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RAM issues - HELP!

by jebernauer / September 8, 2006 3:11 PM PDT

I have a Dell Dimension 4100 with 1G processor(service tag 6LZH701). It originally came with 128MB of PC133 SDRAM. I added another 128 a while back and was happy with the performance under WinMe. Now with XP I am slowing up and want to add two 256 MB chips to max out the Mobo according to several sources. I bought the 256 chips and tested each individually with the original 128 and they worked fine and were recognized as 384 during boot. So I logically took out the 128 and added the second 256 and tried to boot.

Nothing happened. The screen stayed blank and the fans spooled up along with the hard drive, but it never kept chattering like it was booting. I reversed backed to the 128/256 setup and still nothing. Panic started to set in. I pulled the other 256 and booted with just the original 128 and I managed to get it to boot. I put the 256 back in with the 128 and it booted again. 256/256 and again nothing. So I back tracked and evaluated my position.

I thought maybe the power supply isn't strong enough so I pulled out my dinosaur modem and unplugged my secondary CD/DVD-ROM and tried the boot process all over again. Still won't deal with the 256/256 chip setup.

Any insight into this problem would be most appreciated.

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Now here's an odd one.
by GeeBee / September 8, 2006 10:10 PM PDT
In reply to: RAM issues - HELP!

So you tried both new 256MB sticks of RAM with the original single 128MB stick that came in the DELL, and they both work right? The commensurate 384MB is shown and the system boots and windows loads. So the new RAM isn't faulty.

Equally it's not the power supply. RAM isn't a huge power drain, and adding a greater amount is not going to overtask even the most marginal PSU. If it did, the PSU would immediately fail to provide enough power to spin even a CD, never mind a larger capacity stick of RAM! Wink

So what's to causing the problem? You've actually narrowed this down quite well. The PC ''needs'' the DELL 128MB stick of RAM to boot...but what's so special about it? Must be something like it's stick of RAM with parity checking (an extra chip (don't count them, it's no real indicator, or help!) that checks basic data input/output function) which typically for a DELL means that once again you can't just install generic replacment parts for a quick and easy upgrade path. As soon as remove that stick of RAM, the parity check is gone, and so too is the working system.

RAM makers sell many types, both with and without parity checking, for just this particular reason. It might be possible to enter the DELL BIOS and disable the parity check option (PC's here all have some BIOS entry regarding parity on/off, but happily none are DELL. ;D ), but again it's a DELL, which means they'll have their own very limited BIOS options (''we must stop users having control over their hardware!'') which doesn't allow you control over that.

Good luck though,


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Been there. It was a chipset issue.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 9, 2006 12:04 AM PDT
In reply to: RAM issues - HELP!

I won't write the full details (done that too many times) but the chipset and memory sticks were not compatible. There are single and dual sided memory sticks and while some think that is about memory on the sides of the board that's incorrect. It's that 256MB sticks came in various flavors and while one version worked in both types of chipsets the other only worked in most but was cheaper.

Crucial.com knows which to offer and what you buy at the store will be the cheaper variety that works in most machines but not all.

No, there is no way to get these sticks to work if you have the usual i810 family chipset.


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one last question... ok two
by jebernauer / September 10, 2006 8:00 AM PDT

So Bob,
is that basically the same thing that GeeBee was saying in his reply? Does Crucial.com take returns if my system is not in the "most" category?

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I'll write no and check with crucial as to policy.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 10, 2006 8:07 AM PDT

I could have offered the deeper answers but without the exact model of the machine I can't tell you if you ran afoul of the chipset issue but Crucial knows about it in their configuration pages so returns are rare.


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by jebernauer / September 11, 2006 11:50 AM PDT

Dell Computer Corporation XPS-Z
System Service Tag: 6LZH701 (support for this PC)
Chassis Serial Number: 6LZH701

Board: Intel Corporation D815EEA AAA42447-402
Serial Number: MY0709GC124640BM0133
Bus Clock: 133 megahertz
BIOS: Intel Corp. A11 06/11/2002

384 Megabytes Installed Memory

Slot 'DIMM1' has 256 MB
Slot 'DIMM2' has 128 MB

1000 megahertz Intel Pentium III
32 kilobyte primary memory cache
256 kilobyte secondary memory cache

I updated the BIOS from A05 to A11 thinking that might help. I understand that Intel may have versions up to 14, however Dell doesn't list anything higher than 11. I wanted to play it safe first. My 256MB sticks are PQI MS3856UOE.

Thanks again for all your help!

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I wrote about the i810 chipset issue.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 11, 2006 12:09 PM PDT
In reply to: Details

The i815 is the same deal. Intel.com and others tell you about. Using nothing but google.com and armed with i815 256mb memory stick issues I find this.

http://users.erols.com/chare/chipsets.htm notes maximum memory, number of rows (6) and more for the i815. This is also buried at intel.com but this link sifted it out for us.

The bottom line here is simple. Crucial will note this. Your common storefront may not have a clue.


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Just so you know...
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 11, 2006 12:20 PM PDT
In reply to: Details

I did not check Crucial.com to see if your machine supports a pair of 256MB sticks. I leave that for you since it's your machine.


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Just in case you get curious....
by VAPCMD / September 12, 2006 9:43 AM PDT
In reply to: Just so you know...
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by jebernauer / September 18, 2006 1:06 AM PDT
In reply to: Just so you know...

Crucial is VERY expensive. I paid a total of $50 for both and they want $50 for one!

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If you have a pair of non-working sticks, that sounds
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 18, 2006 1:19 AM PDT
In reply to: crucial

If you get parts that don't work, that sounds even more expensive.

Now that you know Crucial offers such sticks and the vendor gave you parts that don't work you exchange them till they get it right.


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Just one thing...they guarantee theirs to work in your PC.
by VAPCMD / September 18, 2006 11:28 AM PDT
In reply to: crucial

If you count the hours you've spent on this at $20/hour, you're $10 to $30 dollars in the hole
not to mention you could have been doing somthing productive, fun or both.


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Here's the RAM specs...if the chips used were the right
by VAPCMD / September 10, 2006 10:17 AM PDT
In reply to: RAM issues - HELP!

density ... 2@256 should have worked.

Architecture non-ECC PC133 SDRAM
Memory sockets two; gold contacts
Memory capacities 64, 128, and 256 MB (non-ECC)
Minimum memory 64 MB (non-ECC)
Maximum memory 512 MB (non-ECC)
Frequency 133 MHz
Clock cycle 7.5 ns (supports 4 clocks only)
CAS latency 3
SPD revision 1.2 A
Buffering unbuffered
Voltage 3.3 V
Data bus width 64 bits

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