Help with unstable system K8N Neo4 Plat /X2 4400

Discussion in 'MSI' started by Don Burnette, Aug 4, 2006.

  1. Don Burnette

    Don Burnette Guest

    Hey gang,
    I am pulling my hair out on this one. I have built several systems over the
    years, but this one, continues to be unstable, and I am running out of
    things to try. This has been going on now, for about 6 months.

    System Specs:

    MSI K8N Neo4 Plat socket 939
    Athlon X2 4400+
    Thermalrite XP-90 HS
    2 ea 250 gb WD Sata hard drives ( non-raid )
    Saphire Radeon X850XT PCIe 256mb video card
    Creative X-FI Extreme Music soundcard
    2gb Corsair XMS LL ddr ram ( 2 x 1gb )
    Antec Neo HE 550w power supply
    Windows XP Pro SP2 with all udpates, also have the AMD X2 processor update,
    and Microsoft dual core update.

    I do not have a heat problem. Processor idles around 32c, under load ,
    around 36-38c. All fans are running properly.
    I have all the latest driver updates for my soundcard and videocard. I just
    recently added the X-Fi soundcard, however, system has been unstable since I
    built it in early Feb. I had an Audigy 2 ZS before that.
    I first installed the mb drivers, with the Nvidia IDE SW driver, then,
    removed them, and reinstalled, without the Nvidia IDE SW driver.
    I have tested the ram, with Memtest 86, with no errors. The ram is running,
    in dual channel.
    I recently, added, the Neo HE 550 w power supply, as my previous power
    supply, was only 20 pin, and the HE 550 , is 24 - thinking that might be the
    issue, however it was not.
    I am running the memory timings, on " auto". I am not overclocking the
    system yet, wanted to get it stable first.
    I updated the motherboard bios to 1.C, no change.

    What happens is, usually when reading email with Outlook, perusing
    newsgroups with Outlook Express, or browsing the internet with Firefox, my
    system just " locks up". Occasionally, I will get a bluescreen, about a "
    machine check error exception ", but usually, it just freezes with no blue
    screen, and no error messages in event viewer. I have to power off the
    system, by holding in the power button for 5 seconds to force it to shut
    down. I then restart it, and it runs fine, until it locks up again. It is
    getting to where, this is happening, at least once a day.

    I have thought about blowing out this installation of Windows XP Pro, and
    formatting and doing another clean install ( I did a clean install when I
    built this system). But, I really don't think it is a software issue, I
    think it is somehow a hardware issue, due to the machine check error blue
    screen I occasionally get, but I do not know what else to try. I am also,
    about to the point, of considering a different motherboard. I had good
    success with the K8N Neo2 Plat, Nforce3, never had a problem, but this
    sytem, is giving me a lot of grief.

    My windows installation is very clean, I run AVG Antivirus, Spwareblaster,
    Ad Aware, and Spybot on a regular basis.

    I hope I have included all the relevant details. If any of you more
    experienced folks have any ideas or suggestions, I would certainly
    appreciate it!!

    Thanks in advance,
    Don Burnette, Aug 4, 2006
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  2. I have the same motherboard and processor and it's completely stable, it's
    not a problem with the motherboard design. Even though it passed Memtest86
    it's still possible that you have memory problems. I had some memory
    problems with my system, the OS would lose the occasional interrupt when
    the memory clock was set to 200MHz (I have 4G in my box) but Memtest86
    would pass. I swapped out a couple of the DIMMs for better DIMMs and that
    fixed the problem. The box has been running 24/7 for over a year with a
    200MHz memory clock. BTW there was nothing wrong with the old DIMMs, I
    have them in another system paired with some single sided DIMMs and they
    are working fine. The memory bus on the A64 is speced to run at 166MHz
    when you have two pairs of double sided DIMMs, however if you use better
    DIMMs you can get it to run at 200MHz with two double sided DIMMs.

    The first thing that I would try is to lower the clock rate on the RAM. If
    they are running at 200MHz then drop it to 166MHz. If that works then you
    can try raising the voltage on the RAMs a little bit (the BIOS on the Neo4
    tells you what is safe and what isn't). You could also try swapping out
    the DIMMs for another pair.

    The other thing that I would do is to check the BIOS rev and upgrade
    it if it's really out of date. I upgraded the BIOS on my Neo4, there
    seemed to be some real improvements such as hardware memory hole remapping
    which wasn't there in the original BIOS, the power management also seems
    to work better.
    General Schvantzkoph, Aug 4, 2006
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  3. Don Burnette

    Gerard Bok Guest

    My suggestion would be: run either Bart PE (Windows) or Knoppix
    from a CD for a while.
    If your problems persist, you are looking at a hardware issue.

    Otherwise, it would be time to reinstall Windows :)
    Gerard Bok, Aug 4, 2006
  4. Don Burnette

    Rod Speed Guest

    That sort of thing is normally a memory problem, since you
    have already eliminated the power supply and a flakey power
    supply wouldnt normally produce those specific symptoms.

    Run memtest86+ for multiple complete runs
    and you will likely see it report problems.

    If it doesnt, its still likely that the motherboard doesnt
    like that memory much, try different memory.
    Rod Speed, Aug 4, 2006
  5. Don Burnette

    Don Burnette Guest

    Thanks for the tips. I think first, I will let memtest86 run overnight, and
    see if it then gives me any
    errors. I will probably then, try lowering the clock rate on my ram.

    If I lower my clock rate on the ram, to 166, is it then in effect,
    underclocking the system?

    Don Burnette, Aug 5, 2006
  6. It's underclocking the RAM not the CPU. On the A64 the RAM clock and the
    CPU clock are independent.
    General Schvantzkoph, Aug 5, 2006
  7. Don Burnette

    tdprado Guest

    I have the same motherboard using Bios 1C and had similar problems at one
    stage. I was using 2 x256Mb sticks of Corsair LL memory in dual channel.

    It would run memtest overnight without failure and then lockup the next day
    as soon as I started doing general work.

    Set the memory voltage to 2.8V and see how that goes. It fixed my setup.
    tdprado, Aug 5, 2006
  8. Don Burnette

    paulmd Guest

    Are any capacitors bulging or leaking? That can cause the freezing and
    nastiness you are expierincring.
    paulmd, Aug 5, 2006
  9. Don Burnette

    Don Burnette Guest

    That certainly would be an easy thing to try.

    I noticed, anything at 2.75 and above shows in red as " not recommended ",
    is setting it to
    2.8 fairly safe?


    Don Burnette, Aug 5, 2006
  10. I'd keep it in the safe region, if the limit is 2.75 then keep it under
    2.75. Try reducing the RAM clock speed first, that's absolutely harmless
    and it has a much greater effect then raising the voltage. Once you've
    determined that it's a RAM problem you can concentrate on fixing it. To
    fix a RAM problem your options are,

    1) Increasing the CAS latency
    2) Raising voltage (keep it in the safe region)
    3) Decreasing the clock speed
    4) Replacing the DIMMs

    BTW for Windows drivers, I thought that doing a Windows Update will get
    you the drivers for all of your devices. If that doesn't do it you should
    be able to download them from the motherboard or device manufacturers
    site. The ones that came in the box are probably obsolete, the ones on the
    manufacturers site will be the most recent.
    General Schvantzkoph, Aug 5, 2006
  11. Don Burnette

    Don Burnette Guest

    Thanks General. I have increased the memory voltage to it's highest " safe"
    setting of
    2.7 - I will go ahead and lower the ram clock speed and see how that goes,
    that certainly makes

    Don Burnette, Aug 5, 2006
  12. Don Burnette

    kony Guest

    Which Corsair XMS do you have exactly? Does it have the
    heat spreaders (probably?) or bare chips so you can see the

    Some XMS, like a few in the following link, are spec'd for
    2.75V already. Certainly with that or other memory
    similarly spec'd for 2.7V or more you should consider trying
    kony, Aug 5, 2006
  13. Don Burnette

    Don Burnette Guest

    Hi Kony,
    Yes, I belive it has the heat spreaders, also has lights that flicker on top
    of the sticks.

    I just looked up my NewEgg invoice, and below is the memory I have:

    Corsair XMS 2gb ( 2 x 1gb) 184 pin unbuffered ddr433 ( pc3500) dual channel
    kit system memory

    Hmm, I notice on the tech spec, it lists it as 2.75V.
    Perhaps that has been my problem, running it under voltage?

    Don Burnette, Aug 5, 2006
  14. Don Burnette

    Don Burnette Guest

    For the ram? I have it still set at 200. I have upped the voltage to 2.75v,
    it was
    previously set, at 2.6 or 2.65 I believe.

    Don Burnette, Aug 5, 2006
  15. What clock speed are you running at?
    General Schvantzkoph, Aug 5, 2006
  16. Don Burnette

    Nom Guest

    Yes - you can run your memory at 2.8v without any risk. Note that most modern
    DIMMs are specced to run at 2.7v-ish anyway, so it's only a tiny overvolt !
    Nom, Aug 7, 2006
  17. Don Burnette

    Don Burnette Guest

    Yes, when I looked up the ram I have, I noticed it was spec'd at 2.75v. My
    bios, at default, had set it up
    to run at 2.65. ( and I think, it originally was at 2.6, and I had at one
    time upped it to 2.65).
    I upped it to 2.8v on Saturday, and so far, knocking on wood, have not had a
    Keeping fingers crossed...


    Don Burnette, Aug 7, 2006
  18. Don Burnette

    tdprado Guest

    I'm sure you'll be right now from reading your last feedback. It took me a
    few days to figure out the voltage problem too when mine kept playing up.

    What interested me by the whole thing was how my system would run MemTest
    overnight on the lower voltage without errors. It seems MemTest isn't the
    definitive test package for memory problems.
    tdprado, Aug 7, 2006
  19. Don Burnette

    kony Guest

    You might be right, but then again it might instead depend
    on other factors like system load (relating to created heat,
    the ambient temp over which the memory temp is higher), or
    load modulated ripple on the motherboard reduing the quality
    of the memory power... or, it could just be as you
    suggested, some errors Memtest86 won't catch. Personally I
    always overclock the memory bus some when testing, AND
    manually set (to be sure they stay the same instead of the
    motherboard bios automatically adjusting to a different set
    of ...) timings so I'm testing at a higher memory bus rate
    than the system will use. Doing so attemps to provide more
    margin, and if it failed at the higher speed I'd make
    whatever changes necessary to gain that margin even if the
    stock speed seemed stable.

    I'd rather spend more time, money or lose a few %
    performance to be as sure as possible that there are no
    memory errors on any serious work system. The gaming system
    is another matter, I don't want errors but if there were any
    yet the game didn't crash, I might never care.
    kony, Aug 8, 2006
  20. Don Burnette

    liaM Guest

    It might be a problem with the memory connectors. Take your dimms
    out and burnish the gold contacts with a plastic (not gum) pencil
    Spray a bit of WD40 on a kleenex and do a dry run over the contacts
    (that's if you don't have some "Stabilant 22a" *).

    Replace the dimms in their sockets and hope for Xmas to come early
    this year..

    * Stabilant is a wonder contact rejuvenator which, however, has priced
    itself out of contention for day to day use. 15ml of a diluted
    solution of
    it costs 50 euros/ 65 dollars. WD40 acts in a similar manner, I
    sealing contacts in such a way as to prevent microsparks.
    liaM, Aug 10, 2006
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