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Using memory faster than what motherboard can support

Dear experts,

I have an old 440BX Motherboard. Microstar's MS-6163 motherboard.

According to the manual, it supports only PC100 and PC66 memory. Several local computer vendors claimed that I can still use PC133 memory because PC100 is a rarity.

Usually, I tend to trust them because they're right most of the time. But seeing something clearly printed and hearing something that seems promising is quite hard to believe. Is there some truth to what they're (the vendors) saying? I know I have an old motherboard but some of our family members are still able to use the system for email and light tasks so I don't want to damage it unnecessarily.

Thanks in advance!
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jericotolentino
Asked:
jericotolentino
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2 Solutions
 
smiffy13Commented:
I've installed PC133 memory in old  PC100 PC's without any problem at all. More importantly: older systems may require double sided ram.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I've got and have had several 440BX systems and never seen a problem using PC133 RAM - it's what I usually use/buy so I can move it to other slightly newer systems later.  And as long as you're not playing big games or doing graphics or video editing, there's nothing wrong with a BX system - I still use 3 (though two ARE dual CPU)
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tmj883Commented:
Some PC133 is backwards compatible and some of the newer PC133(mostly high density) is not. If not compatible, it won't damage the mainboard, it simply work work. Just get a gaurantee of compatibility from the vendor. T
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tfjeffCommented:
yes, most of the time this will work correctly, however, the memory is only going to run at the speed of the slowest module present (or if all modules are pc133 it will run at the fastest speed the motherboard supports, up to 133)
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maimon22Commented:
usaually motherboards that support pc100 supports pc133 too so u may use the pc133 but you see the difference between them
IF YOU WANT TO MAKE SURE VISIT THIS WEBSITE http://www.gen-x-pc.com/memory_faq.htm
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Mohammed HamadaSenior IT ConsultantCommented:
This can cause a hardware damages, I have done this on my computer as it have motherboard via chip that supports pc100
I added 128 pc133 ram stick and after a while my pc was freezing and then stuck... i opened the case and found that the ram stick is too hot.
So try to test it ur self, check if the ram stick will get hot after 2 hours or 3...
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al-hasanCommented:
jericotolentino: consult your mainboard manual about what type of RAM you may use. There is - for ex. for the 128 MB module - the 32 MB x 4 (likely will not work in an old board), 16 MB x 8 and the 8 MB x 16. As smiffy13 suggested already, you might need double sided modules, which are a bit difficult to get nowadays.

Let's say you can get a 8 MB x 16 module, then it has 16 chips to store the memory on it, each one having a capacity of 8 MB. (16 x 8 MB = 128 MB). The chipset must be able to address these, and BX could only address the smaller chips (guess it was 16M x 16 for the 256 MB modules).
A good source for reliable RAM is www.crucial.com - enter your mainboard's data and they will suggest you RAM which will work on it. If I am not mistaken, they even guarantee its compatibility. A quick check reveals they offer PC100 as well, for around usd 40.-.

Whether you select PC100 or PC133 does usually not matter. The timing is programmed into the EPROM and only brand manufacturers do a good job here. Crucial.com is the sales brand of Micron Technology, one of the only 5 RAM chip makers on this planet (the others are Samsung, Infineon, Hynix and another one which I do not remember right now).

Regards,
has.
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WatzmanCommented:
The answer in this case is "yes, but".  Broadly, you can use PC133 memory with a BX chipset motherboard.  HOWEVER, "late" PC133 memory (which is what you will most commonly find) has architectural changes in the internal structure of the memory which are not compatible with the BX chipset.  So the real answer is that some PC133 memory will work, some won't.  The issue here is internal architectural issues other than the memory speed, but the bottom line is still the same, some will work, some won't.

[but contrary to what moh10ly posted, I've never seen any damage, in my experience, it either works or it doesn't and you find out immediately.]

[For 256 meg modules, the only ones that will work .... even PC100 modules .... are those that have 16 chips of 16k each on them.  You will find lots of 256 meg modules made from 8 chips of 32meg each, these will not work with a BX chipset.]
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jericotolentinoAuthor Commented:
Ok, I will try to get more information in my manual, especially about the 16M x 8 and 8M x 16 issues. I've seen it in my manual and I'll try to get back to you as soon as possible.

I am increasing the points due to the very helpful insights everyone has provided.
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_Commented:
As you can see, it depends. As for me, I have a 100MHz Super7 mobo that does not like PC133 at all.

This seens to be a slot1, so it should be OK. <crosses fingers>    : )
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jericotolentinoAuthor Commented:
I also checked the Crucial website and they had two fields on the Max SDRAM: Registered and Unbuffered.

So I checked the manual and it says something like this:

- Supports six memory banks using 168-pin unbuffered DIMM
- Supports a maximum memory size of 384MB (8M x 8) or 768MB (16M x 4) registered DIMM only

This is just confusing me because I don't know whether my memory is registered or unbuffered. Or is it something trivial enough for me to ignore?

__________

moh10ly, I'll check too if the memory gets hot. I have a 3 chassis fans inside so I hope they can keep things cool.

coral47, you are correct. It is a Slot 1 motherboard.
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al-hasanCommented:
jericotolentino: surely you have now RAM on the board which is not buffered (buffered and registered is the same - it adds an extra clock cycle to the access time for the benefit of improved synchronization between the different signal lanes). So to buy such (more expensive) RAM is totally unnecessary - it would only run at the least common denominator. PC class memory always is unbuffered/unregistered (and non-ECC too, if you come across this specification).

Does this answer your question?
Regards,
has.
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jericotolentinoAuthor Commented:
has, thanks for clearing that up. I don't intend to buy memory, it's just that I have some extra memory at home and I wanted to know first whether it was safe to place it inside.
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al-hasanCommented:
As Watzman already stated, the risk of trying it out is low - as long as the RAM physically fits into the socket. I never came across RAM which was destroyed the way moh10ly describes, however there may always be a first time.
If it has 8 or 16 black chips on it, it should work, 4 chips likely will not work.

Regards,
has.
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_Commented:
note:
In case you didn't notice, it looks like it will only support 128meg per slot, max.
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