At my company we have a HP Elitebook 8770w with Windows 7 OS that from time to time doesn't manage to boot like it should do. The SSD has been replaced with a new one but still does this problem occur. To start troubleshooting, do I want to enter the BIOS, but it's been locked with a password that I don't know because the previous IT'er put it there and doesn't know it either.

Problem 1

At this moment it boots perfectly without any problems. But maybe next week it won't boot anymore. I tried to boot with a dockingstation, without battery, with an other monitor, ... but all these don't work either. When it boots, do I hear a drive turning on, (altough should an SSD be silent) the keyboard lits up, the screen lits up, but shows a dark grey screen and that's it.

Problem 2

If the computer manages to boot, I press F10 to enter the BIOS setup but then it asks for a password which is unknown by us. We tried some standard passwords but none was correct. After 3 attempts it shows an on screen keyboard. After the 4th attempt I'm locked out and have to reboot. I've also tried to boot without the CMOS battery, but still can't enter the BIOS setup.


I've been running the System Diagnostics.

  • Memory Test was a succes and no problems occured
  • Hard Disk Test:

Quick Test: SMART check and short DST test were a succes and no problems occured.

Optimized test: SMART Check was a succes and no problems occured. BUT the Long DST test freezes at 99% with 1 second remaining.

This happend twice now, so I assume something is going wrong here. Because it's freezing, it doesn't give back any errors or problems that might have been found.


I'll do my best to answer the two questions.

Problem 1

Unfortunately this seems to be a common problem with this model laptop and some other related models. I have seen many of these elitebooks with the same symptoms. It would start with intermittent boot problems and in the end they refuse to turn on at all.

The sound you're hearing is likely the DVD drive initializing. This can make a small noise like the head of a hard disk moving.

You can try to boot from a Linux live CD and/or USB drive to see if it's a software issue. Perhaps try with the SSD disconnected to force the laptop to look to other boot mediums but it's likely the boot problem is very much a hardware issue. I'm suspecting dying capacitors or something similar.

Problem 2

As far as I know there is no master password for this type of model and you can't reset it by just disconnecting the CMOS battery. I suggest you contact HP's support line. For some models they can provide you with a file to reflash the BIOS.

Alternatively you can check HP's site to see if there is a BIOS update available and try to flash that one. I doubt it'll reset the password though but it sounds like the laptop is a lost cause otherwise anyway.

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