1 Stick Good, 2 Sticks Bad: RAM Issue?

By Samizdat
Dec 29, 2006
  1. I have a system with 2 sticks of DDR400 RAM, each 512MB. When I run it with only one stick (either one!) installed, it runs fine for weeks. When I run it with both installed, Windows blue-screens within a day. What gives? Any idea what could be causing this?

    The box ran just fine for months with both sticks installed, then a couple of months ago it started to blue screen. So I tested it with just one stick (no problems) then just the other (no problems) and then both again (problems). I tried swapping the position of the two sticks, but it still crashed.

    I posted here about this a few weeks ago, when I thought the problem might be due to a my installation of Windows. But that doesn't seem likely to me now, since it runs just fine with only 512MB installed.

    I also ran memtest overnight with both sticks installed and found no problems. BTW the RAM modules are identical.
    My system specs:
    - Asus A8V mobo with Via K8T800 Pro
    - 1GB (2 x 512) DDR400 RAM
    - Athlon XP 3000+ cpu
    - ATI Radeon 9600XT videocard
    - onboard audio (Realtek AC97)
    - Windows XP Professional SP2 (fully patched)
    - Boot drive is a partition on a 120GB Western Digital drive running as Master on the 1st IDE channel (a second 120GB WD drive is the slave on this channel)
    - 2nd IDE channel master and slave are a Lite-On DVD-ROM drive and a TDK CD-RW burner
    - On-board RAID controller running two SATA 320GB WD drives in RAID 1 (mirror)
    - Westell DSL modem
    - 500 watt Antec SmartPower 2.0 psu

    I am wondering if it could be a mobo problem? Something wrong with the second RAM slot? Or could Windows somehow have a problem with 1GB but not 512MB? (A problem it only recently developed?)

    I'd love to avoid either buying unnecessary replacement parts or re-installing Windows from scratch if I can avoid either. Maybe I should try running another OS (I have another partition with Linux on it) with both sticks installed to see if it crashes again? Or set up a new blank partition and install WinXP to it as a test?

  2. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Try single RAM sticks in the second slot?

    Most likely the cause is the fact that two sticks of RAM run slower than one. You should adjust the memory timings in the BIOS to be less aggressive.
  3. Samizdat

    Samizdat TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Hmm, the mobo manual is pretty explicit about which socket to use for single-channel (DIMM_B1) and which to use for double channel (DIMM_A1 & DIMM_B1) but I don't suppose it'll hurt to see what happens using only DIMM_A1.

    All memory timings (and pretty much everything else in the BIOS) is set to default and/or AUTO. I guess I could scale these back (though first I'll have to figure out what settings to use...) Funny thing is, it ran fine with the default settings for so many months before the blue screens started.
  4. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

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