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mcseguy9 mcseguy9 is offline
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22-Jan-2011, 01:29 AM #1
Question Memtest results
Hi all. I've run Memtest86 v2.11 off a Ubuntu Live CD and it's found some issues with my memory. The main problem, though, is that I don't know how to tell which chip is having issues based on the info. The mobo supports four chips and all slots are being used. How can you tell which chip is the bad one, or if there is more than one bad one? Or do I have to remove all chips, install one and then run Memtest against that one, and once the tests are done start over with a new chip, etc.?
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22-Jan-2011, 11:26 AM #2
Before testing the chips one at a time or even a pair at a time I decided to remove them all and install a pair that is working fine in another computer to see what would happen. That computer has been running fine so I assumed if this computer still had problems even with this other RAM then the problem must be elsewhere. Here's the scenario:

The PC having issues turns on and boots into Windows fine, but then anywhere from five minutes to fifteen minutes it just completely locks up. This all started happening out of nowhere about one week ago. That's why I decided to begin testing the RAM. I realize that it could be an overheating issue as well, and it could be a mobo problem, too. I'm not sure what else it could be.

So here's what happened. I swapped the RAM with the PC that is working perfectly fine and has been for forever (and yes, the RAM is completely compatible - both PC's use DDR-400 or PC3200 RAM chips) and after getting into Windows the PC locked up about five minutes later. I can't say the RAM is the issue any longer. Any thoughts on where to go from here?
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22-Jan-2011, 11:27 AM #3
More news. I decided to run Memtest against the RAM I installed in the system that has been working just fine in another system and guess what? Memtest has found errors with this RAM as well. What the heck does that mean? This RAM has been in another PC and everything has been running and working fine with this RAM for months, maybe even years. I'm confused.
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22-Jan-2011, 12:08 PM #4
First of all saying that you ran 400 speed ram means nothing and because the speed is called for, does in no way mean the ram is compatible if it's the same speed. Because ram compatibility is determined by density, cas latency and ecc factor, and you have not mentioned any of those, the way to proceed is to buy ram shown to be compatible with either the motherboard or pc model number on a ram makers site using a configurator. Other wise you will be going through what you are and it it will be an endless cycle.
Soi that is why we recommend buying all ram at the same time and buying from a reputable ram manufacturer. There are 20 or so brands out there and 3 actual manufacturers so even the model numbers are not proof positive unless they are from the same batch.
You are treating all ram as all alike and actually entering the most difficult area of hardware with way to simple a concept of what to do so I recommend www.crucial.com and choose it all at once for each computer. As technology advances the ability to match ram has become less and less likely a possibility unfortunately.
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22-Jan-2011, 03:43 PM #5
FYI, I downloaded the latest version of Memtest86+ and am testing each chip, one at a time, in each slot to see what happens. In the first slot each chip started throwing out errors as soon as test 7 began. I just finished Memtest on the first chip in the second slot and had the same problem. I'm guessing this is going to happen in every slot so I'm really thinking the mobo needs to be replaced, but we'll see what the tests bring out. Each round takes about 9 minutes to hit test 7 and start throwing out errors so I have a little bit of time left before I'll be comlpetely through it all.
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22-Jan-2011, 07:52 PM #6
Several times I've seen Memtest indicate errors in memory when the actual problem was defective motherboard capacitors.

Take the side off the machine and use a bright light to look carefully at the capacitors. The capacitors are small can type objects that should be perfectly flat on the top. If any have "domed" tops (often described as "bulging" or "swollen"), are leaking a brownish looking fluid, or the capacitors are leaning (not perpendicular to the motherboard) they may be defective.

Attached is a link showing what you should be looking for.

http://www.badcaps.net/ident/

Bad capacitors may not be near as bad as some of the ones pictured and still be bad. Also, you may notice a slight "metallic" or "amonia like" smell in the case. You may also notice a "whitish" looking "residue" on components near the capacitor(s). This is residue caused by capacitor "gassing".

"Domed" capacitors in the early stages of failure can be hard to identify. One thing that may help identify them is to take an old credit card and cut a small square out of a corner of the card. Lay the square on top of any suspicious capacitors and you will be able to see if the capacitor is becoming "domed" by the angle where the square from the credit card rests. The square from the credit card tends to "magnify" the extent of "doming".
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