mobo: ASUS m4a78t-e
CPU: AMD PHENOM II X4 955 3.2GHZ
CPU fan: ASETEK 120MM water cooler
ram: Super Talent 8GB DDR3 1600MHZ (WA160UX6G9 - actually made of 4 sticks of 6GB 3x2X packs)
HDD: Hitachi 320GB SATAII 7200RPM
SOUND & VIDEO: using the built in sound and video that came with the mobo
DVD: LITEON 24x DVDRW
Power: 600W power supply
It worked pretty well for about a week and a half after which it started constantly locking up. I've tried both Windows 7 and Win XP x64. Neither is more stable than the other at this point.
I tried finding faulty hardware, but I don't have a whole lot of things I can unplug. The only hardware I can actually test is the DVD player and the RAM. I don't have another hard drive I can swap. After some testing, I am leaning to think that it's a RAM compatibility issue because of the following:
With all stock BIOS settings, I can boot into the OS if all 4 sticks of ram are in the board. However, if I use only 1 stick of RAM at 1600MHZ (BIOS auto setting), I could never get into Win7, and can't get past a minute of usage in WinXP. The result is a lockup. This is true for any of all of the 4 sticks.
If I change the RAM to 1333MHZ, I get longer usage.
In the 4 stick setup, I've run the hci design memtest tool. It does one of 3 things: locks up right when I try to test the RAM (when it's at 1600MHZ) or BSOD after a long period of usage at 1333. The best I ever got was about 200% coverage followed by a prompt lockup.
Before proceeding set the BIOS to Optimal Defaults or equivalent. Don't OC the CPU or other settings at all before testing RAM. Make sure you're using the proper memory slots - a pair of 2 modules go into the same color slots - read the manually carefully to be sure you're testing in the 'first' set of slots.
Your motherboard supports RAM in dual-channel mode, so test it in pairs of two modules. Put in any two, set it to as many "Auto" settings as you can - letting it boot in 1333 if that's what it does - but set the RAM Voltage to 1.65V. The voltage is the key problem for you as the motherboard in Auto will send it 1.5V most likely.
See if two modules will pass run Windows and pass your tests while set to 1333. If they do, then swap out the other two modules and test. If you have any errors, exchange single modules out - still using two at a time - until you isolate any bad RAM.
Let's assume all the RAM checks out with only one pair of 2 installed. Now leaving the motherboard at 1333 and 1.65V, put in all four modules. See if Windows runs. If you have problems, increase the RAM voltage to 1.7V and then 1.75V if needed.
Once you have all 4 modules working at 1333, then try with 1600 mode. If 1333 mode worked at 1.7V it may need 1.75V for 1600 mode.
Once you have 1600 mode running well, can try changing the Latency settings from the default SPD settings.
Keep in mind what the RAM mfg says - applies to sets of 4 also. * All triple-channel overclock kits are tested with three modules installed; rated specs are not guaranteed for six modules in a system.
Actually, the ram I have is the gold series. The specs on those does say they should run at 1.5V, but that's in their triple channel setup. I boosted the voltage on the RAM from default to 1.8V. It's working really well now. No lockups and no other errors. Thanks a lot for your help. Who could have known all I needed to change was one setting :S.
It's not uncommon for a RAM manufacturer to change the specs, like voltage, on the RAM without changing the model number. This can be confusing for the consumer. So might be that your RAM does require more than 1.5V, perhaps 1.7V and you fixed by increasing it to 1.8V
Glad all worked out well and glad to help.
It's funny, I have a Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolver and several years ago I looked up the specs on it at their site. It said it could also use .357 Mag cartridges. I found this odd, and I took it once to a store to hold up a 357 cartridge and not only wouldn't it fit in cylinder, the length of the cartridge was clearly too long even if it had an optional cylinder. I finally discovered that S&W had changed the gun at some point, making it larger, but didn't change the model #. Very stupid - could have put a -M or something at least! So it's not just RAM mfgs that do this.