Added RAM recognized but Windows won't load and goes into reboot loop

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Koot

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I tried to add a 4th stick of the same 512MB PC3200 DDR400 nonECC DIMM CL3 memory (had 3x 512MB before trying to add) and Windows would not load. The PC recognizes the new total (2GB) before it attempts to load Windows. My MB has four memory slots and takes up to 3GB of 400 speed memory. I tried moving the memory around - same problem. I can remove one stick of existing memory (that I've been using) and everything works okay with the new memory. I tried just the new memory and everything works okay. The new memory is definitely good - used by itself or with other existing memory...just not when all four memory slots are full.

After adding the fourth memory stick Windows tries to load for a few seconds, but then I get the black screen that says something has changed or hardware was added (e.g. memory) and the screen gives me options to select Last Known Good Configuration, Safe Mode, etc., however I am unable to select "any" of the options offered - and it times-out and then automatically tries to boot again...over and over. There are no error beeps. Removing "any" single 512MB stick (new or existing memory), bringing the total memory back down to what I've been using (3x sticks 512MB for 1.5GB total), allows solid boot and Windows loads normally. My BIOS is setup in the default settings for everything, including memory voltage, T2 timing, etc., etc.

I've read many dozens of posts and articles dating back eight years or more where many people have had the same problems I'm facing, but with the exception of obvious problems such as bad memory, mismatched memory, too much memory for OS, modified BIOS settings, etc., I have yet to learn what causes this problem. I'm puzzled. Any suggestions?
 
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Say Koot:

It would be most helpful if you would identify the motherboard in your system. Some motherboards are problematic with certain memory configurations.
 

Koot

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Say Koot:

It would be most helpful if you would identify the motherboard in your system. Some motherboards are problematic with certain memory configurations.

It's all listed. Click on the little PC icon to the right of my User Name.
 

Koot

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Ummm, I may have learned something that I missed before when reading about my motherboard's support for memory, It's not clear - the way they word it (or translate it) in the owner manual. This may explain why Windows won't load and the boot loop problem after adding more (4th card) RAM ... however it brings up another question - my ability to use three memory cards at DDR400 speed because now I understand when using 400 speed memory I'm limited to only two slots.

My motherboard supposedly has the following (4 x 184-pin DIMM sockets) memory limitations:
* Supports 2 DIMM DDR 333/400 (Max. 2GB) *
Supports 3 DIMM Un-buffered DDR 200/266 (Max. 3GB)
Supports 4 DIMM Registered DDR 200/266 (Max. 3.5GB)


It looks like when using DDR400 (which I am) the maximum number of memory slots that can be used is only two. Okay, now I know... But, why have I been able to use three DDR400 memory cards if I'm limited to only two (as noted above)? My 1.5GB memory (3x 512MB) that I've been using for years is recognized and I've never had a problem associated with using 3 memory cards. Maybe the board allowed using three cards for some strange and unknown reason ... or maybe the card was automatically cut back to equal DDR266. Dunno. Strange ... I don't understand.
 
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Hello Koot:

I went to Crucial as well and selected your motherboard from their drop-down list. The results confirmed that the board has a maximum capacity of 3 to 3.5GB and *not* 4GB as their system scan of your system indicated. It appears that the various chips (333/400) vs. (200/266) has a direct relationship as to why that board will or won't detect the maximum memory capacity. Have you ever upgraded the board's BIOS? Perhaps the solution to your memory problems lies there. I've also checked around and cannot seem to find a problem involving that board that correlates to this issue. I'm going to assume that you've already contacted the Abit people about this issue. Let me know about the BIOS update question.
 

Koot

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The BIOS is the latest. ABIT is no longer in business...

There is conflicting information about the memory regardless whether you read the owners manual, or one of the many memory scans. That said, I never wanted to get 4GB ... or even 3.5GB or 3GB. I only wanted to get it up to 2GB. Only today did I see (for the first time) that when using DDR400 memory I am limited to using only two slots (* Supports 2 DIMM DDR 333/400 (Max. 2GB). That was news to me. However, like I said, I sure would like to know why am I able to use three slots now of DDR400 memory (3x 512MB) when Crucial says I'm prevented from doing so. Again, everything (owners manual, scans, reviews, etc.) seems to conflict, which of course makes no sense...

As much as I would like to solve this mystery it's not a big deal. My PC does everything I need for it to do with 1.5GB. I just thought I'd spend a few bucks and fill the 4th slot with another 512MB stick to get me up to 2GB ... though I've never needed more RAM than I currently have. I'll decide whether to keep the 1.5GB as is, or buy two 1GB sticks to get me to 2GB and only use two slots. But, like other little things in life - I sure would like to solve the mystery of why I've been able to use three slots of DDR400 memory. I don't like being stumped ... and I like learning the "why" of things...
 
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Your Abit board is not alone among the myriad boards that have produced strange and inconsistent anomalies as it pertains to memory, Koot. Sometimes the published specs are totally at odds with the actual product. If you Google similar motherboard/memory inconsistencies, you might be surprised by the amount of memory/mobo horror stories that have been chronicled over the years. And, the most glaring? Many of these 'mysteries'; though speculated about heavily, have never actually been solved. (Factory lemon? Could be a host of possibilities). I too like to find reasons as to why certain technical aspects of a computer system seem to apparently defy logic or an answer, but sometimes it may be best to just plod ahead and be more circumspect about future purchases. But, who knows, an answer to your specific issue just may, out-of-the-blue, be revealed some day. Take care.
 
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