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Computer Error Beep Codes

Beep codes are the beeps you hear from the PC speaker when you turn on your computer.

They are your computer's way of letting you know what's going on when there is no video signal. These codes are programmed into the BIOS of the PC.

There is no official standard for these codes due to the many brands of BIOS there are on motherboards, but popular brands are Award, 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, you can consult the manual for your motherboard.

If you don't have a manual, simply take off the case and look. Once you find the BIOS chip(s), just look at the sticker on it and see if it says "Award", "AMI" or "Phoenix".

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

Normally, a computer with AMI BIOS doesn't bother with beeps.

It will flash a nice little error message right across your screen. Its when the video card isn't working or something rather serious goes wrong that your computer will start beeping.


No. 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 short System RAM Refresh failure. Your programmable interrupt timer on your motherboard has failed. It could also be your interrupt controller, but either way, your motherboard will need to be replaced to fix it.
2 short 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 bank 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 short Same as 2 beeps; follow diagnosis above.
4 short Your problem could be a bad timer. The system timer failed to work properly. It will require motherboard replacement.
5 short CPU Failure. Replace the CPU or possibly the motherboard.
6 short 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. The chip is erroring in the gate A20 switch that allows the system to run in virtual mode. Replace the motherboard if the chip is soldered in.
7 short Your CPU has generated an exception error. This could be a fault of the CPU or a combination of problems with the motherboard. Try replacing the motherboard.
8 short 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 short ROM checksum error. This means that the checksum error checking value does not match the content of the BIOS ROM. This means the BIOS ROM is probably bad, and needs to be replaced.
10 short 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 Your L2 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 L2 cache memory. Obviously, this could lead to outright motherboard replacement.
1 long, 3 short Memory test failure. An error has been detected in the memory over the first 64K. Try replacing the memory, and if that doesn't do it, the motherboard.
1 long, 8 short Display test failure. Your video card is either missing or defective. Replace it. If its part of your motherboard, you'll need to replace it or bypass it.

Phoenix beep codes are more detailed than are the AMI codes. It 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. 

So, you need to listen and count when your computer starts doing this. Reboot and recount if you have to.


No. of beeps 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 Same as 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 Replace the motherboard.
4-3-3 Replace the motherboard.
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 Same as 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.

Award BIOS don't do much in the way of beep codes. Award holds that the only BIOS beeps you will hear are 1 Long, and some short combination after. They all indicate a problem either with memory or video, as these are the only problems that would keep the system from doing anything. Any other errors will be given an on-screen error.


No. of beeps What's wrong
1 Long Beep indicates a problem with memory in the first bank, usually an unseated memory module
1 Long, 2 Short indicates a problem with the video card or the memory on it
1 Long, 3 short also indicates a problem with video or the memory on video card
Continuous this usually indicates a problem with the memory, but sometimes is a video problem
Other Award really only used the beep codes above, so any others you may get are new to me as well.

These tables serve as a stepping stone to troubleshooting your system. You can use them to read into the beep codes and better steer yourself in the right direction.