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Q. I've built a new machine, but when the BIOS boots, the memory and CPU don't seem to be showing the correct speeds. What's wrong?

A. When you purchase a computer fully built, the manufacturer configures the BIOS with the correct configuration. If you build your own machine, you may need to tweak the CPU and memory configuration. Note that I'm not overclocking here, which is where you set values above the intended configuration for extra performance. Instead, I just want it to behave and perform as expected and described in the product literature.

Configuring the memory is generally pretty easy. Instead of using the default configuration, most memory chips have an Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) profile on them that contains the correct timing and configuration for optimal memory performance. By default, memory often reports lower settings to ensure compatibility with all types of systems.

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For the CPU, the motherboard should detect the correct configuration. Make sure you've updated the BIOS, however. I had a problem where a new Intel i7 950 CPU had the incorrect multiplier configured, so the processor was running slower than it should have. Access the Frequency/Voltage area of your BIOS and make sure the clock ratio (multiplier) is set correctly, as well as the CPU Host Frequency (normally 133). For example, the i7 950 should run at 3.06Mhz, so at a host frequency of 133 I need a multiplier of 23 to get 3066. This can be confirmed by looking at the Intel specification for the processor.

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  • Check out hundreds more useful Q&As like this in John Savill's FAQ for Windows. Also, watch instructional videos made by John at
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