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Bad RAM...a common problem


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#1
lilsorms202

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is it just me or does it seem like a lot of boot up problems have to do with RAM.
I have had 3 total computers and 2 of them had RAM go bad or come with bad RAM so the computer malfunctioned and i went through every possible connection to see if any thing changed it just turned out to be the last thing i checked the RAM.
I would reccomend anyone with boot up problems to check their RAM.
Does RAM usually go bad or do i just have bad luck?
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#2
Samm

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RAM shouldn't just go bad for no reason that often.
Dodgy or faulty RAM can be caused by several things :
1. if it's simply cheap quality RAM
2. if it's handled too much (particulary the contacts) without using a static strap. Static doesn't often kill it straight out, it tends to be culmulative thing.
3. Have the RAMs voltage or frequency settings too high
4. Having RAM thats not 100% compatible with your system or with other RAM modules or configuring the settings incorrectly shouldn't damaged the RAM but will cause instability.
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#3
Congo

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The only time I ever bought dead ram was when the guy in the shop made a big deal out of testing a second hand stick in front of me. Of course, when I got it home it simply did not function at all. I wonder why............ anyway, I never wasted my time going back THERE again.

If you are using modern equipment, then ram is rarely an issue, unless of course your bios is configured manually and out of spec for the ram you are using.

As far as I'm aware, all modern chipsets will read the SPD chip on the RAM modules and configure the ram according to it's design specs, or the spec of the lowest performance module fitted to your PC.

If BIOS is set to custom RAM configurations and/or voltages, then problems are likely when non-conforming ram is fitted.

Older systems often need to have the ram set up manually via mainboard jumpers, try to avoid this vintage PC type entirely!
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#4
lilsorms202

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great replies
soo i guess i should stop buying the cheap stuff
darn i thought ram was just ram price couldn't really effect quality
hmmm but am i right about boot problems being ram related
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#5
Congo

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Quality is important, but for general use and some overclocking, cheap quality ram is available.

Generally the botom price stuff is junk, but go up a price notch and you'll find quality in well known brands.

I use Kingston "value ram" modules for my own system and it overclocks nicely up to a point, where a more expensive and dedicated overclocking ram would be desirable to push it any further.

I'm not advising that you overclock, I'm simply pointing out that ram that will overclock successfully is generally of good quality.

You will always see the "bargain" ram advertised. If the specifications of the ram are available, you'll see the numbers are higher on the cheap stuff. Higher numbers mean longer latencies (more time to do the job) and more wait cycles.

A general guide is the CAS latency figure, like CAS 2.5 or CL4 or you may see timings displayed as 8-4-4-4 in the spec. Something like 6-3-3-2.5 would be faster and generally indicates better quality. Usually, the number opposite the highest number is the CAS latency figure. so in the first example, 8-4-4-4, the last number "4" is the CAS latency figure. Some will display the figures as 4-4-4-8, where the first number will be CAS, (opposite the high number).

Standard decent PC3200 DDR RAM (400mhz) should be CL3 for example.

As far as your Boot problems, I can't be sure, it could be BIOS settings, CPU, mainboard, PSU or mainboard jumper settings, and of course RAM.

Typically fairly old PC's have the RAM and Front Side Bus speeds, CPU multiplier, CPU voltage and RAM voltage settings adjustable by mainboard jumpers. If they are not correct, boot may not occur and /or damage may occur to one or more components.

More modern mainboards auto detect and configure the hardware at the first post. From here, you tweak it up to your components rated specification in BIOS.

Most of the time, these days, mainboards detect the hardware at post and do a fair job of auto configuring the hardware as long as the BIOS has auto configuration parameters selected.

More advanced system configurations are generally only available if the auto settings are switched to manual or advanced setup.

All mainboards (that I know of) have a RESET CMOS or reset bios defaults jumper near the battery or somewhere else on the mainboard. If you think the board should boot and it doesn't, then unplug the PC, place the jumper cap in the "reset" position and leave it there for 30 seconds, then place in back into the operating mode position. This should reset CMOS to BIOS defaults and if your hardware is compatible, you should get a post. (after you plug it back in of course!)

I hope that helps.

Edited by Congo, 22 May 2005 - 01:56 AM.

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