The Basic Input-Output System (BIOS) is an essential set of routines in a PC, which is stored on a chip on the motherboard. It acts as an intermediary between a computer's hardware and its operating system. Without the BIOS, the PC's operating system would have no way to communicate with, or take control of, the hardware.

In other words, the BIOS is a crucial component of any computer. If its options are set incorrectly, the BIOS could slow your computer down by as much as 40%. Unfortunately, as new processors and motherboard chipsets are released, BIOS options continue to get even more confusing. As a result, many seasoned technicians are still baffled by the jargon-laced and confusing options available in a modern computer's BIOS setup program.

But that's okay, because THG is here to help! Each motherboard and/or computer manufacturer utilizes a different BIOS, so we'll cover the steps involved in optimizing the BIOS on an example board, the Asus A7N8X-E Deluxe. I've chosen this particular motherboard because so many of ASUS's boards are modeled after it. Also, the A7N8X-E is one of ASUS's most popular models; it's been available for nearly two years, and is still sold today for AMD-based systems. Obviously, whatever motherboard you use will have differences from this model, but you can still get a feel from the examples for the sorts of adjustments that you can make.

Keep in mind that changing a PC's BIOS settings incorrectly can cause the PC to malfunction. If this happens, a BIOS reset will need to be performed to return to the default (read: unoptimized) "factory settings." This is usually activated by a jumper on the motherboard, which is easier said then done with many laptops! Nothing discussed here should have a negative affect on any PC, but please follow each step explicitly.

Many large PC manufacturers such as Dell, HP, Gateway and Micron limit the options available to the end-user in the BIOS, in order to reduce ill-advised "tinkering" and the resulting support calls. As a result, you may not be able to take advantage of some of the advanced settings mentioned here on PCs from these major vendors.

Most PCs briefly display a message describing how you can enter "setup," the program where BIOS settings are adjusted. You're allowed only a few moments to press the required key before your operating system starts to load. To enter your BIOS, turn on the PC and hold down, or press repeatedly, the key required to enter setup. On most PCs this is the DEL key, the F1 key or the F2 key. If your PC will not enter setup using those keys and/or does not display the message described above when first turned on, you will need to refer to your documentation or contact your PC manufacturer for support.

It is recommended that you reboot after each individual BIOS setting change to ensure that your system functions normally. If you make numerous changes before rebooting, and your system will no longer boot, you won't know which change is responsible for the failure.

  • wguru
    Not sure I'll find THG detailing how a user can change the boot drive to a plugnplay usb optical drive, so if needed, I can use my recovery disk to boot because I junked my laptop's onboard optical drive and am using a high end Windows compatable optical drive now and the Bios is still set to boot from it. But I'll keep drilling.
  • Hello. I was wondering if you could help me. I loved your well described article. You are the first person I have seen online to acknowledge that the power management contained in the software does not mesh well with the hardware. So, I am trying to change my ACPI Settings in the the bios. I want to try switching it to S1 mode. I have Windows 7 and it will not wake up. Problem is I can't find the power settings in my bios. I have a dv9000 and not sure what button to push when I turn the laptop on. If anyone could help me out it would much appreciated. This problem is driving me crazy. Thank you in advance.
  • exact same problem here.