[SOLVED] Can RAM kill a motherboard?


Dec 31, 2014
A few years ago, the PC I built stopped turning on. I had left it at home when I moved for university, working just fine, but when I returned for Christmas it wouldn't boot. The turning it on would cause the fans to briefly spin up, the cooler would flash on and off, and that was it. It'd keep doing this until I gave up and pulled the plug, like a car with a flat battery.

Every now and then, after a few dozen tries, it'd start up! (Almost). The fans would kick in at full speed then slow to their default, exactly what you expect from a posting computer, but there'd be no video output, no power to the USB ports. Very, very rarely, it'd boot. Some days, it could even play games again (although it'd pretty regularly shut off after an hour or so, but pretty reliably boot up again immediately afterwards).

Naturally, I assumed it was a faulty PSU. I bought a new one, and nothing changed. Afterwards I assumed it was the motherboard, which I couldn't afford to replace at the time, as this chipset was discontinued, so I'd likely need new CPU and RAM too (this was towards the end of the DDR3 era).

I stripped it down, moved the SSD to my laptop where it still resides, and gave the GPU (a 760, valueless at the time) to a friend whose 970 imploded. Now it is inhabited by an old 660 I salvaged. I'd assumed it was just a lost cause until recently.

My friend's RAM died. Being the charitable person that I am, I offered to give him the 8GB stick left in this late PC. It worked fine for a while, before his PC showed identical symptoms! I was naturally feeling pretty guilty, but this made me curious. I plugged in the PC with no RAM, and amazingly, it spun up as if there was no power delivery issue whatsoever. Obviously no POSTing took place, but that's to be expected.

At first, I assumed it was a faulty connection on the MOBO somewhere, as it seemed to boot more and more reliably the more I tried (I.E. the PC warmed up, metal expanded and bridged the dodgy connection), but this RAM situation has thrown me off a bit.

So, my question is, could a faulty stick of RAM have caused this? Could it have killed the rest of the PC? How could it cause the same to happen to my friend, or is that just a coincidence?

My nephew is getting into computers and has some real aptitude for programming, and his mother is pretty reluctant to buy him one, so I was thinking about donating this for his birthday if I can get it working with a stick of RAM, but don't want to drop £40+ on a DIMM or two if there's no chance of this working. All I have in the house is DDR2 and some SODIMMs.