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BlaqC
2 Bronze

XPS9100 only works with one memory slot used (not 2 or 3) -- and all 3 RAM modules are good

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My circa-20002011 XPS9100 (5DN3X A00 motherboard) has been a model of stability until this month. (Background: I updated its BIOS; the upgrade went smoothly, except I couldn't get the PC to recognize  my boot SSD. Off it went to the repair shop. It came back all fixed up, except for a glitch or two over the past two weeks.)


Then today, the PC froze with video corruption. I was unable to run it reliably. Its integrated memory diagnostic showed there was a memory problem. Troubleshooting with memtest86 using every possible combination of my 3 modules in the first bank (slots 1 thru 3), I established that:

  • If I inserted all 3 modules in any order, memtest86 would freeze after 7 seconds.
  • If I inserted any 2 modules in any order and slot combination, memtest86 would reboot after about 10 seconds.
  • If I inserted only one module, memtest86 would run for a while regardless which module or slot was used. (I stopped after a minute. I'll run an extended test overnight.)

This showed that all 3 modules were good, all 3 slots were good, but my PC could not support more than one module at a time.

What should be my next step?

Update 2015/11/16: My Memtest86 CD was a few years old. When I ran the newest version of Memtest86, even with all 3 slots populated, no errors were detected in over a day of test iterations. Let's assume my problem was a false positive.

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7 Replies
Mary G
6 Indium

RE: XPS9100 only works with one memory slot used (not 2 or 3) -- and all 3 RAM modules are good

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It is not cost effective to spend a lot of money on an old model. It sounds like the board has failed. I realize that the computer is not 15 years old as you say in your post, but even a 5 year old computer should be replaced when the repairs would be more than buying a new one. 

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7 Plutonium

RE: XPS9100 only works with one memory slot used (not 2 or 3) -- and all 3 RAM modules are good

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I'd take it back to the shop that "fixed" it the first time and make them do it again, especially if they installed a replacement motherboard which may have already failed.

Ron

   Forum Member since 2004
   I am not a Dell employee

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BlaqC
2 Bronze

RE: XPS9100 only works with one memory slot used (not 2 or 3) -- and all 3 RAM modules are good

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Thanks for pointing out my error — the computer dates from January 2011, not 2000. (I must've been all sorts of frazzled when I wrote that!)

If the motherboard has failed and we replace it with a nice new model, can I plunk my boot drive onto it and continue where I left off? (I shudder at the thought of having to reinstall every piece of software on my machine.)

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BlaqC
2 Bronze

RE: XPS9100 only works with one memory slot used (not 2 or 3) -- and all 3 RAM modules are good

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The shop didn't install a new motherboard. (After I did a successful BIOS update, my PC wouldn't boot. I thought I'd double-checked the BIOS boot order, but it seems that was the problem. While I had the PC in the shop, I also had the tech address what I thought were overly-high CPU temps, and a lost ability to output sound via HDMI.)

They fixed the boot order, replaced the CPU thermal paste, and reinstalled audio drivers, but it's the same MoBo as before.

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7 Plutonium

RE: XPS9100 only works with one memory slot used (not 2 or 3) -- and all 3 RAM modules are good

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You'll have to replace it with the identical motherboard in order to use the HDD without reinstalling everything. New boards will have different CPU, different chipsets etc.

Dell typically uses custom connectors between motherboards and front panels so only an identical board is likely to work in this case.

And if you replace the board with a non-Dell board, you're going to have to purchase a new license for Windows because Dell's OEM Windows license is tied to Dell boards.

A replacement XPS 9100 motherboard, eg  here, seems expensive. So shop around for the board and then decide if a new PC is a more cost-effective option.

Always ask if a replacement board is new, used, or refurbished and about the warranty.

Ron

   Forum Member since 2004
   I am not a Dell employee

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7 Plutonium

RE: XPS9100 only works with one memory slot used (not 2 or 3) -- and all 3 RAM modules are good

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Just a thought... Before you do anything else, try clearing BIOS:

  1. Power off, unplug
  2. Press/hold power button for ~15 sec
  3. Open case and remove motherboard battery
  4. Reinstall all RAM modules
  5. EDIT: Carefully reseat video card in its slot
  6. Reinstall the battery - use a fresh one if this one is old, CR2032 3-volt lithium ion battery,  ~$2.00
  7. Close case and see if it works now

Ron

   Forum Member since 2004
   I am not a Dell employee

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BlaqC
2 Bronze

RE: XPS9100 only works with one memory slot used (not 2 or 3) -- and all 3 RAM modules are good

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Thanks for the tip. Even after clearing the CMOS memory (and loading defaults in the BIOS), the problem continued.

However… upgrading to the latest Memtest86, I was able to run memory its tests with all 3 slots populated, without freezing, rebooting, or other errors! For some reason, the older Memtest86 hiccupped on something the new version breezes through. After over a day of test iterations, I decided my PC was stable enough for daily use.

Thanks to everybody for chiming in. Hopefully, I won't have to resurrect this thread.

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