This is part 1 of a 2 part series about the American Megatrends BIOS, or AMIBIOS. You are introduced to what the BIOS is, the beep codes if there is a fault, and the BIOS Setup Utility.
Part 2 looks at the AMIBIOS Update process. This is not a straightforward process for the typical home computer user. However, part 2 presents the update BIOS process in easy to follow steps.
There are several pictures in this tutorial to help your understanding of the AMIBIOS. Listed below is a link to each feature that is discussed.
American Megatrends BIOS, or AMIBIOS as it is commonly known, is one of the most popular BIOS' in the world.
BIOS stands for Basic Input Output System. It is a small piece of software that sits on a chip inside your computer on its motherboard.
You often hear the BIOS be called: Firmware, System BIOS, CMOS, Flash BIOS, ROM BIOS and RAM BIOS.
The BIOS checks that all the parts inside your computer, e.g. keyboard ports, memory, graphics etc., are in working order before your operating system loads.
The initial check that takes place is called the Power On Self Test (POST). When you first switch your computer on, the POST is taking place when you see this screen (or similar):-
If the POST does not detect any problems, your computer, laptop, or tablet makes a short beep noise to let you know your computer passed the POST test.
Your operating system then starts to load using the information provided by the BIOS. The 'Bootstrap Loader Program' does this automatically.
If the POST detects a problem with your hardware, it beeps to let you know. The number of beeps and the subsequent on screen message (unless it is a graphics card issue) tells you what the problem is.
There are 11 common BIOS beep codes. These are given in the table below, with some suggestions as to what they mean.
|Beep Code||Error Message||Potential Issue|
|1 Beep||DRAM Refresh Failure||Memory or Motherboard|
|2 Beeps||Memory Parity Error||Memory or Motherboard|
|3 Beeps||Base 64k RAM Failure||Memory or Motherboard|
|4 Beeps||Motherboard System
|5 Beeps||Processor error||Processor (CPU)|
|6 Beeps||Gate A20 Keyboard
|Keyboard or Motherboard|
|7 Beeps||Process Except
|Processor (CPU) or Motherboard|
|8 Beeps||Display Memory Read
|Video (Graphics) Card|
|9 Beeps||ROM BIOS Checksum Error||BIOS Chip or Motherboard|
|10 Beeps||CMOS Shutdown
|11 Beeps||Cache Memory
AMIBIOS BIOS Beep Codes
The PC Guide (Opens New Window) has some excellent material on how to troubleshoot AMIBIOS problems.
The information is quite technical. If you are unsure I would advise in this instance to take your machine to a local computer repair shop, or call your computer manufacturers support line.
The American Megatrends BIOS Setup Utility provides many details about your computer hardware. You can change some settings if you want to, but in most cases you won't need to.
Some details are for information only, which you cannot change.
When you switch on your computer, press the Delete key to enter the BIOS Setup Utility.
There is only a small window of opportunity to do this before your computer starts to load the operating system. Therefore, keep pressing the delete key until the BIOS Setup Utility appears.
On some computers you need to press the F1 or F2 keys to access the BIOS Setup Utility. Check your computer manufacturers website for how to access the BIOS settings.
Your AMIBIOS Version may look different to the image above. However, the menu names (Main, Advanced etc.) and how you move through each option are usually consistent, as shown in the right-hand side of the image (Select Screen etc.).
The options in grey are for information only, and cannot be changed e.g. Processor Speed. The options in blue can be changed.
In the image above, you could change the system time and system date if you wish, for example, if you have an AMIBIOS laptop, and you moved to another time zone.
You can also set up BIOS passwords in the security menu so only you and selected members of your family can change the BIOS settings.
If you want to know more about how to update your BIOS to the latest version, take a look at the AMIBIOS Update page.
Most home computer users do not need the change any of the BIOS settings, however setting a password is recommended.
Don't worry if some or all of this page doesn't make too much sense to you. Treat it as information only.