I miss you, RAM, come back!
October 23, 2008 12:14 PM   Subscribe

Oh little RAM, where are you? 512MB module doesn't want to play along new 2GB module.

Toshiba Satellite A200 laptop with 512+512. I buy one 2G module, remove topmost 512 (as they look on removing the little backside plate for it). Works perfectly, but it only sees 2G instead of 2.5G. I swap the slots of the 512 module with the 2G one, to see what happens (so now 2G sits on lowermost). Now it can't even boot to the BIOS screen. Try the same with the second 512 module, with same results. Argh. Out with the 512 modules, only the 2G in. All works perfectly, but it's of course still 2G only, and now I have two perfectly fine 512MB homeless modules. Me=dissapointed. Laptop manual mumbles something about dual channel whatsit, so I begin to think I'm screwed out of 512MB since the module sizes are different. Google isn't very helpful, and drowns me in endless "buy teh RAM!!1!" links.

Anything I'm forgetting to do to get the 512 module to play along its big brother? For some reason I like the idea of having a laptop with a quirky figure of 2.5G RAM, heh.
posted by Iosephus to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Best answer: It could be that your laptop only supports 2GB of RAM.
posted by rsclark at 12:41 PM on October 23, 2008

Best answer: miss matching of mem chips is a no no
posted by patnok at 12:42 PM on October 23, 2008

Best answer: rsclark and patnok are probably both right, from the sound of it. Either way, for Best Results, always use matched sets. 512MB doesn't really make that much of a difference over 1GB. Over 2GB, it's not even noticeable.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 12:51 PM on October 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: yeah, you can't mismatch ram like that. You can do two things:

1. Buy a set of matching RAM that goes up to whatever the limits of your computer are. (For instance, if your computer can handle 4G of RAM, get a matching pair of 2G sticks.)

2. Buy a single stick that hits the limit. (One 4G stick.) This is more expensive.

It looks like you now have a computer w/ 2G of RAM. FWIW, unless you're running Vista, it's probably enough.
posted by nushustu at 12:57 PM on October 23, 2008

Response by poster: You are all correct and I'm a dummy... All this time I had the wrong specs for the machine, geez. (I just checked with one of the official Toshiba sites. In my defense, all I can say is that the damn codes are very typo-inducing!). Thanks for the education, and favorites for all!
posted by Iosephus at 1:01 PM on October 23, 2008

Response by poster: All right, now that it's out of the way. 2G is not enough for Vista? Son of a... I was hoping to have a semidecent reinstall of Vista Home Basic since I'm having some issues with the XP drivers and the machine's utilities on XP.
posted by Iosephus at 1:05 PM on October 23, 2008

For next time, Crucial has a system scanner that can help you find the correct RAM. It will scan your system, tell you what you have, and what your system can handle. Just take their recommendations for RAM and shop around for the best price.
posted by Dr-Baa at 1:19 PM on October 23, 2008

2G is not enough for Vista?

This is untrue. I use Vista on a 1gig machine and have no memory issues with it. This article begins to explain how ram usage looks different on vista because its doing a lot of caching, but that doesnt mean that cache is actually being used. It steps out when a running application needs ram.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:46 PM on October 23, 2008

2G is plenty for Vista. It works great. My current computer came with 2G and with Vista installed and I haven't had any performance complaints at all.
posted by Class Goat at 3:39 PM on October 23, 2008

As far as I know, you can mismatch your memory modules, contrary to what's being said above. As a side effect, however, you will lose out on the performance boost of dual channel memory access.
posted by knave at 5:26 PM on October 23, 2008

That's correct for desktops. My understanding is that laptops only have one slot per channel. That means you need to match ram for each channel. On a desktop you have two slots per channel, so you can put whatever you want within that channel.

He needs to be able to match the ram on his laptop. I dont think they even make laptops with all four slots.
posted by damn dirty ape at 3:12 PM on October 25, 2008

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