Symptom: I have four pieces of RAM installed and I'm pretty sure that at least one is bad. What's the best way to test RAM for errors?

Since you have four pieces of RAM, you can install just one DIMM in your motherboard at a time and run the machine until it crashes. This isn't a completely reliable way to test RAM, though. As an alternative, download Memtest86 ( and create a bootable CD. Memtest86 does a fair job. It runs several test patterns through the RAM. If a piece of RAM passes these tests, swap it with another DIMM and continue your tests. Even better than Memtest86 is Ultra-X's RAM Stress Test Pro 2, which is a self-booting diagnostic plug-in card. This card uses a comprehensive set of test patterns to assess your memory, and we've found that it finds bad pieces of RAM that other testers miss. Keep in mind that it may not actually be a stick of RAM that's bad. The problem may in fact be a bad DIMM slot. If all four pieces of RAM pass the test, you may have to rerun them in each individual slot on your motherboard. Finally, your motherboard's BIOS usually sets RAM timing by reading the SPD setting on the module. If the SPDs are set too aggressively (we've seen this), it may cause problems. You should consider going into the BIOS and manually tweaking settings such as your CAS latency to a more conservative setting.


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