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I have a desktop PC built in the last year that started showing signs of instability. It would randomly crash sometimes, but not at the OS level -- it would be a hard crash that would corrupt video and audio outputs and completely freeze the system.

I started suspecting the RAM sticks since they have been finicky in the past, so I booted Memtest86 in order to do a full RAM test. Right after setting up the test, I accidentally bumped the case and the test froze.

I then rebooted and tried the same again multiple times. Every time I bumped the case, the system freezes completely. It seems to be more sensitive in the RAM region, so I still suspect either the sticks or the motherboard.

Is there any other troubleshooting step I can take other than start swapping components? I've got no other components nearby and am planning to contact Corsair (RAM) support soon.

  • Double check if all the cables and connectors are connected properly, clean everything from dust and try again. It's probably a loose connection somewhere. – confetti Aug 9 '18 at 0:51
  • @confetti I've already tried out re-connecting most connectors, but I haven't done a full system reinstall. I have a hard time accepting that a loose connection would cause a hard crash from a light bump. It's not a hard slap, it's pretty much a gentle push that causes it to go screaming – Délisson Junio Aug 9 '18 at 0:53
  • I'd assume the connection issue resides directly on the RAM or the motherboard and the most gentle push makes it come loose. – confetti Aug 9 '18 at 1:12
  • Move the RAM chips around in to different slots and use some contact cleaner on them. Do this until you can rock the chips side to side or tap them gently with the plastic side of a screwdriver until the memtest doesn’t give trouble anymore. This can be tricky, but the problem is more likely the slots on the motherboard than the RAM. But you need to also try to narrow it down to a particular chip causing issue that may have a bad solder joint on it. – Appleoddity Aug 9 '18 at 1:50
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It sounds like a mechanical issue, not a software issue, so reinstalling software isn't going to help. The following assumes a relatively normal failure mode- no errant screws rolling around under the motherboard, etc

It should go without saying that you'll need to power down the system before plugging or unplugging any hardware.

First, make sure your power cord is inserted all the way into the back of the computer PS (yes, it happens). Then try removing and reinstalling your RAM sticks. Then remove and reinstall whatever cards you have in the backplane. A final step would be to remove and reinstall the CPU- you will probably need to use fresh heat sink compound depending on your setup.

Another approach would be to remove absolutely everything from your system besides minimal RAM and the CPU. Slap it around. If it doesn't have any issues then add your other hardware one piece at a time (slapping between reboots) until it either stops working reliably or doesn't stop working at all. That should help narrow things down.

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