Sunday, 3 October 2010

Be Broken, or Don't Be Broken... Just make your MInd uP!

i Am cRaZeee mAd aT my ComPutER!

The damn thing can't make up it's little solid state electronic mind to be broken, or not be broken.  To break, or not to break, this is my EVGA 680 SLi Motherboard's question... Gah.

I started having trouble when I came back from my Holiday, picture below, I came in and I turned on the power sockets and I heard a buzzing AC high squeel.  I checked everything out and the squeel went away, but then turning on the machine it got to the Windows Desktop and BOOM Blue Screen.  And upon reboot during the BIOS Post it was reporting memory errors.  I blogged about that before... bit of a pain in the ass. I confirmed this is a motherboard issue and I contacted EVGA and they were very helpful and gave me permission to RMA the item... I was not able to however, as my heatsink back board is glued on... GOD DAMN WHY DID I USE THE STICK PAD  AAAAARRGGGGHHHH.

Anyway, this weekend I set some time aside and I stripped my whole machine down, and I mean stripped. The only three things I left in place was the CPU and cooler on the mobo.  But I took it all out, washed (with water) all the fan covers, all the fans themselves, all the air filters and I installed a new 500GB drive in there and sorted everything out...

I then made the mistake of trying to fix my memory problems, I reset the CMOS, I set up the memory as the base values and I copiously cleaned all the memory slots and the chip connectors.  And guess what...

It all worked... yes, after moaning that I was down to just 2GB of RAM, suddenly it all worked... 4GB right back in there... cool... but not so cool, there were (and are) issues, at the memory does not report that it's SLi ready anymore... it is OCZ nVidia SLi ready DDR2 PC8500 Ram, but it simply won't work in SLi overclock mode.

Anyway, I have 4GB of RAM back... so I was moaning at nothing, everything checked out and I used a memory test and ran it on soak for two hours as the different parts of the machine, which I had washed, dried out on the radiators.

Then things got stttttrrrrrraaaaaannnnnggggggeeeeeeee.  My machine reported 4096MB of RAM... correctly.... It booted up, and half way through a couple of turns in CIV5 I suddenly got a pop up telling me windows had detected a change in the hardware... it detected some new memory...

That's right, while running the amount of RAM changed... UP?  I didn't put any more in... but in the Vista Performance dialog it said I now has 5037Mb of RAM... WOWzer, Da Computer Got L33T Skillz At Da Installin' New RAM LOLz.

The trouble then began proper, as I think Windows, or CIV5 tried to use this phantom RAM, Boom Blue Screen of Death.

It did this twice or so more times, and then I went on the hunt for the problem, I've wheedled it down to Bank 3, the fourth of my RAM Slots, sometimes, it just flakes out.  I can populate any RAM into any other banks (in matched pairs) and its all fine, the problem only comes up when I try to push the RAM hard and its in that last bank.

So, I've been a bit crafty and used a RAM Disk program (with a little tweak from me) to allocate so many K of RAM from the END of the RAM memory address space, I started with allocating 512K of RAM and let it cycle down from the end of the RAM and max out the memory usage.  It kept going wrong, until I got down to MB 3125 of 4096.  And then when allocated in the second half of 512K the crashes stopped.

I then lowered the amount of RAM allocated to 128K and tested again, still no crashes.

Again at 64K and crashed, so I left it at 64K and moved the memory address up until this 64K patch fitted over where I think the problem is.

All sorted, no crashes.  And then to second check it is not any of my sticks of RAM I cycled through my tests at these settings with 3 different sticks of RAM in slot 3, and then I swapped to the RAM from a whole other PC.  All seems fine.  My final test was to keep the RAM from the other machine and remove the RAM DISk... Boom Blue Screen.  So it's definitely a motherboard issue.

Anyway, right now I have all my RAM swapped back, I'm back up and running, I've even had a good tidy up of all the wires which lay in a spaghetti pile below my desk.

Time to finally get around to listening to SUWT #71.  I hear that Darren had some listener mail poking fun at my comment about WOW not being an RPG as everyone has the same jobs... I think said mailer didn't get my point... which was that I showed my friend three different classes... and they all did the same thing... while I showed him two others which did just one thing... and my friend thought it strange that some classes can be a Swiss army knife, while others are just for the one job... Anyway, I'll get back to that later.

Levant Mine, St Just, Cornwall - September 2010.

No comments:

Post a Comment