RAM issues and UEFI

Robert HatcherSystem Admin and Network Engineer
Published:
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I have purchased two new systems and both are now Universal Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) based. UEFI is replacing BIOS for the desktop PC. It is a Linux based firmware with enough robustness it can communicate with a website without loading a OS. At the same time getting a system working under UEFI can be a little tricky. One prepackaged desktop system allowed me to install Windows 8.1 Pro with nary a hitch. The other one I built myself. Separate motherboard, CPU, RAM, hard drive etc. All well known manufactures and  top of the line items to be used primarily as a gaming system. You would expect this to work. I have built many systems this way.
 
In this particular system I was unable to install an OS. I also had trouble trying to just have the system act reliably during boot up. Below is my experience with this one system and I hope it helps someone not go through what I did.
 
The system RAM can really make the Universal Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) act very unusual and send you off  looking in several directions.  Some of the symptoms are no matter what device you try to boot from (DVD, USB, CD or hard drive) it may start booting and then just stop or reset itself sometimes over and over. Initially you suspect damaged media (scratched DVD), then you suspect the UEFI fast boot or the Windows 8.1 settings within the UEFI so you systematically eliminate them one by one, but it is still flaky. I was all the way down to as close to the backwards compatible BIOS which is automatically offered if desired.
If you have these conditions then the first thing I would recommend  is to reduce your RAM boards to only one board and try using the same boot process. If no change then try another single RAM board and boot again. If everything starts working reliably then keep the last RAM installed and the previous Ram board put aside and then slowly add the other RAM boards (if applicable) and verify there is only one bad RAM board. Make sure you follow the manufactures recommendations. Even though the manufacture claims that all RAM should be paired the system will not be damaged using only one board. Finally one other area that can also affect the boot process as well as the OS installs and that is the UEFI firmware version may  need to be upgraded. Depending on the manufacturer this can be done directly from UEFI, however in most cases a bootable 1 Gb USB with the latest firmware will need to be built on another PC. This information is provided by the manufacturer. Finally make sure the system you are building a bootable USB on matches the system you're building for with regards to 32 bit or 64 bit. You won't get any errors on the system you're building the USB, but it won't boot on the desired system if they don't match.
 
The Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) defined via Wikopedia at URL:
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Unified_Extensible_Firmware_Interface&oldid=651011486
 
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Robert HatcherSystem Admin and Network Engineer

Comments (1)

Robert HatcherSystem Admin and Network Engineer

Author

Commented:
It's my first. I went through hell getting UEFI to work and I was just trying to help others. There is little to no documentation on UEFI and every manufacturer seem to portray it differently. I'll see what I can do. next time I'll take my time and work offline and submit something as a finished product. In the meanwhile I'll see what I can do to make it a better article.

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