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I am more the software guy, but a friend of mine asked for help on his brand new desktop (gaming) PC. He has the following components:

  • Gigbyte Overclocked GeForce GTX470
  • AMD Phenom II X6 1090T
  • Mainboard M4A89GTD Pro
  • 8 Gig RAM.

Now the PC is crashing with a bluescreen, indicating a memory fault (or at least I think so). He has made a photo of the bluescreen: IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL After the four hex values in () is no hardware name etc. visible.

The PC is only crashing when I add one of the memory sticks. Not a specific one. I can use each of them. I can even use both slots. Just when I add them all it is crashing.

I have made a memory check with this Windows tool (memory check or so). At one day it showed me a failure, but then never again. I thought it might be related to overheating at this day (somehow the cooler was not installed proberly). After cooling day it was fine.

Somewhere in the internet I have read about virus. I cannot imagine a virus can do that. So, now I would love to hear some more suggestions, I am really frustrated with this PC.

Cheers + Thanks, Christian

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migrated from serverfault.com Jul 26 '11 at 9:04

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2 Answers

BSODs indicate, almost certainly,1 hardware or driver problems.

If you suspect memory tools like Memtest86+ will perform extensive low level testing (and boot off USB – it doesn't depend on an OS). For other hardware about the only option is swapping out and seeing if the problem persists.

For drivers avoiding cutting edge (including beta) drivers is often a good start – stick with the ones from MS (for video this might limit the latest performance tweaks, but not working fast is not better than working).


1 MS has been mostly successful in eliminating Windows kernel defects.

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Memtest did not bring any more results, even when using Linux from USB. I have heard it might be related to memory voltage when using DirectX 3D. What do you think about that? –  Christian Jul 26 '11 at 9:32
    
@Christian I can't think why DirectX would make any difference (except, maybe, thermal effects due to heat from GFX card affecting quality of electrical connections). Also, Memtest86+ doesn't need an OS, so don't understand your comment about Linux. Finally: BSODs that are not obvious can be very hard to track down (I have one taking out a machine less than once a month: without any effective re-create and other changes happening more often than the faults. Therefore unlikely to be ever really know it is fixed even if it goes a year without another BSOD). –  Richard Jul 26 '11 at 9:51
    
Thanks Richard. I didn't know Memtest86 was OS independent, so I tried it with a Linux check. I will now try to check all the drivers if they are fine and then check what MSalters wrote –  Christian Jul 26 '11 at 10:41
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You indicated that the use of all memory banks caused this problem. That's very well possible. IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL could very well be caused by a memory corruption, e.g. a bit flipping from 0 to 1. And a problem with a memory bank can certainly cause memory corruption.

Now, it's hard to precisely pinpoint where the error occurs. Typically gaming PC's are run very close to the technical&design limits. And you are running your videocard beyond design specs ("overclocked"). You may be able to slow down your memory a bit. E.g. run it at a standard rate, instead of a higher non-standard speed.

Memory voltage is trickier. To run fast, you need higher voltages to keep the voltage/time swing rate within limits, but higher voltages cause a lot more heat. The DDR3 standard voltage is 1.500 Volt, which is enough for operation at standard speeds.

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My friend said, he used the different banks at one time which worked. Then he used both at the same time. Only the combination seems to fail. Can you think of any problems in a combination of two banks? I will try to update all drivers as Richard said and then check if the memory is running in a standard mode. Thanks! –  Christian Jul 26 '11 at 10:43
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