The system setup is a small program built into your firmware that enable techs to configure low-level features to the hardware on the motherboard. A good tech needs to know how to access and use system setup on any computer.
- PCs have been improving and improving over the decades. We've gone from 16-bit world to 32-bit world to 64-bit world, everything from our operating systems and our hard drives and our RAM, and our CPUs, and our different types of connectivity are all getting faster and more powerful with one exception, and that is BIOS. The original BIOS was an ancient and at 16-bit program, and for decades, I mean this is not that long ago, everything but the BIOS was all up to speed in 64-bit and powerful and the powers that be got together and said, This is silly, we've updated everything else, why don't we come up with a new and improved and super powerful BIOS? And they did and they came up with what we call the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface or UEFI. So, technically, UEFI has supplanted BIOS, however, we still call it BIOS, but it's a good, super neat, powerful BIOS, so we call it UEFI BIOS. If you want to be technical, you could just call it UEFI and we know what you are talking about, but UEFI BIOS is the common term. The only trick to BIOS is that BIOS is designed to talk to the assumed hardware of our computer, right? However, some of this hardware changes. For example, we might put in different hard drives or we might have different USB devices and there might be some security things that we might want to deal with. In that case, we have another part of BIOS called the System Setup. The System Setup is an interface that we get to on our computers, and we're going to use our mouse and our keyboards, and we're going to make changes to the changeable part of our BIOS. Now, getting to the System Setup is always a challenge. Every time a computer boots up, there's all these texts and goo that most of us don't pay attention to. Well, as nerds, we do. So in order to get in there, we usually have to hold down a key before the operating system boots. So it's very common to hold down the Delete key, the F2 key, those are the two most common, and you boot your computer up and it will say it on the screen and you hold that button down and you're going to enter a brand new exciting world. So let's go ahead and reboot this computer and let me show you how we get into a System Setup. So the first thing I want you to do is watch the bottom of the screen. See it says press Delete or F2 right there at the bottom? So I'm pressing Delete and F2 on my keyboard as fast as I can. If I don't press them, it's going to boot into the operating system. So it's going to take in a moment and now we're going to go into System Setup. So welcome to a classic UEFI BIOS System Setup. And if you read up at the top, this is an ASUS Motherboard UEFI BIOS Utility. This is in Advanced Mode. We can go into an Easy Mode, which is boring, 'cause I want to show you guys all the cool, fun stuff. So you'll notice that we've got a number of options here across the top and these are going to vary by different manufacturers, but ASUS is famous for having what they call My Favorites. Let's ignore that for a moment and go right here to Main. Main is really more of a utility that tells us what's happening on the system. We can tell when this BIOS was written. We could change the language here. We could change the date if we wanted to. The other thing we could do that's very important is right here. This is the ability to put passwords on the computer, not on Windows, this is before Windows. There's two kinds of passwords. There's an Administrator password and then there's a User password. If you set an Administrator password, anytime anybody tries to get into this System Setup by pressing F2 or Delete, it will pop up with a password, says Type in the password, otherwise they won't get in here, which makes sense. I'm not sure we want anybody in here. A User password is different. Anytime this computer boots, no matter what, I'm not talking about going into System Setup, you're just trying to boot. Before the operating system comes up, a screen comes up and says Please enter the User password. If they don't type it in, the computer will not go ahead and finish the boot. It's a great way to keep people out of your system if you're gone for a week. Now, this next screen up here is, I just want to show it to you, we're not going to touch anything in here. This particular motherboard is an overclocker's dream. It is designed from the ground up to push this system beyond its rated settings and these are some of the places we go to do that. If you want to overclock, have fun. There's plenty of documentation there. Let's take a look at Advanced. Here we go. So this is default for Advanced. There's a lot o' stuff in here. The only ones I really want to bring up that are particularly interesting for us are going to be Onboard Devices Configuration. So we have lots of interfaces on this motherboard. USB, we've got sound cards, we've got all kinds of stuff, and here is where we can control most of these. For example, if I want to turn off the sound card, I can do it right here. If I want to mess with my mass storage devices, I can play with that here. Down here, for example, this is a handy one. In this case, I want to turn off the Front USB Connections, the ones that are at the very front of the computer. I want to have those disabled, I don't want people plugging in thumb drives on my computer. Equally, I could turn them back on if I'd like. And some fun stuff with lighting. The other thing here is I have two built-in network cards. I don't want people plugging into a network. I can go ahead and disable these. And then interestingly enough, every time people tell me that serial ports don't exist, here's a brand new, high-end gaming motherboard and it has serial port settings. So, if for some reason, you needed a serial port, by golly, you got one right there. The next one I want to show you is Boot. It's very common, for example, if I put a thumb drive in and I want to boot off that thumb drive, it's got anti-malware tools on it, I can configure things here to say you can do that. Equally, if I don't want anybody to ever boot on anything but my own built-in mass storage, I can configure this here. For example, this thing that says Samsung SSD, that is my mass storage device that I've got Windows installed on. If I wanted to, I could pick another device. In this particular case, if I actually have a thumb drive plugged in right now, it would say You want me to boot to that? In this particular case, the way I've got this set up, nobody could ever shove a thumb drive into this computer and boot to it. So it's a security thing that keeps people out of the way. The last one I want to show you, it's going to take a second to actually get to this guy, is this right here. Now, what we're actually looking at here is software, well, we call it firmware 'cause it's put onto a chip. If we want to update this stuff, we can do it right here. This is what we call flashing our BIOS. And in this particular case, if I've got a thumb drive with the updated BIOS on it, I could pull it from a storage device, or if I wanted to, I'm not plugged into the Internet right now, but if I wanted to, I could go via the Internet and this thing would phone home to the ASUS location and see if there is any updated BIOSes for this particular computer. I'm going to get out of there because this is a dangerous, dangerous place. So what do you think o' your first tour of a System Setup? Now, look, I need to warn you right now. All I'm trying to do in this particular episode is make sure that you're aware of it, that you've got some idea how to get into it on this particular system or any system, and to have an idea of some of the settings that you're going to run into. There are lots more settings in there and obviously we skipped over a bunch mainly because we haven't covered those particular topics yet. But as we go through this series, we're going to be coming back into the System Setup time and time again as we understand the many, many jobs that BIOS does for us.
- Troubleshooting firmware
- Installing a motherboard
- Basic electrical terminology
- Mounting and choosing a power supply
- Cooling your PC
- Quickly troubleshooting power supplies