HP BIOS Update Blamed For Bricking Laptops And Users Are Livid

HP ProBook 455
In 2020, HP released the business-oriented HP ProBook 455 G7, an AMD-powered laptop that retailed for about $1,000. Owners used this device happily for several years, but now these machines are dying in droves. Users suspect HP of bricking the laptop with a bad BIOS update, and so far, HP doesn't have anything useful to say about the situation.

BIOS is a catch-all term for the low-level firmware that tells a computer how to boot up. Most of the things we call BIOS today are actually a flavor of Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), but whatever you call it, the ProBook is still busted.

Updating a machine's BIOS can be risky, because errors can make the computer unbootable with no way to reflash good software. That appears to be what happened to these particular ProBooks. HP released a new BIOS update in late May, which its HP Support Assistant app automatically installed on the laptops. Some users also got the bad firmware via a Windows Update. Over on the HP support forums, there are multiple pages of complaints about the update. Users claim after rebooting following the new BIOS installation, the machine simply spins its fans and sits on a black screen forever.

Mistakes happen, but HP's handling of this one isn't great. For one, it shouldn't be automatically installing BIOS updates on any PCs, let alone those sold in bulk to businesses. This does seem to be a widespread practice, too. I recently tested an HP laptop which was also configured to install BIOS updates automatically. Given the risk in updating this low-level code, HP should stop making these updates automatic in the Support Assistant software.

HP forum ProBook 455
Some posters in HP's forums report their organization has multiple laptops that installed the automatic update, and they're all bricked. Unfortunately, as a 2020 machine, the HP ProBook 455 G7 is out of warranty, leaving owners with little recourse until HP (hopefully) acknowledges the error and offers a remedy.

If there is no BIOS recover capability available for those systems, all HP can reasonably do in this situation is replace the motherboards or BIOS chips in the affected machines. Some owners have managed to revive the laptops by removing the BIOS chip and manually re-flashing it with the old software. That's a complex operation, though. Most companies will probably just replace the machines unless HP changes course.
Tags:  HP, Laptops, BIOS