RAM Testers - DOC Memory and MemTest86

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SUMMARY: In an overclocked system, many of the problems blocking higher speeds can be traced to either RAM, Hard Drive PIOs, CPU or Video Chip heat. DOC Memory and MemTest are two utilities find and debug RAM problems.

Tom Edmonds and Derek Chew En-Hock emailed us with links to two super RAM testers. These utilities test and stress RAM probably more than you could ever do in normal use. DocMemory is a freeware program maintained by CST, Inc. These are the people who, among other things, make those little RAM Testers you see at computer shows. They provide a full range of memory test gear to the PC industry. Memtest86 is a freeware program maintained by C. Brady.

DOC Memory

This program is the more “polished” of the two – it is incredibly easy to use – just download the zip file. Once you expand it, it prepares a bootable disk. Shut down, insert and you’re off and running. The test routines are very thorough and feature a “burn-in” mode as well. You can run the test programs as long as you like to stress your RAM to the limit.

The Manual is also quite good – in addition to a detailed explanation of how to set-up and run DOC Memory, it includes sections on interpreting results, common memory errors, trouble shooting and understanding BIOS Beep Codes. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention CST’s fine website as a resource. As CST explains it:

  • “Through this new web site, consumers as well as industrial users can access memory specification, standards, and compatibility charts all at one place to help configure memories on their motherboard. Free subscription for a Newsletter is also offered, covering interesting topics in memory knowledge and applications. Visitors can also post any memory question to “Dr. Memory” for a personalized answer through e-mail.”

I can attest to the depth of information available through the site – probably more than most could ever understand. Click on the tab “Memory?” for access to a host of useful data, including a comprehensive Memory Glossary. CST has put up a fine resource for overclockers.

Even though the website indicates DOC Memory will be only available for a limited time, I spoke with CST and it will be a freeware program indefinitely.

MemTest86

Memtest86 is similar to DOC Memory in function although less robust in terms of a manual. However it comes in two flavors, one for Linux and one for Windows – the Windows version is at Download – Pre-Compiled Memtest86 v2.2 for Windows. It also is very easy to use – unzip, make up a boot disk, install, reboot and you’re off and running.

As soon as Memtest86 launches, it is in test mode. You can change parameters by going into a Configuration screen; full testing will take a fair amount of time – for example a C366 with 128MB of SDRAM takes about 17 hours. You can do an abbreviated test in about an hour.

The manual is not as “pretty” as DOC Memory but covers all the bases and is available on the website.

CONCLUSION

Either of these two utilities should thoroughly test your RAM. If you want to know if your RAM stable at 150 MHz FSB, these are the programs that will tell you. If you think you have a bum RAM module, testing it with these utilities and returning it with the test results puts you in a better position than merely saying “I think it’s no good”.

Thanks to Jasmine at CST for her help – invaluable!


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