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Breakin Away
1 Copper

XPS 8500, BIOS A14 causes memory errors and BSOD

I'd like some advice on how to deal with the endless problems I've had over the last few months.

Last October I received an URGENT SupportAssist alert to immediately update my BIOS to A14. I assumed that this is what had been preventing the update to Windows 1903 release, so I dutifully installed the BIOS update. BIG MISTAKE.

As soon as the update was done, I started getting BSOD within a few minutes of booting into Windows. Every single time. Then I ran the pre-boot diagnostics, which quickly told me that the problem was a memory error. I had upgraded my system from 8 GB to 16 GB 2 years ago, and the two Silicon Power 8GB DDR3L-1600 CL11 memory cards had worked flawlessly.

At first I had thought the memory went bad (I did not immediately make the connection with the BIOS update), and Silicon Power was very responsive in sending me new replacement memory cards. However, they failed in exactly the same way.

At this point the only way I could get my system running was to take the memory out of my daughter's unused XPS 8300 machine and insert it into my XPS 8500 machine. Her memory is DDR3-1333, so slower than spec for my XPS 8500, but it's the only thing that I have around that will work. With her memory in place, my system works reliably, though may be slower since CPU-Z reports only a 667 MHz clock speed.

Unfortunately, my daughter will be returning home in a few weeks, so I need to fix my own memory problem before she returns and re-install her memory in her XPS 8300. I will be super pissed if I need to buy all new memory for my machine because of this silly BIOS update, and of course I may be throwing good money after bad if the new memory boards fail also.

Before I do anything more I'd like your advice on how to proceed. Do I attempt to downgrade my BIOS back to A06 or A09 (one of which I was using before)? If so, how do I do this? (I tried and the BIOS install program refuses to downgrade.) Is there some setting that I can implement that will make my system work with this memory without constant BSOD errors? Are there additional diagnostics that I should run to better diagnose the exact problem?

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5 Replies
Tesla1856
6 Thallium

Re: XPS 8500, BIOS A14 causes memory errors and BSOD

Back-flashes are tricky.

Some include extra micro-controller firmware or Video-BIOS code that can't be back-flashed ever (and therefore allowing mixing with old BIOS).

You might brick (permanently kill) your motherboard.

But if you are brave, I would try like this (from a special config of FreeDOS, IIRC).

https://www.dell.com/community/Vostro-Desktops/Vostro-460-XPS-8300-Upgrade-Adventures/m-p/6071757/hi...

You remember DOS don't ya ... good times. 😁


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Vic384
4 Tellurium

Re: XPS 8500, BIOS A14 causes memory errors and BSOD

I think that I would run an independent memory test like MemTest86 v8.3 Free Edition before trying a very risky flashing of the BIOS to an earlier version. By independent I mean independent of the Windows OS since it is possilbe that the BIOS update combined with Windows is causing the BSODs. MemTest86 is bootable and does not require Windows.

By the way, I think your update to Windows 10 version 1903 was blocked due to other reasons not because of the BIOS.

Breakin Away
1 Copper

Re: XPS 8500, BIOS A14 causes memory errors and BSOD


@Vic384 wrote:

I think that I would run an independent memory test like MemTest86 v8.3 Free Edition before trying a very risky flashing of the BIOS to an earlier version.


Thank you for the suggestion. I will go look for that utility.


@Vic384 wrote:

By independent I mean independent of the Windows OS since it is possilbe that the BIOS update combined with Windows is causing the BSODs. MemTest86 is bootable and does not require Windows.


Just to make sure I am clear, the diagnostic utility that is showing memory errors is the Dell utility that is part of the BIOS settings. It runs before Windows loads, so it is also independent of Windows. Are you suggesting that Dell's diagnostic utility is returning false error messages?

 

 

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Vic384
4 Tellurium

Re: XPS 8500, BIOS A14 causes memory errors and BSOD

Sorry I miss the part where you stated the diagnostics you ran were the pre-boot diagnostics. I am not suggesting that there is something wrong with Dell's diagnostics, but I guess there would be no harm in running MemTest86 as an additional verification of a memory problem.

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7- Thorium

Re: XPS 8500, BIOS A14 causes memory errors and BSOD

Have you tried clearing BIOS after reinstalling the RAM that "failed"?

  1. Reboot and immediately press F2 to open BIOS setup
  2. Copy down all current BIOS settings, to be safe
  3. Power off, unplug
  4. Press/hold power button for ~15 sec
  5. Open case and remove motherboard battery (check Service Manual for details)
  6. Press/hold power button for ~30 sec
  7. Remove current (working) RAM and install only the old RAM
  8. Reinstall battery (Time for fresh CR2032 3-volt coin cell battery? ~$2)
  9. Close up and connect mouse, monitor and keyboard
  10. Reboot

As for CPU-Z, you have to remember there's a 2x multiplier involved. If CPU-Z reports that Dram Frequency is 667 MHz, then the RAM is 2x667=1334 MHz, exactly what you'd expect for 1333 MHz modules.

Ron

   Forum Member since 2004
   I am not a Dell employee

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