Bad Memory
June 30, 2007 5:23 AM   Subscribe

Did I buy faulty memory?

In all likelihood, I expect the answer to be yes but I'm not an IT person and I just wanted to make sure I was doing everything correctly.

I bought some memory for my little PC (VIA M1000). The specs for the new memory are: 1GB DDR 266MHz, PC2100, 2.5V, Non-Parity, Non-ECC, 184-pin. The manual says that this should be compatiable.

Everything worked fine with the old 256meg card. I put the new card in, power comes on (no beeps), the hardrive spins up, the CPU fan spins up... but no signal to the monitor. Listening to the hardrive, it sounds like the system hangs after that.

I rechecked the system with the old memory, everything was fine. Put the new memory back in; same problem. (Rechecked several times.)

Is there a trick I've missed? I thought the machine was to beep like crazy if the memory was bad. The chips have Samsung 724 K4H510438D-ZCCC VCX350CC KOREA DDR 0XT printed on them if that helps. They look physically sound.

What am I to do?
posted by popcassady to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should add that I've also tried booting without any memory installed. The machine does beep like crazy in that instance.
posted by popcassady at 5:39 AM on June 30, 2007

Download Microsoft's memory diagnostic tool and follow the instructions for running it. That should answer your question. I've used it to identify bad RAM.
posted by mpls2 at 5:52 AM on June 30, 2007

Response by poster: Alas, I only have one RAM slot.
posted by popcassady at 5:56 AM on June 30, 2007

Or go to Crucial and run the scan and see what type of memory they think you need. Your new memory looks like it should work
posted by Ferrari328 at 6:05 AM on June 30, 2007

Response by poster: It's the right memory.
posted by popcassady at 6:46 AM on June 30, 2007

It may be the "right" memory, but if it's generic, it may not contain an SPD header tag with proper information. SPD is a means by which DIMM modules announce their capacity and timings to a motherboard, and I've purchased several inexpensive modules which were missing SPD tags. So, if you can get into BIOS, you might want to play with memory timings a bit, to see if you can get this memory to work by setting appropriate values for CAS, etc. yourself. This review of your mobo has some suggestions.

And for later reference, it looks like you meant Via M10000.
posted by paulsc at 8:15 AM on June 30, 2007

On further consideration, the problem you may have working with this module at all, is that part of it is used for shared video memory. So, if your mobo isn't able to POST, you may never get video to see your BIOS screens. You might be able to slow down your CAS settings, etc. with your 256MB module, power down, plug in your 1 GB module, and be able to work. But if there is no capacity information in SPD at all, that may not work because addressing lines on the 1 GB module would not be used correctly, etc.

1 DIMM slot mobos with shared video memory kind of suck for this reason. You may just have to try Kingston or Crucial memory.
posted by paulsc at 8:20 AM on June 30, 2007

First, try updating the BIOS. I had a computer with memory problems. It managed to boot, but then it crashed hard (direct to black) at random intervals. First I managed to identify it as a memory problem, then I solved it with an updated BIOS, which, I assume, was better able to choose the right memory timings. If that doesn't work, I think the suggestion to see about setting the proper timings manually is a good one.

Good luck.
posted by Good Brain at 1:05 PM on June 30, 2007

Response by poster: Any idea how I would set the timings manually?
posted by popcassady at 2:30 PM on June 30, 2007

Response by poster: No, changed the timings to different settings -- still nothing.

Diddums. Surely there must be a clue somewhere? The specs are exactly as the manufacture reccomends. People buy memory all the time; how do they know what to get?

posted by popcassady at 3:58 PM on June 30, 2007

It could be a bad memory module, or simply memory in higher density packaging than the mobo is equipped to deal with (should be memory chips on both sides of the DIMM, and probably a total of 18 or possibly 16 chips. If only 8 or 9 chips on one side of your module, it maybe a density issue.) Some DDR 2100 memory was also 3.3 volt, although it would work in some mobos down to 2.8 or 2.75 volts, but this wouldn't work in your board. There just wasn't a lot of demand for 1 GB modules at these speeds, so it is not a high volume item for most manufacturers. Consequently, the chances of design issues or mislabeling to clear distributor stock are higher when you try to get this density.

Buy Crucial (Crucial recommendation is for PC2700, which is generally backwards compatible) or Kingston memory. You may pay a little more, but these kind of problems are pretty rare with name brand memory. Return the 1 GB stick you have for credit, before it damages your mobo.
posted by paulsc at 5:38 PM on June 30, 2007

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