Some like it hot?

Normal work day. Normal phone calls. Normal boring day in other words, with half the calls done on auto-pilot while slowly filing my nails. (Yes, I keep a manicure kit at my desk. So?) And then this phone call came in.

It started out normal. Polite but a bit frustrated customer, has two matched pairs of our high-end line of RAM. The parts that are built for overclocking and system tweaking, and that cause innumerable problems for the average plug-and-play user who has no idea how to over-clock. I brace myself for the inevitable rant about garbage parts, low-quality products and all the usual stuff, when to my great surprise the customer goes on to tell me that he refuses to believe he’s had that many bad memory modules, so he’s calling tech support for help, because he doesn’t think another exchange will solve the stability problems.

I fully agree, so we start going over all possible/available factors, and start with the build of parts, motherboard, timings, voltage, et cetera. What he says about voltage makes me sit up and pay very close attention.

“I know the memory is rated for two volts, but my BIOS only goes up to 1.7V, so I set it there, since it’s the closest I can get. Too little voltage could cause stability problems, right?”

“Um, yeah, definitely, but…. The industry standard for DDR2 is 1.8V, so having 1.7V as the highest your board can go manually makes no sense.”

The customer sounded a little confused when he offered to reboot to BIOS and look, and I asked him to please do so, since any discrepancy is a clue in these impossible situations. I also asked him to tell me, while we waited for the reboot, the exact make and model of this bizarre motherboard.

“Sure, let me find the box. Ah, there it is. …Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R.”

Oh dear sweet Moses… Oh no. No way.

Here’s the thing. Gigabyte does things differently from everyone else. Rather than showing the total, they show the increments that get added to the 1.8V default.

I relayed the above information to the customer. There was silence. Then, in a very frustrated, bitter, pained voice… “Fuck.”

Since the customer stayed silent after that, I helpfully clarified, “Yes, you have been running the memory at 3.5V.” I heard a sudden splutter behind me, as one of the other techs over-heard my last comment and promptly choked on his afternoon coffee.

I was about to address the customer again when he said, “No wonder they keep dying on me!” He sounded very embarrassed and a bit sheepish as he went on, “Er, I guess I’ve lost my warranty then?”

Technically, yes, but it had been a looooong and boring day.

“Nah, it’s an honest mistake, don’t worry about it. Just take the DRAM voltage down to 0.2V and give me the serial numbers off the modules, and I’ll get that memory replaced for you.”

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