BIOS Beep Codes

Beep codes are the little beeps you hear out of the PC speaker whenever you turn the computer on. They are your computer's way of letting you know what's going on when the video signal is not working. These codes are built in to the BIOS of the PC.

There is no official standard for these codes due to the many brands of BIOS that are out there, but the two main brands are Phoenix and American Megatrends, Inc. As a result, these beep code formats are the most common and will be covered here. If you don't know who made your BIOS, consult the manual of your motherboard. If you don't have a manual, simply take off the case and look. Once you find them, just see if it says "AMI" or "Phoenix."

Once you have determined your BIOS make, consult the following to see what's wrong with your computer.

 

AMI BIOS BEEP CODES

Normally, a computer with AMI BIOS doesn't bother with beeps. It will flash an error message right across your screen. It's when the video card isn't working or something rather serious goes wrong that your computer will start beeping.

# of beeps What's Wrong

none You're supposed to hear at least one beep. If you truly don't hear anything, either your computer's power supply, motherboard, or PC speaker is no good.

1 One beep is good! Everything is A-OK, that is, if you see things on the screen. If you don't see anything, check your monitor and video card first. Is everything connected? If they seem fine, your motherboard has some bad chips on it. First reset the SIMMs and reboot. If it does the same thing, one of the memory chips on the motherboard is bad, and you most likely need to get another motherboard since these chips are soldered on.

2 Your computer has memory problems. First, check video. If video is working, you'll see an error message. If not, you have a parity error in your first 64K of memory. Check your SIMMs. Reseat them and reboot. If this doesn't do it, the memory chips may be bad. You can try switching the first and second banks memory chips. First banks are the memory banks in which your CPU finds its first 64K of base memory. You'll need to consult your manual to see which bank is first. If all of your memory tests good, you probably need to buy another motherboard.

3 Same as 2 beeps; follow diagnosis above.

4 Same as 2 beeps; follow diagnosis above. Your problem could also be a bad timer.

5 Your motherboard is complaining. Try reseating the memory and rebooting. If that doesn't help, you should consider another motherboard. You could probably get away with just replacing the CPU, but that's not too cost-effective.

6 The chip on your motherboard that controls your keyboard isn't working. First, try another keyboard. If that doesn't help, reseat the chip that controls the keyboard, if it isn't soldered in. If it still beeps, replace the chip if possible. Replace the motherboard if the chip is soldered in.

7 Your CPU is broken and no good. Either replace the CPU or buy another motherboard.

8 Your video card isn't working. Make sure it is seated well in the bus. If it still beeps, either the whole card is bad or the memory on it is. Your best bet is to install another video card.

9 Your BIOS is bad; replace it.

10 Your problem lies deep inside the CMOS. All chips associated with the CMOS will likely have to be replaced. Your best bet is to get a new motherboard.

11 Your cache memory is bad and your computer disabled it for you. You could reactivate it by pressing -Ctrl- -Alt- -Shift- -+- , but you probably shouldn't. Instead, replace your cache memory.

 

PHOENIX BEEP CODES

Phoenix beep codes are more detailed than are the AMI codes. It emits three sets of beeps. For example, 1 -pause- 3 -pause- 3. This is a 1-3-3 combination and each set of beeps is separated by a brief pause. You need to listen and count when your computer starts doing this. Reboot and recount if you have to.

 

Beep sequence What's Wrong

1-1-3 Your computer can't read the configuration information stored in the CMOS. Replace the motherboard.

1-1-4 Your BIOS needs to be replaced.

1-2-1 You have a bad timer chip on the motherboard; you need a new motherboard.

1-2-2 The motherboard is bad.

1-2-3 The motherboard is bad.

1-3-1 The motherboard is bad.

1-3-3 Same as AMI BIOS 2 beeps. Replace the motherboard.

1-3-4 The motherboard is bad.

1-4-1 The motherboard is bad.

1-4-2 Some of your memory is bad.

2-_-_ Any combination of beeps after two means that some of your memory is bad, and unless you want to get real technical, you should probably have the guys in the lab coats test the memory for you. Take your computer to the shop.

3-1-_ One of the chips on your motherboard is broken. You'll likely need to get another board.

3-2-4 Same as AMI BIOS 6 beeps: keyboard controller failure.

3-3-4 Your computer can't find the video card. Is it there? If so, try swapping it with another one and see if it works.

3-4-_ Your video card isn't working. You'll need to replace it.

 

4-2-1 There's a bad chip on the motherboard. You need to buy another board.

4-2-2 First, check the keyboard for problems. If there are none, you have a bad motherboard.

4-2-3 See 4-2-2.

4-2-4 One of the cards is bad. Try taking out the cards one by one to isolate the culprit. Replace the bad one. The last possibility is to buy another motherboard.

4-3-1 Replace the motherboard.

4-3-2 See 4-3-1

4-3-3 See 4-3-1

4-3-4 Time of day clock failure. Try running the setup program that comes with the computer, and check the date and time. If that doesn't work, replace the battery. If that doesn't work, replace the power supply. You may have to replace the motherboard, but that is rare.

4-4-1 Your serial ports are acting up. Reseat or replace the I/O card. If the I/O is on the motherboard itself, disable it with a jumper (consult your manual to know which one) and then add an I/O card.

4-4-2 See 4-4-1

4-4-3 Your math coprocessor is malfunctioning. Run a test program to double-check it. If it is indeed bad, disable or replace it. Disabling is fine, because you probably don't need it anyway.