RAM purchase

I have some spare cash so I was thinking I might upgrade my RAM. Right now I have two sticks of Corsair 256 Mb PC 3200 RAM, and one extra slot free. Is there anything in particular to keep in mind as long as I get PC3200 memory? A local computer store is having a special offer on no-name brand PC3200 512 MB sticks, and I was thinking of buying one and doubling my memory.

Nah, go ahead and buy the cheap shit. Just run memtest86 for a couple of hours when you first get it and be aware that you are likely giving up dual channel RAM so your benchmarks will drop a bit.

I think I would say that 1gb is better than 512 even if you give up dual channel.

But then again what do I know. :P

Aw crap. The RAM doesn’t work. After I found that it didn’t work with my old memory I’ve tried installing it, alone, in every slot, and my computer just plain refuses to start with it installed. I’ve also triple checked my motherboard manual to make sure that the memory is supported, and that I haven’t messed up a BIOS setting (which I couldn’t have, since the BIOS automatically detects the memory).

I guess it’s possible I fried it with static, but I made sure I was grounded before installing.

Is it possible that you ended up with ECC or registered memory that just won’t work with your MB?

ECC? I have no idea what that is, is it common?

ECC means error correction.

If you look at the Crucial PC3200 memory page here you will see that for the 512 and 256 dimms there’s actually three choices:

unbuffered (non-registered) non-ecc
unbuffered ecc
registered ecc

Registered memory is apparently used more on servers for reasons I don’t understand.

Some motherboards support ECC memory and some don’t but you can’t use ECC memory in a MB that doesn’t support it and you can’t mix and match ECC and non-ECC.

Hmm. My mobo wants unbuffered non-ecc. I just didn’t think about it because I couldn’t see any mention of it in the memory specifications when I bought it. It was just listed “512 MB PC3200 DDR PC400”, and I thought that was everything I needed to know.


Here’s an article that explains how you can tell if your memory is ECC. Count the chips on the new DIMM basically.

Hmm. I’m counting 16 chips on the DIMM, so I guess I can rule out it being an ECC memory. And after looking through another faq on that site I’m pretty sure the DIMM is not buffered either.

I called the store and they said to bring it in for a replacement, so I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

I went by the store and replaced the memory, installed the new stick and the computer wouldn’t start, again. Argh. I then tried removing my old sticks and leaving only the new one in, and the computer booted. An improvement, but still not what I wanted. I checked some more, and found that I could boot the computer with two sticks of RAM installed, but never three. At this point I looked through my mobo manual, for the fifth time I guess, and noticed a little blurb saying that the mobo only supported two sticks of PC3200 RAM. If I wanted to install three sticks, all of them would have to be PC2700 or lower. Crap. Well, that’s my fault for not reading through the manual throughly before making a purchase. I got the new stick to play nicely with one of the old though, so it’s not a complete loss as my mem’s boosted to 768 Mb.

You can try increasing the timings to CAS 2.5 or 3.0 to use all three sticks. It depends on the mobo.

Any chance of that messing up my computer? Just asking.