Knowledge Base

What is BIOS and How to Access it on a Dell Computer

This article describes the purpose and utility of BIOS in a computer.

What is a BIOS?

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

  • Chipsets
  • Processors and Caches
  • System Memory
  • Internal Drives
  • Graphics and Audio Controllers
  • Internal Expansion Cards

After BIOS completes this process, it transfers control of the computer to the operating system.

How Can I Use the BIOS?

All BIOS interfaces have two purposes:

  • To make adjustments to the computer's hardware functionality
  • To report on the hardware in the computer

Adjusting the Hardware Functionality Using the BIOS

Current BIOS versions have interfaces which allow you to make changes to the following:

  • Date and Time
  • Boot Sequence
  • System and Hard Drive Passwords
  • Restore the BIOS to the Default Configuration
  • Turning on or off modular add-on devices
  • Adjusting LCD Brightness (on laptop computers)
  • Adjusting the Hard Drive Noise Level
  • Adjusting the number of cores the processor is using and the speed they are functioning
Incorrectly changing BIOS settings may leave the computer in a state in which the operating system no longer starts. We recommend that you record the original BIOS settings before you modify them.

Reporting the Hardware Using the BIOS

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

  • Hard Drive Size
  • Amount of Memory

Also, advanced informational items can be found in the BIOS such as the following:

  • Current Processor Information
  • Current Memory Information
  • Current Video Chipset Information
  • Storage Device Information
  • LCD Type and Native Resolution
  • AC Adapter Capacity
  • Current Battery Charge and Health
  • Current BIOS Version

Enter the System Setup on the Computer

  1. Restart your computer.
  2. At the first text on the screen or when the Dell logo appears, tap F2 until the message Entering Setup appears.

Additional Information: BIOS

Dell's File Library has automated notification feature to keep you informed of the latest BIOS releases.

The use of this feature requires a Dell support account. Clicking the link above will enable you to log into an existing account or create a new account.

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

How Do I Know If I Should Update the BIOS on My Computer
How to Clear the BIOS Password

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

Dell Community Forum - Desktop - BIOS

Dell Community Forum - Portable - BIOS

Article ID: SLN114872

Last Date Modified: 07/27/2015 08:08 AM

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