Why doesn't my computer recognize my RAM

Alright. I bought some RAM for my computer but maybe that was a bad idea. When I did the crucial RAM test it said I have one free spot for RAM on my motherboard. I also checked under system information and saw that I have 256MB of RAM so I assumed I only have one stick w/o physically checking. I just got a 512MB stick in the mail today and when I opened the case saw that I actually have two sticks of 256MB DDR RAM. I don’t know what is going on or why my system only recognizes 256MB.

So I have tried various combinations. With only the 512MB stick it says I only have 163 MB (around that) of RAM. With both the 256 MB sticks it says I have 256MB of RAM. With a 512 and 256 together it says either 272 or 256, depending on which stick I use and which slot I put it into.

The ram specifics are

crucial 512MB 2700
kingston 256 2100
crucial 256 2100

all are DDR RAM. So does anyone know what is wrong with my computer that it doesn’t seem to recognize most of my RAM? Do I need a new motherboard or something?

When I ran the test it came back with this repsonse:

Are you sure yours didn’t say something similar?

What OS are you running? Does what the OS say match the amount of RAM that you have in there? Try to see what the OS sees and that will at least give you a starting point. Maybe teh test is flawed.

      • This sounds like a BIOS issue; boot into that and see what choices for RAM configs you have, and also check the BIOS version. If you don’t have the latest BIOS version there is, then look up reports to see if it causes any problems or catastrophes, and then decide if you want to upgrade or not.
      • Also (I forgot to mention) look on the manufacturer’s website, to see the slot configurations that your mobo supports. Depending on how many RAM sticks you use, they often have to be inserted in particular slots to work fully…

Whats a battle?

I have windows XP pro 2002.


Do I just download the K7AMA driver? My motherboard is an elitegroup K7AMA.

I went to the elitegroup website, it says the K7AMA is a socket 462


Do I just download that? Do I need to do anything before I download it aside from setting up a system restore point? If this screws the computer up will system restore fix it?

What about drivers, do I need new drivers as well or just BIOS?

      • Ehhhh, welll, , , you might consider it. I searched a bit for “K7AMA ram problem” and got lots of hits of this product not working well, RAM problems of all types are common. A lot of people had problems with it essentially failing. There doesn’t seem to be any common cause or solution that anyone could detirmine. Some people said it only worked right with one stick of RAM, others noted temperature problems. Many didn’t have any idea what the cause of their problems was. It only supported 1Gb of RAM maximum.
  • You need a mobo that supports DDR and can handle the speed of processor you have for it, socket-A or socket 462. There’s still a few available for $30-$50+, TigerDirect has a number available. Most only have two RAM slots, but can support at least 2Gb of RAM. A lot of the cheaper ones are micro-ATX, if your case can take such a mobo and you can live with only two PCI slots (most of these boards have onboard ethernet and sound). …I remember that the VIA chipsets had fewer problems than the SiS chipsets did.

I don’t know tons about computers. Right now I only use 1 PCI slot and 1 AGP slot for an ethernet card and a video card. I’ll probably need to install a wireless LAN card soon though since we have DSL but I suppose I can get rid of the ethernet card then.

I think I’d rather buy a motherboard/CPU combo since my CPU is only a 1200Mhz thunderbird and I think I have severe overheating problems with it (my brother told me the temp got into dangerous ranges all the time for some reason even though I’m not overclocking). and a motherboard/CPU combo is only $50 more than just a motherboard. I think that this is a socket A motherboard.


That one doesn’t look too bad.


The motherboard alone is only $40. Will a socket A slot work with both a thunderbird 1200 and an athlon XP 2600 in case I want to upgrade?

      • The PCCHIPS MB-825G KM266Pro should work, but there’s some marks against it here. First is that it’s an micro-ATX, which your case might not take. Second is that it’s only got two RAM sockets, so one of your sticks would go to waste, when there’s many ATX boards with three slots. Third is that it has onboard video–which you don’t need and don’t likely want to pay for, as you already have a videocard you want to use. My suspicion is that they are trying to unload those mobos big time; they charge $90 for both when their own going rate on an XP-3000 alone is $100. :confused:
  • I would recommend looking at the regular-ATX socket-A boards that have Via chipsets, 3 RAM sockets and no onboard video. Most of the <$60 ones have onboard ethernet and sound, but not firewire. Some have onboard SATA also, if you plan on keeping this PC a really long time. If you are jumping up to 1Gb RAM from 256 megs (actually operating!), you’re going to see a BIG improvment in speeds even just with the processor you’ve got. If (at tigerdirect) you click on “motherboards”, “socket-A” and then on the left hit “Via” for the chipset type you want, there’s some starting around $50 that have these features.

  • Personally, I remember Via chipsets having less problems than SiS, I would look for a Via, but everybody’s got an opinion and you find people cursing both. Here’s one article that says a Via chipset (for socket-A mobos) slightly outperforms the SiS: http://www.onepc.net/index.php?view=docs&doc_id=101&page=1

  • As far as getting a mobo with the least amount of problems, you pretty much just have to enter the model name of the mobo and the word “problems” in Google, and see if a lof of problem posts are complaining of the same things. Everybody has problems with everything, you should only be concerned if you find a lot of different people reporting very-similar types of problems.

I was just going to sell the two 256 sticks on ebay and buy a 512 or a 1024 stick, so I don’t really need 3 DDR RAM slots. Besides, those are 2100 RAM and most modern motherboards use 3200.

I don’t think I have the CD for my video card so if I got a new motherboard wouldn’t I be out of luck since I need the drivers to get video, and without the video card working I can’t download drivers online?

  • Yea, but a socket-A is not a “modern” CPU; for a “current” CPU you’d have to move up to a Athlon-64 system, and no socket-A supports Athlon-64’s anyway. The socket-A’s pretty much all will still run 2100. The Asus A7V8X-X for instance is $53 and supports PC1600/2100. Yes it would be better to get a better mobo, faster CPU and RAM, but if your system has only been running with 256 megs working, it’s been going horribly slow just because of the lack of RAM. It’s going to improve a lot just with 1 gig of the same-speed RAM working with the same CPU it has now.
  • Changing the motherboard won’t affect the video card drivers. You just go into the device manager, set your video mode to software-only (VGA, 640 x 480 and 16 colors), then delete the existing motherboard chipset devices, and power down and do the changeover. The PC should boot and ask for mobo chipset drivers, and then (once Windows can run the new AGP slot) you can turn your video back up to whatever it was at before. And anyway–you don’t “need” videocard drivers to boot up a machine, as Windows can run any video card in a default VGA mode. It works well enough to get online and download the full drivers.

Well, what do you think of these boards?





Gigabyte 7VT600P-RZ
AOpen AK77-600 Max
Asus A7V8X-X VIA
Mach Speed V600DAP
Are they all pretty much the same at this point? I am not finding many reviews online of any of them that show troubleshooting problems. I need at least two PCI slots, and AGP slot and three DDR DIMM slots in an ATX format VIA board. Beyond that I don’t know what else I’d need.

I’m assuming a socket A will accept all durons, athlon thunderbirds & athlon XPs right? So just in case I need a new CPU (as I said I think mine has overheating problems) I can just plug one into the new motherboard.

      • I would try the Gigabyte 7VT600P-RZ. I couldn’t find anything bad about it on forum searches over at http://www.motherboards.org . It supports Athlon, Athlon XP and Duron CPU’s up to 400Mhz FSB, which covers up to Athlon XP 3200 (they go to 3400), and has SATA ports too.
  • I don’t know if it will support using different-values of RAM sticks or not. The way I remember it was that if a mobo had two slots, usually the RAM sticks had to be the same values or it wouldn’t work–but if it had three slots, the mobo could handle different values of RAM sticks. I know that I have a 3-RAM-slot PC and use different values in it, and it works fine.
  • As far as overheating goes, you can get a better heatsink than stock ones pretty cheap now, like $10 for an aluminum/copper one or $20 for an all-copper one. Get one that is rated for a 3400 CPU if you’re paranoid about overheating. These will work better than the stock cooler, but the stock heatsink should work okay as it is unless you are overclocking. Or unless it’s really dirty… What temperature does your CPU idle at? You can download programs to tell this, Sisoft Sandra or Speedfan both are free and monitor temperatures.

Mine is idling at 81 C. The CPU has lasted me 4 years though so I don’t get that.

In looking at the specs on your board it indicates the following.

It does not look like it will support more than 2 DIMMS at a time and you cannot mix and match DDR and non-DDR. I would suggest you DL and apply the latest BIOS for the board and double check your memory to make sure you are only using 2 at once and they are correctly paired re DDR or not.

Beyond this you need to update the BIOS to the latest verison. It appears there 4 different hardware revisions of this board. From the ECS website make sure you have correctly identified the hardware revision version (It should be marked on the board itself somewhere) before DLing the appropriate BIOS within the K7AMA line.

I don’t see any markings that say what kind of board I have. There are four K7AMA downloads the K7AMA 1.5, K7AMA2 2.0, K7AMA3 1.0 & K7AMA3 3.1. I don’t see markings anywhere to tell me which one I have though. It just says K7AMA so I figure its the K7AMA 1.5 but I’m not certain.

Go here www.belarc.com

& download and install the applet accessible from the “Free Download” link at the top of the page. It is a superb small program that will read out the hardware & software specs of your PC.

Look at the section under “Main Circuit Board” and see if it’s indicated there.

Hmm. mine says ECS K7AMA 1.0

It also says

256 Megabytes Installed Memory

Slot ‘0’ has 256 MB
Slot ‘1’ is Empty
Slot ‘2’ is Empty
Slot ‘3’ is Empty

Slot 2 & 3 are probably the SDRAM slots though. When I switched the 512 and the 256 it just says 272MB instead in system information.

Does your board have onboard video? If so have you defeated it in BIOS (or via jumpers) and defeated video memory sharing?

Those four boards should each handle most Durons, Athlon TBirds, and Athlon XPs, with exceptions for older chips (some of the BIOSes may not support very low clock speeds / YMMV). You’re looking at two different chipsets, though: the KT600 and the KT400. Both chipsets look pretty good, but since we’re at the end of the Socket A generation, you would be best off getting one of the last, best boards of the generation – something based on the KT600 chipset. The fastest CPU you’ll be able to get will be a 3400+. Serial ATA interface means you can use the newer hard drives that are coming out. So far there’s not much difference between these and IDE, but perhaps someday soon there will be.

Things you lose by sticking with Socket A:

  • No PCI-E slot: this is the new graphics card standard and should eventually replace PCI as well. The cards available for the AGP 8x slots are slowly being phased out. I haven’t seen any cards come out yet that don’t also come in an AGP 8x form factor, but that day is coming soon.

  • No Athlon-64 support: this is the new modern CPU form factor. Your 3400+ should be able to keep up for a few more years (I hope so anyway - I’m running a 2400+) but when it’s time for that next upgrade you’ll have to lay out a bunch of cash.

Also: 81 degrees Celsius is way too hot for an AMD chip to be running at idle. You’re only 10 degrees shy of the maximum die temperature for your chip, which means you’re probably doing damage to it when it’s running hot.

      • Well, not really. The same hardware gets cheaper over time, not more expensive. All these socket-A mobos, CPU’s and RAM that we are looking at probably cost at least twice as much when they were new. The only real argument for PCI-e is if one plays games that would benefit. For anything else, AGP or even onboard video can do just fine. Two or three years from now, there will be a whole bunch of dirt-cheap Athlon-64 CPU’s, and PCI-e mobos and videocards to pick from.