RAM – who knew it could take out a computer?

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 at 9:15 am

At one point or another I’m sure most of you have run across bad hardware. This past week I built a computer and was running into an odd situation. After about 2 minutes of running (or less) the system would completely lock up. Rebooting would sometimes make it to the login screen while other times it would just die part way through. Other times, the system wouldn’t event make it past the POST or show the BIOS loading screen.

Fearing a faulty motherboard, or inproper CPU installation, I decided to watch what was happening to the temperature in the BIOS. The temp was staying quite low ( < 30 C for both the CPU and motherboard) but, the system would still lock up… even in the BIOS screen. At this point I had detached everything except for the video card, 1 stick of RAM, and the hard drive and was still getting the same problem.

As a last ditch attempt, I swapped out the final stick of RAM for one of the other ones in the pile of components sitting beside the case. And what do you know, it worked!

Now, the only conclusion I can come to is that the RAM was overheating after about 2 minutes or so of use, and then completely ceasing to function. The bad memory addresses must have been quite close the beginning since even in the BIOS screen (where I’m assuming it doesn’t do all that much with RAM) would lock up.

Has any one else ever experienced something like this? For the record it was a Corsair 2GB stick.

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2 Responses to “RAM – who knew it could take out a computer?”

  1. Maria says:

    That’s happened to me a couple of times now and the first time I was stumped. Bad RAM is a good thing to test for, like with memtest86+ or whatever you have, when a system is consistently freezing up like that.

  2. Dan says:

    It seems to be a more and more common issue recently as I’ve heard from a number of people similar experiences. And it can cause any number of bizarre issues. I would recommend memtest86 (http://www.memtest86.com/) as a good way to test your RAM for errors as well.