How do I get to the BIOS on my Vostro 1500 with a broken screen and an external

I've got an old Vostro 1500 with a broken screen, but it's been great as a media server in my house and I can attach an old Sony monitor to it when I need to update things.

Trouble is, it's been locking up recently. I first thought it was a fan problem causing overheating, but all the diagnostics indicate that things are OK.

Anyway, I was going to try a full re-install of Vista or maybe Ubuntu, except the BIOS is obviously set to bood from the HD first, so CDs won't autorun from booting.

Also, the monitor doesn't display anything on the screen until Windows starts up, so I can't see what to press or where to get into the BIOS, let alone make any changes.

Has anyone else got around a problem like this? I'd buy a replacement screen (they are actually not too expensive), but don't want to if there are other hardware problems and a re-install doesn't work.
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  1. Try pressing F2 on boot. F12 opens up some nice diagnostic tools too.
    Try running memtest86+ for the freezing problem.
  2. There are a few options F2 is usually good but some use delete on start up and others F8. Just try each and see which works. Try one at a time though.

  3. just took a look and its F2 but you need to hit it at teh right time so i would just keep hitting it at a plain 1,2,3 etc count after you start it up.

  4. He won't see the screen as the BIOS will attempt to show up on the laptop screen even if you hit the correct BIOS button.

    I suggested this in another post to another user. Get an external mouse and keyboard, turn on the laptop, close the case right after that. If it does not go to sleep immediately, it should boot up and see the external monitor as the main one, and send the BIOS display to that.

    If that does not work, you may need to get a docking station for your model, they usually give you a power button on the dock so you can turn on the laptop without even opening it. Then for sure the laptop will only output to the external monitor. I have seen used docks on ebay for as low as $20 for some systems.
  5. What a truly brilliant suggestion! Thank you so much for that......and it does work!

    What I can now see is that it may be a bios problem as it seems to stutter to life and crash completely sometimes. I'll flash the bios with the latest version and see how it goes!

    Thanks so much for your help!!!!
  6. Glad it helped, good luck with the screen issue.
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