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Windows 7: When Memtest86 and WMD test fail?


14 Dec 2010   #1
Microsoft MVP

 
When Memtest86 and WMD test fail?

I'm helping a friend with a Dell Dimension 2350 1gig Ram Pentium 4. His XP was virus-riddled and hung horribly even after clean up with SysFiles repaired. HD cleared diagnostics, wiped HD, ran memtest86 which shut down test both times at 3% first pass.

Now in Windows 7 having similar problems with hangs, tried WMD test which also failed at 5%.

What is the cause of failure of memtest or WMD test to even run?

We are removing one RAM stick to try test on each stick and then use a good stick to test slots. Any other suggestions?

Update: First stick, first slot, WMD test stopped at 5%
Update: First stick second slot, WMD test stopped at 8%
Update: Stick 2 slot one, WMD test stops at 3%

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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15 Dec 2010   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

Hey Greg - I just did a quick google search and read a some relevant posts and the majority of solutions offered suggest upping the voltage to the RAM to get Memtest to run.

Unfortunately some Dell BIOS's are pitiful when it comes to settings.

And if the PS is old it may not be supplying clean power to the MB (WAG).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Dec 2010   #3
Microsoft MVP

 

Thanks for helping. How do you think it fits with what Kingston says about their two 512 sticks: The Dell RAM specs are for PC2100 while the sticks purchased 3 years ago (which ran fine until recently, tho we're not sure they are at fault performance-wise) are PC3200.

So Kingston tech support says they are overclocking RAM and making tests go haywire in all configs.

But...we also put the old known-good 256 stick pair back in and it also causes both memory tests to fail to run. With that, I'm thinking mobo, or could PSU do that with those sticks too?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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16 Dec 2010   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Pesonally, I'd start with the basics and tear off the cpu fan/heatsink, clean up the core, put on some new tim.
If NB has a cooler I'd see what I could do with that too (IMC on NB?)
Then I'd find some utilities to monitor temps...

<Insert rest of thread here>

Edit:
I'd also bypass the windows install for now and test memory with Memtest from a Live linux cd...
loading bios system defaults vs. optimized defaults make a difference?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Dec 2010   #5
Microsoft MVP

 

Checked temps yesterday morning - they are normal.

There is a newer BIOS update (2004) but requires a floppy which I'm not messing with.

Will reset the CMOS.

Thanks. Solid ideas.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Dec 2010   #6

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

I don't know what to say about the Dell tech's comments. Unless this was a built-to-spec unit and the original purchaser ordered it that way it does not sound like something Dell would do. But who knows?

But if they did put 400Mhz RAM in a board that defaults to 266Mhz then either the PC3200 was running at 266MHz or the RAM was overclocked on the board to run at 400. And to do that without the modern BIOS tools for overclocking I'm guessing you would at least need to increase the voltage to the RAM.

Memtest seems to work fine on overclocked RAM. In fact that is what they always say to do when overclocking RAM - run Memtest. But Memtest has it's limitations. It does not always identify bad RAM, in that people have solved issues by replacing RAM that passed Memtest with flying colors. So I'm guessing that Memtest only checks registers and does not do any diagnostic beyond that. So if it starts up and cannot "do it's thing" it just quits and doesn't report why.

So I'm guessing that if there is a problem on the MB - voltage, bus/socket shorts, Northbridge issues, CPU error - that occurs before any actual writing to registers then the RAM tests would fail and quit. Guessing.

A failing power supply can do some damned strange things. Lopsided oscillations on the AC side or spikes and dips on the DC side can reap havoc with the logic circuits on the MB, so the PS is always a prime suspect.

What kind of settings can you play with in the BIOS? Can you increase the RAM voltage easily to test?

EDIT: I've flashed a Dell BIOS using the floppy. It's painless. Something the Dell folks got right!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Dec 2010   #7

Windows 7 x64 pro/ Windows 7 x86 Pro/ XP SP3 x86
 
 

If you go to the download page for that bios update you will find two files- one is for creation of a bootable diskette, the second is the bare executable that Dell calls "non-packaged". I think if you make a bootable cd (with your favorite ultraiso) and write that non-packaged .exe to the cd, you should be able to boot from the cd, then run the .exe to flash the bios.

Just an idea, if floppies give you the heebie-jeebies.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Dec 2010   #8
Microsoft MVP

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by TVeblen View Post
What kind of settings can you play with in the BIOS? Can you increase the RAM voltage easily to test?

EDIT: I've flashed a Dell BIOS using the floppy. It's painless. Something the Dell folks got right!
Hi again and thanks. I spoke with Kingston tech support which I've always found the most user friendly and the RAM upgrade was 2 of their 512 sticks.

This computer belongs to my friend Pete in Boston. I just wiped infected XP and clean installed Windows 7 via TeamViewer for him. There are still hangs on almost everything.

Is it possible you could walk him through which settings to look for increasing RAM voltage in the BIOS, and how to flash the BIOS using floppy. I will ask him to sign up and sign in here.

Bill2, I did see the other BIOS flash download. Do you have any experience using this to advise Pete how to do it? I think he can still chat with Dell so have suggested he ask them.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Dec 2010   #9

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

Will certainly give a try! We can see what can be done with a Dell BIOS.
Does he have a floppy drive?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Dec 2010   #10

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
 
 

This just popped up in one of my home-builders newsgroups:
Interrupt storm - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Also, the BIOS ability to deliver an SMI (system management interrupt), can hobble a PC, and the SMM subsystem isn't even visible to Windows (you can only tell something is going on, by loss of "time"). A problem with SMM would be hard to debug, because the root cause might be the motherboard itself.

System Management Mode - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I thought it might be relevant because his underlying problem is the lagging system performance and freezes. Something like an interrupt storm or SMI may also explain the Memtest failure.

Unfortunately both of these point towards MB failure, unless the particular offending piece of hardware can be disconnected and the symptoms disappear.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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