BIOS from A to Z

3. Manipulating BIOS Settings

To access an option in the BIOS, use the cursor (arrow) keys to highlight your choice, as shown in Screenshot A. The Enter key will either invoke a sub-menu or open a selection window, as illustrated in Screenshot B. To alter the value associated with the setting you’ve selected, you’ll have to use the plus [+]or minus [-] keys, or another combination such as [Page Up] and [Page down]. From the main menu screen, you’ll use this technique to navigate into various sub-menus, some of which may have subordinate menus of their own as well, until you get where you need to go.

Let’s take a brief overview look at the various menus in a typical BIOS setup program :

  • In the "Main" or "Standard CMOS Setup" menus, you can set the date and time, and also define the attributes of your hard disks.
  • In the "BIOS Features Setup" menu, you’ll work with general settings of all kinds.
  • The "Integrated Peripherals" menu is where you can manage interfaces and auxiliary system functions.
  • The "Power Management Setup" menu is where you go to configure energy saving or power management functions.
  • The "PnP/PCI Configurations" menu permits you to rearrange which interrupts (IRQs) relate to specific PCI expansion cards in your PC. If you don’t find these functions identified as such (or something similar) in the Main menu, you’ll probably find them under the "Advanced" menu instead.
  • The "Hardware Monitor" menu shows values from system sensors, such as the processor temperature or fan speeds (in RPM). These are normally for the CPU cooler and system fan, but may also be for the power supply or other fans for which the motherboard has sensing hardware.
  • The "Load Setup Defaults" item restores factory default settings, and wipes out any changes you may have already made. This can be especially useful when you’ve misconfigured something and the results cause problems on your system.

4. Ending A BIOS Session

To end your work in the BIOS Setup program, you must strike the [F10] key, or select the main menu entry that reads "Save & Exit Setup". Sometimes this involves first selecting an "Exit" option, then choosing the "Exit & Save Changes" sub-entry. You will then be presented with a choice between [Y] and [N], where the [Y] key saves your changes, and the [N] key discards them. Select one or the other, and you’ll exit the BIOS Setup program.