The BIOS is where the settings for the computer’s CPU, RAM, storage, and ports are located. Over the years you will be prompted in the PC boot sequence for ‘Press F1 to Enter Setup’ or the words to take effect.
UEFI has now replaced the BIOS on many new machines, and the path to these settings can be more complicated. We show you how to get into BIOS or UEFI, whether you’re using a new Windows 10 PC or an older PC.
What is the difference between BIOS and UEFI?
BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) is the system firmware that lives on the chip in your PC. This means that it preloads the operating system and handles the basic setup of how the machine works.
Initially, it conducts an overall check of your hardware to make sure that the RAM, hard drive and other aspects are all working properly before loading the operating system.
Accessing the BIOS gives the user the option to decide which disk is checked first for the operating system (useful if you’re troubleshooting your system by booting from a USB drive), along with a few things: control other functions.
BIOS dates back to the MS/DOS days and hasn’t changed much since the advent of PCs. The timeout, however, has no firmware, and as such has been replaced by a newer, more powerful alternative.
UEFI is a usurper, bringing with it the ability to handle larger hard disk sizes, load faster, and generally enhance PC capabilities and security. But really, it’s just a BIOS with a new name.
In fact, the biggest difference is that UEFI can be controlled with a mouse as well as a keyboard. However, you may also find that you prefer to use keyboard-only controls because cursor control is horribly inaccurate in some UEFI.
Access BIOS on newer machines
If you’ve bought a PC or laptop in recent years, chances are you’ll have UEFI instead of the traditional BIOS on board.
The route to this can be more complicated, and also eliminates the need for lightning-fast reactions when scrambling for the right button when turning on your device. However, you may still see the traditional ‘Press F2 to setup’ on the screen depending on your motherboard.
Otherwise, let the PC boot into Windows 10. Open the Start Menu, then click the Power button. When you see Sleep, Restartor Turn off options appear, hold Shift and click Restart.
Alternatively, you can navigate to Settings > Update & Security > Recoverythen under Advanced Start option click Restart now.
Windows 10 will restart, but you will see a blue screen appear with Choose an option written on top.
Here are three options: Continue, Troubleshootand Turn off your computer. Click Troubleshootthen on the next windows select Advance setting. Finally, choose Install UEFI Firmware.
You will now have access to UEFI, where you can adjust settings. Of course, make sure you know what you’re doing, as you could cause problems otherwise.
Accessing BIOS in Older PCs
Although Windows 10 is a completely modern operating system, older machines may still have the underlying BIOS, as its firmware cannot be upgraded to the newer UEFI.
This means that the way to access it remains the same as before. Turn on your PC, then hold down the Esc, Del, or one of the Function (F) keys – usually F2 – until you see the BIOS menu appear.
Which key to use varies depending on your PC manufacturer. So it’s best to choose Google bios key [insert manufacturer here]’ and see what happens.
As with UEFI, be careful when manipulating the BIOS, so you don’t confuse your PC, or worse, prevent it from booting.
For more tips on how to tweak your system, read our Best Windows 10 Tips and Tricks feature.
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