How to run hardware diagnostics from BIOS without an OS

Desktop operating systems offer different ways to troubleshoot problems. Most of these solutions come as third-party apps that you can run on the desktop OS but there are also built-in troubleshooting tools on most of them. The real problem arises when you no longer have an OS to boot to. If you’re stuck in BIOS and unable to boot to your desktop, you either have a hardware or a software/OS related problem. If you’re worried about the hardware being damaged, you can run hardware diagnostics from BIOS.

PC/Laptop manufacturer diagnostics

PC/laptop manufacturers like Dell and HP include a diagnostics tool that you can run from BIOS. It is possible that other manufacturers have something similar but you will need to check. This method is the most convenient way to go because the tools are all there, you just need to access them.

Turn on your PC and go to the BIOS. Look for anything called Diagnostics, or similar. Select it, and allow the tool to run the tests.

Third-party diagnostics tool

If your BIOS doesn’t have a diagnostics tool, or the one it has is too basic, you can use a third-party tool. In order to use a third-party tool, you must have access to a functioning PC and a USB disk on hand.

We recommend using Memtest86. It’s free and you can burn it to a USB disk easily with Etcher. This tool primarily checks your RAM and CPU for errors. Download it, and burn it to a USB. Boot to your BIOS and select the USB as the boot device.

You will see the app’s GUI where you can start the tests from.

The tests can take quite a bit of time to complete but the tool gives you the option to not only stop the test any time you want but also to save the results to a file.

Windows 10 or Ubuntu bootable disk

A Windows 10 bootable disk gives you access to certain tools such as the Command Prompt where you can run disk and system scans. It’s not the same as a diagnostics tool that will test all the hardware but it can often help repair problems with drives. Of course, you will need to create a bootable Windows 10 disk first.

Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution there is and if you create and boot from a bootable Ubuntu disk, you can ‘try it out’ before installing it. This trial version allows you access to a desktop where you can run third-party diagnostic tools from the desktop. Once you have access to a desktop, you can run all sorts of apps that you otherwise could not from just the BIOS.

Read How to run hardware diagnostics from BIOS without an OS by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to fix fans running at full, no battery, and no keyboard backlight on a Mac

Macs are generally machines that run smoothly. You will never really have trouble with the hardware unless you’ve dropped it from a great height, battered it, or spilled something on it. That said, if the fans on your Mac are suddenly running at full without any sign of slowing down or turning off, your MacBook’s battery isn’t detected, and the keyboard backlight won’t turn on, you have a slight hardware problem. The good news is, it is very likely an easy fix.

Fix fans running at full, no battery, and no keyboard backlight

This solution is for a MacBook or Mac that was otherwise running without any problems and suddenly began to exhibit this behavior. If you dropped your Mac, hit it or something fell on it, or you spilled something on it, and now have fans running at full, no battery, and no keyboard backlight, then this may or may not work.

You need to perform an SMC reset. An SMC or a System Management Controller manages various hardware and hardware controllers on your Mac. When there’s a problem with one, some, or all of them, resetting it is often the fix.

On a desktop Mac i.e., one that does not have a removable battery, shut it down. Once it’s shut down, remove the power cable and wait for 15 seconds. Plug it in again, and wait another 5 minutes. After that, press the power button to turn your Mac On. The problem with the fans should be fixed.

On a MacBook, the process is a bit different. Shut it down normally. Make sure the power adapter is connected. Hold down the Left Shift+Control+Option+Power button for fifteen seconds, and then release them all. Next, wait for five seconds and then tap the Power button. Your problems should be fixed.

If you have trouble turning the MacBook on, remove the power adapter and wait for 5 seconds. Next, connect it and at the same time, press and hold the power button for five seconds. Release it, wait 5 seconds. After that, tap the power button to turn the MacBook on.

If this doesn’t fix the problem with your hardware, you can try a PRAM reset but that doesn’t have anything to do with hardware or these sorts of problems. Still, it’s worth a try. If the problem doesn’t sort itself out, you should have someone take a look.

Ideally, you should take it to an Apple store but if you’re not under warranty, there are cheaper places to have it fixed.

Read How to fix fans running at full, no battery, and no keyboard backlight on a Mac by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to check for Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip on Windows 10

When it comes to hardware on a PC, users tend to look at specifications like RAM, CPU, GPU, the motherboard model and, if you’re looking at hard drives instead of solid state drives, its speed and capacity. One tiny hardware component that you may not be aware of is the Trusted Platform Module chip or the TPM chip. It’s not going to make your PC faster, or boost any performance benchmark. The device basically makes your system more secure and is often advertised for business-use machines. Here’s how you can check if you have a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip on your PC.

Check for Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip

To check if you have the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip on your system, open the run box with the Win+R keyboard shortcut. In the run box, enter the following;

tpm.msc

Tap enter and it will open the Trusted Platform Module Management app. Under the ‘Status’ section, check if TPM is ready for use. If the status section says that there is no TPM chip on your system, it is possible that is has been disabled from BIOS.

Restart your system and access the BIOS or UEFI. Since they differ from system to system, it’s not possible to guide you to the exact place you should check for the TPM chip setting. That said, look for anything related to security. If you don’t have a security tab, look for a hardware related tab, or something to do with encryption.

Once you find it, look for Trusted Platform Module and enable it. If you can’t find it, even after searching for it in areas where it doesn’t necessarily belong, it’s possible that you don’t have the chip. Most recent laptop models are highly likely to have it however, not all do. Check the specifications for your laptop model. If it has a Trusted Platform Module chip, it will definitely be mentioned there.

No TPM chip

In the event that your system doesn’t have the TPM chip, you still have the option to install one yourself. Installing a TPM chip isn’t as simple as buying and connecting a Bluetooth dongle to your system. Your motherboard must support it and a newer laptop or PC model’s motherboard is likely to do so. Once you know it’s supported, you can buy the chip. You can install it yourself but if you’ve never tinkered with hardware before, have a professional do it for you.

Read How to check for Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip on Windows 10 by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to find the motherboard model on Windows 10

A motherboard is an essential component of every computer. The motherboard model is what determines the other hardware that you can add to your system. If you want to increase the RAM on your system, for example, your motherboard needs to have empty slots for it and it has to support the card that you’re trying to add. This particular component is so essential, OEM licenses are tied to it and replacing it is almost like getting a new PC.

Find motherboard model

If you need to know what your motherboard is capable of, and you don’t want to physically open up your PC to take a look, you can find the motherboard model number from inside Windows 10.

Command Prompt

Open Command Prompt with admin rights, and run the following command;

wmic baseboard get product, manufacturer, version, serialnumber

The output will return the product name, serial number, and version of the motherboard that’s installed on your PC.

System information

If you don’t have admin access on your system, you can check the System Information app for this same information. Select System Summary and look for the the BaseBoard entries. You won’t find the the serial number for your motherboard but the rest of the information is there.

CPU-Z

CPU-Z is an app that we recommend for a lot of things such as finding out whether your CPU is a Skylake or kabylake processor. Download, install, and run the app. It has a tab called MainBoard which is another name for motherboard and it will give you the model number and version for it. Unfortunately, it still won’t give you the serial number for the motherboard so if that’s what you need, you’re going to have to use the Command Prompt method.

The serial number of a motherboard is rarely needed. If you need to replace your motherboard and are looking for the same model, the information that the System Information app and CPU-Z give you will do the trick. If you need to look up the slots it has, you can Google its model number.

If you’re looking to add or change the hardware components on your PC, you should also check what hardware you currently have on your system. The motherboard will determine what you can and cannot add to your system but the hardware you add needs to be compatible with the other components as well. You can’t, for example, change your GPU but not have enough RAM to support it.

Read How to find the motherboard model on Windows 10 by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

The 5 best hardware information tools for Linux

Finding system information on Windows is simple. You right-click on My Computer, select properties, and it’s right there. With Linux, finding a readout of your Computer’s hardware is difficult. Many Desktop Environments on Linux don‘t offer as easy of a way to see a readout of your computer system information. As a result, many new users get frustrated.

To solve this problem, we’ve compiled a list of the best hardware information tools for Linux!

Note: all of the hardware information tools on this list are open source and can easily run on most modern Linux distributions.

1. CPU-X

CPU-X: it’s the Linux equivalent to the popular Windows system information program CPU-Z. It gives detailed system information about your CPU on Linux, as well as useful information about the operating system, RAM usage, etc.

While there are a lot of CPU information tools on Linux, CPU-X remains one of the most popular due to it’s easy to navigate interface.

Notable Features:

  • CPU-X has a near identical user interface to CPU-Z, the popular Windows CPU info program.
  • CPU-X can view the live temperature of your CPU in Celsius.
  • In addition to showing CPU information, CPU-X can tell you what your motherboard model number and manufacturer is, as well as the BIOS version and chipset.
  • The CPU-X tool can show how much RAM the computer it is running on has, as well as the clock speed and model number.
  • Has a “System” tab that can give information about the Linux OS, including things like Kernel version, distribution, hostname, memory in use, and much more.
  • CPU-X’s cache feature allows the user to view a readout of the CPU cache, and monitor its speed in real-time.
  • The program is distributed in AppImage format, which means that every Linux distribution can run it, even if it doesn’t enjoy direct support from the developer.

2. I-Nex

I-Nex is a graphical system information tool for Linux that gathers your system’s hardware information into a neat, CPU-Z-like interface.

The I-Nex program can display your hardware info, like the amount of system RAM, CPU model/speed, GPU info. It also shows software information like the Linux kernel version, GCC, Xorg, GLX, etc.

Notable Features:

  • Very similar to CPU-Z, and has a closely replicated user interface that users will feel at home with.
  • Reports CPU temperature (in Celsius).
  • I-Nex has a built-in screenshot feature that makes it easy to show off system specs to friends (or record keeping).
  • I-Nex has dedicated info tabs that give detailed stats on your CPU, GPU, Motherboard, Audio, hard drives and operating system.
  • It is possible to export the I-Nex system information report (CPU, GPU, etc.) and upload it directly to a paste service like Pastebin, Slexy, and others. Better yet, the system report generation feature is customizable, and users can choose what I-Nex tab(s) to upload to the web.

3. Hardware Lister (lshw)

Hardware Lister (aka the lshw) command, is a small Linux utility that users can use to find out information about their hardware. The program is extensive and gives information about every, from how much RAM is installed, to the speed of your hard drives.

Lshw is a favorite in the Linux community due to how easy it is to pipe with other programs, especially the Grep tool, which lets users filter out specific keywords in the command output.

Notable Features:

  • Works well with the Unix ecosystem and can interact with other commands easily.
  • Hardware Lister lets users output system information in plain text, XML, and HTML formats for easy reading.
  • In addition to running in the terminal, Lshw comes with a graphical interface that can be used to read system information more clearly.
  • The graphical interface for Lshw supports exporting system reports in various formats, just like the terminal.
  • Hardware Lister’s “businfo” feature can print out a detailed report of a computer’s buses (USB, PCI, SCSI, etc.)
  • The “sanitize” feature allows users to suppress device serial numbers from the output report, to protect privacy.
  • With the “class” feature, users can make the Lshw command display only certain classes of hardware connected to the computer.

4. Neofetch

A quick way to find system information is by opening a terminal and running a command. However, many of the built-in system info commands are jumbled, and the average person has trouble reading them.

Neofetch is a better way to view system information. When run, it condenses your system specs down to an easily readable print-out. It shows off the name of the Linux distribution you’re running, kernel information, uptime, screen resolution, CPU, GPU, and much more!

Notable Features:

  • Neofetch displays system information in an aesthetically pleasing way, making it perfect to off in desktop screenshots.
  • The program is designed to be customizable and has many different command options that let the user change how info is displayed.
  • Though Neofetch displays your OS logo by default, it is possible to change it to better suit your sense of style, thanks to the “image” feature.
  • Neofetch works with every operating system that supports BASH, even Mac OS, Haiku and other non-Linux platforms.

5. Hwinfo

Hwinfo is a hardware probing tool developed by the OpenSUSE Linux project. Its primary use is to generate system spec reports through the terminal. Like the Hardware Lister tool, it’s possible to combine this program with other terminal applications (like Grep) for added features.

Notable Features:

  • Hwinfo has a “short” feature that can reduce its usually large hardware readout into an easier to read report.
  • Can optionally report RAID devices in a system information summary.
  • The “HW ITEM” feature allows users to generate custom system reports that only include certain hardware devices.

Conclusion

Every desktop environment on Linux and every Linux distribution should have an area where the user can go to view hardware information.

The Linux community is full of different ideas, so it’s unlikely for everyone to come together and make such a feature happen. Thankfully, we’ve got plenty of third-party system info tools for Linux that help pick up the slack!

Read The 5 best hardware information tools for Linux by Derrik Diener on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter