I finished a new build, and I am very happy with the outcome except for one very annoying detail.
I installed 12GB (3 x 4GB) of Corsair XMS3 memory in DIMMS 1, 3, and 5 as the manual indicates for triple channel configuration population. For some reason the BIOS on recognizes dual channel and 8GB of memory.
These are the steps I have taken to resolve this issue so far...
1. Downloaded and flashed the latest BIOS from MSI. The flash was successful, but the problem still exists.
2. Removed all memory and tested one at a time in slot 1. All three failed in slot 1 (DIMM 1). This strongly suggested to me that DIMM 1 is bad. However...
3. Checked the memory settings CPU-Z. Amazingly, it recognizes 4GB memory in each of the three slots and reports 12GB! So, is DIMM one really bad? Not so sure now.
4. Researched issue on numerous boards. Numerous others report the same problem with the same memory and board, but one person indicated a "beta BIOS" from MSI corrected the issue. Others did not mention it. Some even reported unusual timing settings that seemed to work.
5. Researched timing settings and voltage settings and experimented with multiple settings. Did not work. BIOS still reports dual channel configuration in the POST, although in the CMOS setup it seems to recognize that a module is in slot 1, because it offers configuration options for three slots, while the other three are blank.
6. Contacted MSI and spoke to a tech. He too was confused that the BIOS would not recognize triple channel configuration, but that CPU-Z did. He checked for a beta BIOS, as I reported to him, but said none existed right now. Not sure if he was only giving the "safe" answer or not. He recommended RMAing.
I am planning to RMA, but before I do I thought I would post here to see if I overlooked something. Most people with the same problem reported that configuring/tweaking the timings and voltage settings in CMOS setup was essential, but there is little documentation on this from the manfacturer. I have tried many variations of the recommended timings and voltages, as well as what others have reported as having worked, but all to no avail for me. I still believe I may not be selecting the right timing combinations, but jeez! I've never had to adjust mem timings before. LOL. Okay... Lesson learned.
Also, BIG lesson learned... Always do an external build FIRST every time! Take nothing for granted. If I can't solve this, I will have to disassemble and RMA the board.
I suppose I should try checking and reseating the CPU first. One person reported success with that.
Final points: Do I have the right memory!?!?! I checked the Corsair website, and they do not list my MB. Likewise, the MSI site does not list Corsair memory as a "tested" memory. Others mentioned that they (Corsair and MSI) simply haven't tested those and added them to their approved lists yet, but that it should still work.
Frustrated, but not giving in to RMA just yet! LOL.
All I can recommend is to run the ram in the other three slots since your board has six ram slots. If the ram is recognized as tripple channel in those three slots, then problem solved at least temporarily. I doubt you will need to run more than 12 gb of ram. But if you want to rma the board anyway, msi will send you a tested board for replacement. It's rare that they will send you a brand new board unless their stocks are depleted. Return the bare board only in a static free bag such as the one that came with the board. I pack mine inside the original box, and place that inside a larger box with some foam or air filled cushions and ship it priority mail. I use a printed shipping label with the rma number printed on the label above the mailing address.
Thanks for the suggestion, o1die. I tried your suggestion, but it did not work.
I strongly believe based on everything that I have experienced, tested, and read to date that the BIOS simply does not support my specific configuration of mainboard, CPU, and memory. I believe this because others have reported the same issue with the same configuration, and one guy mentioned that a beta BIOS from MSI solved his issue. Unfortunately, I could not coax that out of them. LOL.
Others have reported that they were able to modify/tweak the timings and voltages until the board eventually recognized all three channels and used all available memory.
So, perhaps the BIOS does support my specific configuration, but I have not tweaked the settings in cmos setup correctly.