Appendix B. BIOS Settings

The BIOS, or Basic Input-Output System, is the program (stored in a chip on your motherboard) responsible for booting your computer and starting your operating system. It also handles the flow of data between the operating system and your peripherals (keyboard, mouse, hard disk controller, video adapter, etc.). Your BIOS has a special “setup” screen that allows you to customize its settings to enable or disable motherboard features, improve performance, and, sometimes, fix problems.


The BIOS setup is usually accessed by pressing a key—such as Del, F2, or Esc—immediately after powering on your system and before the initial beep. The screen that appears before the Windows logo typically identifies the key you need to press to enter setup; consult your computer’s manual if you need further help.

The settings available in a computer’s BIOS setup screen will vary significantly from one system to another, but there are some settings that are common among them all. The problem is that motherboard and computer manufacturers are notorious for poorly documenting BIOS settings, so it can be difficult to determine what the settings mean, let alone how they should be set.

Here are some tips for working with BIOS settings and the descriptions in this appendix:

  • If you’re trying to fix a problem, don’t change more than one BIOS setting at a time. Although it may take longer, it means you can determine which setting is responsible for fixing the problem (or causing a new ...

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