Everything You Need to Know About BIOS

One of the first things you’ll have to do after building a PC is mess around with the BIOS settings. If this is your first time building a PC, this will undoubtedly look very intimidating. Fortunately, BIOS isn’t too hard to understand once you realize what it is and what you’re supposed to do with it.

Here is everything you need to know about BIOS:

What is BIOS?

BIOS is an acronym for “Basic Input / Output System.” It’s the universal program found inside every PC and is responsible for controlling the operating system, hard drives, video cards, keyboards, mice, printers, and anything else you connect into your computer. Without BIOS, it would be impossible to use a PC.

Every time you boot up your PC, BIOS determines what should happen to the computer. This important system is what calculates how much RAM the PC should use, which hard drive should boot up first, and other equally important functions. While it may not be necessary to continuosly change BIOS settings, you should definitely go over them upon your PC’s first boot up.

BIOS was invented by IBM but is has since become the standard system for personal computing. Apart from controlling what your PC does, it also lets you test hardware, load boot loaders, and install operating systems. Simply put, BIOS is one of the most important components of every PC.

How to access BIOS

Everything You Need to Know About BIOS

While every PC is equipped with BIOS, there is no universal way to access it. How you enter BIOS settings will depend on your motherboard manufacturer and usually involves holding down a specific key during the boot up process. Most of the time this key is an “F Key” or the “DEL Key.”

Pay attention to the screen the first time you boot up your PC. If you installed everything correctly, you’ll see a short description on how to access BIOS. Pressing and holding the designated button will bring you into the BIOS settings.

If your PC doesn’t have BIOS installed, you’ll see something called UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). This firmware is similar to BIOS and is meant to replace it completely. However, the type of firmware installed on your PC will depend on the motherboard so be on the lookout for both acronyms.

What to do with BIOS

Once you enter BIOS, you’ll be able to confirm everything connected to your PC is configured correctly. You’ll also be able to change boot options, and assign functions to different hardware. You may not have to do any of this but you should still check.

Here are typical BIOS settings:

  • Change the Boot Order
  • Load BIOS Setup Defaults
  • Remove a BIOS Password
  • Create a BIOS Password
  • Change the Date and Time
  • Change Floppy Drive Settings
  • Change Hard Drive Settings
  • Change CD/DVD/BD Drive Settings
  • View Amount of Memory Installed
  • Change the Boot Up NumLock Status
  • Enable or Disable the Computer Logo
  • Enable or Disable the Quick Power On Self Test (POST)
  • Enable or Disable the CPU Internal Cache
  • Enable or Disable the Caching of BIOS
  • Change CPU Settings
  • Change Memory Settings
  • Change System Voltages
  • Enable or Disable RAID
  • Enable or Disable Onboard USB
  • Enable or Disable Onboard IEEE1394
  • Enable or Disable Onboard Audio
  • Enable or Disable Onboard Floppy Controller
  • Enable or Disable Onboard Serial/Parallel Ports
  • Enable or Disable ACPI
  • Change the ACPI Suspend Type
  • Change the Power Button Function
  • Change Power-on Settings
  • Change Which Display is Initialized First on Multi-Display Setups
  • Reset Extended System Configuration Data (ESCD)
  • Enable or Disable BIOS Control of System Resources
  • Change Fan Speed Settings
  • View CPU and System Temperatures
  • View Fan Speeds
  • View System Voltages

Not every BIOS screen looks the same so it’s important to familiarize yourself with these settings and know what everything does. I won’t go into the details of every function but you should definitely take a look at your motherboard’s manual and read all about them. And once you do that, you’ll be able to configure your PC exactly how you want it.

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You can always send us a message on social media (Facebook, Twitter) if you need help with BIOS settings or anything else related to building a PC.

You can also learn how to build a PC by downloading our free “How to Build a PC” eBook.

But if you’ve already familiarized yourself with BIOS, let us know about the settings you tweak the first time you boot up!