BIOS, or Basic Input/Output System, is a program that controls communication between your computer's hardware and its operating system. It's stored on a chip on your motherboard and is the first thing that runs when you turn on your computer.
BIOS is the underlying software controlling all the hardware at the lowest level. With millions of hardware configurations, the BIOS settings need to be very general in its approach. Hence there is room for optimization in dedicated gaming systems.
The Ultimate BIOS Settings Guide
- What is the BIOS & What can be optimized?
- Why is it important to optimize the BIOS settings?
- How to configure BIOS settings for performance
What is the BIOS?
BIOS is the underlying software controlling the various components inside a computer.
The BIOS is running inside the Motherboard and works independently from the OS.
Its memory is stored on a battery located on the motherboard to save the BIOS configuration in case of power and hardware failure.
Why are they important?
Since the BIOS controls everything on the hardware level it is recommended to configure it properly in order to reduce input lag and increase overall responsiveness.
What is BIOS optimization?
Since the BIOS controls performance settings for the CPU and RAM, optimizing its options may show remarkable results.
Enable/Disable devices on the Motherboard, allows you reach peak performance on CPU.
Why it's important to update BIOS
All the major Motherboard brands release BIOS updates regularly.
Updates are primarily released to improve compatibility with newer hardware such as CPUs and RAM.
Other improvements may include bug fixes and general enhancements.
How to reset the BIOS?
If your computer refuses to start, or if you are unable to access the BIOS during startup, you might need to reset the CMOS battery.
Carefully remove the physical battery from the motherboard to reset the onboard memory.
Place it back inside its socket to start over.
Wait 10 seconds before inserting the battery again and start up the system.
How to enter BIOS?
To enter BIOS, restart your computer and press the appropriate key (usually F2, F10, or Del) when prompted to do so. The key you need to press will be displayed on the first screen that appears when you turn on your computer.
What is High Precision Event Timer (HPET)?
The High Precision Event Timer (HPET) is a hardware timer that is used to improve the accuracy and resolution of time-based events in a computer system.
It was introduced as an alternative to the older Programmable Interval Timer (PIT) and Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) timer devices, which had lower precision and resolution.
HPET is supported by many modern operating systems and can be enabled or disabled in the BIOS settings of a computer.
It is not generally considered necessary for most users, but it can be helpful for certain applications that require high accuracy timing, such as scientific simulations or audio/video processing.
What is Intel Software Guard Extensions (Intel SGX)?
Intel Software Guard Extensions (Intel SGX) is a set of instructions that can be used by software developers to set aside a portion of memory called an "enclave" that is isolated from the rest of the system. The purpose of an enclave is to provide a secure area for sensitive code and data to be stored and executed.
SGX is supported by certain Intel processors and requires both hardware and software support to work. It is primarily used in enterprise and cloud computing environments, but it can also be used by individual software developers to create more secure applications.
What is Hyper-V?
Hyper-V is a virtualization technology developed by Microsoft. It allows multiple operating systems to run on a single physical server, by creating virtual machines (VMs) that share the resources of the host system.
Each VM runs its own operating system, and can be configured and managed independently of the other VMs. Hyper-V is included in the Windows operating system, and can also be installed on Windows Server.
What is Hyper-Threading?
With hyper-threading, a single physical CPU core appears as two logical cores to the operating system, each with its own set of resources such as registers and execution units. This allows the operating system to schedule two threads on the same physical core, potentially increasing the throughput of the system.
Note that Hyper-threading is not the same as multi-core, where each core is a separate physical processor with its own set of resources. Hyper-threading is an addition to multi-core, which allows more efficient use of the available resources.
What is CPU Enhanced Halt (C1E)?
C1E (CPU Enhanced Halt) is a power-saving state that can be used by processors in a computer system. When a processor enters C1E state, it reduces its clock frequency and voltage, which reduces power consumption.
C1E is typically used in conjunction with other power management features, such as Intel SpeedStep or AMD PowerNow, to dynamically adjust the processor's power consumption based on the workload. This allows the system to conserve energy when it is idle or under light loads, while still providing full performance when needed.
What is Intel (R) Speed Shift Technology?
Intel Speed Shift Technology is a power management feature that allows the processor to more quickly and efficiently adjust its voltage and clock frequency in response to changes in workload. This is in contrast to traditional power management methods, which rely on the operating system to make these adjustments, which can take longer and be less efficient.
With Speed Shift Technology, the processor can make these adjustments on its own, reducing the time it takes to transition between power states and improving overall system performance. This technology is available in Intel Core processors starting with the 6th generation (Skylake) and newer.
What is Platform Power Management?
Platform Power Management (PPM) refers to the various power management techniques and technologies that are used in a computer system to reduce power consumption and improve energy efficiency.
This can include features such as CPU Enhanced Halt (C1E), Intel Speed Shift Technology, and Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) support. PPM can also include hardware and software controls for managing power consumption of other components such as memory, storage devices, and peripherals.
The goal of PPM is to reduce power consumption when the system is idle or under light loads, while still providing full performance when needed. This can help to extend battery life in portable devices and reduce energy costs in enterprise systems.
What is Active State Power Management (ASPM)/Aggressive Link Power Management (ALPM)?
Active State Power Management (ASPM) and Aggressive Link Power Management (ALPM) are power management features that are used to reduce power consumption in the PCI Express (PCIe) interface.
ASPM is a power management standard that is defined by the PCI-SIG (PCI Special Interest Group), the organization that manages the PCIe specification. ASPM allows for dynamic power management of the PCIe link between the processor and a device, such as a network controller or storage device. This can help to reduce power consumption when the link is idle or not in use.
ALPM, on the other hand, is a more aggressive power management feature that is available on some storage devices, such as solid-state drives (SSDs). ALPM allows the storage device to enter a deeper power-saving state, which can reduce power consumption even further than ASPM.
Together, ASPM and ALPM can help to significantly reduce power consumption in the PCIe interface, which can help to extend battery life in portable devices and reduce energy costs in enterprise systems.
What is the CSM (Compatibility Support Module)?
The Compatibility Support Module (CSM) is a component of the BIOS firmware in some computers that enables the computer to boot using the legacy BIOS boot process, rather than the newer UEFI boot process.
This allows the computer to boot from older operating systems or boot devices that do not support the UEFI boot process.
The CSM is typically used in computers that are not designed for use with the UEFI boot process or that need to support legacy operating systems or boot devices.
How to Optimize BIOS Settings for Gaming
If you're a gamer, you may be wondering if there are any settings that you can tweak to improve your gaming performance. The answer is: it depends. Here are a few things to consider:
Always be careful when configuring the BIOS, its settings may prevent the PC from starting correctly. Follow the steps below to set a foundation for increased performance and improved responsive from your system.
But remember to be aware of the fact that some settings may have to be tweaked for your particular PC in order to achieve peak performance.
Total Time: 20 minutes
Update the BIOS
It may be recommended to update the BIOS version to guarantee maximum performance out of the system.
Download from the manufacturer's website and install using a USB stick during system boot.
Could be important to secure the best possible compatibility with new hardware.
Load BIOS to optimized defaults
Usually, F10 brings up the toggle for restoring the factory default settings.
It's always recommended to do this before making any changes to the BIOS settings.
Used for advanced workstation tasks and will impact gaming performance in a negative way.
Hyper-V and similar virtualization technologies should be disabled.
Such features are used for virtual machines in workstations and have no use in games.
Controversial since it disables a large selling point of various CPUs.
Lowers temperatures which allow for better latency thanks to less risk of throttling.
Usually not well utilized in games and is usually better for content creation apps that are optimized for more threads.
Only recommended for people with 6 or more CPU cores.
Disable Fast Boot
"Fast boot" will postpone crucial desktop checks until later and it's recommended to disable it.
Let the computer do a proper check during startup to guarantee flawless operations.
Disable Intel Speed Shift Technology
Technology from Intel controls the CPU by changing the clock speed to save power whenever possible.
While it's good for saving energy it may introduce Frame-timing spikes as a result.
Disable to avoid spikes in FPS from changes in CPU frequency.
Disable CPU C-states
Set package C-State Limit, if possible, to a lower C-state value to avoid latency from the CPU going in and out of energy-saving states.
Avoid power management options that put your computer to various levels of sleep which affects the performance and spikes in frequency.
Disable CPU Enhanced Halt (C1E)
Another energy saving feature present in the BIOS menu. It should be deactivated to ensure ultimate performance during gameplay.
Set SATA mode
The SSD bios settings should be set to AHCI for best load times and performance.
(Only applicable to SATA-drives)
Secondary ATA controllers.
Disable if not needed as it will need to load Drivers and various tools that may interfere with performance.
Disable On-board Graphics
It's always preferred to use a discrete graphics card for gaming.
Avoid loading additional (Intel) drivers inside Windows
On-board graphics may help with media encoding features.
Set Display output
Set preferred display output to your dedicated graphics card in the bios settings.
Disable Onboard Audio
Unnecessary devices will require additional drivers which will add additional load to the system.
Avoid onboard audio if you are using a wireless headset or a dedicated DAC.
Enable High Precision Event Timer (HPET)
It’s usually enabled by default, and it is currently recommended to leave enabled on modern systems.
This is part of the Windows bios settings that control how the OS can schedule various operations.
Set PCI-E to Gen3
Ensures the latest and fastest communication between your Graphics card and the rest of your components.
The system itself can adjust to lower settings if necessary.
Disable Intel Software Guard Extensions (SGX)
There are barely any benefits from using it and it may slightly interfere with the CPU performance.
Disable all RGB
Disable ASPM & ALPM
Disable any Active State Power Management (ASPM)/Aggressive Link Power Management (ALPM) settings
Disable Platform Power Management
This is one of the most important settings - Disables the power saving features in Windows and gives full performance to your games.
Legacy USB Support
It May not be enabled by default depending on your specific setup.
Disable to force the CPU out of System Management Mode (SMM) which may cause system latency.
This happens because of System Management Interrupt (SMI).
It's a clever idea to configure fan settings in bios. Use DC power and set the fan speed to a locked RPM to avoid short spikes of overheat which will throttle your CPU.
In conclusion, by following the steps above, you can optimize your BIOS for competitive gaming. This will help you to achieve the best performance possible and give you a competitive edge over your opponents.
Remember to always assess any changes you make to ensure that they are working correctly and don't have a negative impact on your system. If set correctly the BIOS will work for you to make your system more responsive and faster.
Keep in mind that every system is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It's always a good idea to do your own research and carefully consider the risks and benefits before making any changes to your BIOS.
Good luck in your next match!