BSOD on fresh W7 install

it's a bit of a long story, but I have been battling the blue screen of death for months now on my machine.

My system specs are:
Dell Deminsion 8400 (really just the case and mobo are Dell OEM)
Antec 650w psu
Geforce 9600GT 512mb
western digital harddrive
4GB Crucial ballistix ram
Pentium 4 3.4GHz cpu (HT)
Intel (dell OEM) mobo
and recently installed Windows 7 Home 32bit

I had XP home on it before and I developed a blue screen that had the "PAGE_FAULT_IN_NON_PAGED_AREA" error message, and through my research, all sources suggest its faulty ram causing this. At the time, I had a 2 sets of ram sticks in, a pair of 512mb regular crucial sticks (533mhz) and a set of their ballistix sticks. I removed the regular set of sticks that left me with just the pair of ballistix sticks, and the error message went away for a few weeks (might have been a month or more) and then promptly returned.

By now, I wanted to see if the motherboard was at fault for frying ram sticks perhaps (I took a shot in the dark on that one, I'm no ace PC guru, but techicaly savvy, so I usually just dive in and get my hands dirty) and like a fool, I took it down to Geeksquad to do a diagnostic on the hardware. They only told me all my hardware was fine and it was Windows at fault.

So I thought "Great!, I've been wanting to upgrade to Windows 7, so here's a perfect opportunity!" and I purchased Windows 7 and another set of ballistix ram sticks to supplant the ones I lost before leaving me with the 4GB of 2 ballistix pairs of 1GB. Then I come home from work today and the PC screen is blue with that same page fault error message, so ofcourse my heart sank, but at the same time I knew that mean't it wasn't a software issue.....or is it?

I've checked, double checked, and triple checked the ram sticks, swapped them out in an effort to isolate the 2nd set of bad sticks (error message comes up no matter which sticks I have in), I've made sure the dimm slots were totally clean of dust and that the pins weren't damaged in any way, so now I'm at a loss at what to look at next :confused:

  • Your computer supports a maximum of 4 GB of memory when you use four 1-GB DIMMs. Current operating systems, such as Microsoft® Windows® XP, and Windows 7 (32bit), can only use a maximum of 4 GB of address space however, the amount of memory available to the operating system is less than 4 GB. Certain components within the computer require address space in the 4-GB range. Any address space reserved for these components cannot be used by the operating system. Any attempt by the system to do so will result in an error condition much like the one you are experiencing.
  • Also, Always try to use "matched" pairs. If you install mixed pairs of DDR2 400-MHz (PC2-3200) and DDR2 533-MHz (PC2-4200) memory, the modules function at the slowest speed installed. Similarly, if you install memory modules with mixed CAS Latency (CL) rates, the modules function at the speed and CAS latency capabilities of the slowest DIMM.
  • Be sure to install a single memory module in DIMM connector 1, the connector closest to the processor, before you install modules in the other connectors.
  • PCI Express graphics cards that run higher than 75 W may require an additional cooling fan. Otherwise, your card could overheat and damage your computer. I assume that the 6 pin power connector to the video card is connected and there is an operable fan onboard.....
The reason I mentioned the last note is that it sounds like you're possibly running into a problem with heat since it takes a while for the problem to present itself. These can be a real pain to troubleshoot, mainly because when the problem does show itself, the machine shuts down completely or BSOD appears.

I agree with Drew that it is NOT the OS, also in that it may be related to the video card or it's drivers. I read the system documentation and it is not clear if Shared RAM is used by this system. If you get a chance, take note of the available system RAM when the machine is running. IF 4.00GB is available then the system does not utilize shared RAM. Anything less indicates that it may.
Try downloading memtest86.
Burn the ISO to CD and boot from it. The test will run automatically.

Or you could just boot from the Vista DVD and use the memory checker though I personally think that memtest is better.

This test will remove Windows from the equation and allow you to focus on the hardware.

Happy Hunting


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