For several weeks now, I’ve been having troubles with Serpent 3, my desktop PC. It started randomly blue screening (aka Blue Screen of Death) with random error messages whenever I was playing Diablo 3 or watching video. That coupled with the fact that I hadn’t changed any drivers or hardware recently led me to initially suspect that my only two month old video card (GeForce GTX 550 Ti) had gone bad. (As always, I also suspected overheating, but the sensors weren’t indicating that as the culprit.)
I fiddled with video card drivers some just in case that helped—it did not. So, eventually, I swapped my new video card out for a Radeon HD 4650 that was lying around. Although early signs were hopeful that I had isolated the video card as the problem, the swap actually had only slowed down the frequency of blue screens.
I was starting to think that I’d have to build a new system core (motherboard, CPU, and RAM), but I still knew of one more trick to try. There’s a program called Memtest86+ that will repeatedly test your entire PC memory (RAM) to see if there are errors with it holding correct values. I’ve used Memtest before to make sure new memory was good, but I’ve never actually seen it find any errors. It didn’t take long before it did find errors this time, though. I narrowed the problem down to two addresses around the 500MB mark in the first DIMM.
So I took that first stick of memory out and left the other matching stick in and tested again. After three full passes, Memtest was showing no errors for this stick. Next, I swapped sticks. And as one might guess, errors galore.
So, I swapped the sticks again and also returned my beefy new video card to Serpent 3. And I’ve enjoyed an entire evening of gaming and videos with zero blue screens. Luckily, Diablo 3 doesn’t seem to demand more than 2 GB of memory. Memtest FTW!