Upgrading to 512 RAM on my Dell 4100

I bought two sticks of 256 Rosewill RAM for my Dell 4100.  I put both sticks in and my PC would not start.  My PC works fine with 1 stick in the first slot, it doesn't matter which stick.  My PC doen't work at all with either stick in the second slot.  So that leads me to believe the problem lies with the second slot, but my old RAM does work in the second slot (2 sticks of 128).  Any suggestions?
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When only one 256MB stick is installed, how much memory does BIOS report?  128MB or 256MB?

How many chips on each stick of 256K RAM?

As a general rule, 815 chipsets supported double density but not quad density SDRAM.  A 256MB stick of double density SDRAM would have 16 chips.

Look up your PC on Dell's web site using service tag and see if there are any BIOS updates that address memory density issues.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Would help if you posted more SPECIFIC details.  The system has a max RAM of 512 MB.  Why doesn't it work?

1.  Wrong RAM (is it PC 100, is it PC 66, is it parity, is it buffered?)
2.  Bad RAM.  I had a month old Kingston stick of 512 MB DDR RAM just die on me.  Try swapping the sticks - put the "good" 256 MB Stick in the other slot.  Try combining the sticks, one 128 and one 256 (at least you'll have 384).
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Two thoughts:

(1)  Are you sure you purchased the correct type of memory (PC133, unbufferred, 3.3v, x64 organization) ??

(2)  Memory can be very sensitive to the correct timing and organization -- particularly the less expensive modules.   I'd suggest you return the Rosewill and get a pair of Crucial or Kingston modules for your Dell.   From the behavior you've described it's almost certain you have a compatibility issue here.
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That should be 256MB, not 256K in my initial response.

The safest bet for SDRAM is to order directly from Crucial using their memory selector.

2blastAuthor Commented:
There are 8 chips

It is PC133...The Rosewill was recommened by someone on this site...

Why would both sticks work in the 1st slot and not the second?
How much memory is reported by BIOS, 128MB or 256MB when one of the 256MB sticks are installed?
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
willcomp -- good to see you posting the last couple of days;  haven't seen you around lately !!

2blast -- we can help you understand why your memory isn't working; but the simple fact is you need different modules.   As I noted, and willcomp reinforced, the best thing to do is use the right Crucial (or Kingston) modules for your system.   Just go to Crucial's memory selector and buy the exact memory they recommend.   I've NEVER had memory purchased from Crucial's selector not work for the system it was recommended for.   Kingston also has a memory selector if you'd prefer their modules (which are also very good).

Still believe it is a density issue and that one stick will allow boot, but only be recognized as 1/2 actual amount of RAM.

Gary, was busy for awhile and then got bit by the flu bug.  Has taken about 2 weeks to get back to near normal with the cussed flu.
2blastAuthor Commented:
willcomp,  my old RAM has 16 chips and the new has 8.  You think I can install a BIOS update to solve the problem?
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Current BIOS for your system is A11 ==> what BIOS version do you have?

I doubt it will update the memory density capabilities, but you could try it if you want (be VERY careful and follow the instructions EXACTLY if you do -- a bad flash will destroy your motherboard).   Don't be "spooked" by that comment -- BIOS flashing is not a risky procedure;  just be very careful that you do it correctly.

Your system requires low-density double-sided memory modules;  so you should have 8 chips on each side.   Some systems will accept either single or double sided modules in certain slots, but must have the correct modules in the other slots -- that would explain why your memory is working in slot 1, but not slot 2.
Problem is with Rosewill RAM.  It is very touchy, it not true 3200, it just try to emulate that.  If you install RAM that is TRUE CL 2.5, you will not have a problem in either slot.  Try it, just to prove me wrong/right.  Rosewill is "scam" ram, in the sense it is not really what it claims to be, only time /testing show you this.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
scrathcyboy - I hope it's not "true 3200" ==> since the Dell 4100 uses PC133 :-)

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I doubt that a BIOS update will help.  You are most likely chipset limited to single or double density SDRAM.  RAM you purchased is quad density RAM.

BIOS updates may address memory compatibility and are always worth a try.  Be sure to use old memory when flashing BIOS.
2blastAuthor Commented:
My BIOS version is A06.  I also got this info from the BIOS:

Total Memory  :  128MB
Memory Bank 0:  Not installed
Memory Bank 1:  128 MB (PC133)

Does this mean I am currently only using 128 of my available 256?
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Yes -- and that's exactly what I'd expect with the wrong density RAM.   If you want to flash the BIOS, be sure and put the original memory back in -- you do NOT want a BIOS flash to go wrong!!   But quite frankly it's almost certain that flashing the BIOS is not going to help with this issue.

You simply need to return the memory and get the correct memory for your system.
2blastAuthor Commented:
Even if I get the correct density, wont my total memory capability still only be 128?
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
No, if you buy two of the correct 256mb sticks you'll have 512mb of RAM.

I'd suggest you go to Crucial's web site (www.crucial.com), use their memory selector to find the exact memory for your system (manufacturer = Dell;  product line = Dimension; model = 4100 series) and buy it there.    At this moment in time you can buy 256mb modules there for $46.68 each. (or $47.37 for slightly faster CL-2 modules).

Sure took a long time to come full circle (refer to my initial response).

Max memory on your PC is 512MB using 2x256MB Double Density sticks of PC133 SDRAM.

As stated by both Gary and myself, best to order from Crucial since they guarantee compatibility.

Quad density memory is cheaper than single or double density SDRAM, but will not work in most older motherboards (PII and PIII motherboards in particular).
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