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Unexpected high voltages required to get stable system (R4E/BF+3960x)

SplatMan_DK
Level 7
I am new to the Asus ROG forums, and new to ROG products. I have worked with computers in one way or another for many years, and my previous build was an overclocked Core2Quad EE on a DELL-rebranded XFX board using Dells H2C liquid cooling unit.

I picked up a used Rampage Extreme IV Battlefield Edition from a friend, and thought I could make a new build over the weekend with stock settings and no overclocking. That assumption seems to have been very wrong.

I spent almost two days getting a stable system. At first I suspected the RAM. I thought an XMP certified product built for X79 was good enough. I was unaware that even though my memory carries the official Intel XMP certification and both board and memory modules adhere to established industry standards, that is apparently not good enough. So my kit is sadly not on the Rampage IV "Positive list".

The RAM kit, a 4 module KHX1866C9D3K4/16GX from Kingston, is unable to run without errors in the R4E board with defaut settings. It only runs when the XMP profile is set, Asus compatibility has been increased (Rampage Tweak Mode 1), and voltage has been forced to 1.655 (a notch higher that spec'ed). Not tweaking it will make the board feed much too little juice (about 1,58 - 1,62) and the machine will hang or BSD within minutes; without any load on the CPU. This has me a bit baffled; any tips/explanations are welcome.

But what really has me troubled is the fact that the machine won't run stable unless I manually increase the vcore to 1.2, and the vccsa to 1.25. The default setting ("Optimized Defaults") will make the machine freeze or tilt with BSDs on any kind of CPU load. Even the Windows 7 installer would fail, as soon as the step involving copying and extracting files (2) was beginning. And the automatic vcore/vccsa voltages are way too low for this build to run.

The machine seems stable now, but I would have expected this to work with much lower voltages. I can't even begin to think how high it needs to be when I start OC'ing it.

Can anyone explain why I may be having this issue? And is there anything I can do analyse this, and hopefully achieve lover voltage settings? Is it really normal to have to crank it all up to 1,2/1,25 just to get a non'OC'ed stable machine with this combination?

CPU runs at 31,0c when idling with a Corsair H60, and about 29,2 with the H2C cooler. Underload it rises to well above 45. Ambient temperature is 21,5. I haven't done prolonged burn-in testing yet, since that really should'nt be necessary with a non-OC'ed system with quality components.

Thanks for your input.

Specs below.

- Jesper

-----
Build specs:

  • Repurposed Dell XPS 730 H2C case
  • Dell 1000W PSU
  • Rampage Extreme IV Battlefield edition (BIOS updated to 2105)
  • Intel Core i7 3960x
  • 4x4 GB Kingston Hyper X memory (KHX1866C9D3K4/16GX)
  • 2x Intel 330 SSD's in RAID-0 (currently changed to 1x Samsung SSD 830 256 GB for simplicity and stability testing)
  • Powercolor 6870x2 graphics card (currently changed to 1x Radeon HD 2600 Pro for simplicity and stability testing)


Cooling is a re-purposed DELL H2C unit (fits the H2C case nicely) with new cooling fluid and a new EK cooling head. I have ordered the EK liquid-cooling kit for the Rampage IV Extreme, but the board is currently running with its factory cooler (the little noisy fan).

For testing purposes I went and purchased a Corsair Hydra Series H60 for the CPU just to be sure it was not a problem with the cooler. It isn't. The CPU runs a few degrees (approx 1,8 c) hotter with the Corsair.
Re-purposed DELL XPS 730 H2C casing | Rampage IV Extreme | i7 3960x | 4x8 GB 2133 Mhz Corsair | Dual Powercolor 6870x2 (4 GPU's) | Dual Intel 520 SSD 240 GB in Raid 0 (System) | Dual WD 1002 Caviar Black in Raid 0 (Storage) | Re-purposed DELL H2C cooling unit with EK cooling blocks | Specs currently altered for stability/testing | +4 other rigs in the household
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21 REPLIES 21

Arne_Saknussemm
Level 40
Hi there! 🙂

Is the RAM new or have you run it successfully somewhere else. When you say it "is unable to run without errors" have you tested the kit or individual sticks with memtest. If not, I would.

Anyway, as I think you are finding out X79 is picky with memory and your best bet is running something off the QVL and if not maybe setting up the RAM manually in the bios.

Oh and 1.2 volts would be normal, yes.

Hi Arne,

Thanks for commenting. 🙂

Arne Saknussemm wrote:
Hi there! 🙂
Is the RAM new or have you run it successfully somewhere else. When you say it "is unable to run without errors" have you tested the kit or individual sticks with memtest. If not, I would.

The kit is brand new. I have not tested the kit as I assumed it was ok. It works ok in my older rig; but since that is an older board all settings are manually applied (not including subtimings as I don't have them available).

Arne Saknussemm wrote:
Hi there! 🙂
Anyway, as I think you are finding out X79 is picky with memory and your best bet is running something off the QVL and if not maybe setting up the RAM manually in the bios.

Yep, looks like it. The kit _is_ made for X79 though. But apparently that is not good enough in this case. As I mentioned it is not on the R4E's positive list.

Arne Saknussemm wrote:
Hi there! 🙂
Oh and 1.2 volts would be normal, yes.

Ok, that is slightly surprising, but thanks for clarifying. If that is normal, then why are the automated settings not correct for a non OC'ed configuration?

- Jesper
Re-purposed DELL XPS 730 H2C casing | Rampage IV Extreme | i7 3960x | 4x8 GB 2133 Mhz Corsair | Dual Powercolor 6870x2 (4 GPU's) | Dual Intel 520 SSD 240 GB in Raid 0 (System) | Dual WD 1002 Caviar Black in Raid 0 (Storage) | Re-purposed DELL H2C cooling unit with EK cooling blocks | Specs currently altered for stability/testing | +4 other rigs in the household

SplatMan_DK wrote:
If that is normal, then why are the automated settings not correct for a non OC'ed configuration?


I'm not sure about this...or not sure what you mean. If you set optimized defaults in BIOS what is the vcore showing up as in monitor?

If I were you I would try defaults and one stick at a time on the correct red slot. You are setting the RAM up only on the red slots?

Pressing F3 in BIOS and going to SPD info will give you timings for your possible XMP profiles. Or setting an XMP profile and going to DRAM timing control you can copy everything down from there (1st 2nd 3rd timings). If you set XMP you can try setting TWEAK mode 1 here. And VTT and VCCSA at 1.25 is a good start to see if you can run stable....then lower to where you don't.

You can also tweak power and current options in DIGI+ section.

Arne Saknussemm wrote:
I'm not sure about this...or not sure what you mean. If you set optimized defaults in BIOS what is the vcore showing up as in monitor?

If I set optimied defaults, the CPU the CPU voltage (vcore?) is set to 1,170, VTT is 1,095 and the VCCSA is set to 0,9. All numbers change slightly while monitoring but I assume thats normal. That configurations is good enough for a POST and for operating the BIOS, but any real CPU load (not stress testing just normal operation like booting an OS) will result in either a BSD or the machine will freeze up.

Arne Saknussemm wrote:

If I were you I would try defaults and one stick at a time on the correct red slot. You are setting the RAM up only on the red slots?

I haven't tried the sticks one at a time. As I said they are new, and seem to work fine when volted to spec (1,65). But I have tried them i pairs of two in four different combinations. It made little difference; except using only two sticks increased the time it took to BSD/freeze slightly - perhaps by a couple of minutes.

Arne Saknussemm wrote:

Pressing F3 in BIOS and going to SPD info will give you timings for your possible XMP profiles. Or setting an XMP profile and going to DRAM timing control you can copy everything down from there (1st 2nd 3rd timings). If you set XMP you can try setting TWEAK mode 1 here. And VTT and VCCSA at 1.25 is a good start to see if you can run stable....then lower to where you don't.

I might be worth a go, but my assumption was that selecting an XMP profile in the BIOS would make it adapt all those settings to begin with? So why would entering them all manually make any difference? (I am not trying to be difficult - it is an honest question because I really want to understand these details).

Tweak mode is already set to 1, without it the RAM seems to fail no matter what other parameters I set.

- Jesper
Re-purposed DELL XPS 730 H2C casing | Rampage IV Extreme | i7 3960x | 4x8 GB 2133 Mhz Corsair | Dual Powercolor 6870x2 (4 GPU's) | Dual Intel 520 SSD 240 GB in Raid 0 (System) | Dual WD 1002 Caviar Black in Raid 0 (Storage) | Re-purposed DELL H2C cooling unit with EK cooling blocks | Specs currently altered for stability/testing | +4 other rigs in the household

SplatMan_DK wrote:
. That configurations is good enough for a POST and for operating the BIOS, but any real CPU load (not stress testing just normal operation like booting an OS) will result in either a BSD or the machine will freeze up.

I am not trying to be difficult - it is an honest question because I really want to understand these details


Did you catch the BSOD code....willing to bet it is RAM related I don't think the problem is the voltage for the system and CPU though sometimes a little extra vcore does not go amiss.

Setting manually is just easier to take control of voltages etc. no mystery; though sometimes manual setting works where XMP does not even though values are superficially the same.;)

My advice is to get a quad channel kit from Gskill or dominators from Corsair.

Arne Saknussemm wrote:
Did you catch the BSOD code....willing to bet it is RAM related I don't think the problem is the voltage for the system and CPU though sometimes a little extra vcore does not go amiss.

No, actually it is the dreaded and very generic 0124, which basically means "some stuff in your hardware went wrong and the debug code can't tell exactly what"...

And more voltage to the CPU seemed to help a lot - like, really a lot!

Arne Saknussemm wrote:

My advice is to get a quad channel kit from Gskill or dominators from Corsair.

Mjeah; thats what I'll be doing. In the mean time I'll just stick to the DDR3-1333 specs.

🙂

- Jesper
Re-purposed DELL XPS 730 H2C casing | Rampage IV Extreme | i7 3960x | 4x8 GB 2133 Mhz Corsair | Dual Powercolor 6870x2 (4 GPU's) | Dual Intel 520 SSD 240 GB in Raid 0 (System) | Dual WD 1002 Caviar Black in Raid 0 (Storage) | Re-purposed DELL H2C cooling unit with EK cooling blocks | Specs currently altered for stability/testing | +4 other rigs in the household

Raja
Level 13
A few things to note:

1) The CPUs stock VID is specified at a maximum of DDR3-1600. If you wish to run a faster memory kit, the stock voltages may no longer apply. Also, running higher memory speeds can require a bump of processor Vcore as well as VCCSA. Why? Because the internal signal stages are likely coupled to those rails in some manner.

2) Some memory ICs present a harder load for the memory controller to drive. This can be due to either greater load capacitance or other factors that contribute to signaling issues. The end result is needing a higher voltage for stability at X frequency or memory timings, leading to a smaller overclocking margin. Generally speaking, kits with high quality Hynix ICs, and PSC based kits (now defunkt) worked best on this chipset overall.

3) Processor overclocking abilities vary from sample to sample. Some CPUs can handle memory better than others - even at stock operating voltages/freqeuncy.


-Raja

Hi Raja,

Thanks for commenting. And may I add that it is a pleasure to see an employee here on the forums - it really shows that ASUS is committed to providing a good customer experience, even when we struggle with using the products (and probably most of these issues are self-inflicted I suspect *s*).

Raja@ASUS wrote:
A few things to note:
1) The CPUs stock VID is specified at a maximum of DDR3-1600. If you wish to run a faster memory kit, the stock voltages may no longer apply. Also, running higher memory speeds can require a bump of processor Vcore as well as VCCSA. Why? Because the internal signal stages are likely coupled to those rails in some manner.

I have used the XMB DDR3-1600 profile, in order to be within specs. To start with, stability was more important than performance in this build.

Raja@ASUS wrote:

2) Some memory ICs present a harder load for the memory controller to drive. This can be due to either greater load capacitance or other factors that contribute to signaling issues. The end result is needing a higher voltage for stability at X frequency or memory timings, leading to a smaller overclocking margin. Generally speaking, kits with high quality Hynix ICs, and PSC based kits (now defunkt) worked best on this chipset overall.

I understand that tweaking these high-end components is difficult, and includes a lot of parameters. Especially when overclocking. But you must also understand things from my perspective. I have one of the most expensive (and best? ;-)) motherboards on the market, and brand new memory modules from a very reputable vendor, certified by the vendor of the chipset and CPU used involved. I am unimpressed that this combination is not simply working out f the box.

🙂

- Jesper
Re-purposed DELL XPS 730 H2C casing | Rampage IV Extreme | i7 3960x | 4x8 GB 2133 Mhz Corsair | Dual Powercolor 6870x2 (4 GPU's) | Dual Intel 520 SSD 240 GB in Raid 0 (System) | Dual WD 1002 Caviar Black in Raid 0 (Storage) | Re-purposed DELL H2C cooling unit with EK cooling blocks | Specs currently altered for stability/testing | +4 other rigs in the household

SplatMan_DK wrote:



I understand that tweaking these high-end components is difficult, and includes a lot of parameters. Especially when overclocking. But you must also understand things from my perspective. I have one of the most expensive (and best? ;-)) motherboards on the market, and brand new memory modules from a very reputable vendor, certified by the vendor of the chipset and CPU used involved. I am unimpressed that this combination is not simply working out f the box.

🙂

- Jesper



Don't forget the memory controller is on your processor. The board merely provides the interconnect, so even if one has the "best" board and memory modules, the final factor is the processor memory controller, if it's not good it's not good.


Now as for your question on XMP; if that kit has ICs that require looser timings than the board applies at default you will need to change those timings. Intel defaults for VDIMM are 1.50V, that is what the board will apply by default, unless the XMP profile bumps it up to what the modules are rated for. The actual VDIMM required may vary from board to board depending upon the resistive losses, and the timings set employed by each vendor. Some vendors apply the whole XMP profile and others don't. In some cases the XMP profile settings need further relaxing if the ICs on the kit are a tough load for the memory controller. The R4E is configured with a timing set that works with most modules and memory controllers, but some cheaper ICs that can't handle the IO may need adjustment. Usually what is on the QVL list rated up to the stock supported memory speeds (in this case DDR3-1600) should work. In cases such as yours, check the XMP profile, see if the board has anything set tighter and adjust accordingly.

One thing I will add about performance oriented boards, they are configured tighter than Intel boards by default. This is usually the case the higher up the ladder you go. So while the analogy of "hey, I paid more therefore I should have to do less to get this thing working" is admirable, it's not how things really are. The R4E is configured to maximise IO at base defaults. If you have chosen to go with parts that don't work well with our settings, then you are going to have to roll up sleeves and get to grips with making some adjustments. That might incite you to start asking "why, what and who?", before you do, I'll tell you those are not choices made by me, nor will anything we discuss here change that fact. That's just the way the perfromance tuning guys on our end like to do it.



Lastly, getting down to whatever falls outside this, the vendor of the modules isn't really that relevant, it's the ICs they use and how good the memory controller on your CPU is. That might not make you feel any better, but it is what it is.