Yes, this is normal. Without RAM, you cannot get a display. Furthermore, if you don't have a motherboard speaker installed, you will not hear the associated beeps indicating that RAM was not present in the POST. You should get a motherboard speaker; it is an invaluable tool in diagnosing your computer.
What if you substituted the built in sticks with a USB Drive? Even though most of the times theyre recognized as STORAGE, in a sense, that could work, right?