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Blue Screens in Vista = Memory Problem?


knordstrom

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Hi, I have an AMD 64X2 3000+ on an MSI K9N SLI motherboard with 4x1GB sticks of Corsair CM2x1024-6400C4 memory. My BIOS settings have been on the auto/default settings. I had been running it relatively stably using Windows XP for about a year, except that every so often there would be a BSOD when I was using Windows Media Player concurrently with Visual Studio 2008. I had thought there was a software issue there, and decided to upgrade to Vista Ultimate 64 bit in July. This was planned from the start, ie. I was aware that XP couldn't use 4GB of memory.

 

Vista 64 ran stably for 2 months without a crash. Then one day I installed the Netflix viewer and all $%^* broke loose. All of my programs started throwing errors and BSOD's happened constantly, and with increasing frequency, til I could barely start my system without it breaking down. Again, I thought it was software, so I reinstalled Vista Ultimate 64.

 

This time my OS was good for 1 month. Then 3 days ago I plugged in my cell phone, WMP came up, and BSODs/unspecified errors started cascading. I tried to figure it out for 2 days, gave up, and decided to *again* reinstall Vista, this time 32 bit because I'd heard it was a lot more stable than 64.

 

That was yesterday, but I can hardly boot into my fresh OS without a BSOD.

 

So ... it *finally* dawned on me that I might be dealing with a hardware issue - after all, 3 different OS' are now having problems (2 of them consistently), which is more than a little bit coincidental. I ran memtest on my memory, and got some strange results. Being a relative newbie at hardware, I was a bit mystified - I did some searching but nothing seems to give me the information I'm looking for. Here's what was strange to me:

 

RAM: 430MHz (DDR861) / CAS 5-6-5-18/ DDR-2 (64 bits)

 

Under the default settings, my AMI BIOS was running my memory at the wrong CAS latencies?! I had expected the memory to show up as DDR800 with CAS latencies 4-4-4-12. With these default settings, an overnight memtest run came up with 32 errors.

 

Based on some things I'd read on this forum, I went into the BIOS and manually configured the memory so that it came up 4-4-4-12. I manually set the clock speed to 800 as well. When I started memtest up again, I got

 

RAM: 430MHz (DDR861) / CAS 4-4-4-12/ DDR-2 (64 bits)

 

So now the CAS numbers looked OK, but the RAM speed was still wrong! I left my voltage on the default setting, which was 1.9V - am I correct in thinking that somehow this memory is being overclocked? What am I missing? For this run of memtest, I got a multiple failures within a single pass (on test 5).

 

I am right now trying to run tests on individual sticks. But here are a few of my questions:

 

1. I've read that having all 4 banks filled can cause problems for my motherboard ... is this really true? It seems silly to have 4 banks on a MoBo if I can only use say 3 of them. Unfortunately, this would explain the apparent increase in the frequency of my errors over time.

 

2. If so, do I have to use fewer sticks? Is it possible I'd have to replace my MoBo?

 

3. I also read a somewhat cryptic reference on another thread to the possibility of running the memory at 333MHz (DDR667) because I have all 4 slots filled - is this true? Do you have a brief explanation of why this might be so?

 

4. Is it necessary - and if so how do I do it - to get the DDR800 memory to run as DDR800 instead of DDR861? When I set the frequency so that it's DDR667 it comes up correctly, which confuses me a bit.

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Single stick tests:

 

Stick 1 in slot 1 : pass

Stick 2 in slot 2 : pass

Stick 3 in slot 3 : fail on test 7

Stick 3 in slot 2 : fail on test 7

Stick 4 in slot 3 : pass

 

So I know:

 

#1. Stick 3 is bad - it failed in two different places

#2. Slot 3 is ok

 

I can't be certain that Sticks 1,2, and 4 are ok, but they at least passed.

 

My conclusion: my issues were (at least in part) caused by stick 3.

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Enter your bios and load up setup defaults, save and exit the bios.

 

Re-enter the bios and manually set the timings as printed on your modules (4-4-4-12)

Set the dram speed to DDR667 and dont forget to set the dram voltage to 2.1volt.

Set the northbridge voltage to + 0.2 volt

 

Run Memtest for 2 full passes. If errors occur test each module individualy!

(disable usb legacy when testing with memtest)

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