- In this article…
- 1. What is the BIOS?
- 2. Should I make changes to the BIOS?
- 3. What should I do before making changes to the BIOS?
- 4. How do I check which BIOS version Im using?
- 5. How do I update my computers BIOS?
- 6. How do I make changes to my BIOS?
If your PC is refusing to work with another piece of hardware, or running into problems when booting up, you may need to update or change your BIOS to correct the issue. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make changes to get your computer working.
What is the BIOS?
The BIOS (or Basic Input Output System) is the very first thing your computer reads when you switch it on. It’s located on your PC’s motherboard, away from the rest of the system disks, so it won’t be corrupted if your hard drive fails.
This firmware’s primary function is to get your computer up and running, by initialising the hardware and then loading up the operating system (OS). The BIOS checks your processor and memory is present and correct, while also detecting which peripherals (keyboard, mouse and so on) are attached to your PC. Following that, it checks to see if you’ve inserted a boot disc. If none is found, it loads the OS into memory and gets things started up.
Should I make changes to the BIOS?
Tinkering with your BIOS can help to rectify any severe problems that your PC is experiencing, if you can’t actually boot into Windows to make changes there. As long as you know what you’re doing, of course.
Likewise, updating the BIOS with the latest version can allow your computer to play nice with new peripherals and hardware, which previously weren’t supported.
However, and we can’t stress strongly enough, playing around inside of the BIOS settings without the proper knowledge can lead to serious anguish. As in, your computer may be completely borked if you improperly change any of the settings. So if you’re having issues with your PC booting up or not recognising new peripherals and you’re not experienced in this area, you should consult a technician instead of throwing yourself blindly into the abyss.
What should I do before making changes to the BIOS?
If you’re working with a laptop, then make sure it’s plugged in and the battery is at least half charged. If the power suddenly cuts partway through the update process, then things could get very ugly indeed.
Before starting you should also check which BIOS version you’re using, so you can find out if a newer version is available from your motherboard’s manufacturer.
How do I check which BIOS version I’m using?
The easiest way to do this is using the Windows Command Prompt. In the search box at the bottom left corner of your Windows desktop (beside the Windows start button), type in ‘cmd’ and press enter. A command window will pop into existence.
In here, type the following: Wmic bios get biosversion
Some text will pop up, revealing the current version number.
Alternatively, you can open a command window in the same way and type in: DXDiag
A DirectX Diagnostic window will appear on-screen. Beside the ‘BIOS’ entry in system information, your current version will be listed.
Once you know your BIOS version, you can then check on your manufacturer’s website to see if a newer version can be downloaded.
How do I update my computer’s BIOS?
To download the latest version, you’ll need to head to your motherboard manufacturer’s website (on a different computer if your own refuses to boot, of course). If you’re not sure of the make and model of the motherboard stashed inside of your PC, and your computer manuals have vanished into the ether, then you can always use a tool such as CPU-Z – again, assuming your PC actually functions.
On the manufacturer’s website, head to the downloads or support section and search for your model number. You should see the option to grab the latest BIOS edition, which will often download as an executable Windows program. Once this program has downloaded, you can simply run it from within Windows. This will wipe the BIOS and replace it with the latest info. Again, take every precaution to avoid losing power, as this could critically harm your computer. Also, note that you may need to disable your antivirus and security applications if the program fails, before running it again.
Alternatively, your manufacturer may provide a program to create a bootable flash drive. Download this from the website as above, but this time you’ll need to provide a USB stick or other external drive with enough space to hold the necessary files. Make sure the drive doesn’t have anything important on it, because it may be wiped in the process.
Connect it to your PC and run the program you just downloaded, and the files will be copied onto the external drive.
Now you’ll have to reboot your computer with the external drive still connected. Press F12 when the PC begins to load and you’ll be asked for a source. Select the external drive and then simply follow the on-screen instructions to update the BIOS.
How do I make changes to my BIOS?
If you wish to make direct changes to your BIOS, for instance to change the boot up checking sequence to load an OS from disc instead of the computer’s main drive, then you’ll need to go into the BIOS and fiddle with it directly. You can do this as your computer first boots up.
As soon as you hit the power button, you’ll see some text flash up on your monitor. One of these lines of text will tell you what key to press in order to enter the BIOS. It’s usually the Delete key, but this may differ depending on your motherboard.
A menu will appear offering a variety of options and settings. Remember, only make changes if you’re absolutely confident that you won’t cripple the computer.
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What is BIOS?
New developments in BIOS technology
What are the basic functions of BIOS?
2. CMOS setup
3. Bootstrap loader
4. BIOS drivers
How to enter BIOS in Windows 10
Method #1: Use hotkey during boot-up
- Acer: F2 or DEL
- ASUS: F2 for all PCs, F2 or DEL for motherboards
- Dell: F2 or F12
- HP: ESC or F10
- Lenovo: F2 or Fn + F2
- Lenovo (Desktops): F1
- Lenovo (ThinkPads): Enter + F1.
- MSI: DEL for motherboards and PCs
- Microsoft Surface Tablets: Press and hold volume up button.
- Origin PC: F2
- Samsung: F2
- Sony: F1, F2, or F3
- Toshiba: F2
Method #2: Use Windows 10’s start menu
How to access Windows 7, Vista, and XP BIOS
I can’t access BIOS, what do I do?
Troubleshoot method #1: Disable fast startup
Troubleshoot method #2: Use an emergency boot disk
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Build a Powerful Media-Editing PC
- DIY: How to Build A Great Media-Editing.
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- How to Configure a PC’s BIOS
Configuring the BIOS is going to be one of the final steps to setting up a new PC. The BIOS is software built on to the motherboard that manages the installed hardware.
On first boot, you’ll likely receive an error message. That’s because BIOS settings need to be configured.
Our EVGA motherboard uses Phoenix AwardBIOS, and we have categories called Standard CMOS Features and Advanced BIOS Features.
Selecting Standard CMOS allows the time and date to be set. It also presents us with a list of connected hard drives and optical drives. If one of your drives is missing you may want to check your connections. At the bottom it also displays how much RAM is installed. If the actual installed RAM and this number differ, then check and make sure the memory is seated properly on the motherboard.
Advanced BIOS Features will allow us to pick the order in which our drives are checked on startup. For the initial setup of Windows, we’re going to set the CD-ROM drive to boot first because that’s where our Windows 7 setup disc will be. After Windows is installed, change this setting back to your primary hard drive.
The other categories in the BIOS will vary by motherboard. The BIOS will let you adjust more advanced settings ilke your RAM timings or the voltage to your processor for overclocking. We won’t be discussing that, though because every configuration is different. Here’s some video help:
When done with the BIOS settings, insert the operating system setup disc into the CD-ROM drive. Save your settings and exit the BIOS. Your computer will then restart and the Windows installer should load. After installing the OS, enjoy your new PC!
(Justin Meisinger in Boston contributed to this report.)
Nick Barber covers general technology news in both text and video for IDG News Service. E-mail him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @nickjb .
I’m the director of online video for IDG News Service. I cover general and breaking technology stories in text and video.
Optimize Your BIOS for Top Performance
By now you know that there are tons of things you can do to make your Windows PC run faster and smoother and I’m sure your computer is now a lot more comfortable to use. But now is the time to speed up your computer even more by delving under the hood and tweaking some more advanced settings.
One of the more advanced optimization techniques is BIOS tuneup. BIOS stands for Basic Input-Output System and is the standard firmware for motherboards. It is the first software your computer loads when you power it up. It prepares everything for your operating system by detecting your computer’s hardware components and letting the operating system know it can use them, calculating the amount of available RAM and setting the CPU speed. Once everything has been taken care of, the BIOS boots the operating system and lets the OS take it over.
Just like any other piece of software, the BIOS can be fine-tuned. Optimizing the BIOS will decrease your computer’s boot time and make it run more efficiently.
Access the BIOS
On most systems, accessing the BIOS is not all that hard. When you power up your computer, a startup screen appears. That screen is usually accessible for only a few seconds, so you’ll need to act quickly. On the screen, you should see which key you need to press to enter Setup. Usually it’s either Del, F1, F2 or F12. Make sure you press the appropriate key quickly, as you might not have more than a few seconds. This will get you through to the BIOS settings.
Configure boot order
Configuring boot order is something that can significantly speed up computer startup. The BIOS manages the order of system boot items, such as floppy (yes, they still exist), CD/DVD optical drive, flash drive and hard drive. At times, you might need to boot from a CD or a flash drive, but most of the time you boot from your hard drive. However, your BIOS checks whether there are any bootable CDs or floppies, just in case. When it doesn’t detect any of these devices, it moves on to the hard drive. Since you use the hard drive to boot your OS every time you turn your computer on and almost never use bootable CDs or other drives, it only makes sense to put your hard drive first in line. This will save you a few seconds during computer startup. Here is how you can do it:
It also makes sense to disable floppy altogether because it’s highly unlikely that you will be booting from there (even if you have a floppy drive, that is). To disable FloppyDrive in BIOS, you’ll need to click on FloppyDrive A within BIOS and set it to Disabled.
Enable the Quick Boot option
In the past, computers needed to run POSTs – power-on self tests, which are no longer necessary. However, some systems still perform them and thus increase your PCs startup time. Memory check is the longest of them all and can last for several seconds. The Quick Boot option still performs all the necessary tests, but it does that quicker. This makes sense, because the complete version of POSTs is not really needed every time you power up your PC.
Turning on Quick Boot is pretty easy:
Update your BIOS
Just like any other software, BIOS needs updating. And just like any other vendor, your motherboard manufacturer should issue regular updates and bug fixes, as well as improve compatibility with new devices. BIOS updates can significantly decrease your PCs boot time and increase its overall performance.
BIOS updates are available for download through your PC/motherboard’s manufacturer website. But before downloading you’ll need to find out which BIOS version your computer is running. To do that, simply type msinfo32 in the Search box in Windows 7/Vista, or in the Run box in Windows XP and hit Enter.
Now that you know your BIOS version, go to your PC’s manufacturer’s website and check whether there is an update available. Most manufacturers sort updates by PC lines and models.
Be very careful and make sure that you download the right BIOS update file that is intended for your particular model. Installing a BIOS that is not intended for your model will most likely wreck your computer and make it unbootable. Most BIOS updates will warn you if you try to install them on hardware that doesn’t match, but it’s best to be careful in the first place.
Once you’ve found the right BIOS update, download it along with any supporting documentation and Read Me files.
IMPORTANT: it’s absolutely essential to read the update instructions in the Read Me documentation. Updating the BIOS incorrectly can ruin your computer.
Most PC manufacturers make updating BIOS fairly easy – all you need to do is download the update, quit all open applications, and run the .exe file. Let the update handle everything and then reboot your computer. Make sure you are not running off battery during the BIOS update, as you will not be able to boot up if the update gets interrupted. This doesn’t sound too hard, does it?
However, if you have an older computer, you might need to create a bootable drive and update the BIOS manually. Some systems will allow you to simply download an app that will configure a bootable USB drive or a blank CD/DVD to update your BIOS. Other systems are not that user-friendly and will require you to copy some files to your bootable drive, restart your PC, and enter the BIOS during startup. You will then need to change the boot order so that your system launches the update instead of booting your operating system from the hard drive. You’ll need to consult the BIOS update documentation for more specific instructions.
We’ve covered other important BIOS optimization techniques in our ebook “Turbo Windows – the Ultimate PC Speed Up Guide”. Download it for FREE now!
The BIOS is the firmware responsible for booting up your PC. Before the operating system is loaded and takes over the computer, the BIOS checks and initializes all your hardware and bootstraps the boot process.
The BIOS interface allows you to tweak your machine’s hardware outside the operating system. Overclockers spend a lot of time in the BIOS adjusting voltage and CPU frequency multipliers. Even if you’re not an overclocker, significant system fixes often require BIOS access.
Note: throughout this guide, the term “BIOS” will be used to refer to both BIOS and UEFI.
Common BIOS Settings Explained
To enter the BIOS, wait until your computer beeps during boot, then press the key required to enter the BIOS or Setup, typically displayed on the BIOS boot screen (e.g. Delete, F2, F10).
CPU Frequency Settings
If you have an unlocked processor (e.g. Intel’s “K” series), these settings can change the frequency of the CPU and adjust the voltage received by the CPU. The balance between heat, voltage, frequency, and stability often requires frequent visits to the BIOS to coax the most power out of a given chip.
Apart from the CPU base clock and clock multiplier, other CPU-specific options like SpeedStep and C-States are typically adjusted here.
Adjusting memory timings can eke out slightly more performance from RAM. Faster RAM means faster processing, though the difference is often measured in units of time that are imperceptible to most humans. Memory timings are complex, and you’ll need to read up on them before diving in.
By default, the BIOS boot order is likely disk drive, then hard drives. If your PC only has one hard drive, you likely won’t need to touch this setting. If you’re dual-booting or need to boot from a USB stick, you’ll need to manually select the device in the BIOS’ boot order section.
In this screen you can often adjust other boot options, like Fast Boot, trusted platform module (TPM) settings, and keyboard settings.
These settings control how devices that connect to your motherboard operate.
SATA connects hard drives, solid state drives, and disk drives to your motherboard. By default, SATA can detect what kind of device is connected to each SATA port and optimize the connection based on that information. Here, users can manually tweak port assignments and management systems to ensure the best results.
While most operating systems now fully support USB 3.0, that was not always the case. As such, there are a number of settings on most newer motherboards for managing USB 3.0 settings. Here, you can also adjust support for legacy BIOS USB support if older devices require it. Individual chips handling USB ports and other peripheral connection ports can also be enabled or disabled in these settings.
If you have multiple GPUs on your machine, the display settings can prioritize the correct GPU. If you have a graphics card mounted in a PCI slot, you’ll typically want the BIOS to use that graphics card for the boot process. Options typically include “IGFX” for on-processor internal graphics and “PCI” for PCI-mounted graphics cards.
The power states of your computer are handled by the motherboard, and that decides which devices get power and how much they get. Things like hibernation and suspension are handled in the power management settings, providing specific options for what happens under different circumstances. This is most important in laptops, where battery power means that detailed power management settings can be necessary.
These options adjust the behavior of the computer’s power button. Options normally include instant shut down, delayed shut down, and sleep modes.
If you want your PC to wake from sleep when it receives a packet from the local area network (LAN), Wake-on-LAN settings allow for that. On unsupported operating systems, this can also cause boot loops, so it’s often best to turn it off unless you know you need the functionality.
These options may or may not appear in your BIOS, depending on your system configuration, but they’re frequently present on higher-end consumer motherboards.
Some processors offer hardware support for virtualization. If your processor offers this feature, you’ll typically need to enable it manually before any virtualization software like VirtualBox will run properly. On Intel motherboards, virtualization settings may be called “VT-d.” The equivalent for AMD motherboards is called “AMD-V.”
If your PC has system fans with adjustable speeds, the motherboard may allow you to adjust the fan’s speed. Depending on the sophistication of the system, you may tweak fan curves in a graphical interface or select text-based presets.
The universal maxim of PC troubleshooting applies here as well: if you don’t know what something is, Google the on-screen text. You’ll often find a clear explanation at the end of that road.
Alexander Fox is a tech and science writer based in Philadelphia, PA with one cat, three Macs and more USB cables than he could ever use.
By Carey Holzman 22 September 2005
Power Management Settings
- Page 1: Introduction
- Page 2: Main Options
- Page 3: Advanced Features
- Page 4: How To Overclock Using Advanced Chipset Features
- Page 5: How To Overclock, Continued
- Page 6: Integrated Peripherals
- Page 7: Integrated Peripherals, Continued
- Page 8: Power Management Settings
- Page 9: PnP/PCI Configurations
- Page 10: Security Options
Power Management Settings
This area of the BIOS seems to be the most misunderstood. When these settings are not properly configured, the result can be systems that do not shut down correctly, or that enter or awaken from the Standby or Hibernate modes improperly. Since Windows has built-in power management, you’ll want to disable all power management in the BIOS. Otherwise, the two fight with each other, and neither works properly. Motherboard manufacturers don’t assume that everyone is using Windows, so many of these settings exist for non-Windows users.
ACPI Suspend to RAM : ACPI stands for Advanced Configuration and Power Interface – not to be confused with APIC or IPCA, which some people may find as options in their BIOS setup programs. The Suspend to RAM feature, sometimes referred to as S3/STR, lets the PC save more power when in Standby mode, but all devices within or attached to the computer must be ACPI-compliant. Some BIOS’s offer an S1/POS option for this scenario. If you enable this feature and experience problems with the standby mode, simply go back into the BIOS and disable it.
Video Off Method : The DPMS (Display Power Management System) option allows the BIOS to control the video display card if it supports the DPMS feature. The Blank Screen option simply blanks the screen – use this for monitors without either power-management or “green” features. The V/H SYNC Blank option blanks the screen and turns off vertical and horizontal scanning. If your computer and monitor were built within the last four years, I recommend setting this to DPMS.
HDD Down In Suspend : This feature determines whether the hard-disk drive is automatically shut down when the computer enters Suspend mode. While most power settings of this type are controlled within Windows, if you find the hard drive is not powering down when the computer enters Suspend mode – assuming your computer even allows Suspend and Hibernate modes – then enable this option. Otherwise, the recommended setting is Disabled.
PWR Button Current page: Power Management Settings
In this Itechguide, Victor teaches you how to change boot order in Windows 10. The guide covers steps for 3 methods to change boot order in Windows 10.
Expand “Browse Post Topics” below to go straight to a topic.
Browse Post Topics
How to Change Boot Order in Windows 10 from System Configuration
How to Change Boot Order in Windows 10 from Advanced System Settings
How to Change Boot Order in Windows 10 from Advanced Start-up
- Right-click Windows 10 Start menu and select Settings.
- Then, on Windows Settings page, click Update & security.
- On the left pane of Windows Update, click Recovery.
- Then, on the Recovery settings, scroll down to the Advanced Start-up section and click Restartnow.
- If you receive a notification that some apps are open, click Restart anyway. Then, wait for Windows 10 to boot to Advanced start-up.
- When your PC boots to Advanced start-up, on the Choose an option screen, click Use another operating system. The next screen will display the operating systems on your PC.
- On the Choose an operating system screen, click Change defaults.
- Then, on the Options screen, click Choose a default operating system
- Finally, click on the operating system you want to set as default (to boot first by default)
You can use the methods covered in this Itechguide to change boot order in Windows 10! I hope you found this Itechguide helpful. If you found it helpful, kindly vote Yes to the “Was this post Helpful” question below.
Alternatively, you could ask a question, leave a comment or provide feedback with the “Leave a Reply” form found towards the end of this page.
Finally, for more Windows 10 Itechguides, visit our WINDOWS 10 HOW-TO page. You may also find our Work from Home page very helpful.
In the previous list, you saw that the BIOS checks the CMOS Setup for custom settings. Here’s what you do to change those settings.
To enter the CMOS Setup, you must press a certain key or combination of keys during the initial startup sequence. Most systems use “Esc,” “Del,” “F1,” “F2,” “Ctrl-Esc” or “Ctrl-Alt-Esc” to enter setup. There is usually a line of text at the bottom of the display that tells you “Press ___ to Enter Setup.”
Once you have entered setup, you will see a set of text screens with a number of options. Some of these are standard, while others vary according to the BIOS manufacturer. Common options include:
- System Time/Date – Set the system time and date
- Boot Sequence – The order that BIOS will try to load the operating system
- Plug and Play – A standard for auto-detecting connected devices; should be set to “Yes” if your computer and operating system both support it
- Mouse/Keyboard – “Enable Num Lock,” “Enable the Keyboard,” “Auto-Detect Mouse”.
- Drive Configuration – Configure hard drives, CD-ROM and floppy drives
- Memory – Direct the BIOS to shadow to a specific memory address
- Security – Set a password for accessing the computer
- Power Management – Select whether to use power management, as well as set the amount of time for standby and suspend
- Exit – Save your changes, discard your changes or restore default settings
Be very careful when making changes to setup. Incorrect settings may keep your computer from booting. When you are finished with your changes, you should choose “Save Changes” and exit. The BIOS will then restart your computer so that the new settings take effect.
The BIOS uses CMOS technology to save any changes made to the computer’s settings. With this technology, a small lithium or Ni-Cad battery can supply enough power to keep the data for years. In fact, some of the newer chips have a 10-year, tiny lithium battery built right into the CMOS chip!