Question PC won't turn on after adding RAM

May 7, 2019
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Recently I'd cleaned up my old PC (an older one with Windows XP and only like 256MB of RAM, from the early 00s) and it was running pretty well considering, but since I had some extra RAM sitting around from a broken PC I thought I'd add it to make recovering files go a little faster.

I added the new stick and tried powering it on, but it didn't even try to boot up properly (when it's working properly the power button is green and an amber light beneath it flashes occasionally, but now only the amber light comes on for a bit), there is no image whatsoever on the monitor, the fans and disc drives work for few seconds, but then it just powers off completely and when you press the power button it won't turn on again until you unplug it and plug it back in. I opened it up and noticed the new RAM stick wasn't connected properly (one end snapped in and the other didn't), and when I removed it I noticed it must not actually be compatible because it's not the same shape as the one already in there. I removed, cleaned and re-attached every single connector inside the computer but it's still not powering on.

Does this sound like anything in particular? Is it possible newer RAM than the PC could handle actually fried the motherboard? Or is it more likely the power supply is screwed up somehow?

Thanks.
 

panathas

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Feb 12, 2014
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You should always check the compatibility between parts before installing anything on a motherboard. Most likely you fried something. It could be the motherboard the RAM stick or both. However you should try to test this system with another PSU. Additionally you should try to clear the CMOS just in case this is a BIOS issue. Good luck.

EDIT: Posting the complete system specs of that old PC and the RAM module that you tried to install might help.
 
May 7, 2019
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I'm not sure if it's the PSU because everything seems to be functioning power-wise: even after the amber light on the power button shuts off the fans keep spinning, the drive drives open and close, and even the green light on the motherboard stays on until the computer is unplugged. Tried clearing the CMOs too and nothing happened.

Old: 256MB, 133 MHz, 168-pin, DDR1 SDRAM

New: 1GB, 667MHz, 240-pin, DDR2 SDRAM

So, completely incompatible (I clearly did not know what I was doing) 😬
 

panathas

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Feb 12, 2014
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Even if you tried to install another compatible DDR SDRAM module in that motherboard and somehow you didn't manage to install it properly (only half the stick making contact with the RAM slot), you still could have fried the RAM or the motherboard (or both). Therefore most likely the motherboard (or the other RAM module) is dead. Try to remove the other RAM stick and then boot (without RAM). If you have a motherboard speaker attached you should be able to hear some beep codes. If you don't hear anything then the motherboard is dead but you must have a motherboard (or chassis) speaker, otherwise you won't be able to hear any beep codes.
 
May 7, 2019
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I tried without any RAM installed and there are no beeps, so I think it's fried.

Crap! Tried to fix up my nostalgic PC from high school and ended up killing it. :(

Should the other components (video card, processor, HDD) be OK if I installed a new MB? Honestly so attached to this thing I might buy one off eBay.
 

panathas

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Feb 12, 2014
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The graphics card and the HDD are probably fine. However you can't be absolutely certain about the CPU. If the memory controller is inside the CPU, then it may have also been damaged. If the memory controller is part of the motherboard chipset, then there is a great chance that it survived but there are still no guarantees here. Therefore I don't think it's worth searching for another motherboard, unless of course it's very cheap and you don't mind losing that small amount of money, in case that motherboard doesn't revive your old PC. If you must have a similar PC system from the same era, I think it would be best to get a complete used PC with similar parts. That way you'll have a working computer and you can still keep some of your old parts as spare/backup parts in case you have another component failure in the future. Just be more careful the next time. Good luck.
 
Ram sticks are keyed so you should not have been able to install the wrong type(DDR2/DDR1) without forcing and breaking something.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Desktop_DDR_Memory_Comparison.svg

Otherwise, it is unlikely that you damaged anything.

Identify the make/model of your motherboard.
That will tell you what ram it can use.

Ram must be in a matched kit, so it is not surprising that adding another stick would not work.
 

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