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Topic Title: Guide to Stability and Stress Testing
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Created On: 04/08/2004 02:29 AM
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 04/08/2004 02:29 AM
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Heavy Wizardry

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Joined: 10/08/2003

Stability and Stress Testing

In order to ensure your newly constructed PC is fully operational and stable, there are a number of steps you can take.

1. Download Prime95' "> This is a program that features a built-in "torture test" which is capable of testing your memory, CPU, and PSU. It is recommended that the test be run for at least 6 hours to ensure stability, with 24 hours being the preferred amount of time. If Prime95 should exhibit any errors, then you know that your setup is not completely stable. This is particularly useful if you're overclocking.

Additional suggestions from ricjax99:

In my experience with prime testing if your system runs over 8Hrs with no errors it will usually mean your system is 100% stable, although this doesn't guarantee 3D Applications will be 100% stable it's a good guide. I have found that you can have a system run for 3-4 Hrs and it's relatively stable but may suffer from the odd BSOD or have the system kick you out of a game.

I usually find that settings that are "pushing" the CPU that a little bit too hard will error around the 4-5Hr mark when running blend.


2. Download Memtest86' "> This program features a number of memory intensive tests that can determine whether or not your memory is "up to speed" and error free. At the very least, the default tests should be run. However, if you want to thoroughly test your memory then you should run the extended tests as well.

Additional suggestions from ricjax99:

Test 5 is a very good memory test for overclocking and stock stability purposes. Generally test 5 will only fail at the very, very end of the test. This is completely normal if your pushing your memory out of spec or the memory is slightly "under spec" meaning it's likely to be faulty. If test 5 freezes memtest so that the "wall time" is no longer moving, it means that the Northbridge is out of spec and you have raise the chipset voltage a notch. If you get errors at the very end of test, then your RAM is simply working too hard. Raising memory voltage or raising mem timings seems to help this.

However, in my experience, if Memtest's test 5 appears to be completely stable, you can still get 3d apps crashing out and Prime 95 errors. This pretty much renders this kind of testing useless for some people, but you get the advantage that you do not risk corrupting HDD for overclocking too high, which might happen if you test the stability of the system in Windows or you have bsods when you boot up a new system and need a low level test to "single" things out.


3. A third step that can be taken is to run a number of CPU intensive tasks at the same time, such as Prime95 and 3DMark2001 loops. You should also run Memtest86 as well to get a thorough and extensive workout. If your PC can survive this type of torture without showing any errors or hardware problems (random reboots, etc.) then your setup is about as stable as it can possibly be.

Additional suggestions from ricjax99:

I advocate testing with everything and anything. Memtest is a good test. It may not be the "be all end all" of tests, but you can get information out of it, so it is a worthwhile test. What would be the point, say, ignoring an error in memtest and simply paying attention to 3dmark? I think that the best idea is to make sure you are stable in both. I test stability of RAM with memtest, 3dapp stability with 3d mark, CPU stability with Prime, and then I test overall system stability with Prime Blend running, and 3dmark 2001 running concurrently, I then go on to game testing (the fun bit ) . All the tests will tell you something useful, so none should be ignored.

Just a short list of games that i find much more sensitive to stability problems/overclocks than most others:

GTA: Vice City
Call of Duty
Halo: Combat Evolved
Warcraft 3


As with all guides, this is a work in progress. If anyone has any other methods that they use and/or think should be added, feel free to contact me.

Version 1.1 - 4/8/04

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