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3GB RAM, XP (SP3) doesn't display login screen?

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Anonymous
August 19, 2010 6:50:18 PM

Hiya, my vaio (2 x 1GB RAM) has an Intel i945PM Chipset which supports a max of 4GB RAM. But from what I've read only 3-3.5GB can be addressed. So I just bought a 2GB stick to replace one of my 1GB sticks. Current config is: 1x2GB and 1x1GB.

After booting, BIOS displays the 3GB and a Linux boot-cd was able to test the whole 3GB as working. My problem is the following: XP boots but blacks out on the login UI! Safe Mode does the same thing. But the hard-drive keeps processing though.

If I remove the 1x1GB stick, then booting is normal. How can I fix that login UI with the 3GB of RAM in place?

I've tried moving the 2GB stick around or addidng /PAE or /3GB in boot.ini but no success. XP still won't show the login UI.
August 19, 2010 9:49:41 PM

Well clearly the issue is with that 2gig stick, odd behaviour but memory issues tend to do that.

1st. Update your BIOS
2. Try using ONLY that 2gig stick.
3. If the above 2 fail, you may need to RMA the stick and get another brand. I recommend www.crucial.com, they have a good system scanner and will recommend RAM that should be guaranteed to work with your system.

Their prices are not bad either, and no I don't work for them ;-)
Anonymous
August 19, 2010 10:57:06 PM

Haha the 2GB is from Crucial. And so are the other two 1GB sticks. The Crucial scanner reccomends only 2GB on my system but other Vaio users have been able to upgrade their system to 4GB (umm 3.25GB) but they bought 2x2GB. If am only gonna get 3.25GB, then I'd rather just upgrade my laptop to 3GB, so I went for the [2GB,1GB] config.

I did the BIOS upgrate (R0200J3) a while ago. Even applied the trick for enabling Intel VT-x (for some reason, Sony jackasses completely restricts BIOS to some useless 4 screen junk). Now I just want a bit more RAM so I can have a proper Virtual PC running side-by-side.

Anyway my BIOS displays the 3GB properly and a Linux CD ran fine. XP even shows that scrolling thingy but not the log-in screen. Why is that? All I get is a black screen (as in, the screen is still on but nothing's happening).
August 19, 2010 11:21:46 PM

Are the different RAM similar timings and voltages?

Try removing the /3G switch. I've ran into display issues using that in the past.
Anonymous
August 19, 2010 11:40:40 PM

aford10 said:
Are the different RAM similar timings and voltages?

Try removing the /3G switch. I've ran into display issues using that in the past.


They are all Crucial SO-DIMM DDR2 PC2-5300 (667MHz). http://www.crucial.com/uk/store/partspecs.aspx?imodule=...

I first went for the /3GB switch then /PAE.

It's weird right? BIOS is ok with it, a bootable linux-cd was ok, XP loads its knight-rider thingy and then bang, no login screen?
August 19, 2010 11:46:33 PM

Are you sure they are the same timings and voltages? Just because the speed is the same, doesn't mean the timings and voltages are. This is a big reason why different RAM kits don't always play nicely together.

It seems odd for a RAM issue to be causing your symptoms though. If you go with just one or the other, can you get into windows?

It almost sounds like a monitor refresh rate problem.
Anonymous
August 20, 2010 12:14:54 AM

aford10 said:
Are you sure they are the same timings and voltages? Just because the speed is the same, doesn't mean the timings and voltages are. This is a big reason why different RAM kits don't always play nicely together.

It seems odd for a RAM issue to be causing your symptoms though. If you go with just one or the other, can you get into windows?

It almost sounds like a monitor refresh rate problem.



Both 2GB & 1GB sticks share these characteristics: DDR2 PC2-5300 • CL=5 • Unbuffered • NON-ECC • DDR2-667 • 1.8V

I also did the following tests:
[1GB,1GB] = XP works (default)
[2GB, - ] = XP works
[ - , 2GB] = XP works
[2GB, 1GB] = XP doesn't show login screen
[1GB, 2GB] = XP doesn't show login screen
August 20, 2010 1:40:02 PM

Hm.. you may have a motherboard incompatability issue here. Don't quote me if it fails :-) but try to replace the 1 gig chip with another 2 gig chip. Looks like your MB has an issue working with mis-matched chips. Your little diagram of how you tested is pretty clear with that.

Make sure you check with the vendor or Crucial and see what the max RAM your system will support is. Should be able to handle 4 though if it will boot with 3.
Anonymous
August 20, 2010 3:15:49 PM

hang-the-9 said:
Hm.. you may have a motherboard incompatability issue here. Don't quote me if it fails :-) but try to replace the 1 gig chip with another 2 gig chip. Looks like your MB has an issue working with mis-matched chips. Your little diagram of how you tested is pretty clear with that.

Make sure you check with the vendor or Crucial and see what the max RAM your system will support is. Should be able to handle 4 though if it will boot with 3.


I just wanted to contact Crucial for RMA. Spending another £33 on 2GB is not what i had in mind. Plus if that works, then only 1.25GB will be usable.

Why would 3GB of RAM suddenly affect the Login user-interface of Windows XP? Clearly BIOS is detecting it. Even a bootable Linux CD tested the mem as working. So it can't be some lock imposed by Sony (unless it software).
August 20, 2010 3:22:40 PM

As I mentioned, it almost sounds like a monitor refresh rate issue. I'm not sure how incompatible RAM would knock out the display.

Have you tried resetting the BIOS?
Anonymous
August 20, 2010 4:30:25 PM

No luck. Inserted the 3GB, reset BIOS, XP still won't show that Login Screen.

With older Vaios, Sony used to have a BIOS or hardware lock. So if you exceeded the amount of RAM allowed, you laptop wouldn't even boot. With time, I believe they removed that lock but the Phoenix BIOS menu hasn't changed. It's still as useless as ever.

Anyway I also tried the following start-up related topics:
- Uninstall Eset AV and ZoneAlarm Pro, then reboot.
- Delete XP's Prefetch directory, then reboot.

Still no success. Does XP Login sequence expect RAM to be matched, as in [2GB,2GB] and to block [2GB,1GB]?
August 20, 2010 4:48:04 PM

No, different kits can be used together. Though, some kits don't play nicely together.

Boot with just the 2GB kit, and check the video properties. If the refresh rate isn't already, try setting it to 60Hz.
October 18, 2010 8:02:46 PM

Hey

I have a Sony Vaio FE-8 (Equiv- Japanese Model). pretty much similar specs

core 2 duo- 2.0ghz
nvidia go 7600 128mb card
320 gb hdd

AND I put in 4GB of ddr2 667mhz ram. With only one stick, I can see my screen selections after booting up (since I'm multibooting) with the 4GB sticks in, I can't see the screen selections. So its pretty much invisible. However, the computer works absolutely fine, and registers about 3GB of the ram at a fairly maximum speed (dual chanel- PNY). I do believe this is a BIOS issue that the Vaio FE models have. Its totally crap, yes. But, what the ram does, is pretty much make that screen selection area invisible. No idea why, but some reassurance. If your ram matches your spec speed (667mhz and dd2) then, nothing's wrong with it. And should boot in fine and register both modules with up to 3GB.

Hope this helps
Anonymous
October 18, 2010 8:59:42 PM

Hey thanks for replying! Just to clarify, what RAM combination did you try: [4GB, - ] or [2GB, 2GB]?

As you can tell from what I've posted, I tried [2GB, 1GB] and the Windows Login screen wouldn't appear. The RAM I used were all DDR2 667. From what I read elsewhere it is to be expected that only 3GB will be visible in Windows, so that's why I went for only [2GB, 1GB].

!