The computer runs a diagnostic, Power-On Self Test (POST) sequence from its BIOS during boot. This test checks all your hardware devices like CPU, GPU, RAM, keyboard, USB etc and determines if they are running correctly.
If no problems are found with your device, your PC will start to boot. However, if POST detects any problems, your PC will start beeping with specific patterns depending on the nature of the problem.
Why does the PC beep on startup?
As mentioned earlier, the boot beep indicates a hardware failure. There are many hardware components on a PC, and individual components can fail in a number of ways. So it is not possible to list all the reasons that cause the startup beep. However, some common causes are as follows:
- The video card is bad, out of place or missing.
- The RAM, CPU or GPU is faulty or improperly placed.
- Unnecessarily high CPU voltage.
- CPU fan speed is low.
- Problems with the motherboard circuit.
- The keyboard is damaged due to a short circuit.
- Bios is corrupted or damaged.
How to troubleshoot startup beeps on PC?
The first thing you need to do is listen carefully and determine the number of beeps and whether there is any template for it. You can restart your PC several times until you are sure of the beep pattern.
Then check for a representative specific beep sequence from your motherboard’s official website. The University Information Technology Service also lists the beep codes for most popular BIOSes.
The pattern and number of beeps vary between different motherboards. Some computers also display POST or Beep errors on the screen. In addition, on some devices, such as HP, you also need to pay attention to blinking LED patterns.
If the beep just indicates that the Power On Self Test has completed without finding any errors, you do not need to do anything. If not, go through the possible solutions below depending on which component has some problem.
Power Cycle Calculator
You can solve boot beep errors caused by stuck, frozen, or malfunctioning devices in most cases by powering on your PC. This process refreshes these devices by properly turning them off and on again. Here’s how you can power your PC:
- Turn off or force shut down your PC by holding down the power button for 3 seconds.
- Disconnect all peripherals along with the power cord and removable laptop battery.
- Press and hold the power button for 20 seconds to drain the capacitor’s charge.
- Let your PC rest for half an hour if CPU/GPU temperature is high.
- Reconnect the power cord, battery, and keyboard. You may receive a startup beep due to keyboard controller failure on some PCs if you haven’t attached your keyboard.
Power on your PC and check if your PC beeps on startup.
Check for stuck or shortened keys
If the beep code corresponds to the keyboard controller, it indicates a stuck key or a shorted keyboard circuit. You usually get a constant beep on most devices if your keyboard is short-circuited.
Check if any key is stuck or you can’t press it properly. You can unlock it by dragging it.
Some users have also mentioned that pressing any key when they receive a continuous beep is enough to solve the problem. You can also try if it works, but don’t hold your breath.
We still recommend that you take your device to a hardware professional for repair or replacement even if this fix doesn’t work as it indicates an error with your keyboard.
Reset or replace CMOS
Most of the errors with ROM, Bios Chip or CMOS especially the Checksum Error indicate the BIOS is faulty. Try resetting the BIOS settings first as it is known to work in very rare cases. You can do so in one of the following ways:
- Remove and replace the CMOS battery.
- Press the red button on the motherboard, if available.
- Shorten the motherboard BIOS jumper.
If not, you need to use BIOS Auto Recovery to fix your BIOS ROM. If it doesn’t work, the only possible solution is replace your BIOS chip or your motherboard.
Check connection and reset hardware chip
Most beep errors caused by hardware failure do not automatically mean that the device is faulty. It is also possible that you have not set them properly or have some loose connections. So take off your computer or laptop case and check those connections
- For display and keyboard issues, unplug and replug their ribbon connectors while making sure to screw the latch properly.
- You should also check for problems with the power cable and other cables on the monitor. Make sure they are properly connected and that there are no exposed or damaged wires.
- For RAM, CPU, and GPU, there are retaining clips or latches that you should unlock. Then remove and reinstall them.
- You can also move your RAM to other available slots. And also reattach expansion cards.
- Be especially careful if you want to reassemble your CPU and GPU. Be sure to check for any bent or damaged CPU connectors and place it carefully.
- Also, lock the pins in place for all chips after placing them.
- If your GPU requires additional power, check the connection of the power cable as well.
You should also clean these debris with a cotton swab and isopropyl alcohol or blow with compressed air before reattaching them.
Cleaning the CPU and GPU is a more difficult task, so we recommend taking your device in for service. But you can also follow the advice in our article, How to clean CPU without damaging it.
Check the power supply
You may also get some beep patterns if your hardware components are not getting enough power from your PSU. It indicates that you do not have a powerful Power Supply Unit (PSU) or that the current is interrupted frequently.
- Make sure to connect the power cable properly.
- If you are using a UPS, try connecting your PSU directly to the mains.
- If there is any problem with this device or it does not correspond to the minimum requirements of your PC, you need to replace the PSU.
Check CPU Fan or Cooling Settings
Intermittent or high frequency beeps (like sirens) mostly indicate that your CPU is overheating. It could be a voltage issue, but chances are your fan or cooling setup isn’t working properly.
- If possible, try changing the CPU voltage or fan speed setting in your BIOS/UEFI to an appropriate value. Seek help from the official processor website to find out which value is optimal.
- If you are unable to do so or you are still receiving beeps due to CPU overheating, you will need to remove the CPU cooler, clean it, and reinstall it.
We have a dedicated article on How to Remove CPU Cooler from Motherboard that you can visit to learn the process.
If your cooling setup is not dissipating heat fast enough for your setup or is damaged, you need to replace it.
Replace hardware components
If reinstalling your hardware components on your PC or motherboard doesn’t work, you may need a replacement.
However, the problem can also be with your motherboard instead of the components. You can test this using those devices on a working PC. If they work in another computer, you need to replace your motherboard.
You also need to replace the motherboard if a faulty ROM or BIOS chip is integrated with the motherboard, or if the motherboard circuitry itself has some defect.
Replacing components uses the same steps to reassemble them. So, if you can do so yourself, buy replacements for faulty devices while making sure there are no compatibility issues with other hardware.
But we still recommend that you seek help from a technician to prevent other unforeseen problems.
How to troubleshoot startup beeps on Mac?
On Mac, a startup beep indicates a problem with your memory or firmware. If you receive one beep or three beeps that repeat every five seconds, it may be because you have not installed the memory properly. So try to reassemble or reinstall it.
And three long beeps – three short beeps – three long beeps identify a firmware problem. Don’t worry though, the Mac will automatically restore the firmware in such a case.