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Author Topic: RAM PROBLEM?  (Read 4072 times)
bobparham
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« on: March 31, 2008, 08:09:19 AM »

I have a problem that is driving me crazy. Hopefully, someone can give me some idea what the cause is and what action I should take.  Sad

I have a desktop computer with MSI motherboard and Intel Celeron 3.06 Gig CPU. I realized several months ago that the 512 mb of RAM was inadequate and slowing down my computer. I decided to add a 1 gb stick of RAM in the one empty slot as MSI stated the motherboard would accept up to 2 gb of RAM “mix and match” in the two slots provided. I purchased the 1 GB stick of generic RAM and installed it which gave me a 512 mb stick in one slot and 1 GB stick in the other slot. That is where the troubles began. My computer would shut down periodically. It might be a matter of hours or it might be as much as five days.

I removed the 512 mb stick and I still had the problem. I replaced the 1 GB stick with the 512 mb stick. It took five or six days but it still shut down. Now I don’t know what to do as my computer shuts down with either one or both sticks of RAM Sad Sad. There is no question in my mind that I need additional RAM but what should I do? Is it possible that something else has happened to cause the shutdowns and not the RAM?
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Dormouse
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« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2008, 08:19:36 AM »

Is it possible that something else has happened to cause the shutdowns and not the RAM?

Of course it is possible. It is also possible that the 512mb RAM was not the cause of the original slowness. If it were the new stick or a mismatch, I'd certainly expect that restoring the hardware to its previous state would stop the shutdowns. Have you tried a restore from before the time the shutdowns started? The PSU is another potential cause of the problems. Maybe someone more expert will be along soon to give more precise advice.
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f0dder
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« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2008, 08:59:59 AM »

Put both sticks of RAM in the machine, and let http://www.memtest86.com/ churn away for some hours.
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bobparham
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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2008, 09:04:34 AM »

Will the memtest work in the background so that I can continue to use my computer?
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f0dder
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« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2008, 09:56:16 AM »

Nope, you have to burn it to a CD or put it on a floppy and reboot your machine, and then let memtest run for several hours...
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2008, 11:25:48 AM »

If you are having problems with the original stick of memory on its own it sounds like the problem was elsewhere to start with.

Either that or you damaged a memory slot inserting/removing memory sticks - but if it works at all that seems unlikely.

Did you jog anything else accidentally when you were fiddling - you can easily get another expansion card to have an intermittent connection when you are fiddling or pull a cable slightly loose so that its contacts aren't 100%.

I'd check out everything that plugs together in your system that you may have inadvertently even touched - take cards out and put them in again to ensure they are properly seated, disconnect all plugs and cables one at a time and make sure they are seated correctly and securely when you put them back.

Get it working again with your original 512Mb RAM before you add the new RAM - and personally I would suggest putting the 1Gb stick in place of the 512Mb before you try and run them together. You might want to also reset the BIOS to safe defaults before doing that in case the BIOS has got confused by two sticks of RAM with different specs. If there is a BIOS option to clear NVRAM use it after changing the memory config so NVRAM starts with a clean known state.

I used to use MSI mobos but I had endless problems with 'mix'n'match' memory slots - they aren't as mix and match as you might think.
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bobparham
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« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2008, 09:59:24 AM »

OK. I have downloaded Memtest 86, unzipped it and prepared a floppy disk. (Hopefully). I presume that I now insert the floppy into the floppy drive, shut down the computer and turn it back on and let it boot from the floppy. Is that correct? Once it boots up is there anything I need to do as far as typing commands? A little hand holding here would be real helpful and do a lot for my comfort zone since I will be in unchartered territory for me.

Bob
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2008, 11:13:02 AM »

Nope that's it just insert the disc and restart your system - the test starts and runs automatically.
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bobparham
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« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2008, 10:18:54 AM »

Well, I have tested these sticks of RAM and this is what happened.
First, I tested both sticks in the two slots. After 18:33 the test locked up while on Test 5. Tests 1 thru 4 did not show errors.
Next, I removed the 512 mb stick from the inboard slot leaving the 1 gb stick in the outboard slot. I ran the test and it showed no errors.
Next, I removed the 1 gb stick and inserted the 512 mb stick in the inboard slot. I ran the test and it showed no errors.
Next, I inserted the 1 gb stick in the outboard. I again ran the test with both sticks installed and again, the test stalled in exactly 18:33 as it did the first time I tested both. Again it was while running test 5 and tests 1 thru 4 showed no errors.

Now, can someone interpret the test results? Does this indicate that the two are incompatible with each other? Does this simply mean that, in spite of what the mobo manufacurer says, the board will not accept two sticks of RAM of different capacity? Both slots were tested during the sequence of tests so it appears that there is no problem with either slot. What should my next step be????

BTW, let me take this opportunity to thank the members of the forum who have been so responsive to my problem. smiley
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2008, 01:32:48 PM »

As I said when we exchanged emails I have never had a good experience of mixing memory sticks of different capacities or different manufacturers. The fact the Memtest seizes is unusual (you usually get a list of errors in red if there is a problem) but does suggest that there is something not right about the combination of sticks you have.

Your best bet for the moment is to put the 1Gb stick in slot one and remove the 512Mb stick altogether. If you can buy another identical 1Gb stick (same manufacturer, preferably the same batch too) you may be able to update to 2Gb of RAM but you will probably find 1Gb more than enough unless you are using memory hog applications like PhotoShop.

The trouble is that even if you buy more than one stick from the same manufacturer they use chips from different sources as prices fluctuate. The only way to guarantee a multiple memory stick config is to either buy them as a matched pair or buy from a manfacturer that guantees the memory will work on your system - at least then you can send it back if it doesn't work.

www.crucial.com has a memory identifier tool which pinpoints the correct model for your system (and they are good value reliable memory that comes with a worthwhile warranty). If you use their memory chooser they guarantee the memory will work - if it doesn't you'll get a full refund.

Other reliable makes are Crucial, OCZ and Samsung (to name a few).

I had an MSI board a while ago that never liked two sticks of memory installed at the same time (even when I bought matched memory). Some mobos are strange!
« Last Edit: April 02, 2008, 01:34:58 PM by Carol Haynes » Logged

bobparham
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« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2008, 01:45:09 PM »

Carol, My mobo manual shows the inboard slot as Dimm 1 and the outboard slot as Dimm 2. When you say put the 1 gb stick in slot one will this be Dimm 1?

Bob
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2008, 02:27:56 PM »

Probably - tell me what the motherboard model number is and I can check
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bobparham
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« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2008, 03:34:51 PM »

Motherboard is MSI #PM8M3-V
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mouser
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« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2008, 03:59:59 PM »

it probably doesnt matter what slot 1 stick of ram goes in.
but as carol says, mixing memory sticks of different size and timing is often problematic.
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f0dder
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« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2008, 04:55:32 PM »

I had trouble mix-and-matching memory back in the K6-2 days, but it worked OK for my Pentium4. I generally wouldn't recommend it, though, because results vary so much between chipsets (or, in case of integrated memory controller, CPUs), motherboard, memory modules, etc.

It so wonderful Angry that computers don't have better diagnostics of wtf the problem is. A lockup like you described could be because of a bad PSU, a flaky motherboard, overheating CPU, because you're mixing memory modules, and even more things.

I'd do as carol suggests, run with the 1gig stick and see if you can do that error-free for a while. And just for completeness, state which motherboard model you have - somebody might know about specific problems smiley
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2008, 08:28:32 PM »

I have had a look at the MSI website and there are a couple of useful links and bits of info:

1) Memory tested to be compatible with that mobo is listed here. I would check your memory is actually listed as I found MSI to be picky about what it will accept.

2) The manual says you can put the RAM in any slot you like so it shouldn't make a difference. Personally if i only have one stick of RAM I always put it in slot 1 (the one nearest the CPU in this case).

There is some confusion (IMHO) in the manual because there are only 2 memory slots but the maximum memory allowed is 2Gb in 4 banks. The 4 banks refers to the fact that it accepts double sided memory cards with 512Mb on each side. I am not sure what would happen if you install a 1Gb single sided card because the slots are obviously designed to take either 1 x single sided 512Mb card or 1 x double sided 1Gb card (with 512Mb on each side). Have a look at your 1Gb card - does it have chips on one side only or both?

If you haven't got a motherboard manual you can get one from here

The product website is here. Have you tried updating the BIOS? There is a Live BIOS uility with MSI boards (see the BIOS downloads section on the product webpage and read the Live Update instructions). Important: to use Live Update you MUST use Internet Explorer to access the webpage.

There is another webpage about this mobo too (talk about a badly designed website) here with the following comment - which may or may not be relevant to the problem:

Quote
Main Memory
  • Supports Four memory banks using two 184-pin unbuffered DDR333/400 DDR DIMM.
 
• Supports up to 2GB memory size.
• Supports 2.5v DDR SDRAM.
Due to the High Performance Memory design, motherboards or system configurations may or may not operate smoothly at the JEDEC (Joint Electron Device Engineering Council) standard settings (BIOS Default on the motherboard) such as DDR voltage, memory speeds and memory timing. Please confirm and adjust your memory setting in the BIOS accordingly for better system stability.
Example: Kingston HyperX DDR500 PC4000 operates at 2.65V, 3-4-4-8, CL=3.
For more information about specification of high performance memory modules, please check with your Memory Manufactures for more details. 

So you may need to set your memory timings manually in the BIOS - not trivial if you aren't sure what to do. This will be even more complicated if you are trying to use two memory modules with different timing specs, different chipsets etc. and really reinforces sticking with matched memory sticks or only one stick.

The voltage setting is particularly key - if the BIOS expect 2.5V memory (the stuff that was preinstalled is probably set to this since it is what is expected in the system) and you are adding 2.7V or 2.8V memory (quite possible - my Corsair memory runs at 2.8V) then to avoid frying the old memory it will default to the lowest value - the 1Gb stick then wouldn't have the correct voltage and could account for why Memtest freezes when you have two sticks installed. You can get the memory specs from the memory manufacturers website by looking up the part number. Having said that if you aren't sure what you are doing fiddling with BIOS voltage and timing settings can have serious consequences including physical damage to your system. You may want to get someone in the know to come and set them for you rather than damage the memory or your motherboard.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2008, 08:35:11 PM by Carol Haynes » Logged

bobparham
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« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2008, 03:28:05 PM »

Hi Carol,

Answering yor questions--

I have had a look at the MSI website and there are a couple of useful links and bits of info:

1) Memory tested to be compatible with that mobo is listed here. I would check your memory is actually listed as I found MSI to be picky about what it will accept.

THE RAM I HAVE IS GENERIC.

2) The manual says you can put the RAM in any slot you like so it shouldn't make a difference. Personally if i only have one stick of RAM I always put it in slot 1 (the one nearest the CPU in this case).

Formatted for ActionScript with the GeSHI Syntax Highlighter [copy or print]
  1. [code=actionscript]
  2.  
  3. [color=red][i][i]I NOW HAVE ONLY THE 1 GB STICK IN DIMM 1.[/i][/i][/i][/i][/color]
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There is some confusion (IMHO) in the manual because there are only 2 memory slots but the maximum memory allowed is 2Gb in 4 banks. The 4 banks refers to the fact that it accepts double sided memory cards with 512Mb on each side. I am not sure what would happen if you install a 1Gb single sided card because the slots are obviously designed to take either 1 x single sided 512Mb card or 1 x double sided 1Gb card (with 512Mb on each side). Have a look at your 1Gb card - does it have chips on one side only or both?

THE STICK I HAVE INSTALLED IN DIMM 1 HAS CHIPS ON BOTH SIDES.

If you haven't got a motherboard manual you can get one from here

I HAVE THE MANUAL THAT CAME WITH THE MOBO.

The product website is here. Have you tried updating the BIOS? There is a Live BIOS uility with MSI boards (see the BIOS downloads section on the product webpage and read the Live Update instructions). Important: to use Live Update you MUST use Internet Explorer to access the webpage.

IF YOU THINK I COULD DO THIS WITHOUT COMPLETELY SCREWING UP I WILL GIVE IT A TRY.

I DON’T KNOW IF I HAVE “TOOL BAR PLUGINS WHICH MIGHT EFFECT THE NORMAL OPERATION OF MSI UPDATE ONLINE". I HAVE NOT USED IE IN SEVERAL YEARS. (I NORMALLY USE FIREFOX). HOW CAN I TELL IF I HAVE ANY TOOLBAR PLUGINS? WHAT WOULD I DO IF I FOUND ANY?

ON SEARCH SETTING WINDOW, SHOULD I SELECT “SEARCH FOR ALL AVAILABLE VERSIONS” OR “SEARCH FOR NEW VERSIONS ONLY”?

ON AUTO SEARCH WINDOW SHOULD I SELECT ALL (9) ITEMS OR ONLY CERTAIN ONES? WHICH ONES?

IN WINDOW WHICH SHOWS HYPERLINKS FOR SEARCH RESULTS, SHOULD I SELECT EACH OF THE (5) ITEMS SHOWN? IF NOT, WHICH ONES?


There is another webpage about this mobo too (talk about a badly designed website) here with the following comment - which may or may not be relevant to the problem:
Quote
Main Memory
  • Supports Four memory banks using two 184-pin unbuffered DDR333/400 DDR DIMM.
 
• Supports up to 2GB memory size.
• Supports 2.5v DDR SDRAM.
Due to the High Performance Memory design, motherboards or system configurations may or may not operate smoothly at the JEDEC (Joint Electron Device Engineering Council) standard settings (BIOS Default on the motherboard) such as DDR voltage, memory speeds and memory timing. Please confirm and adjust your memory setting in the BIOS accordingly for better system stability.
Example: Kingston HyperX DDR500 PC4000 operates at 2.65V, 3-4-4-8, CL=3.
For more information about specification of high performance memory modules, please check with your Memory Manufactures for more details. 

So you may need to set your memory timings manually in the BIOS - not trivial if you aren't sure what to do. This will be even more complicated if you are trying to use two memory modules with different timing specs, different chipsets etc. and really reinforces sticking with matched memory sticks or only one stick.

The voltage setting is particularly key - if the BIOS expect 2.5V memory (the stuff that was preinstalled is probably set to this since it is what is expected in the system) and you are adding 2.7V or 2.8V memory (quite possible - my Corsair memory runs at 2.8V) then to avoid frying the old memory it will default to the lowest value - the 1Gb stick then wouldn't have the correct voltage and could account for why Memtest freezes when you have two sticks installed. You can get the memory specs from the memory manufacturers website by looking up the part number. Having said that if you aren't sure what you are doing fiddling with BIOS voltage and timing settings can have serious consequences including physical damage to your system. You may want to get someone in the know to come and set them for you rather than damage the memory or your motherboard.

I’M NOT SURE WHAT THE VOLTAGE REQUIREMENT IS BUT, SINCE IT IS GENERIC, I WOULD GUESS IT IS 2.5 VOLTS.

I KNOW I AM ASKING A LOT FROM YOU BUT I REALLY NEED HELP FROM SOMEONE AND I CERTAINLY APPRECIATE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE FOR ME THUS FAR.

BTW, HOW IS THE WEATHER OVER IN ENGLAND?

BOB
« Last Edit: April 05, 2008, 03:32:30 PM by bobparham » Logged
Carol Haynes
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« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2008, 05:55:53 PM »

To check IE to see if you have the plugins probably the best bet is to install them - at least then you will have the latest version. The worse that can happen is that the installer says they are already installed and reufse to install again or offer to uninstall them. If you really want to check in IE 7 got to Tools > Manage Add-ons > Enable or disable add-ons and you will see them all listed. If you still have IE 6 then there isn't this window but you can see (in some cryptic form) what is installed by going to Tools > Options and look for a button that says "Objects" - sorry I don't heve IE6 on any machines and I can't remember where it is.

Updating your BIOS is an 'at your own risk' option but I have never had any problems personally. There is the possibility however that you could kill your machine if it fails. If you want to give it a go make sure that your Windows is as uncluttered as possible at the time. Run MSCONFIG (Start > Run ... > MSCONFIG) and go to the Startup tab to disable all startup items, then go to the Services tab and check the box at the bottom "Hide all Microsoft services" then hit disable all. Click OK and allow Windows to restart. You now have a system which has Windows start with the minimum of extra stuff loading at startup and you can do the BIOS update. When you have finished run MSCONFIG again and check "Normal Startup" and then click OK and all windows to restart and your system will be back to normal.

Re. the memory module you have - if it is generic there is absolutely no way to know what valtage it expects but I suspect it would be 2.5V which seems to be the norm for DDR memory but it varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and since it could have been made by anybody there is no way to find out. Lots of problems I have encountered over the years have been traced back to 'generic' RAM. I am not sure where it all comes from but I suspect that it is probably the stuff that comes of the production lines of the big companies that fails quality testing because it only just achieves spec. I could be wrong but generic RAM is to be avoided and it got particularly bad in the early days of DDR technology when it was very hit and miss whether to expect generic RAM to work at all.

I know you won't like this but if you want a stable system I would buy good quality RAM. The prices are pretty cheap at the moment and at least it will come with a guarantee and you can get the technical specs and support from the manufacturer.
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