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Welcome to the Most Exciting Hardware Review Ever!


Here you I will be giving you advice on how to tune up your computer and get more stability out of it. Lots of sites talk about over clocking, and how to wring the very most out of your hardware. This is not one of those reviews. Here the focus is for the rest of us. Most of us want to know that when we use our computers they are going to run, and run solidly. If you are sick of crashes and think it may have to do with some hardware setting, this review is for you.


Memory Matters - Your BIOS Controls It

I had been having this problem ever since I built my new computer. The system just rebooted whenever it bloody wanted to. I can tell you, there can be no problem more frustrating. Since I am a certified engineer and a certified technician, I dove in, and try to solve the issue, but alas, I was stumped. I suspected it might be a memory problem, so finally I ran a great memory diagnostic called MemTest86. The first I ran the test it froze solid. So, I ran it again. This time it gave me 131 errors and froze solid again. "Well, there's your problem.", I said to myself, "You've got a bad memory chip!" So i called Mushkin the makers of my memory chips. Now mind you these are considered some of the best chips on the market, so I was willing to listen when I got a hold of Diane H. and she wanted me to look at some BIOS settings. In fact, Diane had me change a number of them and here's why. (I'm going to start with the ones that are most general to everyone and then get specific high performance memory chips and then to these specific chips)
First, unless you know you have a USB keyboard and you know you are going to have to use it in DOS, turn off USB Legacy support. I have heard this before and Diane verified it does cause problems for a lot of users. If you do have to boot into DOS, you can simply turn this back on in the BIOS before your DOS setting and then switch it back off when you are done.
Second turn off Spread Spectrum. This is a a quality filter which monitors the processor for spikes due to electromagnetic interference and stops those signals from interfering with the chip. Sounds good huh? But, it can negatively effect the way the computer operates, so unless you live right under some power lines, turn this off. Now if you have a high performance board and memory you may have manually set your DRAM timings. That's ok, but pay head, if you want stability you might want to change the Burst from 8 to 4. This will increase stability and not have too much impact on performance.
If you have one of Asus' new P4C800 boards (I have the P4C800-E Deluxe) and you buy the Mushkin Memory Modules 3500 Level II, Level II is their lowest latency modules and level I are not. Low latency = better speed. It is necessary to raise the DDR Reference Voltage to 2.75 on this board because the chips simply need more juice. On some other motherboards it may need to be higher. Have the people at Mushkin tell you this since it is only warrantied up to 2.75 volts. If you run the 3500 at 3200 then you would set them as such:
2-2-2-6-8 or 2-2-2-6-4 for better stability.
If you want to run them at their full 3500 then raise CPU external frequency to 217 and set the timers as such:
2-2-3-6-8 or 2-2-3-6-4 for better stability.
Right about now you might be asking, what the hell do those numbers mean? Ok, follow with me now and remember the order in which these appear in the menu may be different on some boards:
The 1st number is CAS latency. This controls the latency between the RAM read command and the time that data becomes available.
The 2nd number is RAS pre charge. This controls the idle clocks after a pre charge command is issued to the RAM.
The 3rd number is RAS to CAS latency. This controls the latency between the RAM's active command and the red/write command.
The 4th number is the Active Pre charge Delay. This controls the delay of the active pre charge. (OK, that was self explanatory)
The 5th number is the Burst Length, remember, set this to 4 for greater system stability.
Now, one thing to note, in the event of a problem, cross shipping is only available to those who buy the memory directly from Mushkin at their higher price.

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