EA Says High-End Gaming PCs Need A BIOS Update To Play Nice With Need For Speed Unbound [UPDATED]

Need For Speed Unbound screen showing a bunch of cars.
EA has updated its guidance on how to resolve flashing and blinking display issues in Need for Speed Unbound, saying affected users should update their motherboard BIOS, not their GPU BIOS.

"We've seen reports of flashing/blinking display issues with folks on high-end PCs (NVIDIA RTX 40-series). After testing, we've found a solution is to upgrade the motherboard BIOS. Please refer to your motherboard manufacturer’s support page to obtain the latest system BIOS," EA states in its revised community forum post.

"Previously, the fix was incorrectly listed as a graphics card vBIOS update," EA added.

Incidentally, EA is no longer singling out the GeForce RTX 4090 specifically, though it does point to the "RTX 40-series" in parenthesis, when referencing a high-end PC. It's also not clear what exactly is causing the issue that would require updating a motherboard's BIOS, or if any specific chipsets are more likely to run into this issue. It remains an odd situation and resolution.

That said, the same precautions apply—be sure to back up your data before flashing your motherboard's BIOS. You should also take note of any custom settings and tweaks you might have made in the BIOS, as they're typically reset to the stock settings when updating the firmware. If it's an option, save/export your settings and/or profiles to a USB flash drive before updating, and import them back afterward.

Original Story:
The early impressions on Steam for EA's newly released Need for Speed Unbound are "Very Positive" out of over 650 user votes. Be that as it may, there's an annoying issue that can manifest on high-end gaming PCs equipped with NVIDIA's flagship GeForce RTX 4090 graphics card, and the solution is an odd one—update the GPU's BIOS.

Over on EA's forums, a community manager wrote up a post that will be updated over time with known issues as they're discovered, and any applicable workarounds. It's a relatively short post at the moment, but one of the bugs outlined has to do with displays flickering and blinking when playing the latest Need for Speed release.

"We've seen reports of flashing/blinking display issues with folks on high-end PCs (NVIDIA RTX 4090). After testing, we've found a workaround/fix is to upgrade the BIOS on the 4090 video card," the community manager wrote.

It's not too often that a game publisher advises updating the BIOS on your graphics card. In fact, I can't recall a single time this has ever happened before now (feel free to enlighten me in the comments if this has actually happened before). Typically the workarounds for these kinds of issues involve game patches and driver updates, or other non-BIOS altering tweaks.

Fortunately for those affected by this, updating the BIOS on your GeForce RTX 4090 is relatively easy. NVIDIA has made available a UEFI firmware update tool (version 1.2) that works with both Founders Edition and custom GeForce RTX 4090 and GeForce RTX 4080 models from its hardware partners like ASUS, Gigabyte, and MSI. Here are NVIDIA's instructions...
The NVIDIA GPU Firmware Update Tool will detect whether the firmware update is needed, and if needed, will give the user the option to update it.

If you are currently experiencing a blank screen, please try one of the following workarounds in order to run the tool:
  • Ensure you are using the latest SBIOS from your motherboard vendor
  • Change boot mode from UEFI to Legacy/CSM
  • Boot using an alternate graphics source (secondary card or integrated graphics)
  • After powering on your system, wait for your operating system to load with the graphics driver installed
MSI GeForce RTX 4090 Surpim Liquid X graphics card.

According to NVIDIA, updating the firmware is sometimes required to ensure compatibility with certain UEFI sBIOSes. Without it, the company says graphics cards in certain motherboards can present blank screens while booting the OS when in UEFI mode.

"This update should only be applied if blank screens are occurring on boot," NVIDIA says. Or apparently also when your screen flickers while playing Need for Speed Unbound, if following EA's separate guidance.

Palit GeForce RTX 4090 GameRock OC graphics card.

We haven't run this tool ourselves, but according to the folks at TechPowerUp, it doesn't alter the factory overclocked parameters or custom power limits that exist on partner models, or at least that was the case with their Palit RTX 4090 GameRock OC. What's also interesting is that this appears to only update a specific section of the BIOS without changing the BIOS version number or build date.

As always when it comes to this sort of thing, be sure to back up your data before in case something goes awry and you need to use a secondary PC for a while. It's also a good idea to invest in a UPS battery backup—a power outage in the middle of a BIOS update can ruin your day in a hurry.