2 sticks of memory - SLOW boot, but 1 stick at a time... boots fine

Optiplex GX520. Refurbed, Win 7.
2- 2GB sticks memory
With both sticks in, reboot takes about 15 minutes. It sits on the black Windows splash screen, just before the mouse pointer and CTRL ALT DEL shows up.
With either one stick in, IN EITHER SLOT, booting takes a normal 1-2 min.
Sticks can be reversed in slots, singly or in pairs and there is no difference to the problem.
Why?
RickNCNAsked:
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Andy MIT Systems ManagerCommented:
Are the sticks same make/model/speed etc? If not this could be causing the issues - it's usually recommended to use matching pairs and never mix ram memory of different speeds in the same system.
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Same idea here. The only thing that comes to my mind is different RAM stick models and speed. Windows can work different with different sticks when combined.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Check these:

(1)  Is the BIOS up-to-date?   The final version for the GX520 was A11 (released in 2006).    If your system has an earlier version, update it.

(2)  If the BIOS has a "failsafe defaults" choice, select that -- this will reset all timing parameters to the most conservative ("safest") settings.

(3)  See what the current settings are for the Intel Graphics adapter in the BIOS ... post the choices and the current setting here.
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nobusCommented:
does all the ram show in the bios, or only 2 GB ?
are they both the same model ? different models can cause problems
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Danny ChildIT ManagerCommented:
SIW can tell you the memory speeds if you run it with just one stick attached:
http://www.gtopala.com

and www.crucial.com also has a memory scanner to detect what you have and offer compatible upgrades.  

I'd also check for motherboard driver updates.  However, with such an old system, Dell themselves only ever made WinXP drivers
http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/19/product-support/product/optiplex-gx520/drivers
 - so you're already on uncharted territory running w7 on it.

If you can't fully resolve the issue with the 2 x 2gb sticks, can you try running a single 4gb one in it?
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
we purchased 2 2GB sticks through Amazon but they are Dell labelled memory. They are identical AFAIK. I don't know if it has latest BIOS installed. I can check. I scanned through the bios settings. There is absolutely no way to change any memory timing settings. It's all locked down, so I don't think reverting to a default setting would change anything but I can try it. I'll check the graphics settings.

All 4GB showed in the bios.

SIW - oh, I like that, I'll check it out. And Crucial

Windows drivers... hmmm... I don't know - maybe it's possible mobo drivers interacting with Win7 has something to do with it. This PC was actually purchased with Win7 on it. How?? you ask? Well, It's a refurbished PC owned by a non-profit. They bought it and several other similar vintage PCs through TechSoup.org, , set up by a company called interconnection.org. The PCs have legit refurbished Microsoft licensing stickers on them and papers printed out with WIn7 and Office licenses. TechSoup.org and interconnection.org are both very established and legit companies.
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nobusCommented:
could be a case of bad caps  : http://www.badcaps.net/forum/showthread.php?t=41511
so check that out
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
oh yeah, I should have mentioned that I had already checked for bad caps - I looked several times. Nothing is bulging. I suppose something could be leaking out the bottom that I cant see. But I would think failing caps would affect one or both slots all the time. But it doesn't occur if either stick is inserted singly in either slot.
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dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
Could be that the memory is not fast enough for the processor.

The GX520 could take DDR2 PC2-5300, DDR2 PC2-6400, DDR2 and also in some cases PC2-4200.   If you're running the 4200 stuff and a processor that wants to do FSB 800 it is possible you may strike problems.  Ideally you'd be running 6400.

Anyway check the speed of your memory sticks and have a read of http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/desktop/f/3514/t/19413171
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
It's very unlikely that this issue is either caps (as you noted, if that was the case it wouldn't just "go away" when you only ran one module) or that it's due to the speed of the modules, since either by itself runs just fine.

Run MemTest for an hour or so with each of the following configurations:
(1)  Just module #1 installed in slot 1
(2)  Just module #1 installed in slot 2
(3)  Just module #2 installed in slot 1
(4)  Both modules installed

Note the memory speed parameters for each of these runs.


One other question:  Does the system run normally after it's booted with both modules installed?  (i.e. is this ONLY a boot issue?)
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
r.e. MemTest:   The free version is fine ... you can download it here:
http://www.memtest86.com/download.htm

Note that you may need the older v4 for your system.   The v6 download is supposed to auto-boot v4 on systems that don't have UEFI support; but I've seen a few machines that have to be booted from an older v4 disc.    The v4.3.7 download is available at the same link ... it's "below" the current free version.

You may also prefer MemTest+ ... available here:  http://www.memtest.org/#downiso
... but it has the same issue with the newest version not working with all older systems [It also has the older downloads available].
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
I'll try some memory tests

Yes, it seems to run normally with 2 sticks after it finally boots, but I haven't spent a lot of time on it. But if the 2 stick problem caused a 15 minute boot time, you'd think you'd see very very slow Windows performance and you don't see that.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Look in the BIOS to see if PXE boot is enabled ... if so, disable it.    [The terminology may be different, depending on the BIOS wording ... but you basically want to disable network booting]

Not sure why it would try it with > 2TB, but not with only 2TB, but the system may be "looking" for a network boot device before actually booting to Windows when both modules are installed.
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nobusCommented:
this problem may be the reason it was refurbed; and probably not solved
i assume you recently bought it?  send it back then for repair
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Danny ChildIT ManagerCommented:
Does it still boot slowly if booting from a Linux or BartPE boot CD?  Or, can you put in another hdd temporarily and do a fastndirty w7 load (or even xp, just for testing?)

Did the non-profit buy any other identical models to this?  If so, possible to swap some hardware around?  Starting with a known-good hdd?

I'd be thinking that the memory controller on the mobo can't cope with 2 banks being filled.  So, either fill 1 with 4gb, or get the mobo swapped.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Any results from Memtest yet?
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dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
Hmmm.

Besides disabling the PXE Boot as Gary has suggested, is there an option in the BIOS to disable the PCI bus scan?  Some BIOSes have this as an option, unsure about the Dell.
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
I haven't been able to get back there yet. We took one stick out. It's been running on 2GB. I'd like to get it sorted if possible so they have all 4GB.
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
this problem may be the reason it was refurbed; and probably not solved
i assume you recently bought it?  send it back then for repair

Well, that may be, though it was sold refurbed with 4GB from this apparently reputable company. I believe I saw a test report that came with it, so it seems the 4GB testd ok at rebuild time. That said, though, maybe it snuck through with problems. Also, though, these were originally WinXP systems, designed for 32 bit XP.

One of the other Dell Optiplex refurbs they bought recently died of bulging caps. I think that was the reason they were dumped by the original owners in the first place. Everyone knew about the bulgy cap problem and they unloaded their PCs before problems arose.

Does it still boot slowly if booting from a Linux or BartPE boot CD?  Or, can you put in another hdd temporarily and do a fastndirty w7 load (or even xp, just for testing?)

That's a great idea. I didn't think of that. I might try it if I can get there soon.

Did the non-profit buy any other identical models to this?  If so, possible to swap some hardware around?  Starting with a known-good hdd?

Unfortunately, no, 4 separate PCs:
‘A’ Optiplex GX520

‘B’ Optiplex GX620

‘C’ OPTIPLEX 745

‘D’ Optiplex GX320

I wish they had consulted with me before buying, I never would have had them buy those. New, last season 3rd gen i3's or i5's on sale somewhere would have been a much better budget choice.


I'd be thinking that the memory controller on the mobo can't cope with 2 banks being filled.  So, either fill 1 with 4gb, or get the mobo swapped.

Yeah, that sounds like a possible option. Thanks!
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RickNCNAuthor Commented:
this problem may be the reason it was refurbed; and probably not solved
i assume you recently bought it?  send it back then for repair

Oh, and, no - not recently purchased. It was late 2013 I think, maybe October? I can check but I don't think TechSoup takes back repairs and if there's any warranty period, it's likely long gone. - yeah, just checked - 12 months.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
r.e. the suggestion to just use one 4GB module ==> According to the specs for this system, that's not an option.   It supports a max module size of 2GB.    You could TRY a 4GB module ... it wouldn't be the first time I've seen a larger-than-spec'd module work ... but be sure it's returnable :-)
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