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Dell Inspiron 8500 laptop won't "see" more than one DIMM at a time reliably

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April 12, 2014 11:59:22 AM

When I got my Dell Inspiron 8500 laptop, it had a single 512 Mb DIMM installed, even though the motherboard has two DIMM sockets. It runs fine with just one DIMM installed. Fine, I thought, I'll just upgrade with a pair of matched DIMM (to eliminate any bad juju with different RAM refresh speeds between the DIMMs). I got greedy and bought a pair of 1 Gb DIMM from KomputerBay (through amazon.com, who I find have the best and least expensive computer parts resellers).

Unfortunately, my Dell Inspiron 8500 usually only recognizes one DIMM at a time. It doesn't matter which DIMM I leave in (I assumed first that one DIMM of the pair was defective/burned out, but they both work, just not at the same time).

The odd twist is that NOW AND THEN the system will "see" both DIMMs at once and I have a 2 Gb system for as long as I leave the laptop on. I just can't make that happen when I wish to.

My local used computer parts guys tell me that the chip manufacturers never really got started with high-capacity (>1 Gb) RAM in the DDR format, you have to spend big money for a 2 Gb DDR DIMM, and even then they're scarce. Searches on amazon.com (where I got the 1 Gb RAM I have now) and elsewhere seem to confirm this.

I'd love to have this laptop running with at least 2 Gb of RAM. Can anyone suggest how to get it to see both my current DIMM, or at least a reasonably-priced source of 2 Gb DDR DIMMs?

Thanks in advance!

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April 18, 2014 6:43:13 AM

Did you check for a BIOS update and made sure the RAM you got matches the specs for the laptop? Looks like it wants DDR 2700 speeds. Some systems are picky with the RAM they use, some don't like double-sided RAM in both slots, some are OK with it, things like that. Plus you can just have a bad second slot.
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April 18, 2014 4:11:18 PM

hang-the-9 said:
Did you check for a BIOS update and made sure the RAM you got matches the specs for the laptop? Looks like it wants DDR 2700 speeds. Some systems are picky with the RAM they use, some don't like double-sided RAM in both slots, some are OK with it, things like that. Plus you can just have a bad second slot.


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April 18, 2014 4:15:11 PM

"No" to your questions, and thanks - I'll check to see what the laptop requires.

However, I've ruled out the "bad second slot" issue, it doesn't matter which slot I populate, it'll just see one stick of RAM. Both sticks I have work equally well in either slot.

But you have a good point, I could be using non-spec RAM. Which is, I guess, too bad for me, because my local computer shop tells me that DDR in sizes larger than 512MB/stick is expensive new, and difficult to find to satisfy a particular specification.
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April 21, 2014 6:02:23 AM

vfrickey said:
"No" to your questions, and thanks - I'll check to see what the laptop requires.

However, I've ruled out the "bad second slot" issue, it doesn't matter which slot I populate, it'll just see one stick of RAM. Both sticks I have work equally well in either slot.

But you have a good point, I could be using non-spec RAM. Which is, I guess, too bad for me, because my local computer shop tells me that DDR in sizes larger than 512MB/stick is expensive new, and difficult to find to satisfy a particular specification.


You can find plenty of used RAM on craigslist or ebay, as well as new stuff from www.crucial.com or www.newegg.com
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April 21, 2014 10:07:12 AM

thanks for your answers, Hang the 9. I know where to get the RAM (see my original post). I just wanted to know if anyone had a quick answer on why it only sees DIMM A or DIMM B sockets, but not BOTH at the same time. My guess is a bad motherboard. Nothing much to do about that, unfortunately. But thanks for trying. You get "Best answer" because at least you tried.
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April 21, 2014 11:35:55 AM

Until you make sure you have the latest BIOS and have tried the right speed RAM, or at least different sticks than what you have, you can't really say it's a bad motherboard yet.
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