Getting into the BIOS of a Windows PC is something I am usually doing because there’s a problem. I want to select a different boot drive or enable USB drive for booting, or I want to check some configuration or disable another. And sometimes, the key combination to get to the BIOS is a mystery. Unless you’re using a Dell, where the BIOS entry key has been F2 since time began, you’re probably going to be guessing. So, I’ve decided to provide a few ways to get into the BIOS when you don’t know (and can’t seem to guess by trying different options) the right entry key, and I’ll also I’ll list all the BIOS entry keys I know of for the various PC manufacturers (which might or might not work depending on the model).

BIOS Entry from Windows Recovery

You might already know this one, but you can get to the BIOS from Windows recovery. I’m not going to cover here how to get into Windows Recovery, you can do a search and find that easily enough (there are a few ways). Once you’re there, go to Troubleshooting > Advanced Options > UEFI Firmware Settings. This will then allow you to restart and it will enter the BIOS (assuming your computer has UEFI). Note that you can do this from the Windows recovery of the installed Windows or from installation media.

Force BIOS Entry by Resetting It

Another way to force a computer into the BIOS is to reset the BIOS. The easiest way to do this is to open the computer and remove the CMOS battery, then replace the battery after about 10 seconds. Your computer might not have a CMOS battery, however, (most still do), so this might involve just removing the laptop battery. This will typically prompt the computer to request that you enter setup upon boot and will provide you a key to use to get there (often F1).

Force BIOS Entry by Removing and Replacing Hardware

This seems to work for most laptops. Open the laptop, remove the battery, remove the hard drive and RAM (if possible), then put them all back in. This will sometimes, if not most times, prompt the computer to ask you to enter the BIOS. You can even try swapping in a different drive (even if it’s empty).

BIOS Keys by Manufacturer

Here are the known BIOS entry keys by manufacturer. Note that some manufacturers have different keys for different models due to different BIOS firmware and motherboards. Remember to keep hitting the key until you see the BIOS starting up. (These BIOS entry keys are directly from the manufacturer web sites.)

  • Dell – F2 FTW. Always F2. And F12 to get to the boot options screen.
  • HP – Esc, but sometimes F10 works
  • ASUS – F2 or Del (ASUS recommends to do a cold boot and press and hold F2 or Del until the BIOS starts up)
  • Acer – F2 for laptops, Del for desktops
  • MSI – Del for BIOS, F11 for Boot Menu
  • Lenovo – F1 for Thinkpad models and Desktops, F2 for Ideapad models (or F12), or use Novo button if your system has one. (Novo button is a button or hole on the side of some Lenovo laptops with a curving arrow next to it. Press this button when the laptop is powered down.)
  • MS Surface – (Some models) Press and hold the volume up button, then press and release the power button. Continue holding volume up until you see the Surface logo.
  • Razer – F1 or Del (for Blade model laptops, possibly for desktops).
  • Samsung – F2
  • Toshiba – F2
  • CyberpowerPC – Del or F2, depending on your motherboard
  • Digital Storm – Del, F10 or F2 (Probably depends on the mobo manufacturer)
  • Gateway – Esc (Do they really still make these?)
  • Sony – F2 or use the Assist button when the computer is off
  • Gigabyte – Del (I assume all Gigabyte PCs use Gigabyte motherboards)
  • ASRock – Del or F2 (note, this is a motherboard manufacturer not a PC vendor)

Bottom line is that between Esc, Del, F1, F2, F10 and F12 you should be able to get into the BIOS of almost any modern PC.