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BIOS Setup

Most systems have the setup program built right in to the motherboard ROM BIOS. These built-in setup programs are activated by a key sequence usually entered during the Power On Self Test (POST). Most systems show a prompt on the screen during the POST indicating which key to press to enter the BIOS Setup.

The major vendors have standardized on the following keystrokes to enter the BIOS Setup:

  • For AMI BIOS, press Del during POST.
  • For Phoenix BIOS, press F2 during POST.
  • For Award BIOS, press Del or Ctrl+Alt+Esc during POST.
  • For Microid Research BIOS, press Esc during POST.

If your system does not respond to one of these common keystroke settings, you might have to contact the manufacturer or read the system documentation to find the correct keystrokes to enter Setup.

Here are some unique ones I have encountered:

  • For IBM Aptiva/Valuepoint, press F1 during POST.
  • For Older Phoenix BIOS, boot to a Safe Mode DOS command prompt and then press Ctrl+Alt+Esc or Ctrl+Alt+S.
  • For Compaq, press F10 during POST.

After you’re in the BIOS Setup main screen, you’ll usually find a main menu allowing access to other menus and submenus offering various sections or screens. When you get the Setup program running, record all the settings. The easiest way to do this is to print it. If a printer is connected, press Shift+Print Screen; a copy of the screen display will be sent to the printer. Some setup programs have several pages of information, so you should record the information on each page.

Some setup programs allow for specialized control of the particular chipset used in the motherboard. These complicated settings can take up to several screens of information, which you may want to record. Most systems return these settings to a BIOS default if the CMOS battery is removed, and you lose any customized settings you might have changed.

Accessing BIOS Setup for Specific Makes and Models

This section shows some of the procedures required to enter BIOS Setup using keystrokes on specific popular laptop models.


Table 3.4 shows the methods used to run the BIOS Setup routines on all ThinkPad systems.

Table 3.4 Entering BIOS Setup on IBM ThinkPads

Current ThinkPad Models

To Run BIOS Setup:

240 series

Power on. Press F1 when the ThinkPad logo is displayed during startup.

390 series


570 series


i Series 1200


i Series 1300


i Series 1400


i Series 1500


i Series 172x


A20, A21, A22, A30, A31


R30, R31, R32,


S30, S31


T20, T21, T22, T23, T30


X20, X21, X22, X23, X24, X30, X31




R40, R40e, R50, R51, R52, T40, T41, T42, T43

Power on. Press the blue Access IBM or black ThinkPad button during startup when the message "To interrupt normal startup..., press the blue Access IBM button" is displayed. Then select Start Setup Utility to run the BIOS Setup Utility.

Older ThinkPad Models

To Run BIOS Setup:


Press Ctrl+Alt+F3 at an MS-DOS prompt. The system must be in MS-DOS mode and not in a DOS session under Windows.



500, 510


310, 315

Power on. Press F2 while the ThinkPad logo is displayed during startup.






Press Ctrl+Alt+F11 at an MS-DOS prompt. The system must be in MS-DOS mode and not in a DOS session under Windows.






With the unit powered off, press and hold the F1 key while powering the unit on. Continue to hold down the F1 key until Setup appears.

360, 355 series

With the unit powered off, press and hold the F1 key while powering the unit on. Continue to hold down the F1 key until Setup appears. On the TP 701, you can also access BIOS Setup by pressing the Fn+F1 keys at any time.

380, 385 series


560 series


600 series




75x series


76x series


770 series


700/C, 720/C

Power on. Press Ctrl+Alt+Ins when the cursor moves over to the upper right side of the screen, right after the memory count during startup.

710T, 730T

Press and hold the suspend/resume switch while powering on the computer.


The methods discussed first in this section are used to run the BIOS Setup routines on Toshiba laptop systems for the following Toshiba models:

All Libretto, all Portege, Satellite 100CS, 105CS, 105CT, 110CS, 110CT, 115CS, 115CT, 1555CDS, 200CDS, 205CDS, 2060CDS, 2065CDS, 2065CDT, 2100CDS, 2100CDT, 2105CDS, 2140XCDS, 2180CDT, 2210CDT, 2210XCDS, 2250CDT, 2250XCDS, 225CDS, 2500CDT, 2505CDS, 2505CDT, 2510CDS, 2515CDS, 2530CDS, 2535CDS, 2540CDS, 2545CDS, 2590CDT, 2595CDS, 2595CDT, 2595XDVD, 2615DVD, 2655XDVD, 2675DVD, 2715DVD, 2715XDVD, 2755DVD, 2775XDVD, 300CDS, 305CDS, 305CDT, 310CDS, 310CDT, 315CDS, 315CDT, 320CDS, 320CDT, 325CDS, 325CDT, 330CDS, 330CDT, 335CDS, 335CDT, 4000CDS, 4000CDT, 4005CDS, 4005CDT, 4010CDS, 4010CDT, 4015CDS, 1805-S177, 4015CDT, 4020CDT, 4025CDT, 4030CDT, 4060CDT, 4080CDT, 4080XCDT, 4085XCDT, 1415-S115, 1415-S105, 2410-S204, 1410-S174, 2410-S203, 1410-S173, 1415-S174, 1415-S173, 1405-S172, 1405-S171, 1400-S152, 2400-S252, 2400-S202, 2400-S251, 2400-S201, 1400-S151, 2405-S202, 1405-S152, 2405-S221, 2405-S201, 1405-S151, 4090XDVD, 4100XDVD, 2800-S201, 2805-S201, T2100, T2100CS, T2100CT, T2105CS, T2105CS, T2105CT, T2110CS, T2115CS, T2130CS, T2130CT, T2150CDS, T2150CDT, T2155CDS, 2800-S202, 2805-S301, 2805-S401, 2805-S202, 2805-S302, 2805-S402, 1805-S203, 1805-S253, 1800-S203, 1800-S253, 2805-S503, 2805-S603, 2590CDS, 2590XDVD, 2695DVD, 220CDS, 2545XCDT, 1805-S273, 1805-S204, 1805-S254, 1805-S274, 1800-S204, 1800-S254, 2060CDT, 1800-S206, 1800-S256, 1805-S255, 1805-S154, 1805-S207, 1800-S207, 1800-S274, 1805-S278, 1805-S208, all Satellite Pro, all TE-Series, and all Tecra

There are three ways to run the BIOS Setup on these models:

  • From Windows, using the HWSetup program—The HWSetup program comes preinstalled on these Toshiba models, and it is also contained in the Toshiba Utilities package for these models, which can be downloaded from the Toshiba support website. To run HWSetup, open the Control Panel and double-click the HWSetup program. If you change any settings, you may be required to restart the system.
  • Starting with the system powered off (not in Sleep/Suspend or Hibernate mode)—Start with the system powered off. Press the power button and then immediately press and hold the Esc key while the system runs the POST (Power On Self Test). When the POST finishes, a prompt will appear telling you to press the F1 key to enter BIOS Setup. At that time, press the F1 key to access the BIOS Setup program.
  • From MS-DOS, running the TSETUP program—TSETUP must be run under MS-DOS mode and not in a DOS session under Windows. The TSETUP utility will not work if a memory manager such as HIMEM.SYS, QEMM386, or equivalent is installed. TSETUP comes with the software provided with the system, or it can be downloaded from the Toshiba support website.

The next method discussed in this section is for the following Toshiba models:

Satellite 1605CDS, 1625CDT, 1675CDS, 1695CDT, 1715XCDS, 1735, 1755, 1730, 1750, 3005-S303, 3005-S403, 3000-S353, 3005-S304, 3000-S304, 3000-S307, 3005-S308, 1005-S157, 1000-S157, 1005-S158, 3005-S307, 3000-S309, 1905-S277, 1000-S158, 1200-S121, 1200-S122, 1905-S301, 1955-S801, 1955-S802, 1100-S101, 1905-S302, 1105, 1115-S103, 1905-S303, 1955-S803, 1905-S304, 1955-S804, 1110-S153, and 1115-S104

These models use a Phoenix BIOS. If you want to access the BIOS Setup on these systems, the system must be off, and not in Sleep/Suspend or Hibernate mode. Press the power button and then immediately press and hold down the F2 key. When the POST (Power On Self Test) finishes, the BIOS Setup screen will appear.

The final method discussed is for the following Toshiba models:

Satellite 5005-S504, 5005-S507, 5005-S508, 5105-S607, 5105-S608, 5105-S501, 5105-S701, 5105-S502, 5105-S702, 5105-S901, 5205-S503, 5205-S703, 5205-S504, and 5205-S704

These are "legacy-free" models, and they do not incorporate a BIOS Setup program in the motherboard ROM. The only way to run BIOS Setup is to use a Windows-based BIOS Setup utility called HWSetup. The HWSetup utility comes preinstalled on these Toshiba models, and it is also contained in the Toshiba Utilities package for these models, which can be downloaded from the Toshiba support website. To run HWSetup, open the Control Panel and double-click the HWSetup program. HWSetup provides a graphical front end for modifying BIOS settings. Note that if you change any settings, you may be required to restart the system.


The following methods are used to run the BIOS Setup routines on Compaq laptop systems:

  • For Presario models, power on the system and press F2 to enter BIOS Setup when the logo screen appears during startup.
  • For Evo models, power on the system and press F10 while the "F10 = ROM Based Setup" message is displayed in the lower-left corner of the screen during startup.
  • For Prosignia models, power on the system and press F10 when the blinking cursor appears in the upper-right corner of the display during startup.

Dell, Gateway, and Others

To run the BIOS Setup routines on Dell, Gateway, Sony, Acer, MPC, FOSA, and most other laptop systems, power on the system and then press F2 to enter BIOS Setup when the logo screen appears during startup.

Running the BIOS Setup Program (CMOS Setup)

After everything is reassembled, you can power up the system and run the BIOS Setup program. This enables you to configure the motherboard to access the installed devices and set the system date and time. The system also tests itself to determine whether any problems exist. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Power on the system. Observe the operation via the screen and listen for any beeps from the system speaker.
  2. The system should automatically go through a Power On Self Test (POST) consisting of video BIOS checking, a RAM test, and usually an installed component report. If a fatal error occurs during the POST, you might not see anything onscreen, and the system might beep several times, indicating a specific problem. Check the motherboard or the BIOS documentation to determine what the beep codes mean.
  3. If there are no fatal errors, you should see the POST display onscreen. Depending on the type of motherboard BIOS, such as Phoenix, AMI, Award, or others, you must press a key or series of keys to interrupt the normal boot sequence and get to the Setup program screens that enable you to enter important system information. Normally, the system indicates via the onscreen display which key to press to activate the BIOS setup program during the POST, but if it doesn’t, check the manual for the key(s) to press to enter the BIOS setup. Common keys used to enter BIOS Setup are F1, F2, F10, Esc, Ins, and Del.
  4. After the Setup program is running, use the Setup program menus to enter the current date and time, your hard drive settings, floppy drive types, video cards, keyboard settings, and so on. Most newer BIOSes can autodetect the hard drive, so you should not have to manually enter any parameters for it.
  5. Entering the hard drive information is the most critical when building a new system. Most modern BIOSes feature an autodetect or autotype setting for the drive; I recommend you choose that setting if it is available. This causes the BIOS to read the parameters directly from the drive, which eliminates a chance for errors—especially if the builder is less experienced. These parameters include cylinder head sector (CHS) specifications and transfer speed and translation settings. Most systems also let you set a user-definable type, which means that the cylinder, head, and sector counts for this type were entered manually and are not constant. If you set a user-definable type (not normally recommended unless you don’t have "auto" as a choice), it is especially important that you write down the exact settings you use because this information might be very difficult to figure out if it is ever lost.
  6. Modern ATA drives also have additional configuration items that you should record. They include the translation mode and transfer speed setting. With drives larger than 528MB (504MiB), you should record the translation mode, which is expressed differently in different BIOS versions. Look for a setting such as CHS, ECHS (extended CHS), Large (which equals ECHS), or LBA (logical block addressing). Typically, you set LBA or Large for any drive over 528MB. Whatever you set, it should be recorded because changing this setting after the drive has been formatted can cause problems.

  7. After you have checked over all the settings in the BIOS Setup, follow the instructions on the screen or in the motherboard manual to save the settings and exit the Setup menu.

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