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What is BIOS and How to Download and Install the latest BIOS?

Article Summary: This article will provide information on How to use the BIOS, reporting the hardware in your computer using the BIOS and how to Download and Install the latest BIOS for your Dell computer.

Table of Contents

  1. What is BIOS?
  2. How can I use the BIOS?
  3. Adjusting the hardware functionality using the BIOS
  4. Reporting the hardware using the BIOS
  5. How do I enter the System Setup (BIOS)?
  6. What is a BIOS Update?
  7. Video Guide - Update your System Setup (BIOS)
  8. How do I download and install the latest BIOS for my Dell computer?
  9. Additional Information

What is BIOS?

The acronym BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output System. BIOS is a firmware that is embedded onto the System Board of your computer. When the computer is first started, BIOS activates all of the hardware required by the computer to boot including:

  • Chipset
  • Processor and Cache
  • System Memory (RAM)
  • Internal Drives
  • Graphics and Audio controllers
  • Internal Expansion Cards

After BIOS completes this process, it transfers control of the computer to the Operating System that is installed.

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How can I use the BIOS?

All BIOS interfaces have two purposes:

  • To make basic adjustments to the computer's hardware functionality.
  • To report on the hardware in the computer.
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Adjusting the hardware functionality using the BIOS

Current BIOS versions have interfaces which allow you to make changes to the following and is not limited to the options listed below:

  • Date and Time
  • Boot Sequence
  • Advanced Boot Settings
  • System, Admin and Hard Drive passwords
  • Restore the BIOS settings to factory defaults
  • Turning ON or OFF modular add-on devices
  • Adjusting LCD brightness (notebook computers only)
  • Adjusting the number of cores the processor is using and the speed they are functioning
Refer to the System Setup section of your Owner's Manual for more detailed information about BIOS settings on your Dell computer.

WARNING: Incorrectly changing the BIOS settings may leave the computer in a state in which the Operating System will no longer start. We recommend that you record the original BIOS settings before you modify them.

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Reporting the hardware using the BIOS

Current BIOS versions have the ability to report basic functions of components such as:

  • Hard Drive capacity
  • Amount of System Memory (RAM)
  • Processor information
  • Video Chipset information
  • LCD type and native resolution
  • AC Adapter information (Notebooks only)
  • Battery Charge and health (Notebooks only)
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How do I enter the System Setup (BIOS)?

  1. Restart your computer.
  2. When the Dell logo appears, tap F2 key until the message Entering Setup appears.
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What is a BIOS update?

A Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) update is a software utility that updates the programming of the most basic hardware in your computer. A BIOS update can often fix problems and/or add features to the computer's BIOS.

Note: If you are not experiencing problems on your computer and are not aware of any additional features in the BIOS that are needed, then you may not need to perform the update.
You can click on View Details in the Drivers page to review the release notes for the specific update to determine if the update will benefit you.

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Video Guide - Update your System Setup (BIOS)

Instructions to Update System Setup - (2:32) English Only

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How do I download and install the latest BIOS for my Dell computer?

WARNING: Dell notebook computers must have the battery installed and also be running on A/C power prior to updating the BIOS. Some Dell notebook computers need to have at least 10% battery charge before you begin the BIOS update.

Follow these instructions to download and update the BIOS for your Dell computer.

  1. Visit the Drivers & Downloads page.
  2. Identify your Dell product by clicking on Detect Product.
    Alternatively, you can also either enter the Service Tag or Express Service Code of your Dell computer and click Submit. Or, select your computer manually by clicking on View Products.
  3. Once you are in the Product Support page, if you see a page with two tabs under Optimize your system with drivers and updates labeled Guide Me and Find it myself, click on the Find it myself tab. Otherwise, proceed to Step 4
  4. Ensure the correct Microsoft Windows Operating System is listed next to View all available updates.
    Click Change OS to select the correct Microsoft Windows Operating System that is currently installed on your computer.
  5. Click on BIOS from the list of categories.
  6. Click Download File on the most recent version of BIOS that is listed.
  7. Click Save and choose the path where you would like to save the downloaded file on your computer (if prompted).
  8. Once the download is complete, click Run.
  9. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation.
Note: You may install the latest version of the BIOS no matter what previous version you have installed. They do not need to be installed in order as each new version includes changes from all previous versions.

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Additional Information

If you have additional BIOS-related questions, click one of the appropriate articles below:

How to Clear the BIOS Password
Downgrading the BIOS on a Dell computer.
How to Perform a BIOS or CMOS Reset and/or Clear the NVRAM on your Dell System

For more support options, click on one of the options below.

Dell Community Forum - Desktop - BIOS
Dell Community Forum - Notebook - BIOS

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Article ID: SLN129956

Last Date Modified: 11/04/2015 06:18 AM

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