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FrenchBread
6 Indium

Dimension 5100: Fails to Boot With 4 Memory Modules Installed

My Dimension 5100 will not boot up with 4 – 1GB sticks of RAM installed.  When I say it doesn’t boot, the BIOS loading screen loads about 1/3 of the way then freezes, and an odd error code is displayed on the front of my PC.

I originally had 2x1GB sticks of Giel of PC2-4200 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820144521).  They have worked fine for years.  I then decided to purchase 2x1GB sticks of Corsair VS2GBKIT533D2 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145527).  Both pairs are the same 533MHz.  The computer boots up with just a pair (2 sticks) of either set.  The computer boots up with a pair, and 1 additional stick (3 total).  But when a fourth stick is installed (totaling 4GB or 4x1GB of RAM) the computer fails to boot.  I have tried rotating sticks out, and no single stick seems to be defective.

My manual specifically states, “Your computer supports a maximum of 4 GB of memory when you use four 1-GB DIMMs,” and this is exactly what I’m doing.  I can’t figure out why it won’t boot up and why it freezes at the BIOS screen.  I am running Windows 7 32-bit.

One interesting note is that the error code on my Dell, (lights: 2,3,4) indicates a possible USB failure, however I think this is just an incorrect error and not the case.  (Only USB connected when testing is mouse/keyboard and I do not get this error with any other time then when all four sticks are installed.)

Any help is greatly appreciated!  Thanks.

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7 Replies
8 Krypton

Re: Dimension 5100: Fails to Boot With 4 Memory Modules Installed

We have seen compatibility problems over the years with many Dell's and non-Dell memory.  A brand will work in one PC and not another of the same model and no particular pattern.  Mixing different brands seems to be another potential problem area.  For this reason most of the techies on here suggest Crucial memory as it is guaranteed to work in Dell's. 

Whether that is the problem or not? but it's something to consider.



I am not a Dell Employee

Dell forum member since 2002

Dell Inspiron 15 - 5577 Laptop

Home Built Desktop PC with ASUS ROG Z170, i7 6700K CPU

Windows 10 64 bit Pro and Windows 10 Insider Program Beta Versions. SSD drives. Cakewalk by BandLab and Studio One 4.1 Recordng Studio Software.

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Member of Nashville based R.O.P.E.

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8 Krypton

Re: Dimension 5100: Fails to Boot With 4 Memory Modules Installed

It's possible there's a compatibility issue with the RAM, as fireberd suggested.

Try this:

Power off and unplug

Press/hold power button on tower for ~15 sec

Open the case and remove the motherboard battery

Press/hold power button again for ~30 sec

Put the new modules in slots 1 & 2 and the old modules in slots 3 & 4. Note: the slot numbered '2' is actuallly the third physical slot, counting from slot 1.  Slot 1 & 2 have the same color clips to lock the modules in place.

Reinstall the battery (right-side-up!) and see if it boots now with only mouse, monitor and keyboard connected.

Ron

Ron

   Forum Member since 2004
   I am not a Dell employee

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FrenchBread
6 Indium

Re: Dimension 5100: Fails to Boot With 4 Memory Modules Installed

Now that I'm looking I see my Geil Ram is PC2-4300 and my Corsair is PC2-4200. Both are 533MHz. I don't think this could be the issue since it runs with 3 sticks, but I still wonder.

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FrenchBread
6 Indium

Re: Dimension 5100: Fails to Boot With 4 Memory Modules Installed

Thanks for the suggestion.  I tried this and it made no difference.

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8 Krypton

Re: Dimension 5100: Fails to Boot With 4 Memory Modules Installed

Are you still getting the 2,3,4 error code?

Ron

   Forum Member since 2004
   I am not a Dell employee

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FrenchBread
6 Indium

Re: Dimension 5100: Fails to Boot With 4 Memory Modules Installed

Yes, every time 4x1GB is installed I get the error.  3 sticks causes no error.  And like I said the computer freezes as well making me think the error is incorrect because only USB connected when testing is mouse/keyboard.

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FrenchBread
6 Indium

Re: Dimension 5100: Fails to Boot With 4 Memory Modules Installed

Great news, I got the 4x1GB of RAM to work. Instead of paring the 2 Geil sticks and the 2 Corsair sticks together, I paired 1 Corsair stick with one Geil stick, with the slower timed Corsair as the first stick. (It actually will only boot up with the Corsair in slots 1 and 2, and not in slots 3 and 4. I guess the motherboard goes by the first sticks of a pair?)

I never tried swapping the order because I always thought that my Intel mobo had locked settings, and that it would run at those settings no matter what. Even though the Geil RAM's timing is 3-3-3-8, I didn't think it mattered since CPUZ reports the timing under the memory tab as 4-4-4-12.

One interesting thing I observed (that I don't really understand) is that there are still differences reported under the "SPD" tab in CPUZ.

Under Slot #1 Corsair PC2-4300:

----------------------JEDEC #1----JEDEC #2

Frequency------------200MHz-----266MHZ

CAS# Latency---------3.0-----------4.0

RAS# to CAS#----------3-------------4

RAS# Precharge---------3-------------4

tRAS-------------------9-------------12

tRC--------------------11------------15

Voltage---------------1.80V-------1.80V

Under Slot #3 G PC2-4300:

----------------------JEDEC #1----JEDEC #2----JEDEC #3

Frequency------------200MHz-----266MHZ-------266MHz

CAS# Latency---------3.0-----------4.0--------------5.0

RAS# to CAS#----------3-------------4----------------4

RAS# Precharge---------3-------------4----------------4

tRAS--------------------9------------12--------------12

tRC---------------------12-----------16--------------16

Voltage---------------1.80V-------1.80V------------1.80V

The Geil RAM has a third JEDEC (what ever that is), and the tRC values are also different (what ever this is?)

So I'm guess they had different timings, and for some reason the Intel board does automatically adjust its settings to the first stick in each pair.

Thanks again for the suggestions. Hopefully this thread might help someone else out who is in a similar situation.

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