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Dig back there in your memories - we are talking DDR here...

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September 24, 2012 4:02:53 AM

Hail to you all. I am using an old self-built desktop for work purposes. Kind of embarrassing. We are talking veeeeeery low spec - only one 512MB stick of DDR400 RAM. But it was always fine for my minimal needs, until it gradually got slower and slower (XP), so I reinstalled XP (upgrading from HE to Pro), added Office 2010. A lot better than before the reinstall but still too slow for my liking, perhaps the system upgrade?

So I get me some new RAM, 2x1GB - http://www.amazon.com/KOMPUTERBAY-400Mhz-PC3200-DESKTOP...

When I install it, something weird happens. Install one new stick (either one, in either of the 2 available sockets) and all is good. Install one of the new ones in the first socket (where 512MB used to be) and the 512MB one in the second socket, all still good. But install both new, identical sticks and the system hangs. Also hangs if I install new one in second socket, and 512mb one back in the first socket where it used to be.

Can't get my head round this. Anyone got any ideas? Appreciate it....
a b } Memory
September 24, 2012 4:43:56 AM

Do you know how much memory the motherboard supports? I don't suppose you have the motherboards owners manual? The manual would give you the spec's of the board and what your supposed to be using for ram stick sizes and the total amount and even what slots you would use what sizes in. Being that old of a board it will most likely not be a lienient with what can be put in what slot. nowadays with the ram amounts so large it's not a requirement to have certian sizes.
The other thing is that the ram itself is most likely not a good match with so much time and maufacturing processes being so different and memory chip supplies being so different it would be impossible to match up with the one you have. Then you may have a ram limit to deal with.
September 24, 2012 3:46:40 PM

Inzone, really appreciate you getting back to me so quickly.

Managed to details of computer online, tho manual won't download:

http://www.biostar-usa.com/ideqdetails.asp?model=ideq+2...

This is for the chipset:

http://www.via.com.tw/en/products/chipsets/k7-series/km...

The latter indicates chipset should support up to 16MB, tho I don' t know enough about this stuff to know whether the motherboard could make a difference? Tho I guess not.

This thing actually gets weirder as well - I pop in the one 1GB stick of RAM (alone), boot up, check the hardware specs (Belarc), and it tells me I have:

2016 Megabytes Usable Installed Memory

Slot 'A0' has 2048 MB
Slot 'A1' is Empty

So, how does that work? The 512MB stick only gave me 480MB UIM, as you'd expect. I'm not complaining at apparently getting double what I just put in, obviously, just can't work it out.

Good news is that system speed seems okay now ("1"GB plus original 512MB = 2528MB UIM), but if I could get the two new sticks in I'd prefer it obviously. And I'd also like to know if there are any risks related to using 1 new and then the old stick (both DDR 400). (Nothing has exploded yet....)

Thank you thank you thank you.
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a c 97 } Memory
September 24, 2012 4:04:38 PM

Some motherboards are very sensitive to mismatched ram, or the particular construction of the ram stick.
It is best to have the ram vendor confirm the compatibility of the ram with your motherboard.
If you have a problem, as here, neither Biostar nor Komputerbay will take ownership of any problem. You are on your own.

The gold standard for testing ram is memtest 86+
Do your testing with that. If you get any errors, I would return the ram.
There should be no reason that you should not run with two identical sticks.

One possibility is that there is a Bios update for your motherboard. Fixing ram issues is a common reason for such an update.
Be careful, and don't update the bios unless it looks like it will fix a problem that affects you.
A failed bios update can permanently brick your motherboard.

If you return the ram, go to a major vendor web site, like Kingston, Corsair, G.skil etc. and access their ram configurator.
It will give you a list of supported kits for your motherboard.

It is strange that you got 2gb, not the 1gb sticks that you ordered. I suppose you should not complain.
But it does not speak well of the quality of the kit you ordered.
a b } Memory
September 24, 2012 4:58:54 PM

According to the manual, 2 GB is the maximum the computer supports (2 1 GB sticks).

Casey
a b } Memory
September 24, 2012 8:43:31 PM

If you were sent two 2gb sticks by mistake and your motherboard only supports up to 2 gb then that's why your having problems getting the two new sticks to work together your over the limit. However by the fact that you have a 2gb stick in there you have accomplished your initial pupose of getting 2gb for your computer and if the 512mb works with th 2gb stick then it's a bonus because you have more ram installed then you were originaly hopeing for. If your able to update your bios and get the second new stick to work then you will have extra ram installed.
Did they send you 2 , 2gb sticke or 1 2gb and 1 1gb?
September 24, 2012 8:56:28 PM

Many thanks geofelt, cklaubur and inzone again. You have been really helpful.

Cklaubur, did you manage to download the manual? The link just didn't work for me for some reason...

As you say, inzone, if the RAM limit is only 2GB that would explain things, if indeed I've put a 2GB stick in. Maybe Komputerbay screwed up, because the sticker on both of them says 1GB and that's what I intended to purchase (2x1GB). But if the limit is really 2GB, and the stick is 2GB instead of 1GB, then why would I be able to get another 512mb in there? I wouldn't have thought that would be possible under any circumstances. And why would a 2GB stick even be supported, based on what CKlaubur says about the manual?

But also, if the stick is 1GB, then I can't see why my system would possibly be showing 2GB (plus).

Maybe I'm just thinking too logically?

On the BIOS update, I'd like to try - I'm guessing that the latest ones (tho 8 years old!) on the website are not the ones I have, but can you tell me how I can be sure? And is it worth the risk I really wonder? What could go wrong? And how will I know if it might fix my problem, as you say geofelt?

Thanks again to you all.

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a c 97 } Memory
September 24, 2012 9:01:22 PM
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Dri said:
Many thanks geofelt, cklaubur and inzone again. You have been really helpful.

Cklaubur, did you manage to download the manual? The link just didn't work for me for some reason...

As you say, inzone, if the RAM limit is only 2GB that would explain things, if indeed I've put a 2GB stick in. Maybe Komputerbay screwed up, because the sticker on both of them says 1GB and that's what I intended to purchase (2x1GB). But if the limit is really 2GB, and the stick is 2GB instead of 1GB, then why would I be able to get another 512mb in there? I wouldn't have thought that would be possible under any circumstances. And why would a 2GB stick even be supported, based on what CKlaubur says about the manual?

But also, if the stick is 1GB, then I can't see why my system would possibly be showing 2GB (plus).

Maybe I'm just thinking too logically?

On the BIOS update, I'd like to try - I'm guessing that the latest ones (tho 8 years old!) on the website are not the ones I have, but can you tell me how I can be sure? And is it worth the risk I really wonder? What could go wrong? And how will I know if it might fix my problem, as you say geofelt?

Thanks again to you all.


On the web site, there is usually a text doc that describes the fixes for the bios update.
Since you are otherwise running ok, I would not apply the update unless you think it will do the job.

You could also run CPU-Z. It will identify the ram on the SPD tab.

Lastly, are you beating a(almost )dead horse?
A new cpu/mobo/ram set is not very expensive, and will perform one heck of a lot better.
September 24, 2012 9:10:21 PM

Just managed to get the manual myself (boy, Biostar customer service must be good, cause I had emailed them). Yup, 2x1GB limit as cklaubur says. Weird.

Thanks, Geof, - it's an old horse but for my purposes (translation software) it's fine at the new higher speed. I'm also in the depths of South America truth be told, so while I was able to get a friend to bring back a couple of DDRs in her precious suitcase space, a whole kit is a bit more of a challenge. That said, when I'm next up there I could look into it. What I wonder, tho, is will existing HDD, DVD etc work with a new kit?

Thanks yet again....
a c 97 } Memory
September 24, 2012 9:31:16 PM

Yes, your HDD and dvd will work.
If they are sata attached, it is easy.
If they are IDE, well, they don't make them any more,really.
Sata drives are faster and better anyway.

Since your needs are modest, I bet you could fit a ITX motherboard, a ssd into a really small case like the Antec ISK 300-150
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
About the size of a large phonebook.
October 6, 2012 12:19:45 PM

Best answer selected by Dri.
October 6, 2012 12:22:53 PM

So I got stuck into some translations after that. A final thank you to you all for your support. Turns out both sticks are 2GB instead of the 1GB I bought, even though they have 1GB stickers on them. Go Komputerbay. So no wonder they didn't work together. Also rather unstable if I keep the 512MB in there alongside one of the new sticks, so I'm just keeping to the one 2GB, and it's fine for my needs. That said, I'll get myself a new kit when I'm next in the US, as you recommended geofelt. Thanks again.
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