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.
I had two memory addresses that were repeatedly returning errors in Memtest86+.
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!
Yesterday, I received my Christmas gift to myself, a stick of (get ready for some specs, bitches) 1GB OCZ DDR400 (PC3200) CL2-3-2-5 Platinum Edition RAM with a copper heat spreader. Of course, I already had 2 sticks of 256MB GEiL DDR400 CL2-3-3-6 Ultra RAM in a dual-channel configuration on my Asus A7N8X Deluxe v2.0 mobo. I was skeptical about putting three sticks of differing RAM in my mobo and it working. The rule is usually that it’s not a good idea to fill all your RAM banks, even with high-quality memory. Such setups can cause the system to not POST or crash or lock on memory-intensive apps. So I popped the new 1GB stick of RAM into the free slot and left the case in a work position in the likely case I needed to swap some sticks around. However, it posted fine and I proceeded to set the optimal timings of 2-3-3-6, which was as low as the GEiL sticks could handle. It booted into Windows fine and then handled 6 hours of Dungeon Siege multiplayer hosting like a champ. Later on, still dazzled that all three sticks were working together, I booted into Memtest86+ and ran most of the tests. It handled those flawlessly as well. I’m not sure if this is true or not, but on POST, it says that the two GEiL sticks are still running in Dual-Channel. However, it still performs on par with nVidia 333Mhz dual-channel systems in Sandra memory benchmarks. So there were no performance improvements in benchmarks, but you can really see it in the quality of gaming. Now I can max out texture settings in games and have no memory hitching. And games also can be minimized without memory swapping and exit instantly. I can also leave any number of explorer or browser windows open while playing games. It’s nice. I give this OCZ stick of RAM a big thumbs up.
I also got a Saitek Eclipse keyboard for Christmas, but I really could have used some of the other items on my list more (like a UPS, X-fi sound card, etc.). It’s good for gaming in the dark, but that’s about it. I wouldn’t recommend it for use just based on the badass factor of it glowing blue. The glowing actually makes it harder to read in decent or better lighting. I don’t think it’s angled enough and that makes it harder to read in the light or dark, because yes…I hunt and peck when I type. But I may prop it up more to fix the angle. Sometimes the wrist rest rattles, too. The keys feel nice, though. They’re about 33% softer than the ones on my previous MS keyboard. So, I’d only recommend it if you like to use your computer in the dark. Just don’t tell me what you’re doing in the dark if it’s not gaming.
Also, Betty Crocker Warm Delights are the shiznit.
Except the mail script I mentioned a few posts ago…I broke that unfortunately. I was trying to add multiple mailto addresses and, like a ret, overwrote the working script testing the new one. I’ll fix it one of these days.
Newegg and Fedex are just amazing. In just two days, I received my new stick of RAM–during the holiday season no less. It installed perfectly . I’m doing Dual-Channel now with an obvious speed boost . Rise of Nations is down from a couple minutes to unload to like 15 seconds 8) . That’s mostly to do with the fact that I doubled my RAM amount to 512. The system feels so smooth now…so relieved. It’s like taking one of those huge shits that just plops right out . Screenage:
The RoN Script Maker is coming along nicely. Actually, I only just started back working on it today. I completed one of the more daunting tasks, though, and with relative ease. I programmed RSM to read the unitrules.xml file for all the default unit settings so I’ll have some default values to work with in the unit stat script functions. I was actually surprised at how well Microsoft implements and supports XML. It also seems rather proliferated–should be good for older OSes. Tomorrow, I suspect I’ll write an editor for the unit stats and then saving and compiling routines. Here’s an alpha build screenshot: