they’re both Yogas, with the poses, postures, and flexibility that implies.

(Images Lenovo)

Off the top, the main differences are Kaby Lake processors, larger display in a slightly larger frame with reduced bezel size, USB-C/Thunderbolt port, proprietary Ethernet port, deleted OneLink port (in favor of the USB-C port), deleted mini DisplayPort, and deleted volume buttons.

The specific pre-production unit that I received has an i5 7100U Kaby Lake CPU, 4GB of DDR4 RAM (single socket in this version – see below), a 128GB SATA SSD, no fingerprint reader, and a 1920×1080 display. This is at the low-spec end of the option list but reasonably well suited for the way I’ll use it: evening surfing, some media consumption, and writing. The below shows the range of specs, using the documentation available at this writing.

Did I mention that it’s silver? It’s a looker – but this will take some getting used-to. Aren’t ThinkPads supposed to be black? At least it has a TrackPoint. That’s not negotiable. Period. The end. Full stop.

Specifications

12 March 2017 update: TP Yoga 370 specs are now available.  Sales link still pending…

<370 sales link> ThinkPad Yoga 260
Processor
options
Intel Core i3-7100U
2.4 GHz no turbo
3MB cache

Intel Core i5-7200U
2.5-3.1 GHz
3MB cache

Intel Core i5-7300U
2.6-3.5 GHz
3MB cache

Intel Core i7-7500U
2.7-3.5 GHz
4MB cache

Intel Core i7-7600U
2.8-3.9 GHz
4MB cache

all: 2 cores, 4 threads

Intel Core i3-6100U
2.3 GHz no turbo
3MB cacheIntel Core i5-6200U
2.3-2.8 GHz
3MB cacheIntel Core i5-6300U
2.4-3.0 GHz
3MB cache

Intel Core i7-6500U
2.5-3.1 GHz
4MB cache

Intel Core i7-6600U
2.6-3.4 GHz
4MB cache

all: 2 cores, 4 threads

Operating
system
Windows 10 Pro Windows 10 Home or Pro 64, Windows 7 Pro 64, Windows 7 Pro 64 via downgrade rights
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620
supports dual independent display
Max resolution: 4096×2160 (HDMI)@24Hz
Intel HD Graphics 520
supports dual independent display
Max resolution: 3840×2160 (Mini DisplayPort)@60Hz
4096×2160 (HDMI)@24Hz
Memory Non-WWAN models: 16GB max / 2133MHz DDR4, one DDR4 SO-DIMM socket

WWAN models: 8GB 2133MHz DDR4 soldered to systemboard

Non-WWAN models: 16GB max / 2133MHz DDR4, one DDR4 SO-DIMM socket

WWAN models: 8GB 2133MHz DDR4 soldered to systemboard

Storage Up to 1TB m.2 2280 SATA or PCIe SSD Up to 1TB m.2 2280 PCIe 3.0 x 4 SSD
Display FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS 13.3″ display 300 nits multi-touch HD (1366×768) or FHD (1920×1080) IPS 12.5″ display 300 nits multi-touch
Pen ThinkPad Pen Pro active pen for multi-touch display Some: ThinkPad Pen Pro active pen for multi-touch display
Camera HD 720p Camera 720p HD, 1.0 MP resolution, fixed focus
Audio support HD Audio, Conexant® CX11771 codec, Dolby® DAXII

stereo speakers, 2W x 2

dual array microphone

combo audio / microphone jack

HD Audio, Conexant® CX11852 codec, Dolby® Home Theater® v4

stereo speakers 2W x 2

dual array microphone

combo audio / microphone jack

Keyboard Full-size keyboard, backlight, 6-row, multimedia Fn keys Full-size keyboard, backlight, 6-row, multimedia Fn keys
UltraNav TrackPoint pointing device and multi-touch with 3+2 buttons click pad TrackPoint pointing device and multi-touch with 3+2 buttons click pad
G sensor, eCompass, Gyroscope 3D accelerometer and 3D magnetometer, 3D compass, 3D gyrometer 3D accelerometer and 3D magnetometer, 3D compass, 3D gyrometer
Ambient light sensor  Yes Yes
Fingerprint Reader Some: Touch style fingerprint reader on the keyboard bezel Some: Touch style fingerprint reader on the keyboard bezel
WLAN/WiGig Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC (2 x 2) 8265,
Bluetooth Version 4.1

Intel Tri-Band Wireless-AC 18265 WiGig + WiFi 2 x 2 AC + Bluetooth 4.1 M.2 Card

WiGig adapter is only available in selected countries

BCM: Broadcom Wireless-AC, 2×2, Wi-Fi + Bluetooth combo adapter, M.2 Card

no vPro: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260, 2×2, Wi-Fi + BT, M.2 Card

vPro: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 with vPro, 2×2, Wi-Fi + BT, M.2 Card

Intel Tri-Band Wireless-AC 18260 WiGig + WiFi 2×2 AC + Bluetooth 4.1 M.2 Card

WiGig adapter is only available in selected countries

WWAN Optional

Qualcomm® 4G LTE-Advanced/DC-HSPA+/HSPA+/HSPA/UMTS/GNSS, M.2 card

WWAN models are only available with i5, i7 processores, 8GB soldered to systemboard memory

WWAN models not available in North America

Optional

Sierra Wireless EM7455,
Qualcomm® 4G LTE-Advanced/DC-HSPA+/HSPA+/HSPA/UMTS/GNSS, M.2 card

WWAN models are only available with i5, i7 processors,
8GB soldered to systemboard memory and FHD display

Battery Up to 12.5 Hours Up to 10 hours Li-polymer 4-cell 44Wh
Ports Two USB 3.0 (one Always On)

USB-C/Thunderbolt 3

microSD

HDMI

Combo audio / microphone jack

Rectangular “Slim Tip” charging port

Two USB 3.0 (one Always On)

Mini DisplayPort

HDMI

Onelink+ connector

Combo audio / microphone jack

Rectangular “Slim Tip” charging port

Weight From 3.03 lbs (1.37 kg) From 2.90 lb (1.32kg)
Dimensions 12.30” x 8.75” x 0.70” (313.5 mm x 222.2 mm x 18.2 mm) 12.20″ x 8.66″ x 0.70″ (309.9mm x 220mm x 17.8mm)
Color Black or silver Midnight black or silver

Photos

Yoga 370 on top, 260 on bottom.

Again, the 370 is a prototype. Ports and features may differ in production units, and units with different options.

Front and rear very similar. The 370 is slightly larger.

The size difference is more apparent in side view.

370: “slim” charging port, USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, proprietary Ethernet port, USB 3.0/always on
260: “slim” charging port, OneLink+, mini DisplayPort, USB 3.0/always on

370: power button, pen in pen silo, combo audio jack, micro SD card slot, (SIM slot WWAN models) USB 3.0, HDMI, security lock port
260: power button, volume up/down, pen in pen silo, combo audio jack, micro SD card slot/SIM card slot, USB 3.0, HDMI, security lock port

A look at the screens side-by-side, showing the 370’s larger display in a slightly larger frame on the right.

ThinkPad Yoga 370 Links

12 March 2017 update: TP Yoga 370 specs and some documents are now available.  Sales and user’s guide links still pending…

Hardware Maintenance Manual – ThinkPad Yoga 370

PSREF Page

Base Specification

ThinkPad Yoga 260 Links

ThinkPad Yoga 260 (sales site)

(English) User Guide – ThinkPad Yoga 260

Hardware Maintenance Manual – ThinkPad Yoga 260

PSREF Page

Base Specification

Random Observations

Device and Disk Managers, SSD performance: This TP Yoga 370 has a SATA m.2 SSD, not NVMe.

Operating System: this unit shipped with Windows 10 Pro Signature Edition.  It’s my understanding that production systems will also use a signature edition preload.  Signature edition preloads include much less (or no) bloatware.  That’s welcome news 🙂

Like other recent Lenovo offerings, it uses a PBR (Microsoft push-button reset) image.  There is a small recovery partition but it contains recovery tools, not the recovery image.  The recovery image files are incorporated in the C: partition, not in a separate partition.  They get updated when the OS updates, so recovery isn’t to as-shipped state, but to as-shipped if it had shipped with the updated OS.

Linux: Live Ubuntu Linux 16.04.1. No wifi out of the box. SATA AHCI-mode SSD (containing Windows 10) is visible to Linux.

Virtualization: VMWare Player and two VMs. Requires enabling VT-x in BIOS. Two VMs pretty much maxed the 4GB of RAM in this system. Configuring the VMs with less virtual RAM each would help, but it’s not really workable to run both at the same time with the RAM available in this particular laptop. They also consume a fair bit of the 128GB of main storage.

For any kind of serious VM work a configuration with more SSD, more RAM, and perhaps a stronger processor would be appropriate. For occasional/demo/experimental use, this one is fine.

Dongles: The ‘370 uses Lenovo’s proprietary Ethernet port, since the unit isn’t thick enough for a standard RJ45 port. The ‘260 made Ethernet available via the OneLink port – or with a USB dongle as described below.

There’s a Lenovo Ethernet dongle <part number needed> that provides a full-sized RJ45 connector.

It’s also possible to use an aftermarket USB-C or USB 3.0 to Ethernet dongle. I tested briefly with an Anker USB-C to USB 3.0/RJ45 mini combo hub. Also a StarTech USB 3.0 to RJ45 dongle. Both worked without requiring an additional driver. I mention them here as examples, not necessarily as recommendations.

Color: Did I mention that it’s SILVER? It’s also available in black…

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