I will start by letting you all know I'm a total newb with not a lot of expertise in computers. Saying that, I built my first system about 4 months ago and everything went great until recently. A few days ago, I started crashing while playing BF2. Sometimes I'll crash to the desktop and get errors, and other times I get the BSOD. I never had any problems in the past months, and didn't install anything new recently. I did however unistall some things and think that may be the root of my problems. I've unistalled/reinstalled the game, tried system resore, ran a virus scan, and it still the problem persists. The odd thing (to me, that is) is that I never seem to get the same error or "STOP" message twice. Several of the errors do make reference to "memory" though. I'm starting to think about doing a clean install of Windows, but wondered if anyone had other suggestions before I try that. Aslo, since the problems have started, but not until after, I updated my video and audio card drivers... still no improvement. I've considered downloading and running Memtest first too. What would "normal" results look like w/ Memtest? I might add too that all hardware is operating at factory specs/no overclock. Thanks for any help offered.
I would start with memtest since you mentioned that you seem to be getting some sort of memory errors. Make a memtest86 boot cd and run the test. Google for instructions, its simple.
As for what results you get. Lets just say that the test will continue to loop through your memory until you stop it. So the result you want is to let it run overnight, a good 6-8 hours MINIMUM and at the end of that time you want to have ZERO errors reported. It will run from a DOS environment before windows has a chance to load so that it uses the maximum available memory. If you get errors try pulling one stick of ram and see if errors persist. Besiaclly test on each ram stick individually by physically pulling the other stick to see if you have one bad stick.
If you can run memtest from boot cd without errors for at least 6-8 hours then move on to either a prime95 or a orthos type program to test the CPU.
You can then proceed onto video stressing programs like 3DMark from Futuremark.com These types of tools can be useful in diagnosing component faults.
Theoretically, you should be able to let a memtest86, orthos, prime95, or 3Dmark type program loop indefinately without errors or crashes. That would be the definition of a "stable" system.
It could be a leaky capacitor in your pwr sply, or it could be a simple matter of a errant Windows Update. Could be just about anything. But regardless, a fresh format of the hard drive and reinstall of windows is something I personally recommend doing at least once a year. A fresh install cleans up lots of things and rids the system of any potential adware/spyware/viruses that could possible be there. Hell back in the day I upgraded from 256mb of DDR333 to 512mb of DDR400 and it pushed my power supply over the edge. Basically went from single sided stix to double sided stix and it was too much for my power to handle. Somethimes its that simple.
Thanks Scrapper. I'll give memtest a try tomorrow. I appreciate your response and had already seen some some of your posts to other members' problems. You surely seem to be of great help with good advice!
Also, dont forget to check the BIOS. One bad start, or restart and the BIOS can reset itself back to stock. If you hit the pwr button and walk away without noticing you could be running default wilthout realizing it. My babies do it to me all the time. Default setting are not necessarily "good", just a thought. Again, something its just that simple.
Interesting. As I think back, I do believe that the first occurance of problems the computer just froze in the game. I had to restart by killing the power. I also know that my Corsair memory has finicky voltages so I will for sure check that too. Also your point about a bad Windows Update has me curious because as I think back I do believe an update was done real close to the time these problems started. I would have hoped that the system restore would have taken care of that though.
Ok. Got Memtest running and within the first half hour I got 8000+ errors. Sounds like this may be the problem. So if I understand correctly, I need to pull all but one stick out and test each one individually? The reviews on this memory have a lot of people complaining about it failing early or right out of the box even. If I pull all but one stick out, is there anything to change in the bios or should it just recognize the change on its own? Thanks for the help, it seems you have me on my way to the solution to my problems.
After running each stick individually, I ended up with two sticks having errors before the second loop was completed. I guess I'll be returning them. If the replacement memory is not of the same version as the other two sticks, can I expect problems? When I return them should I let them know that I'm returning because memtest86 showed errors during the first loop of tests, or is there a better reason to give?
Try to keep all sticks of the same size preferably same brand. But that is not an absolute. You just need to keep in mind that if you run stix of differend speed that they ALL should be set to whatever speed the slower ram is spec'ed out to. Plus running dual channel with different size ram stix is bad. Im not sure if it will work at all???
Bottom line it that it is "BEST" to have 4 matched stix.