Compaq CMOS SETUP explained

How to access SETUP

How to load DIAGNOSTICS and SETUP to disk.

Unlike the "clone" MB community which uses a CMOS SETUP routine that resides in "silicon" on the MB, Compaq uses a SETUP diskette to access the CMOS in their systems and a DIAGNOSTIC diskette to perform system tests and inspect system level information. Images of these floppies are loaded to a 4 MB non-DOS partition on the hard drive when Compaq configures their systems. The F10 key is used to access them from the HDD on boot.

When upgrading to a new or larger hard drive these diagnostics will not be present and a hard drive crash may corrupt these diagnostics. In either case you will need the Compaq diskettes to load the diagnostics to the hard drive.

These procedures are correct for the Compaq desktop products like Deskpro, Prolinea etc. I do not know if it is the same for their server product line.

The steps outlined herein assume standard Microsoft partitioning software (FDISK), not the 3rd party "xxxx magic" partition utilities available. I have not tried to move and create a new diagnostic partition on an existing drive using these utilities and cannot verify their success or failure. Do so at your own risk.

How do I access the CMOS SETUP routine on my Compaq?

1. At boot time the cursor will appear as a large block in the upper right corner of the screen after beeping twice. Press F10 AFTER the memory test completes or when you see the block cursor and the DIAGNOSTIC utility screen will appear. Perform your standard CMOS functions from the utility screen.

NOTE!! If the diagnostics are not loaded on the HDD the block cursor WILL NOT appear after the two beeps.

2. If the F10 at boot sequence fails, boot with disk 1 of 2 of the SETUP/DIAGNOSTICS in the drive. Proceed with the standard CMOS SETUP functions from the utility screen.


How can I get the SETUP and TEST diagnostic diskettes if I have lost mine?

You can create the diskette images from the F10 boot utility if that is still functional on your disk. If the hard drive has been wiped and you don't have copies of the diskettes perform the following steps:

1. Go to:

2. Click on the type of system you need help with (IE desktop, server or peripheral).

3. Enter the system model information in the dialogue boxes and press the Locate Software button on the page.

4. Scroll down to the ROMPaq selection for your model. Download the ROMPaq file to a temp directory on your disk.

5. The file is a self-extracting file that will create the SETUP and the DIAGNOSTICS diskettes on 3.5" floppies.

6. Label the disks Compaq diags 1 of 2 and 2 of 2 to have them in the correct sequence for booting and creating the diagnostic partition.


How can I load the diagnostics on a new hard drive-- OR --I repartitioned or formatted my hard drive and want to load the diagnostics back?

This is where the problems occur. You will need the "SETUP" and the "DIAGNOSTICS" floppies to proceed.

Click on the link above to DL the ROMPaq for your system if you don't have them.

1. Boot from Disk 1 of 2 and define the HD parameters if installing a new HDD. For an existing drive this should not be necessary.

2. Have NO PARTITONS defined on your hard drive. Delete any and ALL partitions you may have created in previous attempts to load diagnostics.

NOTE! If you try to load the diagnostics with a DOS partition defined it will say there is not enough room to load diagnostics because it needs the FIRST 4MB of the drive to load them. (Available space on the drive is unusable) If you loaded an OS and your applications and want to preserve them, you CANNOT load the Compaq diags to the hard drive.

3. Boot from Disk 1 of 2 and it will detect no diagnostic partition on the hard drive and prompt you to create one on the drive.

4. Follow the prompts to create the partition and insert the diskettes when requested. This is a 3 pass operation, to create the non-DOS partition, recognize the partition and transfer the diskette images. Now you will have F10 functionality at boot.

5. Run FDISK and partition the remaining space on the drive, as you would normally do. I personally use a single partition in Win98 to simplify things.

6. Format the drive with the DOS command FORMAT C: /s and the C: drive will be bootable and have the Compaq diage above procedures and loaded standard Microsoft Win95/98 (not Compaq's customized version) on the hard drive with no problems.


This document instructs you on how to prepare a blank HDD to have the F10 boot function available and be ready to load/restore an OS.. It is not a tutorial how to restore Compaq software configurations. Please DO NOT Email me asking for driver info for Compaq products, how to use Quickrestore CD or where is Works and Quicken on my Quickrestore CD. . I am not a Compaq guru and other than this system, have little experience with Compaq's proprietary OS configurations and restore utilities. The best forum for these questions is a newsgroup called alt.sys.pc-clone.compaq That is where I gathered the various bits of info for this document

I wrote this document because there was no central point to get Compaq comprehensive diagnostic info when I needed to resurrect a "bare bones" Prolinea 5120e to donate to a graduating high school senior.

My system did not contain any unique Compaq options or I/O controllers that may have required Compaq specific drivers. It is a bare bones Prolinea 5120e, FDD, HDD, CD-ROM (found by Win95/98) and external modem. Installing a NON Compaq version of Win95/98 may require installation of drivers for the Compaq supplied options and locating these drivers is YOUR responsibility before you proceed.

.Dick Perron........