POST BIOS Beep Codes (Diagnosing Hardware) - Free Online Tutorial

When an IBM compatible computer is first turned on, the hardware runs a Power-On Self-Test (POST). If errors are encountered during this POST test, they are usually displayed via an audio beep or in the form of a code number flashed across the screen. With this audio code in hand, you can determine what part of the system is having problems and find a solution.

The pattern of beeps whether it’s the number of beeps or the length of those beeps will give you an indication of the actual problem. It’s a distress signal from the computer in a morse code like pattern.  Unless you have a diagnostic card to tell you more about the particular problem, you will have to use the charts below to decipher the computer error and get your machine back up and running.



Standard Original IBM POST Error Codes

1 short beep
Normal POST - system is ok
2 short beeps
POST Error - error code shown on screen
No beep
Power supply or system board problem
Continuous beep
Power supply, system board, or keyboard problem
Repeating short beeps
Power supply or system board problem
1 long, 1 short beep
System board problem
1 long, 2 short beeps
Display adapter problem (MDA, CGA)
1 long, 3 short beeps
Enhanced Graphics Adapter (EGA)
3 long beeps
3270 keyboard card


IBM POST Diagnostic Code Descriptions

100 - 199
System Board
200 - 299
Memory
300 - 399
Keyboard
400 - 499
Monochrome Display
500 - 599
Colour/Graphics Display
600 - 699
Floppy-disk drive and/or Adapter
700 - 799
Math Coprocessor
900 - 999
Parallel Printer Port
1000 - 1099
Alternate Printer Adapter
1100 - 1299
Asynchronous Communication Device, Adapter, or Port
1300 - 1399
Game Port
1400 - 1499
Colour/Graphics Printer
1500 - 1599
Synchronous Communication Device, Adapter, or Port
1700 - 1799
Hard Drive and/or Adapter
1800 - 1899
Expansion Unit (XT)
2000 - 2199
Bisynchronous Communication Adapter
2400 - 2599
EGA system-board Video (MCA)
3000 - 3199
LAN Adapter
4800 - 4999
Internal Modem
7000 - 7099
Phoenix BIOS Chips
7300 - 7399
3.5" Disk Drive
8900 - 8999
MIDI Adapter
11200 - 11299
SCSI Adapter
21000 - 21099
SCSI Fixed Disk and Controller
21500 - 21599
SCSI CD-ROM System


AMI BIOS Beep Codes

1 Short Beep
One beep is good! Everything is 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 SIMM's and reboot. If it does the same thing, one of the memory chips on the motherboard are bad, and you most likely need to get another motherboard since these chips are soldered on.
2 Short Beeps
 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. First check your SIMM's. 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 that your CPU finds its first 64K of base memory in. You'll need to consult your manual to see which bank is first. If all your memory tests are good, you probably need to buy another motherboard.
3 Short Beeps
Basically the same thing as 2 beeps. Follow that diagnosis above.
4 Short Beeps
Basically the same thing as 2 beeps. Follow that diagnosis above. It could also be a bad timer.
5 Short Beeps
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. Its just time to upgrade!
6 Short Beeps
The chip on your motherboard that controls your keyboard (A20 gate) isn't working. First try another keyboard. If it 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 it is soldered in.
7 Short Beeps
Your CPU broke overnight. It’s no good. Either replace the CPU, or buy another motherboard.
8 Short Beeps
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. Best bet is to install another video card.
9 Short Beeps
Your BIOS is bad. Reseat or Replace the BIOS.
10 Short Beeps
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 Short Beeps
Your problem is in the Cache Memory chips on the motherboard. Reseat or Replace these chips.
1 Long, 3 Short Beeps
You've probably just added memory to the motherboard since this is a conventional or extended memory failure. Generally this is caused by a memory chip that is not seated properly. Reseat the memory chips.
1 Long, 8 Short Beeps
Display / Retrace test failed. Reseat the video card.


Phoenix BIOS Beep Codes

These audio codes are a little more detailed then the AMI codes. This BIOS emits three sets of beeps. For example, 1 -pause- 3 -pause 3 -pause. This is a 1-3-3 combo and each set of beeps is separated by a brief pause. Listen to this sequence of sounds, count them, and reboot and count again if you have to.

1-1-3
Your computer can't read the configuration info 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
You'll need to replace the motherboard.
1-3-3
You'll need to 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 combo 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 it 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
One of the chips on your motherboard that checks the keyboard is broken. You'll likely need to get another board.
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 nothing, you have a bad motherboard.
4-2-3
Same as 4-2-2.
4-2-4
One of the cards is bad. Try yanking 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. 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 them with a jumper (consult your manual to know which one) and then add an I/O card.
4-4-2
See 4-4-1, but this time is your Parallel port that's acting up.
4-4-3
You math coprocessor is having problems. Run a test program to double-check it. If it is indeed bad, disable it, or replace it.
Low 1-1-2
Your motherboard is having problems
Low 1-1-3
This is an Extended CMOS RAM problem, check your   motherboard battery, and motherboard.


Award BIOS Post Codes

Unfortunately there are many versions of the Award BIOS, and they are supported not by one company, but by the motherboard maker. Award's website states "Award Software products are sold to a board or system manufacturer ("hardware vendor"), who customizes them further before selling the system. Award Software cannot supply upgrades for a BIOS that has been subsequently modified by hardware vendors."

To make matters worse, Award BIOS merged with Phoenix Technologies in 1998. The hardware vendor that designed your system is the best source for bug fixes and answers about your system, but after so many mergers the Award BIOS is a difficult one to support.

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