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Crucial says RAM = Compatible. Crucial Memory Advisor Tool = Reliable?

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November 7, 2010 11:10:59 AM

Question About RAM Compatibility in an HP D220 Micro Tower

-Model: HP D220 Micro Tower (Business Desktop Line from 2002/2003)
-Specs: http://h18000.www1.hp.com/products/quickspecs/11709_na/...
-Motherboard: Intel 845GV chipset
-CPU: Not sure, either (1) 2.4GHz Celeron with 400MHz FSB / 128K L2 Cache or (2) 2.8GHz Pentium 4 with 533MHz / 512K L2 Cache.
-Current RAM: PC2700 / CL=2.5 / 2.5V
-Purchased Upgrade: PC3200 / CL=3 / 2.6V
-Compatible?
-Would Incompatibility Be Damaging/Dangerous?

Greetings All,

A relative of mine is experiencing very slow speeds with a very old system at work: an HP D220 Micro Tower that seems to date from 2002/2003. The relative notified the IT department, but whatever they did had only a minimal effect. So I decided to purchase a RAM upgrade and install it in the computer, even though neither of us has any type of clearance from the IT department.

When I specified the HP D220 MT system, using the Crucial.com Memory Advisor ('HP - Compaq' > 'HP Business Desktops' > 'D220 Series (PC2700)' ), the Advisor listed several options as 'Guaranteed-compatible memory upgrades for your HP - Compaq D220 Series (PC2700) Desktop/PC.' The Crucial RAM that I eventually purchased (from newegg.com, rather than directly from Crucial) was one of those 'Guaranteed-Compatible' options, and it had the following specs: 1GB / PC3200 / CL = 3 / 2.6 V.

Below is the listing of all 'Guaranteed-Compatible' upgrades for the D220 at Crucial.com, as well as a link to the Newegg listing of the exact item that I purchased:

http://www.crucial.com/store/listparts.aspx?model=D220%...(PC2700)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

My first question is: Do you think it is wise for me to install the RAM without an explicit green light (which I don't think they would grant, if we were to ask) from the IT department? Is there some considerable danger of data loss/corruption on the HDD, or perhaps a danger of corrupting the motherboard or overburdening the power supply or something of the kind, if the RAM were to be incompatible? In other words, is there any risk of serious and/or irreversible damage that could follow, if the Crucial RAM turns out to be incompatible with the D220? And do you think this upgrade -- installing RAM -- is risky enough that one should generally either leave it to the IT department, or leave it alone, in order to limit one's own liability for potential damage? (Note that the procedure itself wouldn't be a difficult one for me, as I have done RAM and HDD/SSD installs before.)

My second question is: How reliable is the Crucial Memory Advisor Tool? Can it be trusted in most every case, or does Crucial often make assumptions about compatibility based on widely available information (such as type of motherboard), without actually doing the test on each and every system? Does Crucial perform an actual test (multiple tests?) of the system in question, before they list an upgrade as compatible?

And my third question: How important is voltage, when it comes to compatibility? If a stick if RAM has a 2.6V rating and goes into a system that requires 2.5V memory, will the 2.6V stick cause problems, perhaps by demanding too much power? And what if a stick with CL=3 (CAS Latency = 3) goes into a system where the manual states that CL=2.5 is required? Would this also cause issues?

Finally, I should note that I ask all of this because there is SOME material out there, published by HP, which indicates that RAM upgrades for the D220 CANNOT be anything other than 2.5V/CL=2.5; while OTHER published material seems to indicate that CL=3 and/or 2.6V might be OK. Here's some of the published material I was able to find on the net though there is one additional document (not listed below, stating that 2.5V/CL=2.5 is mandatory for the D220) that I can't seem to find that document at the moment):

1. Service Reference Guide (March 2004)
Business Desktop d200 Series 4th Edition
The DIMMs used must be industry-standard 184-pin, unbuffered PC2100 266 MHz-, PC2700 333 MHz-, or PC3200 400 MHz-compliant (select models), 2.5 volt DDR-SDRAM DIMMs. The following features are required: CAS latency 2, 2.5, or 3 (CL = 2, CL = 2.5, CL=3)
Modules must contain the mandatory Joint Electronic Device Engineering Council (JEDEC) Serial Presence Detect (SPD) information.
128Mbit, 256 Mbit, and 512Mbit non-ECC memory technologies
Single and double-sided DIMMs may be used
DIMMs constructed with x8 and x16 DDR devices and x4 SDRAM are not supported.

2. Hardware Reference Guide (June 2003)
HP Compaq d220 and d230 Microtower
For proper system operation, if the system supports DDR-SDRAM DIMMs, the DIMMs must be industry-standard 184-pin, unbuffered
PC 2100 266 MHz-compliant CAS Latency 2 or 2.5 (CL = 2 or CL = 2.5), or PC 2700 333 MHz-compliant CAS Latency 2.5 (CL = 2.5)
2.5 volt DDR-SDRAM DIMMs. They must also contain the mandatory Joint Electronic Device Engineering Council (JEDEC)
Serial Presence Detect (SPD) information. DIMMs constructed with x4 SDRAM are not supported; the system will not start using unsupported DIMMs.

3. Service Reference Card (November 2003)
HP Compaq d220/d228/d230 Series
Personal Computers - November 2003
Processor Type: Intel Celeron or Pentium 4
RAM Type: DDR PC2100 or PC2700 non-ECC
Maximum RAM Supported: 2 GB
Expansion Bus: PCI 2.2
a c 347 } Memory
November 7, 2010 12:24:13 PM

I did not read all of ^that, but mix-matching RAM CAS, Speed, Voltage is NOT a good ideal. Instead MATCH the "Current RAM: PC2700 / CL=2.5 / 2.5V"; exact is best {e.g. same part-number}. At best you get or will need to manually set the WORST of each and average the Voltage.

To identify the Exact part-number of your current RAM use CPUz - http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html and look at the SPD tab.
Example:


Further, as opposed to manually looking-up the RAM -> use Crucial's Scanner - http://www.crucial.com/systemscanner/index.aspx

Good Luck!
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November 7, 2010 6:08:22 PM

jaquith said:
...mix-matching RAM CAS, Speed, Voltage is NOT a good ideal. Instead MATCH the "Current RAM: PC2700 / CL=2.5 / 2.5V"; exact is best {e.g. same part-number}. At best you get or will need to manually set the WORST of each and average the Voltage.

To identify the Exact part-number of your current RAM use CPUz - http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html and look at the SPD tab.
Example:
http://www.cpuid.com/medias/images/en/softwares-cpuz-05.jpg

Further, as opposed to manually looking-up the RAM -> use Crucial's Scanner - http://www.crucial.com/systemscanner/index.aspx http://www.crucial.com/images/btn_systemscanner-onblue.gif

Good Luck!


Greetings jaquith / malmental,

Thanks for the feedback! Just to clarify on three points:

1. I would not be mixing RAM types. The plan is to remove the existing PC2700/CL=2.5/2.5V stick from the system. I would then install the 2GB (2 x 1GB) PC3200/CL=3/2.6V kit from Crucial into the two open RAM slots.

2. I will definitely run CPU-z / Crucial's System Scanner program (as opposed to the Crucial manual lookup that advised me to get the PC3200 / CL=3 / 2.6V kit) when I get a chance. But if the Crucial System Scanner (in addition to the manual lookup) reports that 1GB/PC3200/CL=3/2.6V is compatible with my system, is that a safe bet? How reliable is the Crucial System Scanner program? Can it be trusted in most every case, or does Crucial often make assumptions about compatibility based on basic info that the scanner detects (such as type of motherboard), without actually being able to test compatibility directly?

3. "At best you get or will need to manually set the WORST of each and average the Voltage." I will go ahead and look in the BIOS for a place to set the Voltage to 2.6V (since I would be taking out the 2.5V and installing two sticks of 2.6V). I am guessing the clock speed of the RAM will be set automatically (since PC3200 is backwards-compatible with PC2700). If I left that BIOS setting at 2.5V after installing two sticks of 2.6V, would that be asking for trouble?

Thanks again for the help! :) 
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Related resources
November 7, 2010 9:00:53 PM

jaquith said:
All that info - omg - http://www.crucial.com/store/listparts.aspx?model=D220%...(PC2700) get 2x1GB.

If it were 'me' it's time to retire the HP D220 and not waste anymore money on it; one foot on the banana peal...


True! I would agree in most cases, but this is actually a company-owned PC, and unfortunately they aren't going to buy a new system anytime soon.

Though of course, the fact that it's a company system is in itself a reason not to go through with an install, on the off-chance that there's any trouble, and they start asking questions! :pt1cable:  So will have to think about it. Appreciate the feedback guys.

1. To anyone else reading, I would welcome any thoughts at all -- doesn't have to be a definitive answer! -- on the following: "How reliable is the Crucial System Scanner program? Can it be trusted in most every case, or does Crucial often make assumptions about compatibility based on basic info that the scanner detects (such as type of motherboard), without actually being able to test compatibility directly?" Have you used the Crucial Memory Advisory Tool and/or System Scanner to make purchasing/sales decisions? Did it ever fail you?

2. For anyone reading who might be interested in the other question I posed -- "How important is voltage, when it comes to compatibility? If a stick if RAM has a 2.6V rating and goes into a system that requires 2.5V memory, will the 2.6V stick cause problems, perhaps by demanding too much power?" -- a very helpful forum-goer on another site provided the following information: Aside from high-performance Ballistix memory, Crucial RAM is almost always JEDEC standard. JEDEC standard voltage for DDR 400 is 2.6 +/- 0.1 volts, while the standard for DDR 266 and DDR 333 is 2.5 +/- 0.2 volts. The difference is minimal, and if your manual says the computer is DDR-400 is compatible, then there generally should not be a voltage problem.

DDR JEDEC specs:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDR_SDRAM
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a c 347 } Memory
November 7, 2010 9:28:27 PM

The LINK I provided offer (2) 1GB choices:
Part #: CT1581059
Part #: CT357548

Flip a coin, they both work EQUALLY well. RAM typically has an operational tolerance of ±0.3V.

Your company really needs to run a cost::time analysis.

$1000 / 60 $16.67/MO / 20 = 0.83 / day ; production loss 15 minutes
$1500 / 60 $25.00/MO / 20 = 1.25 / day ; Q is $0.42 = 1/4 Hour wages?

Worst
$1000 is good for 3 years
$1000 / 36 $27.78/MO

Question - Which is the most cost effective solution???
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November 7, 2010 10:07:15 PM

Installing new memory without IT support is probably the worst thing. All warrenties are probably now voided and you are not dealing with a personal pc but a pc in the inventory of the company. Good luck.
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a b } Memory
November 7, 2010 10:16:39 PM

stillerfan15 said:
Installing new memory without IT support is probably the worst thing. All warrenties are probably now voided and you are not dealing with a personal pc but a pc in the inventory of the company. Good luck.


+1 -- plus opening the system and altering the parts without the authorization to do so is probably grounds for Termination !! -- I'd definitely get it approved first -- If you don't and they notice it then you could get her fired depending on the relationship she has with her employer and their policy regarding such matters.
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November 7, 2010 11:51:22 PM

stillerfan15 said:
Installing new memory without IT support is probably the worst thing. All warrenties are probably now voided and you are not dealing with a personal pc but a pc in the inventory of the company. Good luck.


JDFan said:
+1 -- plus opening the system and altering the parts without the authorization to do so is probably grounds for Termination !! -- I'd definitely get it approved first -- If you don't and they notice it then you could get the person fired depending on the relationship they have with the employer and their policy regarding such matters.


Stillerfan15 / JDFan,

Thanks very much for the feedback! You're both right that this is probably the biggest concern. Though I'm absolutely certain that this relative of mine wouldn't face any kind of disciplinary action, based on the type of company, the person's place/value in the company, and the relative unimportance of computing to the company's type of work (hence the old and neglected system), the company does still have an IT staff, and I'm sure the CEO (whom I know personally) would prefer that the equipment be modified only by that staff.

My thinking was: given that the computer is old, and not used except for using Internet Explorer to access a network database (nothing stored locally), and hardly ever used by anyone else; and given that a superior replacement system wouldn't cost me much, in the very unlikely event of a failure; and given that we would actually be improving (Crucial lifetime warranty) this old system, and productivity, at my expense, not the company's...

But in the end, your points are quite right, and I thank you both for making them forcefully here! :)  I will try running it by the IT Staff (i.e., donate the memory to them), and outside of that, simply try optimizing the system without resorting to any new hardware.
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