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7/28/06 Computer doesn't recognize the new RAM I installed

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / July 27, 2006 2:41 AM PDT

I recently purchased an HP Media Center PC, 2.8GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM. I installed another 512MB memory stick with the exact same specifications that are required for the PC. However, the PC does not seem to recognize the memory, even though it is installed correctly and the PC turns on and works fine. Why does the PC not recognize the memory, and is there a way to make the PC recognize it? Please give me a checklist of ways I can solve this issue. Thanks!

Submitted by: Jake K.



Jake, it would be helpful to have more information on the original memory. Was the original 1GB of RAM comprised of one 1GB module or two 512MB modules; is it SDRAM, DDR or DDR2; how many total memory sockets does the computer have; and what is the computer's CPU chipset? It would also be nice to know the exact description of every module in the system--every number on every label on the various modules. This is all relevant information that may be necessary to answer the question.

With the information given, there is not enough to answer the question with certainty, but hopefully, I can help you by suggesting things that you need to look at. And even if your memory addition had worked, I can suggest to you why this was probably not a good addition, and how you could have better upgraded the system.

Now let?s cover a few reasons why your additional memory might not be recognized:

First, of course, the new memory module may simply be defective. Although not terribly likely, this does happen.

Second, you could have the memory installed wrong. Remove it and reseat it, checking very carefully that you have it seated correctly. The notches in the memory module and socket are supposed to prevent incorrect insertion, but believe me, they don?t make it impossible. I?m a professional, and I?ve managed to install a module backwards (notches not withstanding, and I couldn?t believe I had done it .... or was able to have done it), and also with one end not completely seated.

Third, you could have bought the wrong type of memory. Four types of memory have been used in Pentium 4 systems: SDRAM, RDRAM, DDR and DDR2 (SDRAM and RDRAM are not currently being used in new systems, but are still found in older Pentium 4 systems). Note that this is the TYPE of memory, each type is totally different and totally incompatible with the others because they work completely differently. Any given system will generally take one and only one memory type. Subtle differences in the connectors are supposed to prevent inserting the wrong type of module, but as I noted above, it?s still possible to do it. So, the first question you need to be certain of is ?what type of memory do I need? and you must buy the correct type.

Fourth, even if you have the right type of memory (a module that would otherwise work in your system), when adding a module to an existing system that already has installed modules, you can run into compatibility issues between the modules. You said that you bought a module ?with the exact same specifications that are required for the PC?, but as a professional I know that most computer owners don?t truly understand what such a statement should mean. To many people, if they buy a ?512MB DDR2? memory module, they bought a module ?with the exact same specifications that are required for the PC?. But as a professional, I know that there is much more to it than that.

To be more specific and to point out just a few of the ways in which the wrong memory could be bought, memory modules have a variety of timing specifications. For example, a fully labeled module (and some modules are not fully labeled) may state on its label ?533MHz 444-12?. Those 12 characters specify five distinct timing specifications for that module, yet two different ?512MB DDR2? modules could be totally different in any or all 5 of those specifications, and yet would still be properly described as ?512MB DDR2? modules. However, the computer itself cares about those specs, and may not work if they are wrong. And by no means are these 5 timing specs the total extent of the issue, there are more specifications that may matter, but I use these as an obvious example.

However, there is another issue, you are adding memory to a computer that already has installed memory. In this situation, not only must the added module be compatible with the computer, it must also be compatible with the modules that you already have. To take our example, supposed you bought a 444-12 module but the existing modules are 333-10. Now it may be that both 444-12 modules and 333-10 modules would both work by themselves, but that in some systems, they will not work if you try to mix them. So when you state that you bought a ?memory stick with the exact same specifications?, I have to ask just how certain you are that ALL of the relevant specifications are the same.

But wait, there?s more!: Even modules that are the same size, same type and have the same timing can be architecturally different internally. For example, it is possible to build a 512MB memory module from eight chips having 64MB each, or from a module using four chips of 128MB each. And a given chip can be different from another chip of the same size, that is a 64MB memory chip (not module) could have 32 million words each 16 bits wide, or 16 million words each 32-bits wide. And, again, while a typical consumer looks only at the overall gross module spec (512MB of DDR2, for example), to the computer these details matter. And they matter a lot when you are adding memory to a system already containing memory, because very often you cannot mix different modules in the same system, even if both modules would work by themselves or used with other truly identical modules.

And that brings, us, finally, to my fifth area of concern, which is the matter of dual channel memory systems and channel symmetry. Many of today?s best and highest performance systems use ?dual channel? memory systems, in which there are two memory channels that are ?interleaved? to double the speed of the overall memory system. In order for a dual channel memory system to function, the memory modules installed in both channels must be architecturally identical and symmetrical. (They don?t have to be absolutely identical: I have such a system with one Hynix and one Infineon module that works fine, but when the Hynix module was added, it was chosen VERY carefully with all of these factors in mind).

If the module composition in a dual channel memory system become mismatched or asymmetrical, even if the system still works and recognizes all of the memory, it will revert to single channel operation which will cut the speed of the memory system by half, slowing the entire system. Consequently, even if it otherwise works, you never want to actually change or add to the memory in a system in a manner that creates such a mismatch, because of the performance impacts. A dual channel memory system typically has either two or four memory sockets, and each socket belongs to one channel or the other, and it matters, also, not only what you install but in which sockets you install it. So you can have a set of four memory modules (two pairs of two different sizes, for example ... say two 512MB modules and two 256MB modules) that would work properly in the system in all regards, yet if you simply install those 4 modules into the wrong sockets the system may not run at all, or may run with the memory system speed cut by half.

My concern with what you did is that you started with a system that had two modules of 512MB each, and you added a 3rd module of 512MB. By definition this is a problem in a dual channel memory system, simply because it?s an odd number of modules. For dual channel operation In a dual channel memory system you must ALWAYS install memory in MATCHED PAIRS, so any odd number of modules always a sub-optimal configuration (if it will work at all). If you install a configuration of memory modules other than matched pairs, any one of three things can happen:

-The system won?t boot (at all)
-The system runs but reverts to single channel operation
-The system doesn?t recognize all of the memory (AND it MAY revert to single channel operation).

So your addition was, at best, sub-optimal and not recommended. But please note that all of the above factors apply in addition to the considerations added by the likelihood that your dual-core system supports dual channel memory. [However, most recent systems use dual channel memory even if the processor is single core. There is no connection between dual-core processors and dual-channel memory other than that dual core processor systems are of very recent vintage, and therefore likely to also have dual channel memory systems.]

From this discussion you can see that there are huge number of considerations and factors that come into play when adding memory to an existing system. Because the issues of matching memory types is so potentially complex, people who are adding memory to a dual channel memory system are always advised to buy the memory only in pairs, and many people take the [perhaps overly] conservative approach of buying all new memory rather than trying to find memory that matches and is compatible with previously installed memory, whose full specifications may be difficult or impossible to determine.

I hope that this helps you in resolving your problems.

Submitted by: Barry W. of North Canton, Ohio
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Honorable mentions
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / July 27, 2006 2:41 AM PDT

There are a couple reasons for the RAM to not be recognized once it is installed in your system Jake so we will have to check each of them in turn to try to determine the reason you can't see the additional RAM you have installed. You say that you installed the RAM that matches the system specifications which is a great first step. You might also want to verify that it matches the RAM that is already installed. If you have differing speeds on your installed memory sticks then it can cause all the memory to run at the lowest speed of the sticks installed. This wouldn't stop the memory from being detected by your system, but is just something to keep in mind when looking to add more memory to a system.

The first thing I would look at would be to verify that you have got the memory stick seated properly in it's slot. Sometimes you might hear it "snap" into place, but it isn't really completely seated. So take the memory back out again, make sure the clips are moved to the open position, check the orientation of the memory stick (there is a little slot cut into the stick and a matching knob in the motherboard slot). Slowly insert the memory stick giving it a good push to make sure both arms on the memory slot on the motherboard "snap" into place. Then I usually give the memory stick another SMALL wiggle to make sure all contacts are touching properly and everything is in contact. Then try starting the system up again and see if the memory shows up. You might try to verify what the startup screen shows for installed memory too. It's pretty rare, but sometimes it will show that the motherboard sees the memory at startup but then Windows doesn't show it when fully started. That tends to have more to do with mis-matched memory in my experience, so I don't think you will find that to be the issue.

Another item to check on (and you can do this while making sure the stick is inserted fully into it's slot) would be the number of memory sticks in the system. You mentioned that the system came with 1GB already installed but you didn't specify if that was a single 1GB stick, or 2 sticks of 512MB. Some motherboards require that memory be installed in "pairs" so you always have to install 2 sticks of memory when upgrading. There are a couple ways to verify this, some of them far from exact, but still worth noting. When looking at the motherboard are the memory slots color coded (2 slots black and 2 blue maybe?)? That is one "very non-specific" way to check. If your system came with 2 sticks of 512 you can try replacing one of those sticks with your new stick and see if everything comes back. That would allow you to verify that the new stick you bought is good (can possibly be a bad stick of RAM you got) and it would test the paired memory requirements. If that is the case, then try taking out all but one stick and see if the system starts. If it doesn't it is a good indicator that you need to go get another stick of memory to add in so you have a total of 4. Another way to check the memory needs would be to go to HP's site and see if you can find anything about that system requiring matched memory.

Now, if the system came with a single stick of 1GB memory then it could be that the system doesn't require matched pairs, but that it does require same size memory in the RAM slots. That again could be based on color coding (assuming your board was color coded) so if the 1GB stick is in the blue slot, then try putting your 512 stick into a black slot and see if it shows then.

Finally, if there was a single 1GB stick in the system, replace it with your new 512 stick and try each of the single sticks in different memory slots. This will help you to make sure that EVERYTHING is fully functional. If you try each memory stick in each memory slot one at a time, then you will know that everything is working and you have a memory sizing issue and need to get same sized memory to put into the system.

Hope that helps you to get going with your new system. I applaud your effort to make this simplest of upgrades yourself, and despite your difficulties it is still one of the easiest and best ways to get the most out of your system. Being that it is a media center PC then getting a full 2GB of memory installed is a great route to take to ensure that you get smooth playback off all your media and get the most out of that system.

Submitted by: Greg H.



Hi Jake,

To be honest, the information you have provided is a little sparse - additional information, such as the model, memory slots and existing memory configuration would have been helpful.

I'll make some assumptions but if these are incorrect don't bother reading further. I'm assuming the machine comes with 4 DDR or DDR2 slots on two channels. I'll also assume that the existing memory is in two sticks of 512 MB each, one in each channel pair. The other possibility is a single stick of 1 GB, or I suppose, two stick in the same channel.

Some of the HP Media Centre models support different memory speeds - the obvious recommendation is to ensure that any stick you add is exactly the same spec and speed. You say you have checked that the new stick matches the HP spec, so check that it is the same as the initial memory. Check also that they are all either ECC or non-ECC. Some systems accept a mix, some don't.

Where did you put the new stick? I'd recommend that you put both the two existing sticks (or the single 1 GB stick) into the first channel pair (you may need to move one if they were originally on separate channels) and put the new stick by itself in the first slot of the second channel pair.

However, the first thing to do is to check the new memory stick actually works. Take out all the memory sticks. Put the new memory stick in channel 0 slot 0 (which should be where one of the original sticks was). Power up the machine. It should recognise the memory and come up with 512 MB. If it doesn't, the memory is either incompatible with the machine or is faulty. In either case, you want to get it replaced.

If it worked, shut down the machine again and move the new memory to channel 1 slot 0 and power up. It should work again at 512 MB. If not, the memory slot may be faulty. Power off and put the original memory into Channel 0 Slot 0 and Channel 0 slot 1. Power up and you should see 1GB. If not, Channel 0 slot 1 may be faulty. Assuming it worked, add in the new memory to Channel 1 slot 0. If you don't see 1.5 GB, then the new memory is incompatible with the old (since you know all the individual components are working).

I suppose there is an outside possibility that you have a machine that wants memory added in pairs - my HP doesn't care and it's a long time since I saw a machine that did, but you should check.

Good Luck.

Submitted by: Sav. M. of the United Kingdom



Hi Jake,

Memory can be a fickle item sometimes. Sometimes something as simple as "brand" will cause it to not run.

If you had supplied the model# of the HP computer, or even the model/serial numbers off of each of the memory boards, it would have been much easier to pinpoint the problem. Most modern computers will still boot up as long as it has "some" memory to work with.

I haven't bought an HP in many years, but HP and Compaq both used to use proprietary memory only (or brands that had compatible memory as licensed from them). This could be the case, although over the years I believe the act of using proprietary memory has gone by the wayside.

The next thing could be that the computer may require either ECC or NON-ECC memory and you have purchased the opposite of what it requires. Even if you buy the proper "format" (SDRAM, DDR, DDR2, etc) you may have not purchased the proper memory specifications to match the computer's need. A secondary point on this, is that some motherboards will accept either format, but not both. So if your manual says it can use ECC or NON-ECC memory, it doesn't mean it can use them both at the same time. It means you can have a 1GB and 500Mb if they are both 1 of either specification, not mixed. In these cases, the motherboard will generally pick the one in slot 1 and ignore the other one.

Another possibility, similarly related to ECC/NON-ECC type specification, is that memory comes in REGISTERED and NON_REGISTERED varieties. Some motherboards can use either, and some use one or the other. Again, you may still have purchased the proper format (SDRAM, DDR, DDR2, etc) but you may have not purchased the proper registration requirement.

Last, you do not specify if the 1 GB of ram that it came with is in the form of 1 memory board or 2? If it has 2 memory boards to make 1 GB, chances are the system requires Dual-Channel memory, which requires a PAIR of memory boards to be added, not just single boards. If you add a single board in this case, it will not be loaded unless it finds a matching partner.

Submitted by: Greg P. of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada




There are many potential issues here. Before you continue, do the obvious and insure that your addon is fully seated into the slot.

I have found that the issue of RAM specifications is a big cloud. Even people who should know the difference and what the specs actually mean are challenged.

The MotherBoard RAM configururation is not the same for these systems, and the RAM specs are also different.

check list:
#1. Is the original 1G RAM 1 or 2 sticks? If it is 2 then your system MAY require RAM to be installed in pairs. Remove one of the original RAM sticks to see if the system still runs. If it doesn't run then you need two addon sticks to make the addon work.

#2 If there are 2 sticks then each one is 512M and you can swap out one of the original with the addon. If it doesn't run then there is an issue with the addon RAM - either specs or functionality. If it does work then place the original RAM into slot 3. If it isn't recognized, then get another addon stick, total 4 sticks, and you should be good to go. Note: this does not eliminate the possibility of a problem with the motherboard slot. A close visual inspection may reveal an issue of bent connector pins, etc.-otherwise you will just have to get another stick to really know- UNLESS this system will run with the original 2 sticks in the other 2 slots. Some systems will, if it doesn't it is not conclusive.

#3 The RAM spec is the hardest to resolve. This site lists about 175 variations of your system: Some take DDR PC3200, some DDR2-400. I didn't find any that took ECC, but I didn't look at them all. Do a search on the p/n of your addon RAM and verify that the specs are the same as the original RAM (search its p/n also). Note: try to use the same site for comparision since every site seems to list specs differently.

Good luck.

Submitted by: Bill R. of Cary, North Carolina




Years ago there were lots of things that could go wrong with RAM installs - so many different types of ram, DIP switches to set, needing specific combinations of sockets in use. These days it's a lot simpler and since your PC is relatively new, I'm surprised you're having trouble.

So here are my thoughts. I'm going to assume that you have checked that the ram is the right way round and pushed all the way into the socket. I have seen brand new PCs that wouldn't boot because the ram had fallen out!

OK so you think the spec. of the new ram matches the old, but even so there can be differences that cause trouble. Some ram sticks are double-sided and some single-sided, and my rule of thumb is not to mix types. When I upgrade I normally buy all new memory and put the old on ebay.

You might also want to consider a performance issue: your PC may have dual channel capability. This basically speeds up ram by accessing two sticks at a faster rate than is possible with one. So, if you have two sticks in there already, you might be compromising speed a little by adding one extra. This all depends on the motherboard and chipset but if you have dual-channel, it's worth upgrading to 2G by putting two identical 1G sticks in, rather than just the single extra stick.

Is it possible that you have some BIOS settings for the ram that are good for your existing ram but not for the new? For example, if your new ram is slightly slower than the old, and the BIOS has been tweaked for performance. I recommend setting all the ram timing options to default.

You don't say whether you currently have 2x512MB or 1x1G, but can your motherboard take the combination of memory you are attempting to plug in? If you have 2x512, maybe you could try using one old stick along with the new, to prove this.

Finally, are you sure that your new stick works? Try taking out all the existing memory, and use the 512M on its own. If you've already reset the bios settings to default, and this stick isn't working on its own, it may be faulty.

Submitted by: Nigel B. of Liverpool, United Kingdom



I am assuming that your HP system does not use a proprietary design for its memory modules. Some computer manufacturers, such as Dell, used to do this. If this is the case, generic, industry-standard form factor modules will not work properly in your system.

Is your motherboard configured for DDR2 memory? If so, you must install the memory modules in pairs. Typically the first pair occupies slots 1 and 3 and the second pair occupies slots 2 and 4. If this is the case, you'll need to buy another 512MB module. However, I would suggest that before you buy another module, you remove all of the memory modules and make sure that the specs on the new module match those on the original modules.

You may also be able to disable the DDR2 feature, in which case the system will revert to plain DDR and you will lose some performance benefits but your new module should be recognized. Consult the documentation for your system or motherboard to find out how to do this.

There is also the possibility that the memory module is defective. The best way to find out is to substitute another module. Reputable memory module manufacturers will exchange a defective module under warranty.

Brand quality is important. I recommend buying memory modules from Crucial is the marketing arm for Micron, which makes good-quality modules. Many computer manufacturers buy their modules from Crucial. The company has an excellent, no-questions-asked, lifetime warranty. Kingston also makes good modules. Crucial has an interactive memory upgrade finder that will identify those modules that are compatible with your system. Kingston probably has something similar.

Submitted by: Robert S.



The possible solutions for this are as follows:

1. If the two sticks of memory are NOT identical or twins your board may not recognize the 512 stick.

2. Check the socket where the RAM is installed. Make sure it is inserted properly and the contacts are not damaged and free of debris. Try switching the two sticks putting the 512 in the slot currently occupied by the 1 Gig and the 1 Gig in the slot where the 512 is currently. This will eliminate the potential of a bad slot.

3. Check your bios to make sure it automatically updates when new RAM is added and that your system will accept the amount of RAM currently installed (unlikely this will be a problem on a new machine).

4. Finally, you may have a bad stick of RAM. If you swap the placement of the sticks and the system still does not find the 512 this is probably your problem. You can download a copy of MEMTEST and run the diagnostics or return the RAM to the store where purchased and have them test it. I have been sold a bad stick of RAM numerous times and have returned it only to have the replacement work fine. An additional note of caution when purchasing RAM make sure that the integrity of the packaging is not breached. If you purchase RAM from a store where it is stored in bins be especially cautious and possibly ask that they test it before you buy it.

Hope this helps.

Submitted by: Scott J.



Your memory card/stick may not be recognized by the system for any of a number of reasons:

1. The card isn't seated properly, or is somehow seated backwards. Open up your PC and re-seat the stick properly.

2. Your BIOS (which runs when the system starts) needs to be refreshed.
This is most likely needed on older PCs. You normally enter the BIOS when you restart the system, either by holding a function key down or by pressing a key during startup. Some PCs allow access to the BIOS settings using a system utility. For particulars on your system, check your system's manual, visit HP's technical support site, or call the service line.

3. The memory stick is bad. Have your dealer check the memory.

4. Finally, many systems won't recognize memory beyond a certain capacity. For instance, my laptop only recognizes 1 GB of memory. It's possible that the extra 512 MB of memory can't be used at all by your PC. Again, check your manual or call HP's tech support.

5. One last possibility, but only on older systems (but not yours): you might have to change DIP switches on the motherboard to allow the extra memory to be recognized.

Submitted by: Pat O.




Chances are excellent that the memory you got, while it's the correct specification for the computer, is missing something - another stick of RAM.

Many 64 bit and dual core motherboard/CPUs these days require that memory be installed in pairs - as what's known as Dual Channel. This simply means that you need a matched set of memory sticks in order for the system to recognize more than one GB of RAM.

Things to check to verify this is the case:

1.) Check the manual for information on RAM upgrades. If you don't have the manual, check on line. HP will have the computer's manual on their website in PDF format.

2.) Not so many moons ago, you could simply check the screen during the boot process - however, these days, the information generated during the POST and boot sequence is usually obscured by corporate logos - but on some systems you can still press the TAB key to hide the logo and see some information. If you see something that says something like "Memory Runs As Dual Channel", you've got confirmation.

3.) Check the existing RAM - judging by the wording in your question, it sounds like the computer probably has a pair of 512 MB sticks installed by the factory. If this is the case, you'll probably need a 4th stick.

Just to verify the RAM is good, you can, carefully, remove one of the existing factory sticks and replace it with the other module and boot the computer. It should read as a full GB of RAM. Anything less and you quite probably have a defective stick of memory.

Submitted by: Pete Z.



Jake K,

I think this may be your problem, with a dual core processor you have to install match paired memory sticks, in other words the memory sticks must match equally, so in other words if you want to put another 512 megs of memory to the computer you have to put a matching setup of 256 megs sticks in the memory slots for the system to recognize the extra ram, on a dual core chip setup you have to match the sticks in a parallel to get them to work and get recognized.

This is because a dual core processor requires a matched set of memory sticks to work properly, if you add memory to boost the processors ram you have to do it equally cause a dual core processor needs memory put in pairs, this is because the separate cores of the processor, each require its own memory and there is a certain way you have to install memory on the mother board to make sure the cpu recognizes the extra memory, you should have four sockets on the mother board, dimmA1, dimmA2, dimmB1, and dimmB2, if you notice, the memory in your mother board, that came with the computer, should be in dimmA1 and dimmB1, so if you upgrade ram, you have to put in a matched setup in dimmsA2, and dimmB2, otherwise the cpu will not recognize the extra memory in a dual core setup.

Again this is because in a dual core setup computer each core requires its own memory to pull from, but remember the memory sticks must be a matched set, or it will not work, I think this should help you with your problem.

Submitted by: Mike E.



There are several reasons that a new memory module may go unrecognized by a computer. The first I can think of is that the new module is defective, perhaps you can install it in another computer to test. The second could be that your computer requires memory modules to be installed in pairs. If that is the case with yours, you can try to exchange the single 512M for two 256M's, or simply buy another 512M and upgrade to 2G. Number three may be the BIOS, while modern BIOS should recognize a change in memory automatically, this may have been turned off on your computer. When you boot, watch the screen carefully for the key to enter Setup, and hit it. Scroll or tab to the settings for memory and make sure it's set for automatic detection or enter your new memory size manually. If none of these is the problem you may have a bad memory socket or a motherboard problem.

Submitted by: Howard V.
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Adding Memory to HP Compaq PCs
by raykirkwood / July 27, 2006 7:53 PM PDT
In reply to: Honorable mentions

I have recently added 1 GB extra memory to a one year old HP Compaq PC. There were originally 2 x 512 MB sticks one in each of grey and black pairs of memory sockets. I tried to add a single extra 512 MB stick but this was not recognised, but would run when substituted for one of the original sticks.

Further research on the HP site showed that most recent HP machines are Dual Channel and must have either one pair of matched memory sticks in opposite channel sockets (balanced across grey and black) or have all four sockets populated. I bought a fourth 512 MB memory stick and the whole 4 are now balanced and running as Dual Channel. there have been very noticeable improvements when video-editing large files, when up to 1.3 Gb RAM can be seen to be (according to MaxMem program) in use at one time!

For ensuring compatability, I used the Crucial Memory site to scan my machine and recommend their modules which would be compatible and ordered from them (next day post).

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by u2in99 / July 28, 2006 1:04 AM PDT
In reply to: Honorable mentions

sometimes this happens, it's not all that rare-
possibilities abound in this regard so a techncian
or friend in the know may be required.

check these out by substitution and process of elimination- 1)clear the cmos 2)switch the order of the ram slots in use 3)Is the board equipped for more than 1gb ram to be recognized, not all are.
(check with manufacturer of unit) 4)try someone else's known good ram if possible 5)sometimes certain units have a tough time with the new pc3200 and nothing can be done about it unless you buy ram from the original maker of the unit 6)the most often cause of ram trouble is not fully seated even though it looks and feels like it is- you must lay the unit down on it's side on a floor and hover directly over it and seat the ram carefully but with some vigor to get a proper seat with some motherboards, this is a common difficulty because the ram sockets are made rather tight and vary from one model and brand to another more than they should. lastly be sure you really have the same pc2700 or the same pc3200 for example and not a combo of two types -Good luck

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Well check the Mother board by
by 4jackie40d / July 30, 2006 12:30 AM PDT
In reply to: Honorable mentions

Change the slots you have MEMORY installed in . . Move the 1 gig stick over and put the 512 meg stick in the place where the 1 gig was and the 1 gig where the 512 was
and see if the 512 is seen and not the 1 gig . . Some mother boards have a bad slot .. some where the slot is not working

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Other advice from our members
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / July 27, 2006 2:42 AM PDT

Jake, I recently ran into the same problem with a Gateway I purchased. It is a media center pc with a 3.0 Ghz p-4 processor with 1 gig of pc 3200 ram. I wanted to upgrade it to 2 or 3 gig's of ram so I searched and read a lot about the different types of ram so I settled on a well known brand name ram, I even contacted Gateway to see if it was compatible (they would not help me because as they say "we do not support what we don't sell"). Well low and behold after dropping $235.00 for 2 X 1 Gig each of ram, I installed it and poof the computer would not read it no mater were the ram sat in the bank of four slots. Well I went back and did some more research and found out I was sent the wrong memory. Mine was supposed to be non-purity and they sent me purity ram. So I figured if they messed up that bad on something simple as that I was going back to Crucial memory (where I always bought from before except this time). They went through the memory I had bought and told me what was wrong. That's customer support for you , you just can't pay too much for. Here they were telling me what was wrong with a competitor?s memory and competitor didn't even know what was wrong and didn't try to figure it out either. so I would suggest you go to Crucial's web site they have a memory configurator that will tell you the right and guaranteed memory that will work, and they will stand behind it 100%. I have bought memory since the dimm's memory days and for all the crap I went through to save a couple of bucks it was not worth it.

Submitted by: CowBobby




I am just guessing, but I would say that your PC currently has two sticks of 512 MB to attain the 1GB that came with your pc. My guess is that your motherboard has 4 memory slots. The first step would be to remove one of those original sticks of memory and replace it with the new memory that you just purchased. Boot your PC and check to see of the PC recognizes the memory. You should be able to tell while it is booting, but I also suggest getting into the BIOS to check as well. If the memory is recognized, then I suggest buying another 512 MB memory stick, because there is a good chance you have a PC that will only take memory sticks in matching pairs. If the PC doesn?t recognize the memory at that point and the new memory has the exact same specs there is a chance the new stick could be bad. You may also want to check the manufacturer of memory to see if it compatible with your processor. HP Offers both Intel and AMD chips, so check with the Intel and AMD websites for memory compatibility as well as the manufacturer of the motherboard that HP used. It may take some digging but the information is out there.

You can use the following site for a start if your processor is an AMD:,,30_2252_893_10125,00.html

For Intel this is probably the best place to start:

There is one final if you did not have success with your first test. Remove all the original memory, install the new memory, boot the system and see what happens. Make sure you put the memory in the 1st memory slot on the motherboard. It should have some kind of marking to indicate the first slot. Boot the system, if the memory still doesn?t work, it is a safe bet to say the memory is bad. Return or exchange it if you can.

Submitted by: Chris P.



Hi Jake K, I had the same problem when I installed two 512Mb sticks to add to the one I already had in it. I was told my computer would only (probably ) take 1Gb, and that was why one stick was not being recognized. Another story was that it could only take a full 1Gb stick if I added a 512Mb one. Finally another piece of advice that worked ,was to move the sticks around until they were recognized, and they were. I now have all three working fine. I used (a free program to download) to check it, and everything else, that was working or not working in my computer. Try it and good luck too.

Be careful of the obvious precaution (that I forgot and was dead lucky not to blow the guts) to ground the case with a strap or at least touch the case to de-activate yourself first etc. That static can be deadly. I was told to keep it plugged in to give it the grounding connection, but switched off for safety? Might be basic, but so easy to overlook.

Submitted by: Frank L.



Reader Jack K. attempted to increase his system memory on a Hewlett Packard Media Center PC, 2.8GHz dual core processor, 1GB ram, by inserting a single 512 MB ram stick. I have the same type of computer, and would never consider this solution. The computer came with two matching sticks of ram in two adjacent slots. Increasing memory would mean putting two more matching sticks of ram in the two available empty slots. They need not be two 512MB sticks, as supplied by HP. Two 1GB sticks matching HP's specifications would also work. There are two reasons for this. First, memory sticks in pairs is an ancient way of improving memory performance, and manufacturers generally tell you to work with matching pairs in adjacent slots. Second, the CPU is a dual core chip, and HP did not intend it to work with mismatched memory pairs. I have increased my memory with two 512MB sticks, correct specifications and trusted manufacturer. The 2 Gigabytes available is a joy, although 1GB served my simple needs. I am not interested in pulling one stick to see if the computer still works. Tearing down a working system is the source of bad things.

Submitted by: William J.



Well, in answer to Jake K.s' question about his computer not recognizing his new 512 RAM. Some computers just do not recognize new hardware, and Memory Sticks are hardware, without entering the Control Panel and clicking on Add New Hardware. Besides, if he wanted that type of configuration, he should have had a computer built for him. Having a computer built by a pro at a shop is generally quite a bit less than buying one out of a box. That's just one of the answers. It's also possible, though hard unless a person tries hard, to install the memory stick backwards. It takes a lot of pressure to install it that way, but a lot of people seem to do it. And if he has, then the memory slot is shot.

I also wonder if he bought a memory stick with the wrong amount of pins. That's another common mistake. He should check his manual to make sure he has the same. It would be hard to put it in, but then, a lot of people do that also. For instance he may have DDR2 SDRAM 2700 and he could have bought DDR SDRAM 2700. That's close but no cigar.

If the Memory Stick is the same, and he put it in right then have him try the what I said in the first answer. I suspect that probably is the correct answer.

Besides, he probably should have taken his computer to an authorized repair shop, had them put the stick in, and then he wouldn't have a problem with his computer recognizing his extra RAM. A little money saves the cost of a large headache.

With a gig of RAM, he really didn't need more and probably spent money foolishly. XP home just isn't that memory intensive. Even XP professional doesn't need that much RAM. He certainly won't notice that high an increase in how quickly his computer boots and runs..

Tell him good luck.

Submitted by: Joe J. of Trenton, South Carolina



Your memory modules cannot be of different sizes. Both modules have to be either 1GB or 512 MB, in other words you cannot mix and match. To eliminate the possibility that memory module is defective remove one module while keeping the other one in place. Check during Power On Self Test (POST) (right after turn on when screen is black and white and memory count is incrementing) the size of memory. It should be same as the size of your installed memory module, for example 1000,000 KB if 1GB module is installed. Repeat this procedure after removing 1GB module and installing 512 MB module in its place. Now during POST you should see 512,000 KB. This test will indicate that there is nothing wrong with your computer or memory, and the only problem is the wrong configuration you are using.

Good Luck.

Submitted by: Nassir A.



Very often I have found that Hp and Compaq Computers do not accept several brands of memory, even tough the specifications are met, at least regarding the type of memory card and the speed. The safest thing to do is to buy the same brand and specifications as the memory that is already installed in your computer or else ask HP.

Submitted by: Eduardo V.



Are you sure you bought the correct memory chip? Surmising you did not buy an unbranded machine you more than likely have an HP Model 7250. This is the most popular dual core unit made by HP at the present time! With the HP Media Center dual core processor systems you have to use DDR2 chips. A regular memory chip will not be recognized. Even though the cost might be prohibitive to you it is also recommended you install another 1GB memory chip. The reason for this is that a good portion of your memory is used up for video and picture resolution. Hope this helps. Let us know how you make out.

Submitted by: Rick K.



I have just read your question about memory not being recognized by your PC though it is installed correctly. I put some new memory in my PC (in accordance with the specs given) about 2 years ago & thought it was installed correctly as well. It looked correct in the slots & felt securely anchored. I was having the same problem you are now. As it turned out, the memory stick was NOT all the way into the slot. Initially, I was concerned about applying too much pressure & damaging the stick but found out that it does take a bit of pressure to get the memory seated properly. I don't know if this is the answer, but it is what worked in my case.

Submitted by: Cynthia H. of East Lake, North Carolina



I would like to tell you that I too faced the same problem when I installed a new stick of RAM. I'm sure that the problem is not with the motherboard support as ur configuration must have support for at least 2 GB of RAM. I think the problem is with WINDOWS. I reinstalled my windows and it now it recognizes both of my RAM modules.

Submitted by: Ayan



This could well have an easy fix. Put the new stick of ram (assuming it is an identical type as the original except for the size) in slot 1 and the original in slot 2, i.e. reverse the positions of the installed ram. Laptops all seem to have this trouble with extra ram so your new desktop could be similar.

Submitted by: Colin O.



Umm...possibly because your PC is wanting either Dual Channel Ram, or it's hit the upper limit of the amount of memory that mother board can handle. A motherboard I'm having problems with says on the box it can handle up to 4 gig of ram, BUT, when you put more than 2 gig of double sided ram in it, it doesn't recognise anything over 2 gig. To use more than 2 gig of ram, you need SINGLE SIDED ram?!?!! WHAT THE!?! Anyone out there come across single sided ddr2 ram?! I never have! But that's what it's wanting.

Submitted by: Barry D.



I had exactly the same problem when I bought and installed another memory stick in my Dad's HP Pavilion laptop 2 weeks ago. After a few attempts, I noticed that the 2nd stick didn't seem to be seating in the socket exactly straight. I tried re-inserting it and examining it, but nothing. Finally, I moved the old stick to slot #2, and installed the new stick in slot #1. Worked just great! Try it.

Submitted by: Jeff L.



Regarding the memory problem with the HP Media Center PC.

You don't say which model you have but the M7360Y has the following memory configurations:

Notice that every option is a multiple of two. This means you must have matched RAM in each slot and since you already have 1 GB in two slots you must install two 512 MB in each of the other two slots. This will give you 2 GB.

HP says you need to use "HP tested and approved" RAM.

? 512 MB DDR2 PC2-4200 (2 DIMMS)
? 1 GB DDR2 PC2-4200 (2 DIMMS)
? 2 GB DDR2 PC2-4200 (4 DIMMS)
? 512 MB DDR2 PC2-5300 (2 DIMMS)
? 1 GB DDR2 PC2-5300 (2 DIMMS)
? 2 GB DDR2 PC2-5300 (4 DIMMS)
? 4 GB DDR2 PC2-4200 (4 DIMMS)
? 4 GB DDR2 PC2-5300 (4 DIMMS)

Submitted by: Marc C.



I?ve encountered something similar. There was dust and/or slight corrosion in the memory slot. A little canned air and reinserting the memory stick a few times cured the problem. Just something to consider?

Submitted by: Mark H.
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by djujecmaoseoionnn / July 28, 2006 4:12 AM PDT

I dont know if it was a typo but I believe its called parity and non parity.
This is info on memory from Computer memory upgrades web site.

The cheapest and most prevalent level of redundancy is non-parity memory. When you have non-parity memory in your machine and it encounters a memory error, the operating system will have no way of knowing and will most likely crash, but could corrupt data as well with no way of telling the OS. This is the most common type of memory, and unless specified, that's what you're getting. It works fine for most applications, but I wouldn't run life support systems on it.

The second level of redundancy is parity memory (also called true parity). Parity memory has extra chips that act as parity chips. Thus, the chip will be able to detect when a memory error has occurred and signal the operating system. You'll probably still crash, but at least you'll know why.

Choices from HPs website on Media Center PC unless you bought the 7500 or lower series which only supports 533MHz and 2 gigi total.:
512MB DDR2-533MHz dual channel SDRAM (2x256)
512MB DDR2-667MHz dual channel SDRAM (2x256)
1GB DDR2-533MHz dual channel SDRAM (2x512)
1GB DDR2-667MHz dual channel SDRAM (2x512)
2GB DDR2-533MHz dual channel SDRAM (4x512)
2GB DDR2-667MHz dual channel SDRAM (2x1024)
4GB DDR2-533MHz dual channel SDRAM (4x1024)
4GB DDR2-667MHz dual channel SDRAM (4x1024)

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Memory inconsistency
by Flatline9 / July 27, 2006 7:47 PM PDT

One of the reasons why your PC doesn't recognise the new RAM may be due to the fact that you have the BIOS configured to perform a quick memory check on bootup.

To get the BIOS to recognise the additional memory simply enter the BIOS setup and disable the ''Quick memory check on bootup'' Once the BIOS has recognised the additional memory and stored the value you can then reset the BIOS to performing a quick memory check.

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Computer doesn't Recognise the New RAM I installed
by gregmcz / July 27, 2006 7:56 PM PDT

Extremely valid and comprehensive points from Barry. I just bought the same machine and wanted to increase the RAM to 2GB. I had to add 2x512MB in the remaining two bays to achieve this. So, if you want to increase your memory by 512MB, you need to install 2x256MB for the computer to recognise it.

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If the worst comes to the worst...
by Hodgelett / July 27, 2006 8:14 PM PDT

...take it to a computer shop who can experiment with lots of different combinations for you.
I had a Time machine a few years back, and I assume it's what many called a 'dedicated' machine. It only recognised half of whatever RAM chip we put in. The IT guy said 'that'll be easy!' 5 days later he was still experimenting, before he finally found the right combination.

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Simple RAM scan for us dummies
by w9jbl / July 27, 2006 8:12 PM PDT

I don't know if this will solve the original problem, but Crucial Memory has a neat scan that identifies what your computer has and their recommendations for memory upgrades, including type and size.

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Great link
by Azriel1 / July 27, 2006 8:24 PM PDT

very helpful, thanks for posting it

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RAM Scan..THANKS! (need advice on installing more memory..?)
by truhonesti / July 28, 2006 2:28 AM PDT

Thanks for that Link Lee ... That must have had MY NAME stamped on it ! LOL Wink I HOPE this has to do with the VIRTUAL MEMORY...cause that's my main problem.

I've been needing to add memory to my laptop (& my other computers), since I keep getting the same message ''Virtual memory is low''. I hope installing additional memory will solve my problem... Am I right ?

I've run the scan. It shows that my laptop (Fujitsu, Lifebook C)has 256 MB in slot 1 & 2, with a max capacity of 768 MB. My slots are full, and I'm told I must "remove & replace with higher-capacity modules". Then, the CMA Tool needed the model number (C-7651), but it wasn't listed (I've had my LT since 2001/2). I hope I can still upgrade my memory...?

I've also read several posts on the board (especially Barry's response to Jake....THANKS Barry ~ I'd never have known the half of it!), I'm thinking I'm going to have to remove BOTH memory sticks & replace them both with two of the same MB sticks. Do they even make sticks of 384 MB, or do I have to go another route?

If I'm 'guess~timating' correctly so far, this makes me think there will be several 'related' issues I'll need to know about...:

1. Would the old memory sticks be of use?

2. Might they be able to be installed on one of my other computers? (I know I'd have to run the RAM scan on the others to check compatability, etc.. Hopefully the CM Advisor tool will be able to give me this answer).

3. Do I need to transfer data FROM the old sticks to the new ~ before removing them? If so, is it a simple enough task ? (Again, please keep in mind that I've never done anything like this before, but I HAVE seen the insides of the towers of my other computers, and vaguely know where memory goes in those machines).

4. Installation of new sticks...Any tips for E~Z installation into my laptop ?

FINALLY, (I'll bet you're probably relieved to hear THAT word...) :-D ... would the same proceedure apply to upgrading the(virtual) memory of my other computers...for the most part?

I AM a novice of novices, and need to be certain that I KNOW what I'm trying to do before I even TRY to do it.
I DO have a friend who is my computer man...he does GREAT work & is ALWAYS there for me! He was the one who told me about this site. (Thanks Rich) Happy I've found soooo much help & resources here ! ... I'm now hoping to be able to do some (if any) of the smaller tasks myself, in an effort to save some money (I have 4+ machines)...and just because I like 'tinkering' with them.

Thank you IN ADVANCE for any and all advice & tips. They're MOST appreciated !

Novice K

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This Crashed My System- - - Still Broken
by leaglebob / July 28, 2006 4:20 AM PDT

Downloaded and was using the report tool and my computer stopped responding -ie froze up. Rebooted and had lost my conection to the internet. Have to recycle my Comcast Modem WHILE my computer is off in order to release the ip.

Now, computer loses internet connection every 10 minutes. Comcast says something may be interfering with "the drivers" and Crucial tech says "no way" their program is involved in this.

As usual, who can tell? If anyone had similar prob and any solution--please post?? Bobbo. (running gigabyte K8SN-Ultra-939 board with Windows 2000). Thanks and hope you don't experience this. Will post back if anything definite is found.

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Reply to This Crashed My System- - - Still Broken
by cooldude0 / July 30, 2006 11:45 PM PDT

Had you had problems with your modem or internet before? Do you have a firewall, anti-virus or anti-spyware, if you don't you should get those. If you do yo should check to see if anything bad like viruses or spyware are in your computer.

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by billpeek / July 27, 2006 8:14 PM PDT

Working on some HP's You can only add RAM in match pairs, Like 2-256MB or 2-512s or 2-1024s, had to learn the hard way !!! If you have 1-1024 you must add another 1024 stick.

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only problem is.....
by Corky50 / July 27, 2006 9:12 PM PDT
In reply to: HP RAM !

this site is great for newer computers...but heaven forbid you have anything with any age at all on it. if you do...their scan will not give you the answers you want...but they do have a on line help person who will led you thru it if needed

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Thats why I make Computers with
by 4jackie40d / July 30, 2006 12:39 AM PDT
In reply to: HP RAM !

Thats why I make computers with 4 slots for memory and you can add different things to it 2 each 256 and 2 each 512 's for a gig and a half or 3 512 's and so on . .
I usually tell people that a NAME brand is a bit
( get parts from us or else type ) and you can only buy parts from the company you got it from like Compaq was

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RAM problem
by danterio / July 27, 2006 9:16 PM PDT

Your answer is way to complicated and not correct. The reason the RAM doesn't work is because someone was stupid enough to buy an HP. I bought my daughter a used HP. I wanted to add more memory. I bought a 20 dollar stick at Best Buy. Guess what, it didn't work. I called HP, same memory 125 dollars, I finally found one for 80 dollars. Don't buy name brand proprietary computers they stick it to you. I had a friend whose monitor wouldn't work with his Gateway computer. He had to buy a generic Windows OS to make it work.,

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Unrecognised Mem Modules
by andy1512 / July 27, 2006 9:32 PM PDT


You did not say how old your system is, or what operating system is installed. Windows XP being the common instal will run memory functions different to say Linux, or Tiger in Apples.

Most computers these days are either Pentium 4 or AMD Athol.

These also run memory slightly differently due to the FSB speeds and if the system is 32 or the new 64.

Also your Motherboard plays an important part in which memory your PC is compatible with.

Without geting to technical as I don't know your overall knowledge I will try to explain why you may have a problem.

First of all the motherboard, the Bios on the board may only recognise certain frequencies of memory which match the boards running speed know as FSB which is front speed bus.

For example: 100Mhz FSB requires DDR200 Which is PC1600.
133Mhz is PC2100 and DDR266, 166Mhz is PC2700 and DDR333, 200Mhz is PC3200 and DDR400 and 266Mhz is PC4200 and DDR533.

You can check the boards manual or manufacturers web site to see which relates to your board.
It is then sometimes possible to update your BIOS with a download which may solve the issue.

Memory modules also come as Buffered and none Buffered
which is also called Parity or none Parity, They can't be mixed you have to use either or.

Also if your board has dual memory slots then the same amout of memory needs to be incerted in the opposit slots.

For example if the board has 4 slots with a maximum of 4 Geg.

If you put a 1G in slot 1 you need to put the same amount in slot 3 a total of 2 Gegs.

Same goes for slots 2 and 4

The board will not recognise memory of different amounts in slots 1 and 2 as it is looking to dual.

Memory is complicated as there are so many different aspects of how it functions within the sytem regarding its bandwidths and voltage.

Going back to your motherboard if it is an old board you may need to ajust jumper setting on it to except large amounts of DDR.

It may also require you to enter BIOS by pressing delete as the sytem boots and checking the memory frequency settings are correct default is normally auto.

I hope this has been of some help.



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ram modules
by wcoffey81 / July 28, 2006 12:29 AM PDT

usually if you ask 10 different PC guys a single question
you get at least 10 - 12 different answers. it was nice to see almost all of us give answers that were pretty much the same, except the person who blamed HP for the problem.
it would be better for you if you switched to a 2Gb solution. now, as a business owner, if you came to me with this problem i would be willing to take your current ram in on a partial trade toward the correct solution. are there any mom&pop computer shops near you?? look one up and ask!! this is one of the benefits of having a relationship with someone close by. are we just as cheap accross the board?? NO!! are we close?? YES...YES...YES..
with online vendors you are as close as a couple of faxes, three or four emails and two phone calls. with local, stop in and tell me what you want to do, the worst thing i will ask is for you to bring in the PC so i can make sure we get the correct ram. then i would plug it in to make sure everything works fine and you go home with a working system. problems later!!! i'm still right down the street!! no faxes, no emails and no on hold forever.

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HP is another Compaq under a different name
by 4jackie40d / July 28, 2006 12:05 AM PDT

I would guess that the Mother board has a bad slot !
Switch the memory chips around and see if the 512 chip is seen and the other 1 gig chip is not seen . . If so send the whole thing back to HP and make your own computer LOTS CHEAPER to do and you can make one better then you got . . For just under $500 you can make 1 heck of a computer with all the bells and whistles you want !

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check with vendor too
by dvocelka / July 28, 2006 12:13 AM PDT

Consider buying memory from the original vendor or manufacturer to ensure compatibility.

Rick O.

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that dose not work all the time
by bubbathecat / July 28, 2006 1:04 AM PDT
In reply to: check with vendor too

a lot of venders buy off the shelf to so they don't keep spares in stock and sud with what the have on hand

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Reply to 7/28/06 Computer doesn't recognize the new RAM I in
by mSn / July 28, 2006 12:23 AM PDT

All I know is that if I want to buy and upgrade my memory for my computer I call Crucial which is part of Micron Technology. Their service dept. is awesome.

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Crucial + Micron Technology ?
by truhonesti / July 28, 2006 4:42 AM PDT

Wow, I learned another thing today ... didn't know they were linked! (I'm an MU stockholder) lol ... great !!

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Location, location, location
by byu1980 / July 28, 2006 6:54 AM PDT

And they're headquartered in one of the best small cities in the West--Boise, Idaho.

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Memory won't work
by BIGHUD9729 / July 28, 2006 12:49 AM PDT

Look at all the specs. for memory.Check and see if you are using RIMMS,DIMMS and if it is PC 100,2700,400 or my also have a bad slot where the memory sits.I bought a computer from HP and it had a bad video card.So don't think because you buy something new it will work.Also check the manufacturer of the memory sometimes not all manufactures of memory will work in all machines.

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check mother board *****
by bubbathecat / July 28, 2006 12:57 AM PDT

I bet that the problem is that the motherboard will not support more then a gig, look up the specs on it first. you may get away with just a bios update

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Call HP !
by pereira.rjp / July 28, 2006 1:13 AM PDT

They'll go down their own checklist of why the RAM doesn't work like whether you have to install in pairs or not - e.g. 1GB + 1GB, not like 1GB + 512MB that you did. Some minor BIOS reconfigurations perhaps. There is also the possibility of RAM being bad, try it in another PC before calling HP.

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Memory install
by pkweis / July 28, 2006 1:40 AM PDT

I beleive HP requires the memor be installed in pairs.

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