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Project: Verifying your Memory Type

The previous section and table helped you identify the type of memory your system uses. However, you should verify it manually for several reasons. One is that your motherboard may have been changed. Another is that your model may not contain the exact components specified for a particular HP Pavilion series, meaning that the motherboard listed in Appendix A might be right for most of the series but not your particular model. This project shows you how to visually verify your memory type and the amount of memory in your system.

In Chapter 4, you went through a preliminary inspection of your system and looked at the physical memory on your motherboard. You even used some Windows utilities to determine your current memory allocation. In this project, you'll determine the actual configuration of your existing memory.

  1. Access the BIOS Setup screen by restarting your computer and pressing the F1 key when you see the Hewlett-Packard blue screen. The Main Setup menu will then appear.

  2. In the Main menu, look for the Memory Bank information. The menu lists each memory bank separately. It lists the system's memory configuration. For example, if the motherboard has three DIMM (memory) slots, the list might look like this:

    Memory Bank 0

    64 MB

    Memory Bank 1

    32 MB

    Memory Bank 2


  3. Write down the information you see, then press F10 to exit BIOS.

The memory table obtained from the BIOS indicates several things:

  • The number of memory banks on the motherboard

  • The amount of memory in each bank

  • Free banks, which are indicated by 0

What is obvious from the above table is that the system has 96 MB of memory (64 MB + 32 MB). What is not so obvious is how to go about expanding memory on your system. Do you put a memory module in the empty number 3 slot? Should you remove the 32 MB module from bank 2 and then install 64 MB memory modules in banks 2 and 3? The latter would give you a total of 192 MB of memory and let you keep the 64 MB memory module. As you can see, there are a number of ways to juggle memory and part of your strategy may involve working out a configuration that lets you keep the memory modules you have, although this is sometimes not possible if you want to expand memory to a high level (and especially if your system has only two memory module slots).

If for some reason you couldn't find the memory bank information in BIOS, you'll need to open your computer and examine the memory module and memory slot configuration. Follow these steps:

  1. Refer to Appendix B for instructions on opening your case. Be sure to read the information related to electrostatic discharge.

  2. Put on your antistatic wrist strap and connect it to the computer frame. Follow all the procedures to avoid electrostatic discharge, as outlined in Appendix B.

  3. Look inside the case and find the memory module(s) and slots. You'll see something like Figure 6.5.

    Figure 6.5Figure 6.5 Visually inspecting the memory modules and slots.

  4. Count the number of memory slots. Usually, there are two, but you might have three. HP motherboards that support RIMMs have four slots. Note how many slots are unoccupied.

Visually compare the memory modules you see with Figure 6.2. If you have 72-pin SIMMs, as shown in Figures 6.2 and 6.3, jump ahead to the section called "Buying and Installing SIMMs." The removal technique for SIMMs is different from the other memory types. The rest of this section is about DIMMs and RIMMs.

  1. Assuming you have DIMMs or RIMMs, reach down into the case and push the hammer locks on the memory modules down and out, as shown in Figure 6.6. Be sure to note which slot the module came out of and make a note of it for future reference. As you push the locks, the module will lift out of the slot so you can grab it. Do not touch the contacts, and make sure you stay strapped in!

    Figure 6.6Figure 6.6 Remove a DIMM by pushing down on the locks at both ends, then lift the DIMM out.

If you cannot reach the modules, you may need to remove some of the components in the case, like the power supply or some of the cables. On Type 1 cases, you will need to remove the right-side motherboard panel, since the modules are not easily accessible. Refer to Appendix B for more instructions.

  1. Look closely at the memory module and compare to the modules pictured in Figure 6.2.

DDR-DIMMs may be identified by the double notch at either end of the module and by a single notch at the bottom near the gold contacts. RIMMs may be identified by two closely-spaced notches near the contacts, as shown in Figure 6.7. RIMMs may also have a cover, but that is not always the case. But RIMMs used on HP motherboards are always seated in a set of four slots.

Figure 6.7Figure 6.7 Identifying RIMMs.

  1. With the module out of the case, write down any numbers you see on the module. Look for the common identification numbers such as PC66, PC100, PC133, and so on, as listed earlier.

  2. Now reinstall the memory module. Make sure you put it back in the same slot. Start by pushing the hammer locks outward, then carefully line up the module with the slot, as shown in Figure 6.8.

    Figure 6.8Figure 6.8 Reinstalling the DIMM.

The ends of the module will slide into a gap in the hammer locks. It should ease into place above the slot, then when it is positioned correctly, you give it a push into the slot and the hammer locks should engage into the notches at the sides of the module.

  1. Push the module in until the hammer locks engage the notches in the memory module. Make sure the locks fully engage. If not, try reseating the module. Don't force it. The ends may not be sliding into the hammer locks properly.

  2. Put the case back together.

If you need more information on your memory modules, log onto the Internet and search Google for the numbers you found. You are sure to pull up some information about the chips. Once you get the information, you are ready to figure out how to expand your system's memory. Go to the sections below that relate to your system.

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