I’m upgrading my RAM. HELP

These are the specs from my manual:

Architecture: non-ECC PC133 SDRAM
Memory connectors: two: gold contacts
Memory capacities: 64,128, and 256 MB (non-ECC)
Minimum memory: 64 MB
Maximum memory: 512 MB
Frequency: 133
Clock cycle: 7.5 ns (supports 4 clocks only)
CAS latency: 3
SPD revision: 1.2 A
Buffering: unbuffered
Voltage: 3.3V
Data bus width: 64 bits

I am running a Pentium III processor, 930 MHz, 128 MB or RAM
My system is Windows XP Home Edition, Version 2002, Service Pack 2

Now my question is can I upgrade to more then 512MB of ram. I read in the latest Popular Mechanics that older versions of windows could only support 512 MB of ram. I have since upgraded from ME to windows XP. Is the maximum memory listed under the specs in my manual a hardware constraint or a software constraint?

This is a motherboard issue. What motherboard do you have

If your manual says you can only have 512MB of RAm, then it is either a limitation in the BIOS software or the hardware (motherboard traces or chips).

If it’s a BIOS limitation, you can try checking the manufacturer’s website to see if a BIOS update was released for your motherboard (Warning: follow the instructions exactly, and use only BIOS updates for your specific board and revision. Errors can screw up your BIOS and render your motherboard nonfunctional. There are ways to fix this without buying a properly programmed BIOS chip, but these are beyond the scope of this question)

If you have extra memory on hand, and want to know whether the 512MB limit is in the hardware or BIOS, you can try downloading a free bootable Linux CD, like Knoppix. Linux completely ignores the BIOS, so it will use the full available memory the hardware can support. If it reports/utilizes 768MB or 1 Gig, but Windows doesn’t, you are dealing with a purely BIOS problem, and you might consider (at your own risk) Googling for a BIOS that some hobbyist has modified for >512MB. (WARNING: the above caveat applies double if you take this option. You’re on your own)

Actually, not too many motherboards are popular enough with hobbyists to attract the attention of techies who can rewrite a BIOS. However, even if you don’t find (or have the reckless abandon to install) a hobbyist or factory update, you may find hobbyist forums with other cool tips that you may enjoy.

No, there is a known bug in Windows 9x/ME that caused Windows to misuse RAM beyond the 512MB mark. Cite.

XP doesn’t have this problem, so you’re fine as far as software goes, but motherboards (more specifically, chipsets) do have limits on the amount of memory they can handle. My WAG based on the age of the system is that 512MB should be no problem. How much more than that you can use, I’m not sure, but you’re going to be limited by the fact that those RAM sticks only come as large as 256MB. If you’ve got three slots, for instance, you’ll be stuck with a maximum of 768MB (assuming that the board will support it, and I’m hesitant to say that it will without knowing more about the board).

Sounds like a hardware limitation of your motherboard to me. You only have two slots. Each slot can take 256 MB max, therefore your maximum memory installed can’t be more than 512 MB.

It is possible that there is a bios upgrade for your board that will allow more memory, but it is very unlikely in my opinion. It is also possible that the manual you have was put together by a 3rd party manufacturer (like Dell or HP), and that they wrote the limitations of the whole system into the manual, which would mean only 512MB of memory because of the software they shipped with, not the hardware.

Does the manual list the motherboard model number? If not, you can open up the computer and look for it. If you can find it, you can check online with the motherboard manufacturer.

I’m pretty sure that’s incorrect. The BIOS is firmware flashed onto the hardware itself, and controls the low-level operations of the board. See Wikipedia’s site.

Yikes, sorry for my incorrect reply. I misread the motherboard specs from the manual as specs RAM you were considering getting; looking over the OP again, I’m embarrassed to have misread it so badly.

If the manual is correct, then you are indeed limited to 512MB. At the risk of further making a fool of myself, I’m going to say that I’m doubtful that a BIOS update would change this limitation, which I believe is a property of the chipset itself.

Thanks everyone. i looked through the manual (it’s a dell computer) and found no info on the motherboard. tommorow i’ll crack open my computer (first time i ever opened a computer before) and try fo find out more about the motherboad that i have.

If it’s a Dell, you should be able to give us the model number (assuming it’s still in stock condition) or Google for your model number and the word motherboard - e.g. “Dell Dimension 5200 motherboard”. You should have no trouble figuring out what model motherboard you have.

Given the age of the processor, however, I doubt that a BIOS update will enable more room for RAM.

Sometimes nerds are more confusing and harmful than they are helpful. The idea that there may be a BIOS upgrade out there is about as obscure and unlikely as if you had asked “Can I legally shoot birds from my car?” and they had responded with “well, there may be an obscure statute in your part of the counry, or recent provisos of your local state constituation could have provided…” God! Don’t you just wish someone would answer the question instead of trying to grab their nerd-dick, confusing you even more in the process?

Look, guys - if the OP is asking this question in this way to begin with, they probably don’t even know what a BIOS is, much less how to find an obscure, bootlegged one and then how to flash it.

Here’s the short answer: you can only have 512 MB of ram, which should speed up this PC considerably (WinXp really needs 256 minimum to function efficiently). Since you only have two ram slots (that can only take up to 256 in each slot), you must get two sticks of 256mb ram. PC133 SDRAM is amazingly cheap now, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

Assuming that this is a Dell Dimension 4100 (based on the memory specs), this site has the following note: