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Thread: Adding RAM to old Dell

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    tWebber NorrinRadd's Avatar
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    Adding RAM to old Dell

    A while ago, I bought an old refurb Dell desktop -- Optiplex 780 "Small Form Factor."

    A smaller while ago, I decided I wanted to try to upgrade the RAM from its current 8GB (4x2GB). I checked online and found it accommodates a maximum of 16 GB. I bought two 8 GB sticks.

    With the holidays, and then with the Six-Week Flu and its persistent low-energy aftermath, I never got around to attempting the upgrade until last night.

    Sadly, the attempt failed. On trying to boot, I immediately get a beep-code -- 1-3-2 beeps -- that the support page at Dell says indicates memory issues. It never proceeds as far as presenting an image on the monitor.

    I went through the recommended troubleshooting, trying each of the 8 GB modules individually in a slot, then using one of the old 2 GB modules in the same slot. Both 8 GB modules instantly fail with the 1-3-2 code, but the 2 GB module proceeds normally. So the problem is not with the slot.

    Am I likely right in believing this is a hardware issue beyond what could be fixed by something like trying to update the BIOS?
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    God, family, chicken! Bill the Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorrinRadd View Post
    A while ago, I bought an old refurb Dell desktop -- Optiplex 780 "Small Form Factor."

    A smaller while ago, I decided I wanted to try to upgrade the RAM from its current 8GB (4x2GB). I checked online and found it accommodates a maximum of 16 GB. I bought two 8 GB sticks.

    With the holidays, and then with the Six-Week Flu and its persistent low-energy aftermath, I never got around to attempting the upgrade until last night.

    Sadly, the attempt failed. On trying to boot, I immediately get a beep-code -- 1-3-2 beeps -- that the support page at Dell says indicates memory issues. It never proceeds as far as presenting an image on the monitor.

    I went through the recommended troubleshooting, trying each of the 8 GB modules individually in a slot, then using one of the old 2 GB modules in the same slot. Both 8 GB modules instantly fail with the 1-3-2 code, but the 2 GB module proceeds normally. So the problem is not with the slot.

    Am I likely right in believing this is a hardware issue beyond what could be fixed by something like trying to update the BIOS?
    Correct. It will not support individual 8 GB memory sticks.

    Below are the memory specs and memory configuration information for the OptiPlex 780 SFF.
    Optiplex 780 Drivers, Downloads and Manuals
    Type
    DDR3 SDRAM (non-ECC memory only)
    Memory speed
    1067 MHz, 1333 MHz
    Memory connectors
    Four
    Memory modules supported
    1GB, 2GB, 4GB non-ECC
    Minimum memory
    1 GB
    Maximum memory
    16 GB


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    Professor and Chaplain Littlejoe's Avatar
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    You have 4 Ram slots for memory? And you took 4 2 GB sticks out and put in 2 8 GB sticks? Some mother boards are picky about where you put the memory. Some have to be slot 1 and slot 2, others require slot 1 and slot 3. I haven't worked on Dell pc's in a while so I'm not sure if it matters, but something you can try.

    Also, are you certain you bought the correct Ram? DDR3 ram comes in multiple speeds but some motherboards will not recognize ram that clocks higher than the specified clock speed. IOW's if your motherboard runs ram that is 1333 Mhz, and you put 2133 Mhz ram in, some motherboards will not recognize it.

    Just found that Dell will not support 8 GB sticks.


    ETA, ninja'd by Bill the Cat.
    Last edited by Littlejoe; 05-06-2020 at 12:01 PM.
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    tWebber NorrinRadd's Avatar
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    Poop.

    Ok, thanks guys. I *thought* I'd done sufficient pre-purchase research, but NOPE.
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    Thread Killer QuantaFille's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorrinRadd View Post
    Poop.

    Ok, thanks guys. I *thought* I'd done sufficient pre-purchase research, but NOPE.
    When I bought the RAM for my current system, I had to check the motherboard manufacturer's website to make sure the exact brand and model of RAM I was buying was compatible with my motherboard. It even specified the number of sticks sold together in a set, and you could only use that set by itself, and not add anything to it. In other words, when I upgrade my RAM one day, I can't add two sticks. I have to take out my two sticks and put in four sticks that are sold as a set. And before I do it, I have to make sure that the specific set of sticks I want to buy are on the motherboard manufacturer's list of approved RAM.

    Sometimes, a set will work despite not being on the list, but if I remember correctly this voids the motherboard warranty. Not an issue in your case, but something to be aware of for upgrades of systems still under warranty.
    Curiosity never hurt anyone. It was stupidity that killed the cat.

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    Thread Killer QuantaFille's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Littlejoe View Post
    You have 4 Ram slots for memory? And you took 4 2 GB sticks out and put in 2 8 GB sticks? Some mother boards are picky about where you put the memory. Some have to be slot 1 and slot 2, others require slot 1 and slot 3. I haven't worked on Dell pc's in a while so I'm not sure if it matters, but something you can try.

    Also, are you certain you bought the correct Ram? DDR3 ram comes in multiple speeds but some motherboards will not recognize ram that clocks higher than the specified clock speed. IOW's if your motherboard runs ram that is 1333 Mhz, and you put 2133 Mhz ram in, some motherboards will not recognize it.

    Just found that Dell will not support 8 GB sticks.


    ETA, ninja'd by Bill the Cat.
    My motherboard didn't automatically detect my RAM speed, and I had to set it manually in BIOS. One of the only things it didn't detect automatically the first time I booted up after assembly.
    Curiosity never hurt anyone. It was stupidity that killed the cat.

  10. Amen Littlejoe amen'd this post.
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    tWebber NorrinRadd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuantaFille View Post
    When I bought the RAM for my current system, I had to check the motherboard manufacturer's website to make sure the exact brand and model of RAM I was buying was compatible with my motherboard. It even specified the number of sticks sold together in a set, and you could only use that set by itself, and not add anything to it. In other words, when I upgrade my RAM one day, I can't add two sticks. I have to take out my two sticks and put in four sticks that are sold as a set. And before I do it, I have to make sure that the specific set of sticks I want to buy are on the motherboard manufacturer's list of approved RAM.

    Sometimes, a set will work despite not being on the list, but if I remember correctly this voids the motherboard warranty. Not an issue in your case, but something to be aware of for upgrades of systems still under warranty.
    I don't know that I'll ever do this again. I used to do this sort of thing all the time, but my eyesight has really deteriorated. And a Small Form Factor box is pretty crowded.
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    Thread Killer QuantaFille's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorrinRadd View Post
    I don't know that I'll ever do this again. I used to do this sort of thing all the time, but my eyesight has really deteriorated. And a Small Form Factor box is pretty crowded.
    Yeah, those things are basically a laptop without a built in screen and keyboard.
    Curiosity never hurt anyone. It was stupidity that killed the cat.

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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorrinRadd View Post
    Poop.

    Ok, thanks guys. I *thought* I'd done sufficient pre-purchase research, but NOPE.
    I think Crucial has a pretty good "scan tool" that will tell you how many slots your computer has, and what memory is recommended/compatible.

    https://www.crucial.com/store/advisor
    Last edited by Cow Poke; 05-08-2020 at 12:58 PM.
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    tWebber NorrinRadd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    I think Crucial has a pretty good "scan tool" that will tell you how many slots your computer has, and what memory is recommended/compatible.

    https://www.crucial.com/store/advisor
    Yes, I've used them before, and I just ordered 4 DIMMs from them.

    I don't remember where I got the two 8 GB modules, or why I did not get them from Crucial.

    *sigh*
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  16. Amen Cow Poke, Littlejoe amen'd this post.

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