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Did a new SDRAM stick kill 2 motherboards?

Posted on 2003-03-23
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Last Modified: 2012-05-04
I installed a cheap 512MB SDRAM stick into my computer alongside an old 256MB one, and on the first boot the BIOS only reported finding 512MB of RAM - not the 768MB as expected.  I assumed that the old stick was slower, and it was only using the faster one.  Booting into Windows XP failed - nothing happened after the Windows XP logo screen - everything went blank.  Booting into safe mode worked fine, and so did booting Linux.  I assumed this was just Windows being stupid, so I tried removing my old 256 ram stick (thinking it was conflicting).
From this point onwards, not even the BIOS screen would come up.  The hard drives and CD rom drives would spin up, the fans would come on, the hard drive light would come on (solidly - not flickering), but there were no beeps, and wasn't anything on the screen.
I tested all the components in the other computer - monitor, video card, hard drives, etc.  so I thought the motherboard must have died.
£60 later, I installed a new motherboard, and the troublesome 512MB ram stick.  Exactly the same thing happened - no beeps or anything.  Putting the old 256MB chip back in didn't work either.  I then suspected the CPU...
£50 later, with a new CPU installed, still with the new motherboard and 512MB ram stick - same problem - nothing on screen, no beeps.

Is it possible that this SDRAM stick could have destroyed 2 of my motherboards, or am I missing something painfully obvious?
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Question by:davidsansome42
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11 Comments
 
LVL 44

Expert Comment

by:CrazyOne
ID: 8190685
>>>Is it possible that this SDRAM stick could have destroyed 2 of my motherboards

Usually not but...

Have you tried resetting the BIOS by pulling the battery from the mother board for about 30mins to an hour?
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by:CrazyOne
ID: 8190687
Some mother boards have a BIOS reset jumper. If so use it instead of pulling the battery.
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LVL 10

Expert Comment

by:Snowguy
ID: 8190916
Replace or test your power supply. I think it has died.
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Author Comment

by:davidsansome42
ID: 8191116
CrazyOne - I've just tried the reset jumper, and it still doesn't work :-(

Snowguy - The power supply is fine, as all the drives spin up, and the fan and hd light comes on.
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Expert Comment

by:Snowguy
ID: 8191259
It could still be the power supply  did you check all voltages?   The fans run on 12v the power supply has 3 voltages 12v 5v and 3.3v. If you loose the 5.5v or 3.3v it can still act as if it is powering up.  What happens is you don't get power to ram vga or cpu. this is why when the PSU dies you usualy dont get any post warning beeps or video.
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slink9 earned 2000 total points
ID: 8194259
Back this system down to only video, floppy, CPU, and your new memory.  Does it POST?  If so, put your new memory in there?  If it still boots, put both together.  Now put it back together piece by piece until you find the culprit.  I have a feeling that the problem will be something not seated properly.
Of course, if you haven't observed proper Electrostatic Discharge procedures, yes, you could have zapped the mobo.
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Expert Comment

by:matguy
ID: 8196971
Check if you're running an Intel 810 or 815 chipset, as neither will support over 512mb of ram.  I've never gone above this limit on these particular chipsets, so I couldn't tell you what would happen, but your issues could easily be caused by such a limitation.
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Expert Comment

by:slink9
ID: 10485314
Backing this system down to a bare bones system should have helped in the troubleshooting, if not shown where the problem was.
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