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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | The Troubleshooting Expert | Troubleshooting The System Overall ]

Troubleshooting BIOS Beep Codes

The BIOS performs a power-on self-test (POST) when the system is turned on. This test is used to ensure that the system is functioning properly and to gather information about what the system contains. When a problem is identified with the system during the POST, the BIOS will normally produce an error message. However, in some cases the problem is detected so early in the test that the BIOS cannot even access the video card to print the message! In this case the BIOS will produce a beeping pattern on the speaker to tell you what the problem is.

The exact meaning of the beep codes depends on the type and version of BIOS that you have. The three most popular types of BIOS are those made by Award, American Megatrends (AMI) and Phoenix. The beep codes for these BIOS products are described in this part of the troubleshooter. If you are using a PC made by a company that writes its own BIOS, you will have to consult your owner's manual or the company's web site or other technical information for assistance.

Warning: The normal procedure is for a motherboard or computer manufacturer to purchase the BIOS code from one of these companies and then modify it as they see fit to match what they are doing with their hardware. So it is possible that the codes may be slightly different for your PC than what I have here, which is for the generic products. In general, the beep codes are usually identical or very close to what I have here, but the tests performed by the BIOS can easily be different or be executed in a different order.

Note: A single beep during the boot process, usually right before the BIOS startup screen is displayed, is normal and does not indicate a failure as long as the boot continues on.

Beep codes can be in several different patterns, depending on the BIOS that you are using. Some BIOSes use very simple beep codes in a pattern of varying numbers of short beeps, while others may mix short and long beeps. The Phoenix BIOS is famous for its complicated beep patterns that are actually in up to four groups--one or more beeps and then a pause, followed by as many as three more patterns.

Warning: Despite what the BIOS companies say, these codes are not always that consistent. I have seen systems that when booted without a video card give just a single beep and not the code that they are supposed to give when the video card is missing.

Please select the manufacturer of your system's BIOS from the index frame on the left.

Next: American Megatrends Inc. (AMI BIOS)


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