Trying to upgrade my RAM but its not working


I'm new to this forum, and to working on my computer, so forgive me if I sound stupid. I'm sure there has to be a simple fix for my problem but I can't figure it out.

I have an Acer M3100-3401a Desktop, with 3Gb of RAM factory installed. According to everything I can find, it's upgradeable to 8 Gb. I purchased a pair of 2Gb memory sticks from PNY (listed as "Optima Dual Channel Memory Kit, matched pair, 240 pin DDR2 PC2-5300, 2x2GB"). I am running Windows 7, 64-bit.

Inside the case there are 4 DIMM slots, labeled 1,2,3,4. The first two are blue, the other two are yellow. From the factory, there are 1Gb sticks in the 2 blue slots, and 512Mb sticks in the yellow slots, like this:

slot 1 - 1Gb
slot 2 - 1Gb
slot 3 - 512Mb
slot 4 - 512Mb

I shut off the machine, disconnected the power cord, and made sure I didn't static zap anything while working on it. I removed the two 512Mb sticks and replaced them with the 2GB ones. I get a purple error screen and then a reboot, after it reaches the Windows splash screen. I reread the instructions and it says 'put the biggest RAM sticks in the lower numbered slots, which are closest to the processor'. I swapped the 2Gb sticks with the 1Gb ones, so now I have it this way:

slot 1 - 2Gb
slot 2 - 2Gb
slot 3 - 1Gb
slot 4 - 1Gb

Exact same result.

So I removed all of the chips, then put one of the new 2Gb in slot 1 by itself and tried it. Everything runs perfect.
Swapped it out for the other new chip, same thing, everything runs perfect. So I know the chips aren't bad from the manufacturer, and I didn't zap them by accident.

Using just the two new chips I tried every combination of the 4 slots, and the computer won't run (same error screen, which doesn't stay on the monitor long enough for me to read it, but its a whole page of text that isn't helpful at all from what I can glimpse!).

I put one of the new sticks back in slot 1, and then I put one of the 1GB sticks from the factory set in slot 2 (total of 3Gb installed now) and everything runs perfect.

I swapped out the new sticks, and then the old sticks, and discovered that no matter what combination of sticks I use, as long as I have 3GB or less total RAM installed in the 4 slots, everything works normally, but anything above 4GB installed, I get the error and constant reboot.

So much for the physical end of things. As far as software, I have used the DEL key during start up to get into the Setup screen, then looked in the CMOS options. It does show the changes in memory listed at the bottom of the screen (2Gb when I only have 1 stick installed, 6 GB when I have 2+2+1+1 installed, etc).

With the computer returned to factory state, I have also looked at msconfig (via Windows Key+R key) to see if the 'maximum memory' option under the Boot Tab is checked. It is not checked.

At this point I am stumped. It appears that the new RAM sticks are OK, but the computer simply refuses to use more than 3GB of RAM. I have found multiple references on the internet that assure me my computer is upgradable to 8GB, but my computer disagrees.

I read a suggestion somewhere about removing my CMOS battery (?) and waiting a few minutes, then replacing it, to force a hardware configuration recheck, but before I do anything like that I decided to ask here.

Can anyone help me figure this out?
9 answers Last reply
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  1. I would sell off all your ram and look for four used sticks (all the same brand and speed) on craigslist. New they cost too much. Otherwise, get a newer motherboard with ddr3 support, since it's so cheap, and get a kit like this: For most folks, 3-4 gb of ram will do all the tasks they use. So upgrading your old ddr2 may be a waste of money.
  2. OK, how does selling off all of my RAM (new and used) in exchange for 4 used ones of the same brand and speed help me?

    Putting just two of the new sticks in (and none of the others) doesn't work, so why would two used sticks work?
  3. You've got an acer oem motherboard that's very ram specific. The bios settings on oem boards such as acer, dell, hp, etc are so limited that using non approved ram may cause a no post situation. It's hard to justify purchasing new ddr2 when ddr3 8 gb kits are less than half the cost. But you may get lucky and find some on sale this weekend. Pull one of your ram sticks and get the model number and brand. Try matching it as close as possible. And yes, it's best to get four identical sticks for any ram upgrade, even if you have to sell the old stuff. Craigslist has some deals if you get lucky. If not, keep your original 3 gb of ram and wait for your next system to use more. It's really not worth the money to purchase more ddr2. 3 gb will run almost any program you use. The performance difference isn't worth it.
  4. Sorry for being thick...but if the motherboard doesn't like the new RAM sticks, why does it work when I put in just one new (2GB) stick and no other sticks? And why does it work when I put 1 new (2GB) and 1 old (1GB) stick? Your answer doesn't make sense to me, but I'm definitely not a tech-type. It works with any combination of sticks that totals 3GB or less, new or old, which makes me think its not rejecting the RAM, but there's something else wrong.
  5. Yes. But you only have one 2 gb stick of the new ram. If you can order another identical 2 gb stick to the new one, then do it. Just don't mix it with the old ram. Sell one or the other.
  6. I have a pair of 2GB sticks. See initial post. They were sold as a kit, by PNY.

    I can put one 2GB stick in and it works. I can put one 2GB stick and one of the 1GB sticks in (mixing new and old) and it works. It's only when I try to get more than 3GB installed, that it stops working, thats whats driving me nuts.
  7. then I can't help you. Sorry. My initial suggestion about matching the brand may not work either. That's the problem with oem motherboards. they aren't designed to upgrade easily. That's why I build my own systems.
  8. Hmm...well this is probably way off topic then, but how difficult is it to build your own system? It looks and sounds pretty intimidating, from all of the technical jargon I keep seeing. Is there a website or guide somewhere that explains how to do it?

    And thank you for your efforts, even if it didn't work out.
  9. Here are some youtube videos you can watch on changing the motherboard, building your own, etc. It's still cheaper to buy the system from dell, etc, just don't plan on upgrading it. Dell makes it's money on sell optional upgrades; they charge about double for ram upgrades. Here's a current deal on a dell with i5 1155 cpu that's spectacular. I couldn't build one this cheap with these specifications:
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