BIOS from A to Z

1. BIOS Versions

Every motherboard has its own unique BIOS designed especially to handle the hardware it contains. The basis for the majority of BIOS Programs is the Phoenix Award BIOS, which occurs in two different formats. You’ll also find some computers that run an American Megatrends (AMI) BIOS.

The structure of BIOS menus and the nomenclature used for menu options vary from vendor to vendor. In fact, BIOS menus for two successive motherboard models can even differ to a greater or a lesser extent. This explains why we can’t provide precise descriptions of BIOS options in every PC known to humankind. Nevertheless, you should find the following explanations based on the Phoenix Award BIOS directly related to (if not identical with) what you find on your own PC. Don’t stress if you can’t find some of the settings named on your computer - this just means the BIOS on your PC doesn’t address the related hardware functions or capabilities directly.

2. Accessing Your BIOS

During start-up, as the BIOS is checking hardware components on your system, tallying up available RAM, and checking out hard disks (and other drives and devices), you can invoke the BIOS Setup program by pressing a special key on your keyboard. Often, this means striking the delete [Del] key, but it might be some other key such as [F2]. Look for an onscreen message during boot-up : most BIOSes show a message that reads something like "" along the bottom edge of the monitor. If all else fails, you can always dig up a manual for the PC or the motherboard to identify this magic key. Depress and hold this key down for a second or two as the PC begins to boot.

If it works as it should, the BIOS will finish counting up available memory, and then the primary BIOS menu screen will appear. If this doesn’t produce the desired result, reboot the PC and try a different key. Many notebooks, for example, use the [F1] or escape [Esc] key. Sometimes, keys such as [F2], [F10] or key sequences like [Alt F1] may do the trick instead.