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could bad memory fry a motherboard

Posted on 2009-05-08
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Last Modified: 2013-11-17
I bought a dell laptop about 3 months ago with 2GB of Ram. Since it was cheaper to buy memory from kingston than Dell I bought 2 more GB of RAM from them and installed it shortly after. Before I installed the ram everything seemed to work fine on the laptop. After I put the new memory in about 2 weeks later the integrated fingerprint reader (biometric scanner) went out on the motherboard and I had to send the system in for a replacement under warranty. Won't go into that story, let's just say a month later the laptop is finally fixed and working again.

By the way, only the area of the motherboard that uses the fingerprint reader went out, everything else worked just fine (I could still boot the computer and use everything but the fingerprint reader).

Now I'm debating if I should put the new memory I bought back in the laptop or could that have been the cause of the motherboard going bad for the fingerprint reader if the memory was bad? I'm doubtful that is the case, but just wanted to get some other input.

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Question by:guidway
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13 Comments
 
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by:
Britt Thompson earned 800 total points
ID: 24339937
I'd imagine in some way it's possible but definitely not likely. Is this one of the new Latitudes? I've had a mass of trouble with those machines arriving with major problems. 5 of the last 8 machines had to be returned to Dell for replacements.
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by:TViYH
TViYH earned 400 total points
ID: 24340014
The RAM could only "fry" the mobo, imo, in a few ways:

1. RAM stick was installed improperly.
2. RAM stick was not the right type.
3. Excess static electricity messed with the circuits.
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by:dvast8n
dvast8n earned 400 total points
ID: 24340034
I believe the change of memory and the fingerprint reader was coincidence. Bad memory or incompatible memory would of shown issues like bsod, random reboots or not being able to post at all.
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LVL 12

Author Comment

by:guidway
ID: 24340149

I had no bsod's (well one, but that was installing Vista and i really think Vista was the cause of it since then I've switched back to XP). No random reboots or any other sign of bad memory though.  

>>Is this one of the new Latitudes?
It's a latitude E6500. Is that considered one of the "new ones"?
It seemed like a solid laptop when I bought it, I've only heard of one other person having the fingerprinter reader going out like mine and it's on dells forums (http://en.community.dell.com/forums/p/19244780/19380814.aspx). Hopefully nothing else goes wrong with it.
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by:Britt Thompson
ID: 24340172
Yeah...those are the range of models I was talking about. They've had various problems from bad LCDs to bad logic board, dead NICs...
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by:guidway
ID: 24340207
didn't respond to the second comment
I doubt #1 is it, because the system recognized the RAM and everything ran normally when I first installed it.
#2 shouldn't be the case either as I used Kingston memory search capability to make sure I had the right stick for the laptop (I also cross-referenced this with Dell's website).
#3 could be a possibility I guess since I did install the memory myself I could have introducted some static electricity into the system (I was careful trying not to, but it's possible). Wouldn't this have started causing BSOD's or something though, why just affect the fingerprint reader only?
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Expert Comment

by:dvast8n
ID: 24340466
In my experience, static electricity is more likely to ruin flash memory since it's sensitive. I haven't experienced static electricity wiping out a part of a system board or the whole system board.
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by:guidway
ID: 24341856
>>Yeah...those are the range of models I was talking about. They've had various problems from bad LCDs to bad logic board, dead NICs...<<

Wow, sounds like Dell should issue a recall on these laptops then. Of course that won't happen, but sure seems like it. Forgot to mention, not only was the logic board dead, but Dell had a note when they sent the laptop back that the hard drive needed replacing also.

Have you had any more problems since you sent yours in for repair? I sent mine in, had it sent back saying it was fixed, but it wasn't (don't even think they tested anything before they sent it back) so I ended up having to send it back in again which it finally was repaired.

Thanks for the comments, I'll probably try installing the memory again tomorrow sometime and close this (too tired to think straight after spending most of the day getting the laptop set back up).
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by:_
ID: 24342214
Just dropped in to say HI.   : )
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by:tooquick
tooquick earned 400 total points
ID: 24342243
It is possible if its not properly seated.  Probably would not effect the board if its installed correctly.
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LVL 12

Author Comment

by:guidway
ID: 24342451
tooquick,

understood, but wouldn't that mean the memory wouldn't even work if it's not properly seated or at least cause BSOD's?

hey coral,

Good to see you're still around. :)
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:_
ID: 24342596
>> but wouldn't that mean...

That's by far the most common result.

You could look to see if the extra ram blocks the airflow to/from the scanner section.
Two weeks of heat could have cooked something in the circuit, but I wouldn't put any money on it.
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LVL 12

Author Comment

by:guidway
ID: 24407548
thanks for the info. Put the new memory in early during the week and everything still seems to be working normal. Thanks again
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