I own a Dell Studio 1535 laptop with Windows 7 64bit which came with 3 GB RAM (2 GB + 1 GB DDR2 modules). Recently I changed the memory to Kingston Value 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 800 SO-DIMM memory. The laptop seemed to work fine, the memory was available to the system and the on-board Dell-supplied diagnostic tool reported no errors.

However, since the memory upgrade I've been getting BSODs related to memory (PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA, BAD_POOL_HEADER, IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL, BAD_POOL_CALLER). These aren't frequent, I get one in about 3 days of normal usage but it's still very annoying. Before the upgrade I wasn't getting any BSODs at all.

I thought the memory I bought is faulty and thus run Memtest for 16 hours (about 15 passes) and it showed no errors. This keeps me puzzled - should I return the memory as faulty or is the problem something else I am overlooking? What could possibly be wrong except for the memory?

System info:

Dell Studio 1535
Processor: Intel Mobile Core2Duo T5750 @ 2.00 GHz
Mainboard: Dell 0M263C (Intel GM965 chipset), bios Dell version A05
Original memory: 3 GB 332.5 MHz, 5-5-5-15 DDR2 1.8V Dual Channel
New memory: 4GB Kingston DDR2 (also shows 332.5 MHz and 5-5-5-15 in CPU-Z)

There are other possibilities regarding your memory (e.g. incompatible timings, or a bad memory controller), but by far the most likely is that it has slightly faulty componentry that won't fail Memtest every time, but still doesn't work on your system. I have had memory that is known bad (visibly had a cracked diode, or whatever those tiny little things below the chips are), and failed periodically running Windows, pass Memtest86+ again and again with flying colors.

  • Is there a way to specifically rule out incompatible timings as a possible cause? – Karel Petranek Oct 16 '12 at 17:33
  • That depends. Check the manufacturer's website, to see if there are any recommended timings/compatible RAM manufacturer listings, and if your RAM is compatible with them. If your BIOS/overclocking utility allows it, you could try reducing your timings to the next-lowest level (e.g. 5-5-5-15 to 4-4-4-12) and see if that helps over the long run. Realistically, though, if you bought it new and have the option, I'd just RMA the RAM. – Zac B Oct 16 '12 at 17:36

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