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Memory compatibility question

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March 18, 2010 3:29:31 PM

Hello all. I recently built a new HTPC/gaming rig, and I've been having some problems with stability. Quite often when I'm ripping or transcoding media, I will return to find the machine has unexpectedly rebooted. I've actually caught it in the act...it will freeze up (usually with hdd led on solid) then go to black or grey screen. Usually the machine will reboot itself, but I've found it in this black or grey screen state a few times. Here are the specs:

AMD Phenom II X2 550 BE
MSI NF750-G55
Mushkin Enhanced Blackline DDR3-1333 (996652) 2 x 2GB
MSI N260GTX-T2D896-OCv4
LG Black 8X BD-ROM
WD Caviar Green WD7500AADS
Seasonic S12E Bronze 650W
Scythe MUGEN-2 cpu cooler
Lian Li PC-A05NB ATX Mini-Tower
Win 7 Ultimate x64

In attempt to try to corner this stability problem, I've backed down the system OC a bit. The CPU is running at 3.7 GHz, (200 FSB x 18.5). RAM settings are backed down to 1066 instead of 1333, dual-channel mode with everything else set to auto, 1.76V. The RAM is running at 9-9-9-24 even though they are rated for 7-7-7-20.

No stability problems with a Prime 95 run as long as it's testing primarily the cpu and not RAM. When RAM is included in the P95 test, stability problems will always arise...sometimes after just a couple minutes, sometimes longer. Temps are always fine even when running the max heat test except that HW Monitor reports one temp above 108 C. It's labeled TMPIN02, and it's grouped with two other similarly labeled temps. I have no idea what this temp is and no idea how to find out what it is.

Memtest shows no errors on the RAM modules, but this certainly seems to be a memory issue. When I reached out to MSI, obviously they told me I had to use factory-approved RAM. Didn't really expect any other response from them. The board is running the latest BIOS and all other drivers are up to date.

All HDD sleeping functions are turned off because I've read this can cause stability problems.

The seasonic power supply is new with this rig, and I think it's generously sized with room to add a second gpu if I so desired (if this gpu were still available, that is).

My overarching question has to do with sticking to the manufacturer's list of recommended memory. The mushkin RAM modules I'm running are not on MSI's tested list, but this shouldn't be an issue, right? Isn't standard practice to more or less ignore these lists? Certainly all the SBM builds done by THG do not use factory approved RAM. Take, for instance, the $750 gaming build posted on the site today. The G Skill ripjaw modules are not on Gigabyte's list of tested/approved RAM for the board in that build (I checked).

I've tried to be as thorough as possible in my descriptions. If anyone has thoughts about 1) the question of sticking to factory-approved RAM, or 2) what I might be overlooking for this stability issue, I would certainly appreciate the help. Thanks, in advance.


Jason Teague
a b V Motherboard
March 19, 2010 2:42:09 AM

No, I usually don't worry a ton about whether they are tested or not. However, in my recent builds the ram has been approved by either the ram maker or the MB maker.

Thus, the ram may be bad. Try running each stick individually and see if the problem arises on one or both (or neither when alone) stick of ram.
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March 22, 2010 9:19:28 PM

Problem does not arise when either stick is used individually in either slot. Problem only arises when both sticks are used, regardless of which stick is in which slot. And neither MSI nor Mushkin pre-approved this configuration. Perhaps I should amend my procedure for selecting RAM for future builds.

Does anyone see anything in this I might have missed?
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Related resources
March 27, 2010 2:58:14 PM

I know that board pretty well and that is excellent RAM. I called Mushkin myself when I was shopping for RAM and they confirmed that was the right choice. 1333MHz is the best freq match for your RAM and CPU.

Do you have your RAM in the two slots next to the CPU?

Seems like I remember reading that the WD Green drives have a built in sleep mode that cannot be disabled? I basically have the same setup as you, the difference is I have my OS on a SSD and use my WD Green drive for storage. I just have my Power Settings set to High Performance.

I have the same CPU and don't under estimate the heat this CPU can generate. Remember it is a Q-Core by design and 2 cores are turned off. I use a Q-Core HSF on mine and my temps remain cool.

Hope this helps.


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March 29, 2010 3:19:25 PM

Thanks for the response.

Yes, the two slots next to the cpu are the two slots populated with RAM (dimm 0 and dimm 1).

I also have power settings set to high performance and have ensured the hdd will never go to sleep while the system is running. However, I'm intrigued by this thought that a WD Green has an auto sleep mode that can't be disabled. Seems like this would cause stability problems for anyone using such a drive as a boot drive. I'll have to look into this.

I'm using a Scythe Mugen 2 cooler. It's pretty massive, and according to Hardware Monitor, cpu temps never go above 40C with day-to-day usage.
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April 2, 2010 3:41:55 PM

I've been reading up on the WD caviar green drives. Apparently, the drive parks the head every 8 seconds to save power. Seems most people are saying these drives are best suited for backup or extra storage but not for boot drives. However, this seems like an unrelated issue because of the fact that the system crashes immediately when starting prime 95 blend test. At this point, the hdd would not have time to 'park' between the last task and starting P95. I'm going to replace the book disk, but I don't think this is going to solve my problem.
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June 4, 2010 8:09:59 PM

Okay, I'm bumping this because I have an update. Here is the current configuration of the rig:

AMD Phenom II X3 720 BE
MSI NF750-G55
Geil GV34GB1333C7DC DDR3-1333 2 x 2GB, 7-7-7-24, 1.5v
MSI N260GTX-T2D896-OCv4
LG Black 8X BD-ROM
Intel X25-V 40GB (primary boot drive)
WD Caviar Green WD7500AADS
Seasonic S12E Bronze 650W
Scythe MUGEN-2 cpu cooler
Lian Li PC-A05NB ATX Mini-Tower
Win 7 Ultimate x64

The items in boldface have been changed from other parts since I started originally having stability problems.

I've been dealing with MSI tech support online. I told them I have general stability issues and that I'm getting errors in prime 95 with a baseline configuration. They asked if I get any errors in other benchmark applications. I'm not as familiar with others, but I don't think it's possible to get error messages in 3D Mark or Sandra.

Their response?

"...it seems like there is no problem with your components just maybe the particular utility does not like the memory modules been used."

My RAM doesn't like Prime 95? That's a BS statement, so I kept pushing.

MSI said I would have to RMA the board. I explained that I did not believe enough troubleshooting had been done, and that I needed more direction about what to troubleshoot.

MSI has incrementally asked me to change voltage settings from auto to hard numbers.

MSI asked me to set V-NB to 1.25v, but the closest setting is 1.244v

MSI asked me to set V-DIMM as high as 1.65v; I tried up to 1.56v, currently set at 1.51v

MSI asked me to set V-CPU to NB VDD to 1.275v, and that's where I have it

MSI asked me to set V-CPU to NB to 1.333v, but the closest setting is 1.326v

I've event tried increasing CPU voltage up to 1.375v.

Nothing prevents errors in Prime 95 (using the 'blend' pattern which claims to test lots of RAM). I tried Memtest86 with all of these settings. The really frustrating thing is that everything caused errors in Memtest until I increased the CPU to NB and CPU to NB VDD voltage settings. Now there are no errors on the RAM modules. However, there are still Prime 95 errors, always within ten or eleven minutes.

Does anyone have any input. I know I'm at the end of the line with MSI. They're just going to tell me to RMA the board, but that is going to take forever. No advance replacements, either. I'm so frustrated that no one over there seems to give a rat's ass that their product isn't working. What should I do? RMA the board? Bite the bullet and buy a different one?
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