SLI + Memory + Processor --- really need help!

Posted on 2006-04-25
Last Modified: 2010-04-25
Ok, you're probably wondering what I was trying to say in the title.
Here's the deal.
I have a few questions that I really need help with and I simply cannot find
answers ANYWHERE....... and its driving me up the wall.
Here are my computer specs:

MSI K8N Diamond Edition - motherboard
AMD athlon X2 (dual core) - processor
2 X xfx GeForce 7800 gtx 256mb (sli enabled) - VGA
2 X 512 MB Corsair XMS 4400 DDR, 550mhz - memory
600 w - PSU

Right, Question 1:

On device manager it is showing my processor as:
" AMD Hammer Family processor - model unknown"
now, I am very concerned as to why it states "model unknown" - does this mean that my processor is not running at its full potential because of the wrong driver?
Also, I was reccomended (on this website actually) to purchase this processor and have only recently realised that it only runs at 2.2 ghz ...... Would it not have been better for me to have just bought another processor that ran at a higher clock speed (3ghz maybe?) or am I better off with this one because of its "dual core" processing?

Question 2:

Right, I have recently purchased a second 7800 gtx card so that I may have both running on SLI and "hopefully" get my games (particularly TES4 Oblivion) running better.
After much difficulty I have finally got them working with SLI enabled but I can see no actual difference in performance at all.......Have I done something wrong?  I've tried re-installing drivers and enabled it in windows and everything SEEMS to be setup fine except I see no improvement whatsoever.
What I'd like to know is, is there any possible way to TEST my graphics cards to see if they are indeed running together in SLI mode?

Question 3:

I Currently have 2 memory cards (mentioned above).
I THINK I have installed them to run on dual channels but as I am fairly new to this
I have no idea how to check to see if they are indeed running in this mode.
How can I see if they ARE running on dual channels and do you think I should install
another 1 GB of ram to improve performance in my games or is it enough as is?

I know I'm asking quite a lot, and i'm really sorry but I seriously have now where
left to turn.  I have asked EVERYWHERE and no luck.
Please guys you're my only hope!

Thank you again.

Tommy B
Question by:smoket22
    LVL 30

    Expert Comment

    Q1... update the BIOS.. as it may not have the current referencing information for your processor the LATEST drivers and install, post back your results

    Q3...refer to your manual on how to use that method..not all combinations are straight forward and the motherboard manual should have the exact reference you need.

    Author Comment

    I definately have the latest drivers installed.
    I will check for the BIOS update (although I am a bit nervous about tampering with bios settings...)
    I have checked the manual for my motherboard and I am convinced that I have installed them correctly.  I wanted to know if there was any way of actually testing to see if they are running correctly.

    LVL 30

    Expert Comment

    "  I wanted to know if there was any way of actually testing to see if they are running correctly"
    If the OS doesn't boot correctly, then you installed it wrong.

    locate your version of the board

    download and run the firmware update..... just make sure your power is constantly on.

    Author Comment

    There is a slight problem.....I have no stiffy disk drive or cd writer so I cannot create a boot disk...........any other way around?
    LVL 30

    Expert Comment

    best to invest in a $20 floppy drive for this.. quick way.

    also make a boot disk..
    LVL 70

    Accepted Solution

    Okay, a few thoughts:

    (1)  With regard to your "model unknown" => Your CPU is listed in the Supported Processor list for this motherboard (at, but note that this list is as of BIOS 7100v19.   What version is your BIOS?
    If it's earlier than this, I agree with irwinpks that you need to update it.   If you are already at this revision level or later the problem may be more subtle.  Post your current BIOS version here.

    As for your comment "... it only runs at 2.2 ghz ..." => That's a good clock speed for an AMD CPU.   The clock speed is well below the "equivalency" numbers that AMD uses to show a rough equivalence to Intel CPU's.   Different architectures -- different base clocks.   You have a very good CPU ==> don't be concerned.

    (2)  With regard to running your video cards in SLI mode.   I presume you do have the SLI connector in place between the boards -- yes??   Also, please confirm that on the properties tab for the nVidia drivers you have the "Enable multi-GPU" box checked.   If this is checked, then you are running in SLI mode.   A couple of thoughts here:   (a)  first, most boards (and as near as I can tell this is true of yours) run the cards at PCIe x8 when running in SLI mode (this is still plenty fast; but many don't realize this side-effect of SLI), so the difference may not be as much as you're expecting -- but it should still be noticeable.   (b)  These are both such excellent cards, that unless you're doing a quantitative measurement (frame rates for games, etc.) you very well may not "notice" the difference.   How are you measuring their performance??   Pick a game; then run it with the "Enable multi-GPU box unchecked; and then checked: through the same sequence and observe the frame rates.   This should make it rather obvious that you're running in SLI mode.   If there's no difference, then there IS something wrong here.

    (3)  I took a look at your manual, and there is a table on page 2-8 that shows the combinations you must use for dual-channel operation.    Unlike many boards, if you only have two identical modules, you insert one in the purple slot and one in the green adjoining slot to use dual channel mode.   As for the amount of memory -- in most cases you'll see very little difference beyond 1GB of RAM;  but if you want to add more, I don't suggest going beyond 2GB total.   If you do buy more, be sure you get 2 more identical modules to those you already have so you'll get stable dual-channel performance.
    Your manual doesn't make it clear;  but most BIOS's will report the memory operation mode as part of the status info that is briefly displayed during system startup -- look carefully and see if this is the case (look for "1024MB operating in Dual Channel ..."  or "1024MB operating in Single Channel ...").   This may also be displayed in the BIOS Setup screens -- it just depends on the BIOS; and your manual doesn't show this level of detail.


    Author Comment

    Ok guys, just a quick update of where I am.
    Thanks for the excellent advice.....this is what I have done.


    I have never updated my bios in the past so it is obviously an old version.
    I do not have any way of booting from a disk at the moment so the update will
    have to wait a while.  Just to clarify though, if I did update the bios, this will
    not effect the performance of the processor will it? Is it simply so that I
    can recognise the model right?
    Also, what is the equivelant Intel processor compared to mine? (speed-wise).
    These answers should wrap up this question.


    SLI - Yes I have the bridge connector in place and Yes I have the multi-GPU box TICKED.
    I have taken notice of the 8X factor.  
    I am trying to play The Elder Scrolls 4 Oblivion on the highest possible settings and I am hoping for the game to run smoothly under these settings.  I have tried what you suggested about running the game with SLI enabled and then disabled and have noticed a very slight difference, safe to say it is almost not noticable...which is a bit annoying seeing that I paid quite a bit for the cards.
    After this I decided to run a Benchmark application to compare performance results between both cards as well, I used 3D Mark 05.
    After running the tests on both SLI enabled and SLI disabled, I get the following results:
    Overall Score
    enabled:    9556
    disabled:    8311
    As you can see, not much difference.


    Ok, just to let you know that I also have the manual and have definately installed both
    cards correctly, one green, one purple.
    Unfortunately there is no where I can see anything stating that they are running in dual channel.
    I have checked during boot and thoroughly looked through the bios setup screens - absolutely nothing.  I can only ASUME they are running in dual channel, hence I asked whether or not I could find out another way.
    The only other thing I want to finalise, is if I add another gig, will it also make a noticable difference in my games performance?

    Thanks again guys.  If anyone can give me any reccomendations as to a good configuration for The Elder Scrolls Oblivion so that it runs well on high graphic settings, any advice would be great!

    Tommy B
    LVL 70

    Expert Comment

    #3 first:  Download MemTest-86+ from    There is both a bootable floppy and a CD .ISO that will make a bootable CD for you to run this from.   I THINK (but don't recall for sure, and don't have time right now to shut down and run this) that this test will show you the memory access mode -- not sure, but worth a try.   But regardless, if your memory is installed correctly, I'm sure it's running fine.

    #2 -- I suspect with a more targeted benchmark you'd see much more difference;  but at least there is a difference, so the system is getting some benefit from SLI.   I'm a bit surprised that it's that modest -- apparently the cards are so good that the SLI benefit is largely offset by the reduced PCIe lanes (8 vs 16).   Remember that in non-SLI mode the cards are running at 16x.

    #1 -- Your CPU is obviously working with your current BIOS, but an update may make some minor changes -- it may just be the ID, but it could also slightly improve performance, depending on what voltages and timing it's currently using.   For example, when Intel started shipping Celeron-D CPU's, a lot of motherboards identified them as Pentium-IV's ==> they worked fine, but were incorrectly identified.   There were, in that case, no other differences.   I don't know if that's true in your case or not.   What it your current BIOS revision?  
    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    About TES4 Oblivion
    There's a interesting topic in the official forum of the game, talking about sli x single card:
    And like gary said, in your case the card in sli mode are running in x8 mode, versus x16 single.
    download fraps to test the fps direct in game:
    After download, start fraps and press F12 to show the fps in the game.

    About more memory to gain more power in games, well, in games that use much and heavy textures, and depend on the settings that you set in the game (like maximum quality textures or a thing like that), it's probably that yes, you will gain a noticiable difference in certains parts of game, because the game will be less dependent of hd. I don't had played oblivion yet, but looking in the requirements, i think is worth buy more memory, but don't expect miracle.
    LVL 70

    Expert Comment

    ... I'd agree that going from 1GB to 2GB can help quite a bit in games with large texture maps.   I do not recommend going beyond that -- so if you want to do that I'd suggest you just buy two more identical memory sticks.   There are, by the way, a couple of motherboards that run the video cards at 16x in SLI mode -- if you ever decide to replace your motherboard you should consider that.

    Author Comment

    Just to update on the memory issue.
    I purchased another 1 gb of memory (identical to my first 2) and I am having trouble.
    When the new 2 cards are installed, my computer switches itself off a couple of minutes after
    starting up.  I have tried installing the cards in different orders but I still have the same problem and as soon as I remove the new 2, everything works fine.  I have double and tripple checked and they are all definately the same (Corsair XMS4400 550 mhz, 512mb).
    Any ideas??

    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    First, check your memory with memtest 86+  - direct link to burn the iso image Extract and burn opening the image in softwares ike Nero (don't just move the file) using Open -> Image or just Open comand.
    LVL 70

    Expert Comment

    Well, 4 identical modules installed in the four DIMM slots should work fine.

    Two things I can think of:

    (1)  You may have received a bad module -- this is easy to eliminate:  does it matter which two modules you install?    Also, as noted above, you can simply run MemTest-86+ (as I suggested at Date: 04/26/2006 03:58PM PDT) on each pair of modules for an hour or so.

    (2)  This could be an issue with one of your power buses.  You indicated you have a 600w supply, but didn't note which manufacturer -- so I don't know if this is a high quality (PC Power & Cooling, Seasonic, etc.) supply or a lower-end unit with less tolerance.   600w is a lot of power; but you DO have a dual-core CPU;  2 very-high end graphics boards;  I presume several other drives (hard drives, optical drives); and I don't know what else (case fans, any add-in cards, etc.).   Hard as it may seem to believe, you COULD simply be crossing the power threshold here.    One simple way (although not absolutely conclusive) to test for this:  remove one of the video cards and see if the system now works with all 4 DIMMs.


    Author Comment


    Looks like i've gone and bought the wrong memory.... but listen to this.
    The memory i'm currently using is Corsair xms 4400, 512mb, 550mhz (3448) but NOT
    The memory I bought has exactly the same specs (Corsair xms 4400, 512mb, 550mhz (3448))
    but ALSO includes "TWINX"............... I am completely lost.  What is the difference between what I am currently using and the "twinx" models?
    Should i send the twinx models back or are they better?  I could always keep them if they
    are better and sell my old pair (and then buy ANOTHER pair of twinx so that I can get my 2gigs worth). me out here guys.

    LVL 70

    Expert Comment

    TWINX is Corsair's term for pairs of modules that have been tested as a set in a high performance DDR motherboard -- so there should be no doubt about a TWINX pair working together.   It's interesting that they won't work with other XMS modules of the same specification.

    Does either pair work by itself?  (i.e. either the two original modules; or the two TWINX modules)

    How are you installing these?   I'd try the TWINX pair in the 1st two sockets (one purple, one green); and the other two in the other two sockets.

    What happens if you adjust the timings in the BIOS to slightly underclock the memory -- set the CAS latency to 4 instead of 3 ??
    LVL 1

    Expert Comment


      Matched pairs for today's hot dual channel motherboards.
    TWINX modules are tested in pairs, in dual channel motherboards,
    at very aggressive latency settings for optimum performance
    and compatibility.

    The twinx is tested for use with double channel, appear to be just this in this case.

    Like GARY said, remove some hardware to ensure that your power supply is not weak for all these hardware. Check using just the new memory with memtest to ensure they're ok.

    Compatibility test itens:

    The TWINX1024-4400 and CMX512-4400 (is this your memory?) is tested with 2,75V. I have checked in the manual of your motherboard, and the default voltage is 2,6. You can change for 2,8V for test purposes, but i don't think this is the problem. Hgh voltage maybe is just for overclock.

    Your old memory ( appear to be same as the new ( in specs ((3-4-4-8 550MHZ), don't know about modules, maybe is just incompatibility for some reason.

    You can check the timings using CPU-Z ( Go to memory tab and check the timings, make this with the old memory and after the new, and after all memory.
    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    How about a mix (well just to test...) of memory? Put in pair the old and new memory (green slot) and the other mix pair (one twinx and one 'normal') in the other slots (purple).
    The manual say: the same type and density memory modules are necessary while using dual channel memory or instability will happen. But i think they're the same.

    Author Comment

    Hi again.

    I have tried every possible combination (as I said earlier).
    I can use my original 2 (non twinx) on their own and they work fine.
    I can use the 2 new paid (twinx) on their own and they work fine as well.
    BUT I cannot use ALL 4 at the same time regardless of what order I put them in (again
    I have tried every possible order....)
    All i want is to have 2 gb of memory....what do I do now? send the new pair back?
    Keep the new pair and sell my old pair?
    Just to clarify, all four pairs are EXACTLY the same specs (Corsair XMS 4400 512mb 550)
    the ONLY difference is the new pair has "twinx" printed on the card and my old pair do not
    have twinx written anywhere.
    Please help!

    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    Have you checked the power supply, tried removing some hardware like one vga? What is your power supply? And with 3 memory installed , the system can boot at least? If your problem is incompatibilty (not sure yet), and because the twinx is tested to work in dual channel and work good alone in your machine, i would go with the twinx. But this don't sound like a incompatibilty, first check your psu.
    LVL 70

    Expert Comment

    As I noted above (Date: 04/28/2006 11:15AM PDT) this could be a power bus issue.   Remove as much power draw as you can -- I'd suggest one video card and an extra drive (optical drive or hard drive) -- and see if you still have the same symptoms with the memory.


    Author Comment

    Hey guys,

    this is what i've done and found out regarding the memory issue.
    I tried removing a drive and graphics card but I still got the same problem.

    I used the app called cpuz and this is what i discovered about my memory
    cards when looking at there specs individually:

    slot 1&2 (old pair)      
    module size: 512mb
    max bandwidth:pc3200 (200mhz)
    manufacturer: corsair
    part number: cmx512-4400c25
    frequency: 200mhz
    CAS Latency: 2.5
    RAS to CAS: 4
    RAS Precharge:4
    slot 3&4 (new pair)

    module size: 512mb
    max bandwidth:pc4400 (277mhz)
    manufacturer: corsair
    part number: cmx512-4400
    frequency: 277mhz
    CAS Latency: 3
    RAS to CAS: 5
    RAS Precharge:5

    you may notice that for some bizzare reason the new pair DOES actually differ from
    my old pair even though they share the same model number....
    The frequency is different for one.  I don't know much about these things so maybe you
    could fill me in.

    Also, as requested, this is what i've found out about my PSU:

    Jeantech - JN120F - 600AP12V2 600 watt
    DC output:
    volage - +3.3v, +5v, +12v
    current - +12v2, -12v, +5vb

    AC Input:
    voltage - 115v - 230v
    current - 10A, 5.5A

    frequency - 50/60 Hz

    I hope this helped!
    Can't wait to find out if this means something, lol.
    Looking forward to your response.

    LVL 70

    Expert Comment

    Well, the memory manufacturers would like us all to believe that higher speed memory is fully downward compatible -- but it is definitely NOT always true.   I have found numerous cases where it simply doesn't work.   I've seen several cases where using DDR400 in a situation where the "right" memory was DDR266 would not work -- swapped in DDR266 modules and everything works perfectly.

    ... so I suspect there's an excellent likelihood that if all 4 of your modules were the same your problem would go away.   And since the modules are reporting different SPD information, they are - as you noted - DIFFERENT!   I would suggest you get four modules with the same specifications.   The difficulty here is that with Corsair's labeling it's difficult to know HOW to guarantee what you'll get will be identical -- I suspect that if you buy two more TWINX they will match what you have;  but in the PC business nothing is absolute :-)    But if you buy two more they're almost bound to match ONE of your pairs :-) :-)   (this can be an expensive experiment !!)

    By the way, what you posted is NOT the current specifications of your power supply; however, with the model number that's easy enough to find ... the chart a bit over halfway down this page shows that you have 55A of 5V capacity, 30A at 3.3v, and a total of 38A at 12v.   Assuming your supply is working correctly, it is unlikely that power is the issue here.

    Author Comment


    Thanks a bunch for the quick response.
    Looks like you've cracked the memory issue.
    Luckily, I am a fairly wealthy dude and there is no price
    too high that I wouldn't pay to keep my baby running smooooooth.
    In other words, I shall be purchasing another pair and, fingers crossed,
    I'll be running 2gb of memory soon.
    Also, that lovely app that you introduced me to shows that my memory IS
    running in dual channel mode, so that sorts that problem out as well.
    Again - thank you!

    I think we sorted out the graphics card issue earlier aswell so thats sorted.
    (incase you were intrested, when I did a FPS test, with SLI on I managed up to
    35 with it off it reaches about 26, so in other words a bit of a difference there but
    not as much as I was hoping for....oh well).

    +++Which leaves just the processor issue, I think we agreed that my current processor
    should be good enough, I am always tempted to upgrade though so I will keep my eyes
    open.  If i decided to upgrade my processor, which would be the best choice for me at
    the moment, something that would make a big difference from my current one?
    AMD Dual Core 4200+  (2.2gz).

    +++Also, should i make sure that both graphics cards are NOT sharing a power lead
    with any other devices?  It just occured that maybe I should check that because I think
    my seccond card IS sharing a lead with my dvd rom......

    If you guys wanna answer those last couple of questions - fantastic!
    That should wrap this very long winded issue up!

    Again - Thank you ALL for all your contributions, I shall be dishing out the points
    as soon as i get your last response.



    LVL 70

    Expert Comment

    "... If i decided to upgrade my processor, which would be the best choice for me at
    the moment, something that would make a big difference from my current one? " ==> the key here is "... a big difference."   BIG is in the eye of the beholder.   You'd see a nice difference if you stepped up to a dual-core 4800+, both from the higher clock speed and the dual 1MB L2 cache (vs the 512kb you have now).   Whether it's a "big" difference depends on your perspective.   If you really want a BIG difference, you might want to go for a quad-core (two dual-core CPU's) system with a true 16x SLI setup !!   See the discussion I had here:

    As for the graphics cards sharing a power lead -- it's definitely best if they have their own leads, but not absolutely essential.   The power supply has dual 12v buses, so the best thing would be to be sure each card is on a different bus (e.g. be sure they each are on a separate lead coming from the supply).   But again, as long as it's running smoothly, you've probably already got a reasonable distribution of power.

    Enjoy !!   ... and if you decide to upgrade to a quad-core monster I can give you an address where you can "junk" your "leftover parts"  :-)   :-)   :-)


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