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Interpretation of Computer Error Beep Codes

Interpretation of Computer Error Beep Codes

If you are clueless about what that mysterious computer beeping, accompanied with startup issues is all about, this article will be a revelation. Here, I specifically discuss what different beep signals mean on startup of a computer, for various BIOS brands.
Omkar Phatak
You switch on your computer as usual and wait patiently as it goes through its startup routine. However, to your dismay, instead of the operating system booting in neatly, what you hear are mysterious beeps at startup. The computer beeps and fails to boot. Reminiscent of R2-D2's beeps and whistles language in 'Star Wars', your computer is trying to tell you what's wrong with it, in a coded, Morse code type language! By correctly interpreting the beeps, you can actually find out what's causing the booting process to fail. In this Techspirited article, I specifically interpret what error beeps at startup mean for different types of BIOS (Basic Input Output System) setups.
About Computer Error Beep Codes Displayed During POST
BIOS is the internal stabilization and control system of the computer, which oversees the working of all the constituent parts. It loads or boots the operating system and implements a complete status check before that. This Power-on Self Test or POST process detects errors within the computer system and relays them to the user, through a cryptic 'beep' language. Every BIOS brand has its own beep code, which you will need access to, if you want to know what ails your computer. In the following lines, I help you in figuring out how to interpret computer error beep codes for various BIOS types, ranging from American Megatrends to Compaq and Award. Hear the number of beeps carefully and then interpret the error message accordingly.
Interpreting the Beep Codes
To figure out what do 3 beeps mean on startup of a computer, you will have to first figure out the BIOS type of the computer. It appears on the screen during startup. If you can't see the startup screen, you can find the BIOS type, from the knowledge of the motherboard type. In the rest of this article, you will find a decoding table for most of the commonly used BIOS firmware, installed on computer motherboards.
Deciphering AMI BIOS Beep Error Code
AMI BIOS POST Error Codes
Beep Signal Error Interpretation
1 Long Beep No Error, Completion of POST Routine
1 Long, 2 Short Beeps Video BIOS ROM failure
1 Long, 3 Short Beeps Memory test has detected an error
1 Long, 8 Short Beeps Video Adapter Error
2 Short Beeps Hardware Test Failure During POST routine
1 Short Beep Refresh failure in DRAM due to malfunctioning programmable interrupt timer
2 Short Beeps RAM IC malfunction due to parity error in first 64 K memory
3 Short Beeps Base memory failure in first 64 K of random access memory IC
4 Short Beeps System timer IC failure
5 Short Beeps CPU failure
6 Short Beeps Keyboard controller IC failure, preventing gate A20 controlled processor switching to protected mode
7 Short Beeps Exception error in CPU, due to faulty motherboard circuitry
8 Short Beeps Defective system video adapter
9 Short Beeps Defective BIOS ROM, check sum error
10 Short Beeps CMOS shutdown failure
11 Short Beeps Faulty L2 cache
Deciphering AST BIOS Beep Error Code
AST BIOS POST Error Codes
Beep Signal Error Interpretation
1 Long Beep Failure of Channel 0 DMAI controller IC
1 Long Beep, 1 Short Beep Failure of Channe; 1 DMAI controller IC
1 Long Beep, 2 Short Beeps Failed video vertical retrace, due to video adapter failure
1 Long Beep, 3 Short Beeps Video adapter memory failure
1 Long Beep, 4 Short Beeps Complete video adapter failure
1 Long Beep, 5 Short Beeps Base 64 KB memory failure in RAM IC
1 Long Beep, 6 Short Beeps Inability of BIOS to load vertical vectors into memory
1 Long Beep, 7 Short Beeps Video initialization failure due to faulty video adapters or motherboard
1 Long Beep, 8 Short Beeps Complete video memory failure, due to faulty adapter or motherboard
1 Short Beep Indicates failure of CPU register
2 Short Beeps Failure of keyboard controller
3 Short Beeps Motherboard circuitry error
4 Short Beeps Communication failure with keyboard, due to faulty keyboard controller IC or a faulty keyboard
5 Short Beeps Keyboard input malfunction, due to keyboard controller IC failure
6 Short Beeps Motherboard chipset failure
9 Short Beeps BIOS ROM Failure
10 Short Beeps System timer IC failure
11 Short Beeps Motherboard Failure
12 Short Beeps CMOS IC/Real time clock failure
Deciphering Award BIOS Beep Error Code
Award BIOS POST Error Codes
Beep Signal Error Interpretation
1 Long, 2 Short Beeps Error in video adapter or loose monitor cable
1 Long, 3 Short Beeps Absent or Loosely Inserted Video Card
Repeated Beeps Missing or loosely inserted memory IC
Rapid Beeping During Operation CPU Overheating
Repeated High or Low Beeps Damaged, overheated or loosely inserted CPU
Deciphering Compaq BIOS Beep Error Code
Compaq BIOS POST Error Codes
Beep Signal Error Interpretation
1 Short Beep Not an error, system booting smoothly
1 Long, 1 Short Beep Checksum Error in BIOS ROM
1 Long, 2 Short Beeps Improperly connected or faulty video adapter
7 Beeps (Only for Compaq Deskpro) Faulty AGP video card
Continuous Beep RAM error/Faulty RAM
1 Short, 2 Long Beeps Improperly connected RAM or Faulty RAM
Deciphering Phoenix BIOS Beep Error Code
(Phoenix BIOS error codes are a combination of beeps with pauses in between. Here 2-1-2 means, 2 beeps, pause, 1 beep, pause, 2 beeps)
Phoenix BIOS POST Error Codes
Beep Signal Sequence Error Interpretation
1-1-2 CPU malfunction, may need replacement
1-1-2 (Low volume beeps) Motherboard Fault
1-1-3 Real time clock error or faulty CMOS, in need of replacement
1-1-3 (Low volume beeps) Failure of extended CMOS RAM
1-1-4 Checksum error in BIOS ROM
1-2-1 Failure of programmable input timer (PIT)
1-2-2 Failure of DMA controller IC
1-2-3 Failure of DMA controller
1-3-1 Failure of RAM refresh controller
1-3-2 RAM (64 KB) failure
1-3-3 Dysfunctional first RAM IC
1-3-4 Failure of RAM control logic
1-4-1 Failure of address line to first 64 KB RAM
1-4-2 RAM parity failure, indicating RAM IC malfunctioning
1-4-3 Motherboard Failure detected by EISA fail-safe timer test
1-4-4 Motherboard Failure detected by EISA NMI port 462 test
2-1-1 Failure of Bit 0 on first (64 KB) RAM IC
2-1-2 Failure of Bit 1 on first (64 KB) RAM IC
2-1-3 Failure of Bit 2 on first (64 KB) RAM IC
2-1-4 Failure of Bit 3 on first (64 KB) RAM IC
2-2-1 Failure of Bit 4 on first (64 KB) RAM IC
2-2-2 Failure of Bit 5 on first (64 KB) RAM IC
2-2-3 Failure of Bit 6 on first (64 KB) RAM IC
2-2-4 Failure of Bit 7 on first (64 KB) RAM IC
2-3-1 Failure of Bit 8 on first (64 KB) RAM IC
2-3-2 Failure of Bit 9 on first (64 KB) RAM IC
2-3-3 Failure of Bit 10 on first (64 KB) RAM IC
2-3-4 Failure of Bit 11 on first (64 KB) RAM IC
2-4-1 Failure of Bit 12 on first (64 KB) RAM IC
2-4-2 Failure of Bit 13 on first (64 KB) RAM IC
2-4-3 Failure of Bit 14 on first (64 KB) RAM IC
2-4-4 Failure of Bit 15 on first (64 KB) RAM IC
3-1-1 Failure of slave DMA register, leading to DMA controller malfunction
3-1-2 DMA controller failure due to faulty master DMA register
3-1-3 Faulty interrupt controller IC
3-1-4 Failure of Interrupt controller IC
3-2-2 BIOS failure in loading interrupt vectors, motherboard may need replacement
3-2-4 Faulty keyboard controller IC
3-3-1 CMOS RAM or CMOS battery failure
3-3-2 CMOS configuration failure
3-3-4 Video memory or video adapter failure
3-4-1 Video adapter failure leading to video initialization problems
4-2-1 System timer IC failure
4-2-2 CMOS IC failure
4-2-3 Keyboard controller failure
4-2-4 Unexpected Interrupt caused due to a CPU problem
4-3-1 Faulty RAM addressing circuitry
4-3-3 System timer IC failure
4-3-4 CMOS internal real time clock failure
4-4-1 Faulty serial port circuitry
4-4-2 Faulty parallel port circuitry
4-4-3 Math coprocessor failure
So you need a good ear to interpret what the code says. Once you know the beep sequence, you can figure out what's wrong with your computer, to take appropriate action. Using the tables above, you can easily interpret what your computer is conveying to you. The beauty of the beep code lies in the fact that you can interpret what's wrong, even when the monitor is not working and nothing is being displayed. Listen to the beeps, decipher them correctly from the diagnostic tables provided above and fix up your computer problem!