How To Test Memory Using MemTest86: Introduction
Welcome to another OCC guide! This time I will be covering how to test your computer memory using PassMark MemTest86 software. MemTest86 has a been a staple of the computer industry for testing and resolving computer memory issues since its creation at the turn of the twenty-first century. It has been drastically transformed from its inception in 2002 to what it is today. Around mid-2014, PassMark bought MemTest and breathed new life into the software thanks to a GUI update and UEFI support.
At its core, Memtest is still the software I used over 15 years ago, just much more user-friendly. You still have the familiar test screen and information available to you, but now even easier to see if your RAM is everything it should be.
If you have any sort of system stability issues, starting with the memory is generally a good bet. It is often people skip testing system memory for defects or the root cause of a system crash because it is often seen as an unnecessary computer component. In reality, it is one of the most important hardware components in any computer. If your system memory is failing, it can account for random lockups, failed POST screens, and an assortment of strange computer issues.
The MemTest86 software is simple to use and very effective at ruling out system memory is the issue of your current computer problems.
PassMark MemTest86 Website
If you are interested in watching a video to get a visual understating of how to use the software you can check out the video below. As always, we here at OCC are trying to improve our content so let us know what you want to see in future guides by leaving a comment in the video or on the forums.
How To Test Memory Using MemTest86: Run-Program Guide
1: Downloading MemTest86
First, you will want to download MemTest86 from PassMark website in either USB or ISO form (link above). For this guide, I went the USB Flash drive route because my test computer didn't have a CD/DVD drive at the time of writing this. For the ISO use your favorite software for writing the image. I use ImgBurn, but beware of the shareware that often tries to install if you do not decline the offer when installing. If you are going to use a USB Flash drive, then use the included software named "imageUSB."
2: Setting BIOS for UEFI Mode
While Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) has been around for a while, it wasn't until 2012 and the Windows 8 launch that you started to see it better incorporated. If your computer was made before 2010, it will most likely not have UEFI support. Nothing to worry about there, as MemTest86 will boot into its old version of 4.3 that is very distinguishable because of its blue GUI. The downside of the older version is it does not support DDR4 and can only access 4GB at a time, which makes testing large amounts of RAM a long process that can take 6-8 hours for 64GB.
Because every manufacturer has a different BIOS layout, I cannot tell you where exactly is the UEFI setting. I suggest consulting the manual or ask on the OCC forums. For the MSI motherboard I used for this guide, the setting was under the Boot menu and, by default, had UEFI enabled.
3: Using the Memtest86
Now that you have it up and running, MemTest will auto-start after ten seconds and run four passes. If you have any errors it will show up on the right under Errors. The default test is all you need to test the memory in your computer for stability. If you do happen to come across some errors, I suggest asking on the OCC forums to diagnose the problem. It can be anything and not just "bad memory." Wrong memory voltage, high CPU overclock, or out of spec memory speed can also cause errors.
Once you have established the memory is causing system stability issues, then you can narrow down the reason.
Memtest86 7.5 UEFI Mode (Left Image) Memtest86 4.3.7 Legancy Mode (Pre UEFI) (Right Image)
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