26 March 2012

How I fixed my GA-X58A-UD3R motherboard to work with 24gb of RAM

No drawings or paintings on this post. This is a post to relieve my frustrations and efforts of days (one whole night too) trying to get my stupid motherboard to work with 24gb of RAM installed (as an upgrade from the 12 I had previously). It's for anyone who has the same problem and hopefully may help, if all else fails.

In case anyone dare says query why would I need 24gb of RAM... well I want to use Vue 10 infinite and it chews through the memory something chronic. It kept coming up with a message saying something like 'running low on resources - increase memory' and crawling along slower than an elderly snail.

Anyway, I bought my extra modules from Crucial, checked they were compatible, bought a matched set of 3x4gb DDR3 - 1333 (PC3 10600) UDIMM 240pin modules. Exactly the same type as my first original set. So I installed 'em and booted up and whoopee they worked (or so I thought). I worked away happily for most of the day. Then I had to reboot for something.... got past the post screen to then get an error message:

'Detecting DRAM Size'

Eeep! So the dratted thing reboots 3 times with the same message and on the fourth boot goes to Windows. But I know what this means. I had a similar prob before, so I look at the system properties and sure enough, 24gb of RAM installed, but only 8gb usable on my Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit rig.  I reboot with the same result. URRRGGGHHH. I googled for all I was worth, I fiddled with the bios, I flashed the bios, I reset the CMOS, I changed the voltage to every suggestion on every help techy site under the sun. I spent one whole night pulling the PC (self build, so at least I knew what went where) to bits, I took off the heat sink, cleaned the paste of the cpu, check the cpu for bend pins (there were none I could detect), reset it, put on more thermal paste (luckily had some spare) put back the heatsink, loosen the heatsink so it was held on by a whisker (advice on one site), swore a lot as my heatsink is a tricky beast requiring three hands to hold it and screw on. Sweated a lot. Swapped around and pushed in and out the memory modules in every combination soo many times my fingers would have bled if I hadn't used the back of an old aunts christmas card to protect my fingies - why is everything inside a PC sooo sharp?!?!?!

Anyway - nothing worked. I could get 12gbs to run in slots 1,3,5 or 2,4,5 and I could get 16gbs if I added a module in 1,3,5,6 or 1,2,3,6 sometimes, but as soon as I added another module anywhere I'd get the error. I was ready to drop kick the mobo out the window. I'd already started looking online for a new board, but the x58 chipset is becoming redundant and there isn't much to choose from in the UK with a decent spec.

I have the i7 x980 which is still a very good chip, and I can't fork out for an equivalent new one - plus there isn't anything wrong with it. So, a last ditch round of googling... and I came across this comment from jfoxedge "...I just happened to search for my processor, and found a page on Intel's site that said it only supports 800 and 1066 memory. Manually set my memory to 1066, no more problem. Never displays the "recovering lost DRAM size" message again.......it must have something to do with the 4GB DIMMs and the i7 CPU's".

Soooo, I thought, that is interesting. I have 4gb modules with an Intel i7 chip, now how/where exactly do I set my bios so it reads the dram memory as 1066?!?   A bit of head scratching later, this is what I changed in the bios (change in red):

Under MB Intelligent Tweaker(M.I.T), Advanced Memory Settings, change the System Memory Multiplier (SPD) from Auto (which gave my board a setting of 1333mhz) to 8, which equates to 1066mhz.

So I save and exit (PC has a bit of a start - fans whir too fast - and the settings don't 'take' so I do it again and it takes the setting this time). I'd given up on finger crossing by this stage and was waiting for doom to strike. And it loads, no error message, to Windows. I check the system memory and it showed 24gbs installed and usable. I've had this false dawn hope before on first boots, so I reboot, and the same thing all ram shows and is usable. I reboot about 6 times. All is miraculously good!!  

And the moral to my story, dear friends (to cut a long one short, which I should have done in the first place perhaps), is if you are using 4gb modules with an Intel i7 chip and your dratted motherboard is showing you the Detecting DRAM Size error message, rebooting 4 times and not working with all your installed RAM, try changing the memory mhz in the bios to 1066mhz.

If this doesn't work for you, I wish you all the luck in the world, or as others have found worked for them, check your cpu doesn't have any bend pins.  ;)

*Edit - Additional Info:   
After having this fix work perfectly for nearly a year, all of a sudden I had the same DRAM error back again.  I went into the bios (getting an initial error message about Overclocking changes that maybe affecting the system) and checked the setting I had made, which hadn't changed at all.  However I had added a new piece of hardware the day before (a second ssd in my case), which had booted with perfectly the first day, and I had gone into the bios just to check it was showing up ok, tho I exited without changing or saving anything.  I thought, however, that this may have done something to the bios even though everything looked ok (plus all the physical cables etc were fine and the actual RAM hadn't been touched). 

So I went back into the bios, changed the (above instructions) 8 back to Auto (I also changed  Performance Enhance to Standard) and Saved and Exited.  On reboot I went back into the bios and re-put the setting back to 8.0, as per the original fix instructions (changing Standard back to Turbo) and Saved and Exited again. 

On reboot there was no error.  I've rebooted again 3-4 times and still no error.

So if you have this problem reoccurring, just do the above as it could just be a glitch in the bios.