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Memory-related problem, not sure if it's the memory, MB, or something else


pcmpcm

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I bought my computer through cyberpowerpc back in September 2006. The computer has worked fine, apart from a problem I had in the graphics card which required two back-to-back RMAs in early 2007. The relevant specs are included in my profile.

 

A week and a half ago I got hit with a bad trojan, which required me to reformat my hard drives and reinstall Windows. I don't think that's related to my current problem, but the timing is curious.

 

My current problem began Sunday, 12/14. While playing a game, my monitor went into standby mode and wouldn't emerge. After checking connections, it worked again, but I proceeded to have more problems. The same game froze, another game crashed to desktop, my internet browser and other programs crashed. Altogether, I had about 5 or 6 program crashes, and 2 or 3 freezes or automatic resets that day.

 

My brother suspected a memory problem, and recommended that I run Memtest86. I did so and it picked up memory errors. To narrow down the problem, I removed one of the memory modules. MemTest detected no problems. I then removed that module and plugged in the other one. MemTest again detected no problems. I again inserted both modules, and MemTest detected memory errors again.

 

All this time I had the two memory modules installed in the black slots of the motherboard (the A2 and B2 slots). I tried installing both of them into the yellow/orange slots (the A1 and B1 slots). The computer wouldn't even boot. The monitor just stayed in standby mode. I tried reversing the the memory modules in the yellow/orange slots, but still nothing, no signal to the monitor.

 

I talked to cyberpowerpc while at work (so I didn't have immediate access to my computer) about the problem and they suggested that I manually set the voltage to 2.1V. I have never tampered at all with my Bios settings, with the exception of changing priorities of hard drives. I don't overclock, and have kept my settings automated. So it's a mystery why the automated settings that worked for over 2 years now have to be manually adjusted. The tech support guy suggested that the settings may have been altered when I formatted the hard drive and reinstalled Windows.

 

I'm going to follow cyberpowerpc's advice when I go home tonight, but I'm really not hopeful at all about that solving the range of problems I'm experiencing. I'm just looking for any second opinions right now. In particular, I'm fearing worst case scenario that this is heading towards the RMA of something. I'm hoping that the defective part will be the memory, because that's easy to send in. But the fact that the memory sticks are passing MemTest individually makes me afraid that the problem is more likely the motherboard. Any advice?

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When you run Memtest on ASUS MOBOs you need to disable Legacy USB Support. This setting can cause Memtest to indicate a false memory error.

 

Also, list ALL the information from the stickers on your memory modules.

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Thanks for the extremely quick reply Ram Guy!

 

I'm not certain how to disable Legacy USB Support, but I'm sure I can figure it out when I get home tonight. Would that explain the memory passing MemTest with tested individually though?

 

If the problem isn't solved by adjusting manually, the voltage as soon as I get home, I'll type in all the information from the stickers of my modules. I'll be arriving home in about 2 and a half hours. Thanks again for the quick reply.

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I'm not certain how to disable Legacy USB Support, but I'm sure I can figure it out when I get home tonight. Would that explain the memory passing MemTest with tested individually though?

It's under the USB Configuration tab which should be under the ADVANCED menu.

 

Run the tests and let us know your results.

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I disabled Legacy USB and I set the DRAM voltage to 2.1 V.

 

I inserted both modules of memory and ran memtest. I got errors. I forgot to read the information on the stickers of my memory modules before reinstalling them both. Right now my computer's on while I wait for cyberpowerpc tech support to pick up. At my next chance to shut down my computer I'll check for all that information.

 

EDIT: Okay, I'm following up with the info on the sticker of the memory.

 

Top center: CM2X1024-6400

Top right: XMS6405v5.1

Right middle: 0627079-7

Along the bottom: XMS2-6400 1024MB 800MHz 5.5.5.12

 

There's a serial number above the bar code, too, but I'm assuming you don't need that. Let me know if you need anything else please. I'm going to try testing a single module now with the 2.1v setting and Legacy USB disabled.

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Individual memory modules each passed. And I have two more updates.

 

First, where I wrote above that putting the memory sticks into the yellow slots of the motherboard resulted in a non-boot, that was user error. Those slots are just exceptionally tight, and although I thought I had properly installed the memory into them, I was wrong. I retried one of the yellow slots tonight and it works.

 

Second, this one's embarrassing...I don't think I've been using Memtest86+. When my brother suggested that I try memtest on the problem, I just googled it and downloaded the first official link that came up. It was this:

 

http://hcidesign.com/memtest/

 

Which seems entirely different than Memtest86+, which of course I found at http://www.memtest.org/

 

Does this render all my prior memory tests worthless? Memtest did find errors when two modules are used together in the black slots.

 

My most immediate problem with Memtest86+ is that apparently it doesn't run through windows. I need to make a bootable CD to run it? I used every last blank DVD I have to burn data that I wanted to save when the trojan hit me. Going out tonight to get any blank CD's isn't going to work for me. I should be able to pick one up tomorrow if need be. I feel like such a noob with this issue...

 

Well, as things are, I think the next step that I'm gonna try is to install both memory modules into the yellow slots, and see if the memtest program that I have picks up any errors that way. And perhaps try a game.

 

EDIT: To follow up on this, I ended up playing a game first. I played about an hour of Far Cry 2 without any problems, which is the most I've been able to play of any game since Sunday. Afterwards, I ran the memtest program that I have, and it promptly picked up 2 errors in the memory. I quit the test at that point, and memtest actually crashed on exiting.

 

So...either memtest doesn't work, or else I've got some problem that manifests only when the memory is paired? I don't know, I'm totally out of my league here. The best I can suggest is that I'll get ahold of Memtest86+ tomorrow via a burnable CD, and hopefully that will shed more light on this all. I assume that it'll be the same drill, test both modules, then one at a time?

 

EDIT 2: I burned Memtest86+ to a bootable CD today. I'll be leaving work early, and will go home and run it. My intention will be to run it first with both sticks of ram installed, then if errors are detected, I'll run it with one stick at a time installed.

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Well, I ran Memtest86+ today. With both memory modules installed it came up with about 18 errors in an hour. With either one module installed alone, I made a complete pass with no errors.

 

I guess the advice now is to keep running Memtest86+ on the individual modules? This is just making no sense to me though. I mean, what's the general outcome for people in my situation? Is this looking like a memory problem? A motherboard problem? Something else? I'm starting to feel really pessimistic about ever knowing what's wrong with my computer...

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If each individual module passes Memtest but they fail as a pair, then you may have a MOBO (likely the memory controller) or even a CPU issue. Do you have a friend or a local computer shop that could help you test the modules, MOBO, and CPU?
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Well I live in Washington DC, so yeah I could find a computer shop...kinda dreading what the costs will be like. $100? More? Ugh...

 

Nonetheless, I do appreciate the advice and feedback you've given. Much moreso than most web forums out there in my experience...

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Well I live in Washington DC, so yeah I could find a computer shop...kinda dreading what the costs will be like. $100? More? Ugh...

 

Nonetheless, I do appreciate the advice and feedback you've given. Much moreso than most web forums out there in my experience...

Good luck and hopefully they will be priced reasonably especially if they expect to get your future business.

 

Unfortunately, after a certain point, it is very difficult to troubleshoot without extra hardware. Please let us know what you find out.

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Well, another update. I figured that with the state of things, a little bit of tinkering with the Bios couldn't hurt...

 

The section that allows me to access the memory voltage and overclock settings is in the advanced tab, under the setting "JumperFree Configuration." There are four possible settings for that: Auto, Standard, AI Overclock and Manual. "Manual" opens all the other options for overclocking and voltage settings, like manually setting my DRAM voltage to 2.1 V.

 

I have no idea what the difference is supposed to be between Standard and Auto, but prior to yesterday I had had it set to Auto. Tonight I set it to Standard, and my ram tested fine through one full pass of Memtest86+ with both modules installed.

 

My plan now is to play games for a couple of hours (an enjoyment I have been woefully missing these past few days). If my ram holds up through that, I'll run Memtest86+ on both sticks all night. I don't know, I'm kinda shooting in the dark, but BestBuy charges $70 just to tell me what's wrong with my computer. To me, going down that path when I could buy a brand new Core I7 computer for about $1,000, well, I don't know...if even trying some random things even might pinpoint the problem, I'd rather try that.

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"Manual" opens all the other options for overclocking and voltage settings, like manually setting my DRAM voltage to 2.1 V.

 

I have no idea what the difference is supposed to be between Standard and Auto, but prior to yesterday I had had it set to Auto. Tonight I set it to Standard, and my ram tested fine through one full pass of Memtest86+ with both modules installed.

 

You stated above that you had already set the memory voltage to 2.1v? :confused:

 

Is this your memory kit: http://www.corsairmemory.com/products/xms2/default.aspx

 

If yes, it needs to be set to 1.9v. If not, find the data sheet on your memory in the memory listing on our main page and make sure you have the correct voltage set.

 

http://www.corsairmemory.com

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You stated above that you had already set the memory voltage to 2.1v? :confused:

 

Is this your memory kit: http://www.corsairmemory.com/products/xms2/default.aspx

 

If yes, it needs to be set to 1.9v. If not, find the data sheet on your memory in the memory listing on our main page and make sure you have the correct voltage set.

 

http://www.corsairmemory.com

 

 

Yes, that's my memory...

 

This is getting a bit depressing now. Cyberpower's tech support told me to set it to set it to 2.1V. I initially didn't, and told them that I really didn't feel comfortable changing things in the Bios that I had never changed before. They insisted that that was a first step in diagnosing/solving the problem, so I listened. I haven't been back in touch with them since Tuesday though, because they told me that ultimately, if I need to RMA the memory I'd need to deal with you, and if I need to RMA the motherboard, I'd need to deal with Asus.

 

Last night I had more crashes in my games. Earlier today I tried running Memtest86+ with both memory modules installed, and the speed slowed to 600 MHz. I had set the voltage back to 2.1 (following cyberpower's tech support's earlier directions) and got no errors.

 

Now reading your message and looking at the link, I set the voltage to 1.9V.

 

I guess I'll go run Memtest86+ on it again now...I'll set the speed back to 800 MHz. In a few hours I have to head out though...I'm flying out of the country and won't be back for a week...at this point I'm assuming that the problem won't be solved til I return, if ever...

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Please make sure that you have the latest Bios version and then load setup/optimized defaults and set the Dim Voltage to 2.0 volts (+.2 Volts W/Giga-Byte) and then set the timings manually to the tested settings for the specific module you have, and then test the module/'s one at a time with http://www.memtest.org! If you still get errors, please follow the link in my signature “I think I have a bad part!” and we will be happy to replace them or it! However, if you get errors with both modules that would suggest some other problem and I would test them in another system or MB to be sure. In addition, with some MB's (Mostly ASUS) you have to disable legacy USB in the bios when running any memory test.
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Thanks Ram Guy. A lot of that will have to wait until next week, when I return from Europe. But I'll get started on it now. One thing I don't understand though, why are you advising me to set the ram to 2.0 volts now, when the specs say 1.9?
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I upgraded to the newest version of the Bios, as advised. I manually set the DRam voltage to 1.9, turned legacy USB off, and left everything else automated. I ran tests 3 and 7 of Memtest86+ (those have been the worst for my memory). This time it passed two runs of test 7, but errors (4 I believe) picked up on test 3. The errors are of the exact same nature as they've always been, the Err-Bit is always 00000010. Dunno if this helps any.

 

I don't have time today to test the modules individually. That will need to wait until I return from Paris, next week. I'm disheartened to see the same kind of results running both modules as I did previously. I am really opposed to spending the money of taking my computer into a shop. Any other options will be much appreciated. I'll follow up when I return next week.

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I would test the modules individually in the slot closest to the CPU. If you get the same error with both modules, then try a different slot on the board to make sure the DIMM slot itself is not causing the issues. Let us know your results!
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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I think I solved the problem, knock on wood.

 

I got a response on the Asus forum commenting that DDR2-800 ram is not compatible with the P5NSLI motherboard, which is designed for only up to DDR2-667 ram. The response specifically noted having had the same problem as me, where CyberPowerPC would let the customer design a computer with incompatible ram for the motherboard.

 

I went into my Bios and underclocked my memory to 667. Since then, I played all day Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and ran Memtest86+ all night Saturday night. No problems.

 

This begs to question why my computer worked fine for almost 2 and a half years with the motherboard/memory mismatch. I'm not sure I'll ever know the answer to that question. Secondly, I assume that all is well, for the long-term, with the mismatched memory provided that I underclock it? Any comment on that would be appreciated. I obviously don't want another problem in a week or a month to emerge.

 

Apart from that, I'm surprised you don't get more problems of this nature. Kinda sloppy work on CyberPower's part, I must say, and obviously I'm not the only person who was affected. I google searched other similar problems and there are others. So that may be something for you to consider in the future if someone is having problems with a computer they bought through CyberPower.

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