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Trying to figure out exactly what I did

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Last response: in Memory
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January 10, 2007 12:57:27 PM

I'm definitely not an authority on hardware or software, so I'm not going to pretend to be! I just need to figure out how much damage I caused to my computer, and what exactly can be fixed.

I went out and bought a 1GB DDR2 stick (made by SimpleTech), and I went home and did something very stupid. I forced it into the remaining slot in my motherboard, leaving the factory 512MB DDR stick in. Then, after pressing the power button, a poof of smoke came out of the processor, and now all my BIOS can do is beep occasionally.

Obviously I did a lot of things wrong - I just need to figure out if my hard drive, video card, and other parts are okay.

Seeing as how I can't boot up my computer to check the specs, here's the ones I can remember:

AMD Athlon 3200+ (2.2 Ghz)
ATI Radeon 9800XT
512MB DDR
AIM BIOS ...?

Wow, that's not very much... if you need any more specs, let me know. I'm at school right now, so I'll grab the product number off my computer and see what kind of mobo I have when I get home.

If you can just tell me what may have happened, and if it's fixable, that's really all I need to know. Thank you very much!

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a b } Memory
January 10, 2007 1:18:49 PM

That's pretty slim information. Maybe when you "forced" the memory in, you may have used so much force you cracked the motherboard?
January 10, 2007 1:27:33 PM

Does your motherboard even support DDR2 RAM? You should always check if your motherboard before you start buying new hardware for your system.
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January 10, 2007 5:13:09 PM

I didn't crack the motherboard, I just had to snap off one of the locks to fit the stick in... stupid, I know.

I'm assuming that it is not compatible with DDR2 RAM - so how much damage could that cause?
January 10, 2007 5:29:34 PM

You let the magic smoke out of something and that device won't work anymore. You have at least damaged the M/B to a point where it is, for all practical purposes, unusable. I would assume the new RAM is bad as well. Given your demonstrated skill level I would suggest you take it to a competent repair site and take the hit they are gonna put on you.
January 10, 2007 5:36:14 PM

BTW What Kind of Motherboard DID u have?
January 10, 2007 5:46:21 PM

Each RAM module has a small notch in it. Each slot on the motherboard has a small plastic protrusion to mate with the notch. However, the location of the notch and matching protrusion is different between DDR and DDR2. How you managed to insert a DDR2 module into a DDR slot is beyond me. They are physically incompatible. They also have different pin outs (DDR = 184pin, DDR2 = 240pin).

You shorted the pins in the memory slots. At the very least, your northbridge, CPU, and RAM modules are fried. It's not likely to have damaged your disk drives.
January 10, 2007 6:21:11 PM

The old "if it dont go then force it" routine eh!

Check the motherboard, look at the capacitors (you will normally find these around the CPU with the big fan thingy! They are tall and round and normally have a cross scored into the end). If they have bulged and exploded then that's a clear sign that the mobo is dead.

Lots of non-techies believe that the processor is the whole case, so when you say smoke came out of the processor do you mean the actual CPU or the back of the case(PSU)?

I will have a wild stab and say that your video, HD, ram are ok but mobo and CPU == dead.

It sounds like you have a socket A, barton 3200+ so your mobo and CPU are old and replacing them might be hit and miss as you are looking at second hand market.

Your vga should work on any reasonably modern machine with an AGP slot, HD will work on most systems providing they hava UATA interface. Memory will work on any system that uses DDR (not DDRII). SO P4 or later should be OK.

Christmas has just gone and lots of people upgraded so get to your nearest recycling centre, you'll probably find a good test machine for a few pennies. You might even get lucky by getting a better spec than you have currently.

Swap bits over with yours to prove that they still work then get on ebay to buy the replacements. Try to get the same chipset as your old mobo then you should not have any problems with XP!!!!!!!!

And next time, take out the old memory stick and compare it with the new one before trying to ram your stick into a slot that is simply not able to accomodate it! :oops: 
January 10, 2007 6:23:41 PM

Although this sounds like a bit of a windup, I'd suggest replacing the motherboard first. IMHO, you've fried the MB/new RAM but nothing else.

Funny story though. :lol: 
January 10, 2007 6:59:49 PM

Yeah, it is pretty funny now that I think about it... I really shouldn't try to work on my computer when I'm upset about something. :oops: 

Well, thanks everyone for all your help! It's much appreciated. Hopefully the RAM is still ok, because from what I've heard from you - I think I just need to get a new computer in general. I'll get my friend to run a diagnostics check to find out which parts are still working, and maybe move them into the new computer (because I don't want to pay for another video card). I'll have to buy a USB extension for my old 180GB hard drive to transfer files onto the new one I'll be getting, because I don't want to lose all the stuff I had on there.

The smoke did come out of the CPU! - My desktop was actually in my lap with the case off when I turned it on, so I was able to see where it came from. The mobo's BIOS still beeps when booted up, so I don't know if it's completely dead - however, it's three years out of date and I would really like to use DDR2 instead of regular DDR.

I'm also going to hang out here in the forums for a while - I'm very much an amateur when it comes to working with both hardware and software, and I'd like to learn as much as I can.

Thanks again, you helped a lot!

~ Malek
January 11, 2007 6:07:40 AM

Some of the power regulation components are around the cpu socket so it may have seemed like the smoke was coming from the cpu.
January 11, 2007 6:16:15 AM

I think chances are good that both of your memory modules are fried. I certainly wouldn't let you try them out on my system for fear that they have something shorted internally that might damage my system.
January 11, 2007 1:53:29 PM

Well, that's what diagnostics equipment is for. ;) 
January 11, 2007 2:40:45 PM

Doh Doh Doh
!