Additional BIOS Setup Features

Some systems have additional features in their BIOS Setup screens, which might not be found in all BIOS. Some of the more common features you might see are listed here:



CPU Hyper-threading

Displayed on motherboards designed for use with the Intel Pentium 4 3.06GHz and faster processors with HT Technology when such processors are installed. When enabled, this feature enables hyper-threading for faster performance when multiple applications are running.

PC Health (menu)

This menu can display information such as CPU Vcore; 3.3V, 5V, and 12V actual voltage values; chassis and processor temperature; and fan speeds. The information can be used by system management programs to warn you of problems or shut down the computer automatically.

Serial ATA Controller

When enabled, Serial ATA (SATA) drives can be used.

IEEE-1394a Port

When enabled, you can use IEEE-1394a ports for DV camcorders, external hard drives, and other IEEE-1394a devices.

ATA RAID Controller

When enabled, additional ATA ports provided for RAID or individual ATA drives can be used.

Virus Warning

When enabled, you receive a warning message if a program attempts to write to the boot sector or the partition table of the hard disk drive. If you get this warning during normal operation, you should run an antivirus program to see whether an infection has occurred. This feature protects only the master boot sector, not the entire hard drive. Note that programs which usually write to the master boot sector, such as FDISK, can trigger the virus warning message.

CPU Internal Cache/External Cache

This allows you to disable the L1 (internal) and L2 (external) CPU caches. This is often used when testing memory, in which case you don't want the cache functioning. For normal operation, both caches should be enabled.

Quick Power On Self Test

When enabled, this reduces the amount of time required to run the POST. A quick POST skips certain steps, such as the memory test. If you trust your system, you can enable the quick POST, but in most cases I recommend leaving it disabled so you get the full-length POST version.

Swap Floppy Drive

This field is functional only in systems with two floppy drives. Selecting Enabled assigns physical drive B: to logical drive A: and physical drive A: to logical drive B:.

Boot Up Floppy Seek

When enabled, the BIOS tests (seeks) floppy drives to determine whether they have 40 or 80 tracks. Only 360KB floppy drives have 40 tracks; drives with 720KB, 1.2MB, and 1.44MB capacity all have 80 tracks. Because very few modern PCs have 40-track floppy drives, you can disable this function to save time.

Boot Up System Speed

Select High to boot at the default CPU speed; select Low to boot at a simulated 8MHz speed. The 8MHz option often was used in the past with certain copy-protected programs, which would fail the protection scheme if booted at full speed. This option is not used today.

Gate A20 Option

Gate A20 refers to the way the system addresses memory above 1MB (extended memory). When set to Fast, the system chipset controls Gate A20. When set to Normal, a pin in the keyboard controller controls Gate A20. Setting Gate A20 to Fast improves system speed, particularly with protected-mode operating systems such as Windows 9x and Windows 2000/XP.

Typematic Rate Setting

When disabled, the following two items (Typematic Rate and Typematic Delay) are irrelevant. Keystrokes repeat at a rate determined by the keyboard controller in your system. When enabled, you can select a typematic rate and typematic delay.

Typematic Rate (Chars/Sec)

When the typematic rate setting is enabled, you can select a typematic rate (the rate at which characters repeat when you hold down a key) of 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, 24, or 30 characters per second.

Typematic Delay (Msec)

When the typematic rate setting is enabled, you can select a typematic delay (the delay before key strokes begin to repeat) of 250, 500, 750, or 1,000 milliseconds.

Security Option

If you have set a password, select whether the password is required every time the system boots or only when you enter Setup.

PS/2 Mouse Function Control

If your system has a PS/2 (motherboard) mouse port and you install a serial or USB pointing device, select Disabled.

HDD SMART Capability

SMART is an acronym for Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology system. SMART is a hard drive self-diagnostic feature available on some IDE hard drives. Enabling this option is recommended if you use diagnostic software that can monitor SMART-compatible drives to warn you of impending failures.

Report No FDD For WIN 95

Select Yes to release IRQ6 when the system contains no floppy drive, for compatibility with Windows 95 logo certification. In the Integrated Peripherals screen, select Disabled for the Onboard FDC Controller field.

ROM Shadowing

ROM chips typically are very slow, around 150ns (nanoseconds), and operate only 8 bits at a time, whereas RAM runs 60ns or even 10ns or less and is either 32 bits or 64 bits wide in most systems. Shadowing is the copying of BIOS code from ROM into RAM, where the CPU can read the BIOS drivers at the higher speed of RAM.

Operating Frequency

Some motherboards enable you to select the FSB (front-side bus) and CPU clock multiplier speeds within the BIOS rather than through the normal motherboard-based DIP switches or jumper blocks. Select this option to enable customized settings for the CPU Clock Multiplier and CPU Frequency options.

CPU Frequency

This option enables you to vary the CPU FSB frequency from the default 66MHz, 100MHz, or 133MHz to higher values, enabling you to overclock your system.

CPU Clock Multiplier

This option enables you to vary the CPU clock multiplier from its default values to higher values if the CPU is not multiplier-locked. Recent and current Intel CPUs ignore nonstandard CPU clock multiplier settings, but AMD Athlon and Duron CPUs can be overclocked with this option.

CPU Vcore Setting

This option enables you to vary the core voltage of the CPU to improve the stability of your system during overclocking or to install CPUs not specifically supported by the default Automatic voltage settings.