My nephew has upgraded his computer’s RAM from 256MB to 512MB. It operates
much faster and the system recognized it fine. But after launching his browser
the system freezes up. It does not do this with 256MB. His computer has 2 slots
capable of 256MB max for each. We have since purchased an additional new one to
match the other but the problem still exists. He added a 128MB chip to the open
slot and no problem, it reads 384MB. We performed a full factory restore, same
problem. We’re both scratching our heads on this one. I’ve assisted many family
members with memory upgrades and never a problem. Any ideas or suggestions
would be greatly appreciated.
Adding RAM is one of the most cost effective ways to improve your computer’s
speed and overall efficiency. Windows loves RAM.
Except, of course, when it doesn’t work.
I’ll look at some of the issues to consider when adding RAM, and of course
what I think has happened in this specific case.
The symptoms you describe are more than likely due to a bad RAM chip, particularly in an older machine. I’d replace it with another of the same size, and it’s likely that the problem will go away.
If you’re so motivated, you might consider running a memory test program such as the free download version of Memtest86. I’m guessing that running that for a while will indicate that there’s a problem with the particular chip you’re attempting to add.
Another possibility is mismatched RAM, or RAM of inferior quality. Even if you get the correct size of RAM chip – in both the physical and capacity sense – there may be other factors at play such as the required bus speed. Getting a RAM chip that is rated slower than your computer’s memory access or “Front-side bus” (FSB) speed could cause the types of problems you’re seeing as well. (Crucial has a good overview of memory speeds and compatibility.)
Making sure that you get the correct memory for your system is important. With so many options it’s very easy to get confused. Even if you don’t purchase from them (though I do), Crucial specializes in memory upgrades and has a very good analysis tool that you can download which will tell you exactly what you have, and what upgrades are available to you.
Bad or mismatched RAM is the most likely cause, by far. Windows itself should easily and transparently handle 512 Megabytes – I wouldn’t expect a reinstall, for example, to have any effect on this type of problem. There are rare cases where a motherboard or other device on the system could somehow be sensitive to certain memory ranges, but … well, like I said, it would be very unlikely.