How to Test RAM: Troubleshooting to Find Bad RAM


RAM is one of the key components of any computer. So when it starts to crash, issues like crashes and performance issues start happening even if you have the best RAM money can buy. It might not even be obvious that the RAM is unstable, which is why it’s important to know how to test your RAM.

Instability is a spectrum, so depending on how unstable your RAM is, different things can happen. A slightly unstable RAM can perform a little worse than expected and cause occasional crashes. More instability will lead to more performance issues and more BSODs. For example, the “page fault in a nonpaged area” BSOD error message is what you might expect if your RAM is unstable.

Windows Memory Diagnostic

Windows has a built-in memory testing tool called Windows Memory Diagnostic. It’s a simple but generally effective tool for finding RAM problems. Before you begin, be sure to back up all your data, as you will need to restart your PC.

Step 1: Go to the Windows search bar and type Memory diagnostic. Select it.

2nd step: Then you will see the window below. Click on the first option, which will automatically restart your PC.

Windows memory diagnostic options.

Step 3: When your PC restarts, you’ll be greeted with a blue screen telling you that your RAM is being tested. It takes about 15-30 minutes.

Step 4: When the test is complete, your PC will reboot into Windows. Once connected, you will receive a notification that will let you know if your RAM passed the test. Failure means the RAM is unstable and you need to replace your modules.

MemTest86

If your PC has passed the Windows Memory Diagnostic but you still think you have a RAM problem, then you’ll want to try MemTest86, a much more comprehensive test from PassMark. Just like Windows Memory Diagnostic, it runs a test outside of Windows itself, so you won’t be able to use your PC during the test. All you need to use MemTest86 is a USB storage device, which you will need to format, so make sure there is nothing important on the device

Step 1: Download the free version of MemTest86 from the PassMark website. You will receive a .zip file.

MemTest86 in the Windows download folder.

2nd step: Open the .zip file and copy/paste its contents into a new folder.

Contents of the MemTest86 .zip file.

Step 3: Plug in your USB storage device and run imageUSB.exe. Again, your storage device will be formatted, so make sure it doesn’t contain anything important.

Step 4: At the top of the window, select the storage device you want to use for MemTest86, then locate the Write button at the bottom and select it. The program will ask you if you are really sure, because this part formats your storage device. After a minute you will see a Imaging completed notification, which means your device is ready to use MemTest86. Before proceeding, save all your data, as you will be restarting your PC soon.

MemTest86 Installation Instructions.

Step 5: You should now boot to your USB storage device. First, go to the Windows search bar and search for Advanced startwho should go up Change advanced startup options. Select it.

Advanced start in the Windows search bar.

Step 6: You should see a box labeled Advanced start with a Restart now button. Select it and your PC will restart.

The restart button in the advanced boot options menu.

Step 7: Once your PC restarts, you should see the Windows Recovery screen. Click on Choose a device and select your USB device, which might be called something like UEFI: Removable Device.

Step 8: Your PC will then load MemTest86, which should begin testing immediately. It may take around three hours to complete the test, so be patient.

Step 9: When the test is complete, you will see a message that the RAM passed or failed. If it failed, you need to replace your RAM – perhaps with one of the best RAMs for gaming.

If your RAM has not passed any tests, it is unstable or bad. There are a few solutions that might work for you.

First, if you overclock your RAM, you’ve overclocked too much and you’ll have to roll back. Reset your RAM to default speed and timings, or lower your overclock and test again. Overclocking RAM is difficult and finicky, so it’s entirely possible that even a slight overclock could make your RAM unstable. If you’re having trouble overclocking, we’ve got a guide for you.

If you haven’t messed with your RAM, there might be a system incompatibility. Although all RAM can fit into any compatible motherboard, not all RAM works well with all systems, and each motherboard usually has a list of RAM kits that are confirmed to work well. If your PC is having issues with stock settings, you can try underclocking your RAM to increase stability. Basically, follow our RAM overclocking guide and decrease the clock speed instead of increasing it. Obviously you’ll lose performance doing this, but it’s better than having an unstable PC.

If your RAM is validated to work with your motherboard, if you’re on a laptop or pre-built PC that you didn’t modify, or if instability issues suddenly appeared, then your RAM may be bad. to be dying. If you bought your RAM and installed it on your own PC, and it’s still under warranty, you should be able to get a new kit from the manufacturer. If you have a laptop or pre-built and have never touched the RAM, you will probably need to get a replacement or repair from where you purchased your PC.

You can also replace the RAM yourself. If you have a pre-built desktop PC that uses off-the-shelf parts (Maingear and CyberPower desktops for example) or build your own PC, buy another RAM kit, make sure it’s validated for your motherboard, and install Do it as you normally would. If you have a pre-built that uses proprietary components (such as HP and Dell desktops) or a laptop, you’ll likely need an OEM-certified RAM kit. These can be harder to find, so be sure to do your due diligence before buying.

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