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Broken RAM - how to check?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by clsyorkshire, Jun 16, 2007.

  1. clsyorkshire

    clsyorkshire Bit Poster

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    Recently I bought a memory upgrade for my PC, a 1 GB DIMM 184 PIN DDR stick.

    Now the first thing I did was to ensure that I was buying the correct RAM for my motherboard and it matches up everywhere - motherboard manual, various websites, etc. so theres no reason to think that the memory I bought does not work due to incompatibility.

    I currently have one 256MB stick of memory and the new 1Gb one I bought. The 1GB stick doesn't work in either slot, but the 256MB will work fine in either. Whichever way round I install them, the BIOS and Windows XP will only register the 256MB that I already have. If I try the 256MB on its own, it registers 256, and if I try the 1GB on its own I get a long beep meaning no memory found (I think).

    So perhaps the memory might be faulty? Is there any way to check. I know there are things like memtest but will that work if the BIOS won't even recognise the RAM?

    My motherboard is the MSI KM4M - http://www.extrememhz.com/KM4ML-p1.shtml and the memory is a 1GB Kingston DIMM (PC2700 333MHZ).

    I have updated my BIOS to the latest version available off the MSI website, and this did not make the RAM work.
     
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  2. greenbrucelee
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

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    It could due to the fact that you are supposed to match the memory or have a single one, from what I understand you cant have 256mb dimm and a 1gig dimm at the same time if want a gig you either have 4 256mb or 2 512mb or 1gig dimm but you cant have 1280 (Ithink adds it 1024 + 256)

    If your comp is beeping when you only put in the 1gig and no other ram I am guessing there is a fault with it
     
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  3. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    You can, in theory, mix the 1G and 256M modules. I don't see anything here to suggest that this is a dual-channel board.

    From your link it appears that the board is a few years old so one reason for the 1G module not to work is that it is using a higher density memory than the board is expecting.

    I have to say that the problem you report is common. Try first talking to your dealer to see if he will exhange the stick for another one.

    EDIT: Kingston are usualy very good at getting the right memory. Did you specify the motherboard when you ordered it?

    Harry.
     
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  4. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power-on_self-test

    The POST test often does basic memory checks depending on the BIOS config.

    Modern memory (DIMMS) need not be installed in matched pairs, although I still generally do this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DIMM

    I'd reseat the RAM competely, check its sitting in the slot correctly.

    Check the POST results, you will either get a beep code, led display on mainboard or an on screen display.

    If it boots you can run a dos or windows burn in test program to keep checking the memory for errors. Some errors only occur sporadically or as the chips heat up. The BIOS checks are quite basic.
     
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  5. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    One thought - what spec is the 256M stick? Looking at the manual for the board I see that there are two types of controller, and one type supports 400M FSB. If you are running at 400 then this memory won't be fast enough.

    Harry.
     
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  6. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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  7. zxspectrum

    zxspectrum Gigabyte Poster Premium Member

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    I may be wrong but doesnt the ram have to be compatible on the pc numbers

    Say your 256 runs at pc100 and your gig runs at pc 500 for instance then i know the one that runs slower also drags the other one down to it.

    have you tried just taking the 256 out and sticking the one gig in, if it works then yo know the ram isn compatable

    Keep us posetd on this

    Ed
     
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  8. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    In theory yes - but I've come across many situations where this just didn't work.
    He tried this and mentioned it in the original post.

    Harry.
     
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  9. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    Those sort of specs are often too vague to be helpful. :-( Among other things they never specify what memory densities are supported.
    And sometimes the 'downgrading' feature just doesn't work.

    Harry.
     
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  10. clsyorkshire

    clsyorkshire Bit Poster

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    Ok I've taken the 256mb out to have a look at it and it says this on it:

    256MB-32Mx64 DIMM

    PC2700-DDR SDRAM



    It should still be compatible though shouldn't it? I'll be pretty annoyed with myself if it isn't as I always make a point of double and triple checking compatibility when I upgrade. Although memory does seem quite complicated to get right.

    If I try and boot with just the 1GB of memory in there, it gives a long beep indicating a problem and nothing shows on screen.
     
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  11. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Well aparently the memory chip densities can also cause your motherboard not to be able to handle newer ram sometimes, but I of thought this was not that common to be honest.

    The only way to be really sure if the memory is good or bad is to use a hardware memory tester. I don't know ifs theres any chance a local shop might have one of these and whether they'd test it for you. It would probably be easier to send it back and tell them you want memory matched to your motherboard.

    I've had some issues with some RIMMS i bought 6 years back, never got the stuff to work and it's quite expensive too. Had to clear my BIOS just to get the system to boot, system would never run stable with it in, still don't know if its the motherboard or the RAM to blame.
     
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  12. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    Did you check with Kingston for the part number?

    A search on their site suggests this unit is the correct one - does yours match it?

    Harry.
     
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  13. clsyorkshire

    clsyorkshire Bit Poster

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  14. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Ones ECC and the other is Non ECC. Is your old memory ECC ? Theres really no point mixing ECC and non ECC memory in a computer. It should still work as non ECC memory though in theory if you wanted to mix.

    Also one is 128Mx72 other is 128Mx64, this is probably something to do with the chip density or physical make up of the DIMM, ie how many chips.
    The ECC DIMM will probably need more chips for the parity checking, hence extra 8 chips.
    128 Megabit chip x 64 chips = 8192 Megabits / 8 = 1024 Megabytes or 1GB
    (Although 64 and 72 sound a bit high for the number of physical chips, its normally between 8-22 in my experience, so there must be something else going on !)
    Anyone got a better explanation ?
     
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  15. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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  16. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    The x72 indicates that it is ECC. The extra bits are used for the error correction function.

    The other problem is that it is 'Registered'. This changes the timing on the chips, and will normaly only work with chipsets that use that feature.

    Harry.
     
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  17. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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  18. clsyorkshire

    clsyorkshire Bit Poster

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    Thank you for all the replies guys, much appreciated.

    I'm going to get it swapped for a different one hopefully. :D
     
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  19. clsyorkshire

    clsyorkshire Bit Poster

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    Yup I went ahead and bought another 1GB set of RAM, this time non-EEC, and it works fine.

    But can mixing different types of RAM cause random Windows reboots? It's happened a couple of times today.
     
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  20. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    First thing is to test whether the reboots happen with just one of the sticks in.

    It is *possible* that the timing for the new RAM isn't quite right, for example.

    Harry.
     
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