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Bad RAM bad config or something else? RED SCREEN OF DEATH!!?

By Schmutz ยท 7 replies
Oct 30, 2007
  1. My new computer has been great since I built it a few weeks ago but last night started locking while the RAM usage jumped to 100% on the windows sidebar gadget and task manager in Vista64. My Mouse didn't freeze - just the Vista User Interface + any other programs, these freezes lasted from 10-30seconds and rendered my computer unusable. From what I recall there where no significant software changes and this started happening out of the blue

    First I tried a system restore to no avail, then I reset my BIOS settings to a safe point before any tweaking (this means I've changed my FSB from 333mhz back to 266mhz, and my RAM from 4-4-4-12 to 5-5-5-15). I had no luck there though... As a last resort I used a different 2gb of RAM (PC5300) and shockingly the freezing still occurred. I tried the Crysis demo using the new RAM and it crashed with a Red screen of death stating MEMORY_MANAGEMENT. At this moment I was clueless, if its a motherboard/PSU/CPU/Hard drive problem I don't have the expertise to fix it.

    I removed the PC5300 from my computer and put my RAM back in, and then, like magic the problem disappeared and I haven't experienced it since yesterday. I'm back to square one and the problem seems resolved??? I'm paranoid it'll happen again. Can anyone suggest what caused it in the first place, does this symptom usually relate with anything specific? (550PSU to weak?/Hard drive problems?/CPU stability issues (I was using 333fsb without any voltage change)) I'd have bet it was a hardware failure until everything started working fine again

    thanks in advance for support

  2. Schmutz

    Schmutz TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 126

    Its happening again, so this is a serious problem that I'd like to solve as quickly as possible. Does anyone have any ideas?
  3. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,426   +112

    Remove the MOBO backup battery and Clear the CMOS and don't bother to overclock the system until you can get it stable. Once you get it stable slowly overclock the memory.. Test that out for a few days and see how that goes. If that's okay then overclock the CPU but don't just set it to the max. Each step should be done slowly and test as you go. Otherwise you'll have the mess you have above. Take your time.. There is no rush to say you have the fastest system, but at what cost..
  4. Sledge Hammer

    Sledge Hammer TS Rookie

    Hi, one of my Patriot RAMs (800Mhz, 4-4-4-12) just died tonight, while I was playing the Crysis demo for an hour or so. (My CPU, mainboard, RAM and graphics card was only a few days old.)
    First Crysis crashed, then my PC showed broken pixels and crashed, too. Trying to reboot into XP just gave me bluescreens.

    My first guess was that my mainboard died, because the northbridge heatsink seemed way too hot. But my passive cooled graphics card was extremely hot too and the ram was also hot.

    I diagnosed the problem with memtest86+ from ....I'm new here, can't post links yet, so you need to google for it. ;)
    It needs to be booted from floppy or CD. I just got the iso image and burned it to a CD. ( No worries, it's a tiny 45k byte download.)

    Running the tests gave me lots of errors.
    Then I ran the tests with slow RAM timings/clock speed. Still lots of errors.
    Then I removed the RAM from slot 0, that was close to the heatsink of the northbridge. Then the computer worked again.

    Now basically there are still a few possibilities left:
    a) that RAM that I removed was broken
    b) only the operation with two RAMs/dual channel mode is broken
    c) one channel on the board completely broken
    d) more than one of these

    So I tried the RAM, that seemed good, in slot0, too and tested, if the one that seemed bad works solo to rule out the other possibilities.
    Ok turned out that the RAM stick is broken that I removed from slot 0.

    My guess is overheating. Crysis is a very demanding game. Everything gets hot, especially here the northbridge and the RAMs. That RAM stick that was close to the northbridge got extra heat from that heatsink, and so it died fast.

    My mainboard is a Gigabyte P35-DS 3 btw. I can only recommend that everyone, who uses it, makes sure that there is enough airflow around the northbridge heatsink !
    Otherwise the northbridge or the ram stick close to it might just die.
    I use the boxed cooler that came with the Intel CPU and it easily keeps the CPU temperature low without doing much work, but it doesn't generate enough airflow in the area of the northbridge imho.

    I can only hope that the rest of my system didn't take damage like the northbridge or the other RAM. If chips get too hot, it reduces their lifetime a lot. The destruction doesn't need to happen instantly.

    Well, best luck for you that your hardware is still alive.
    If you've only got memory errors, because of wrong bios settings, then memtest86+ is also a good way to find it out. And booting into windows with unreliable memory is also not a good idea, because it will just screw the registry, read/write corrupted data from harddisk etc.

    P.S. There is also memtest86 (without the plus). It's the original version which wasn't updated for some time, so memtest86+ split off that project. Now it seems there is also a new version of memtest86. Both should work for this.

    P.P.S.: For guys, who read it and don't know what and where the northbridge is. It's the fat chip on the mainboard that's close to the CPU socket. On modern boards there is a heatsink/heatpipe/cooler on it, because that chip gets quite hot and would die without.
  5. Schmutz

    Schmutz TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 126

    Thankyou Sledge Hammer, Tipstir. I will download memtest86 shortly and see if that takes me to any answers. Using another 2gb RAM to no result suggested to me that the RAM was not to blame though. These problems are crazy. Apart from the initial occurance and a temporary problem last night its operating fine again.

    I want to attempt what you've suggested Tipstir and remove the battery. I haven't done this before but I'm sure I won't have any problems if I go by the boards manual. I must ask though, what does this do? Does it reset all BIOS settings? If so, will my Vista 64bit installation become corrupt? - I have my HDD set to "identify as RAID" in BIOS, and upon changing this around and some other settings back to default I have once corrupted my OS requiring a format. Also on this note, how safe is it to update my boards BIOS? I am sure there are more updated revisions released now. Should I always have the most up to date one?


  6. Sledge Hammer

    Sledge Hammer TS Rookie

    About the broken RAM stick, I was talking about...

    I held it into the light and took a closer look at it:
    There are gaps between the module's heatsink and two of the ram chips, so no contact between those ships and the headsink. No wonder that they died to overheating, when i was playing the crysis demo.
  7. Tedster

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

  8. Schmutz

    Schmutz TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 126

    Very useful guide Tedster,

    Heres how my situation relates with what you've suggested there;

    ASUS P5K-E/Patriot 2gb PC6400 Extreme performance (4-4-4-12, CL4)

    2X Patriot 2gb PC6400

    DO NOT OVERCLOCK memory.
    I changed from 5-5-5-15, Voltage = Automatic to 4-4-4-12, Voltage = 2.2V. It suggests this on the manual they came with

    I've built 5 computers and haven't used an anti-static wristband. I touch a radiator/fridge/drier before touching the PC components. I have also build the computers in carpeted areas. Wouldn't a static charge completely destroy a component rather than give it two very temporary malfunctions (and I'm not sure its the RAM anyway...)?


    4 slots, two yellow two black for dual channel


    Done correctly

    I can't really identify any problems with how I've chosen/setup/configured my RAM from this, and I must state that it has now been 5 days since I've seen any problems. Not that I should ignore it happened because of this, the way I look at PCs is if it happens once be prepared for it to haunt you again and again until you commit to fixing it! :mad:
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