What would cause no boot when 4 mem slots filled but not 3?

By caron ·
Gateway GM5084 mb: C51GU01
ram: 4x512 DDR400
System boots with 3 mem slots occupied, but not with all 4 (total freeze before XP splash screen)
Individual sticks test OK with Memtest86+.
Also, system will occasionally freeze after several hours with 3 sticks installed. Board temps show normal in BIOS. Can't do any tweaking with this bios.
Suspect PS issues. Maybe?

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All Answers

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Possible power supply

by mjd420nova In reply to What would cause no boot ...

I can think of two things that can lead to this type of failure. The first is a marginal power supply that gets pushed over the edge with a full load of memory and lockups whith three. The other fault is a broken or cracked plastic clip on that last memory card socket.

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New evidence

by caron In reply to Possible power supply

Thanks for the reply. Your PS suspicions are mine also. New evidence: when I tell the BIOS to load FAIL SAFE DEFAULTS (whatever that involves), the machine fails to boot fully to windows. Change it back to OPTIMIZED DEFAULTS and it boots fine, but eventually freezes. I'll try a new PS and post.

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Depending on the M'Board in this unit

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to What would cause no boot ...

It may just be the wrong type of RAM being used as well. With many Dual Chanel M'Boards they can be picky when it comes to using more than 2 RAM Modules. I've seen cases when the system refuses to display anything when turned on with 4 RAM Modules Fitted, to freezing after the POST to finally just freezing when the system is loaded.

What causes this to happen is that the RAM is incorrect for the M'Board and while 2 or 3 Modules will work the unit happily when you add 4 you need to go to faster RAM than what you currently had fitted.


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I've seen that happen with high-end motherboards ..

by OldER Mycroft In reply to Depending on the M'Board ...

Running quite happily with 667Mhz RAM in 2 slots - adding another twin of 667Mhz causes a freeze.

However replacing all 4 with 800Mhz, the system runs very happily.

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Yep I've seen that happen as well

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to I've seen that happen wit ...

But not so much on High End M'Boards things like ABit AW8, Gigabyte EP31-DS3L, EP43-DS3L and EP45-DS3L M'Boards will do the same thing.

I have a EP45-DS3L here that will run happily with 2 X 2 GIG 667 Modules Fitted but with the 3 Fitted it's unstable and falls over or hangs randomly. Then when a fourth and it locks up.

Replace the 667 RAM with faster stuff and it works OK.


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When my W7 GA arrives ...

by OldER Mycroft In reply to Yep I've seen that happen ...

I'm seriously thinking of replacing my 2MB 667Mhz with 800Mhz and I fancy filling all 4 slots.

I know a bit of it'll be wasted but it should be faster anyway.

Which brings me to another point that I'm going to Post about forthwith.

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OM I've been using 1066 RAM on the 43 and 45 Chip Set M'Boards

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to When my W7 GA arrives ...

With all Sockets Populated without a problem.

If that is of any help to you.

OH and I'm not going to answer your question either now.


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Ram Slot?

by B.Leighton In reply to What would cause no boot ...

Have you eliminated possiblity of a faulty ram slot?

Also Does BIOS detect the entire 2GBs?

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Thanks of the replies but I'm giving up!

by caron In reply to Ram Slot?

Thanks guys. To answer a couple of questions: yes, BIOS sees all 2, though only 391mb with one simm in place. That seemed weird to me. Also, the sys has been running with the original components since July 06, so incompatibility seems out.
What I've done: I've tested each simm with memtest86+ (all passed), I swapped out power supplies (if anything, the situation got worse). The sys now rarely boots to windows (1-3 slots filled), usually BSOD before desktop, sometimes at POST. I did get to msconfig once and selected diagnostic startup. No help. Safe mode no help. Stick a fork in me, but thanks for the help. If I have nothing better to do someday, I might take everything out of the box and reinstall, see if that does anything. I really hate giving up on this previously stable, quiet system.

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OK some easy explanations here

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Thanks of the replies but ...

The 391 MEG of RAM is to do with the On Board Video. Some System RAM is stoled from the system to generate the Video. So you loose whatever is set aside for Video in BIOS.

I've had several systems fall over after years of service and in each case it has all been related to the RAM being used. Just recently I have had 3 systems fail to start when they have been turned off for a couple of days. In each case it was a Faulty RAM Module. I just heard a endless series of Beeps from the On Board Speaker till the faulty RAM Module was removed. I even had one new one do the same thing that's the RAM Module not a computer. It was just a faulty Module from new.

It's also possible that as things get old and degrade or the Specifications drift that the unit will run into Incompatibility's but this is more to do with the Specifications drifting and no longer working correctly together.

As for the new PS making things worse what is it and what happens when you refit the old one? At a guess here I would be questioning the quality of the new Power Supply and defiantly questioning just how stable it is.

What happens when you remove 1 RAM Module? Is the system stable now?

As for testing the thing download a copy of the Ultimate Boot CD from here it's free and boot off the CD that you make from the Image and run a full spread of Diagnostics.

I personally always use the ISO Image as they are harder to tamper with so it's less likely to be infected but none the less you should always check the Check Sums before doing anything with a Downloaded file.


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