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New Build Randomly Freezing: Memory Problem?

Last response: in Memory
April 1, 2005 1:12:45 PM

I posted this same problem in the "Power Supplies, Cases, and Case Mods" forum, but after posting some of my voltage readings, it doesn't look like this is a PSU problem. If you're interested, you'll find it over there under the subject, "Just PC / Just 4 PC 425W Power Supply."

So here's the scoop: I just finished my first PC build and have been having trouble with the machine freezing completely while gaming, always requiring a manual reboot. Everything runs solidly when I'm not gaming, and for the record, I'm not playing particularly intense games (Neverwinter Nights Platinum, Syberia, Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, X2: the Threat). All of these games have experienced the freeze at least once, sometimes 5 minutes into playing, sometimes after hours. Typically a short sound loop will repeat when the system freezes, and usually (but not always) the screen will go black. The monitor generally displays an "Out of Range" message at this point, but that's probably a red herring.

I suspected the PSU at first because it was the only cheap component in the build, but now I'm wondering about the memory. Running Memtest86 turns up only one error, but it's one error too many if you ask me. I have two 512MB sticks of Ultra PC3200 DDR 400MHz (1024 MB total).

Here's some system info.:

System Information
Time of this report: 3/26/2005, 13:01:55
Operating System: Windows XP Professional (5.1, Build 2600) Service Pack 2 (2600.xpsp_sp2_rtm.040803-2158)
Language: English (Regional Setting: English)
System Manufacturer: VIA Technologies, Inc.
System Model: KT600-8237
BIOS: Phoenix - AwardBIOS v6.00PG
Processor: AMD Athlon(tm) XP 2900+, MMX, 3DNow, ~2.0GHz
Memory: 1024MB RAM
Page File: 182MB used, 2281MB available
Windows Dir: C:\WINDOWS
DirectX Version: DirectX 9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)
DX Setup Parameters: Not found
DxDiag Version: 5.03.2600.2180 32bit Unicode

Display Devices
Card name: NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT
Manufacturer: NVIDIA
Chip type: GeForce 6600 GT
DAC type: Integrated RAMDAC
Device Key: Enum\PCI\VEN_10DE&DEV_00F1&SUBSYS_21191682&REV_A2
Display Memory: 128.0 MB
Current Mode: 1280 x 1024 (32 bit) (60Hz)
Monitor: Plug and Play Monitor
Monitor Max Res: 1600,1200
Driver Name: nv4_disp.dll
Driver Version: 6.14.0010.7184 (English)
DDI Version: 9 (or higher)
Driver Attributes: Final Retail
Driver Date/Size: 2/24/2005 07:32:00, 3973888 bytes

Sound Devices
Description: SB Audigy 2 ZS Audio [9000]
Default Sound Playback: Yes
Default Voice Playback: Yes
Hardware ID: PCI\VEN_1102&DEV_0004&SUBSYS_20021102&REV_04
Manufacturer ID: 1
Product ID: 100
Type: WDM
Driver Name: ctaud2k.sys
Driver Version: 5.12.0001.0444 (English)
Driver Attributes: Final Retail

The drivers for motherboard, video card, and sound card are latest as available online.

I only had time last night to let the Memtest86 run through its testing once, so I'll try again over the weekend when I have a bit more time to allow for repeated testing; I also need to spend a bit of time at to see what all these numbers are supposed to be telling me. But if anybody has some insight, gosh I'd be glad to hear it.

April 1, 2005 2:19:56 PM

take out the stick of memory that memtest had an error on and rerun all the games. If the problem stops then you have your solution.
April 1, 2005 7:39:14 PM

Of course if your power supply isn't giving your memory enough power, your undervolted memory may be having a hard time of it. :\ If you have any lines undervolted significantly, then that's likely your problem.

If your power supply however is holding up well, then try just slightly upping your VDIMM by a point or two. Memory is usually warrantied for higher than default voltage anyway.

<pre> :eek:  <font color=purple>Yes I'm insane, but it's a <font color=blue><i>good</i></font color=blue> kind of <font color=red>crazy</font color=red>. :eek:  </font color=purple></pre><p>@ 184K -> 200,000 miles or bust!
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April 1, 2005 8:23:39 PM

I've seen a few people having issues with ULTRA memory. I don't think Ultra is a good brand.

If you can, try testing with different memory modules. For compatibility: Samsung, Micron, Infineon. May not be the fastest memory, but at least people have fewer problems with these brands.

Not sure changing the voltage will help you any, but you can try.

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April 2, 2005 7:48:40 AM

Ultra doesn't make anything, it's a TigerDirect brand. They buy whatever they get the best deal on. Even their "special" power supply was originally introduced by another company, but I think TigerDirect may have gotten exclusive rights on that one.

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April 2, 2005 2:05:29 PM

I bet its the PSU or a combo of the PSU and RAM

Intel P4 550(3.4)<font color=red>@4.2 posted 4.8</font color=red>
Ballistix PC2 5300@<font color=red>DDR2 780</font color=red>
ATI Radeon X800XL <font color=red>459/609</font color=red>
a c 158 ) Power supply
April 2, 2005 2:48:43 PM

What PSU are you using?

<font color=red>You're a boil on the arse of progress - don't make me squeeze you!</font color=red>
April 3, 2005 3:30:11 AM

It's a generic PSU that came with the case, made by JustPC USA. It's admitedly cheap, which is why I first brought this problem to the "Power Supplies, PC Cases & Case Mods" forum. (I'd include the link to that string o' messages, but I'm not sure how. The subject is "Just PC / Just 4 PC 425W Power Supply." As of this posting, it's on page 2.) I did as fishmahn suggested in that post and logged 5 minutes' worth of voltage straight through a freeze-up using Motherboard Monitor 5, but I didn't see any significant voltage fluctuations or drop-offs throughout the log. That seemed to suggest that it isn't a PSU problem, although I'm enough of a novice not to have a very firm opinion. That's where we left it in any case.

Here's what I CAN tell you: I identified the memory module that was giving errors using Microsoft's memory diagnostic, and yanked it, but I'm still having the same freezing problem. (Still, though, I'm glad I found that faulty module; it's a brand-new build, which means it's under warranty and I'm entitled to a replacement.)

The suggestion from slvr_phoenix re. upping the VDIMM voltage is worth a try, but I'm not sure how/where that's done. In BIOS somewhere?

Any other ideas? I'd like to think that we're whittling down the possibilities. Thanks again for your kindness and braincells.
April 3, 2005 6:12:44 AM

Im not sure yet that the memory stick itself is faulty. Have you tested both sticks indivdualy? If your PSU is the problem then I think that you could get an error pointing to the memory even though the PSU is the real issue. Post the highs and lows of the 12V, 5V, and 3.3V rails.

Intel P4 550(3.4)<font color=red>@4.2 posted 4.8</font color=red>
Ballistix PC2 5300@<font color=red>DDR2 780</font color=red>
ATI Radeon X800XL <font color=red>459/609</font color=red>
a c 158 ) Power supply
April 3, 2005 1:04:02 PM

What are you using to test your memory? Sandra or Memtest86? Do what Mozz said and try the sticks separately.

<font color=red>You're a boil on the arse of progress - don't make me squeeze you!</font color=red>
April 3, 2005 7:09:55 PM

Yup, that's what I did. I started with Memtest86, which gave me 1 error (1 too many, says I). After that I turned to Microsoft's "Windows Memory Diagnostic" to see if I could get errors there too. I ran with both sticks in place and got errors (3 at the same address). It wouldn't tell me which stick was the problem, so I tried each separately, and although I only turned up 1 error in 4 passes, it was at that same address. So I put the other stick back in, ran 8 passes, and came up error-free.

But then--with only the "good" stick in place--the same freeze happened while I was playing Neverwinter Nights.

The PSU seemed to be a red herring, as my voltage numbers are good (you'll see the details at that other post if you care to look), and now it looks like the faulty memory is another red herring.

Now I'm wondering about my soundcard. I've seen descriptions of the same symptoms associated with Creative's Audigy 2 ZX card on XP Pro., both of which I'm running. I'm going to start poking around the soundcard forum as well. *Sigh.*