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Flaky Kingston PC2-4200 533MHz DDR2

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June 2, 2012 2:21:16 AM

I've been running a pair of these (2GB total) in my PC (ASUS P5LD2 motherboard, P4 at 3GHz) for years, but recently I've been having random freezes. Replacing them with another pair of the same did not help. However, the machine did work fine if I put in just the original pair of 512KB sticks (1GB total), which have the same specs.

So, I started playing around with some of the settings in the BIOS, and found that the machine works fine with the 2GB of Kingston RAM if I slow down the memory bus to 400MHz (PC2-3200).

I find it unlikely that both the RAM I've had in there for years, and a newly opened package of the same, would have a problem, so I'm suspecting something wrong with the memory controller instead, that is making it unreliable at full speed, at least in combination with the Kingston RAM (coincidentally, the SATA controller on this board started getting flaky recently too; I replaced it with a PCI SATA card and all is well).

Anyway, I'm wondering if I got get the RAM working again at its full rated speed by upping the voltage slightly, but I'm not an overclocking expert (if I wanted a super fast machine, I wouldn't be running a seven year old P4), and don't know how high I can go without risk of damage.

Any input would be appreciated.

Or maybe it's just time for a new machine (I've had my eye on those Intel Mini-ITX boards).
a b Ĉ ASUS
a c 435 V Motherboard
June 2, 2012 1:18:21 PM

If your system is stable, I wouldn't change anything else. It's too old to benefit from small increases in ram speed. If you're unhappy with it, start saving for a cpu/board/ram upgrade. I wouldn't get any mini-itx boards, unless you just don't have much space. They tend to run too warm in some of those tiny cases. Go with micro atx which is actually cheaper with some boards.
June 2, 2012 4:05:26 PM

Thanks. I'm pretty much starting to feel the same way. It works now, so don't fix it.

And I'm also now considering just getting a new regular ATX board with an i3 or i5 and 4GB of RAM on it, and keeping my old case (with new fans), power supply (<1 year old power supply), hard drive (<2 months old), DVD burner, and OS (WinXP SP3 32-bit).
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June 2, 2012 5:06:09 PM

FWIW, I tried a little more safe tweaking (i.e. no voltage changes).

Using CPU-Z to report on SPD figures, I discovered that these sticks had three different sets of timings: 200MHz at 3-3-3-9, 266MHz at 4-4-4-12, and 266MHz at 5-4-4-12.

While I had them running at 200MHz (but with SPD still enabled), my BIOS used the timings 4-4-4-9. Not sure how it came up with that.

When I switched back to 266MHz with SPD enabled, my BIOS used the 4-4-4-12 setting, but was unstable. So I tried changing the timings manually to 5-4-4-12, and it seems to be stable at 266MHz now.

Any idea why the sticks would offer two different sets of timings for the same clock rate?
a b V Motherboard
June 2, 2012 5:20:44 PM

Why are you blaming the memory for the motherboard defect?
June 2, 2012 6:31:52 PM

Where did I blame the memory?
June 2, 2012 6:51:08 PM

Besides, at least part of the problem _is_ the memory. I have some Kingston DDR2 PC2-4200 533MHz 512K sticks that still work fine with this motherboard. I don't KNOW that the problem is with the motherboard; maybe it just became slightly more sensitive to slightly out-of-spec RAM.
June 2, 2012 8:50:37 PM

I have seen some mobos (older especially) that support RAM upgrades, ONLY at a lower speed. Some motherboards cannot read spd properly, some cannot set timings within realistic parameters in manual mode. The problem is almost certainly the mobo: is this a prebuilt machine?
June 2, 2012 10:33:38 PM

It was prebuilt by the local PC guru. The mobo is an ASUS P5LD2. Also, this particular RAM (the two 1G sticks) worked in it for years. It just stopped working (at full speed) recently. Meanwhile, the original two 512MB sticks continue to work.
June 3, 2012 5:20:26 PM

You are certain the 1GB sticks ran at the higher speed? Touch any BIOS settings recently?
June 4, 2012 2:44:47 PM

Yes, the 1GB sticks had been running at the higher speed for at least 2 years, and before they started failing, I hadn't touched the BIOS in ages (and after they started failing and I looked at the BIOS settings, everything was till the way it always had been).

At this point, I'm not going to mess with them any more. They're working fine now at 533MHz with timings of 5-4-4-12, so I'll run with that until I get a new MoBo, CPU, and RAM later this summer. There's no appreciable difference in the benchmarks between running them at 4-4-4-12 and 5-4-4-12, so I suspect there's even less :)  difference in actual applications.

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June 4, 2012 3:44:27 PM
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Very strange; there isn't always a tangible answer, I guess. Probably best to just leave them alone, rather than play with them more and either A: waste your time/get a headache or B: Bork something further. Best of luck!
June 14, 2012 1:24:56 PM

Best answer selected by stefanv.
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