All Prime95 (in the "tortue test" mode that we use for stability testing) is doing is making a mathematical calculation and comparing the results to the known correct answer. If there is an error in one of these calculations Prime95 shuts down and notes that an error occured. It's pretty simple to me, if you are getiing errors in simple calculations your system is not stable. That's all a computer does after all, it manipulates "0's" and "1's". If it can't do that without genrating incorrect calculations something is not right.
Here's some info taken from the Prime95 Help FAQ:
Prime95 Help Files FAQS wrote:
This program is a good stress test for the CPU, memory, caches, CPU cooling, and case cooling. The torture test runs continuously, comparing your computer's results to results that are known to be correct. Any mismatch and you've got a problem! Note that the torture test sometimes reads from and writes to disk but cannot be considered a stress test for hard drives.
CAN I IGNORE THE PROBLEM?
Ignoring the problem is a matter of personal preference. There are two schools of thought on this subject.
It is likely that most programs you run will not stress your computer enough to cause a wrong result or system crash. A few games stress your machine and a system crash could result. Stay away from distributed computing projects where an incorrect calculation might cause you to return wrong results. You are not helping these projects by returning bad data! In conclusion, if you are comfortable with a small risk of an occasional system crash then feel free to live a little dangerously!
The second school of thought is, "Why run a stress test if you are going to ignore the results?" These people want a guaranteed 100% rock solid machine. Passing these stability tests gives them the ability to run any program with confidence.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q) My machine is not overclocked. If I'm getting an error, then there must be a bug in the program, right?
A) Unfortunately, no. The torture test is comparing your machines results against KNOWN CORRECT RESULTS. If your machine cannot generate correct results, you have a hardware problem.
Q) How long should I run the torture test?
A) I recommend running it for 24 hours. The program has been known to fail only after several hours of operation. In most cases though, it will fail within a few minutes on a flaky machine.
Q) Prime95 reports errors during the torture test, but other stability tests don't. Do I have a problem?
A) Yes, you've reached the point where your machine has been pushed just beyond its limits. Follow the recommendations above to make your machine 100% stable or decide to live with a machine that could have problems in rare circumstances.
Q) A forum member said, "Don't bother with prime95, it always pukes on me, and my system is stable!” What do you make of that?
We had a server at work that ran for 2 MONTHS straight, without a reboot I installed Prime95 on it and ran it - a couple minutes later I get an error. You are going to tell me that the server wasn't stable?
A) These users obviously do not subscribe to the 100% rock solid school of thought. THEIR MACHINES DO HAVE HARDWARE PROBLEMS. But since they are not presently running any programs that reveal the hardware problem, the machines are quite stable. As long as these machines never run a program that uncovers the hardware problem, then the machines will continue to be stable.