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Adding RAM to Dell Inspiron 2650


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#1
2650 dell user

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I'm a new member and I thought I had already posted this question yesterday but can find no trace of it today! My apologies for re-posting this. My Dell Inspiron 2650 (model PP04L) works OK with 2 x 256Mb, 266Mhz RAM and a 20Gb hard drive but it is slow running GIS software which is it's main purpose in the field. I received the standard answer from Dell support that there is a limit of 512Mb ram for that unit, but after all the conflicting information I received previously from many sources regarding whether there were 1 or 2 RAM slots etc and finally getting into the unit and replacing the 'inner' chip myself quite easily, I have some reservations. There have been various users who have reported differing degree's of success with a BIOS update(A31) and good quality RAM. Does anyone out there know of a successful reliable installation of 2 x 512Mb, 333Mhz DDR SoDIMM. I'm using 'Crucial' memory as recommended.
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#2
rshaffer61

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Crucial memory site verifies what Dell states also HERE
It also shows 2 ram slots with a maximum capacity of 256 megs in each for a total of 512 megs of memory.
You will also see the recommended type of memory that your system needs. Is what you have that kind?
A bios upgrade is never recommended unless it is needed to fix a issue or add some type of upgrade like going from SATA 1 to SATA 2.0
The system being at least 8 years old is ancient by todays standards. The hd alone is not even offered anymore new. Most vendors are offering nothing less then a 40 gig and in most cases 80 is the minimum standard now.
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#3
2650 dell user

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Thanks rshaffer61 for your reply and link. I know that I'm putting effort into an obsolete unit by most opinions but I like it and parts are relatively inexpensive. I have a new WD 120g hard drive I located to install in the unit which will serve me as long as I have it, and the Crucial 512 RAM was on sale and just over $20 Cdn each. All in, it cost me just over $100, so it wasn't a bad gamble which may yet pay off.
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#4
rshaffer61

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What OS are you using.. XP with SP2 or 3?
512 total memory is low by todays standards but if it serves the purpose you need it for then nothing wrong with keeping it.
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#5
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The Windows OS is XP Home Edition SP3. Can you tell me what factors limit the additional RAM? Is it a software or hardware issue. Could a BIOS change theoretically enable the update? No disrespect to you but I 'm not convinced that this is impossible. (and why in the world would you want to do this to a nearly obsolete insignificant laptop??) I'm stubborn and this is a challenge, also there are others who have tried and may hold the answer. Thanks
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#6
happyrock

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your mobo determines what it it will support...when it only supports 512MB of ram thats all it will take...trying to upgrade that system is like putting lipstick on a pig...
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#7
rshaffer61

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Happy rocl beat me to it but the only way to get more then 512 is a replacement of the MOBO.
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#8
Kirn Gill

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I'm going to say that the 512MB limit can be beaten by a BIOS downgrade. The Dell Inspiron 2650's mainboard is manufactured by Compal as part number ADY13. I had an ACY13 mainboard (the difference is literally the power jack - everything else is identical) that recently went tits up. It came with a stock 256MB PC2100 RAM stick under the keyboard that I easily supplanted with a 1GB PC2700 stick, and the system ran fine. Keep in mind that we're talking about what is essentially the same mainboard as the Inspiron 2650, except with a barrel power jack and not that proprietary Dell three-prong. When it booted, Windows XP saw 1274MB of RAM; the BIOS menu saw 1280MB. The mainboard being the limiting factor here is a steaming load that can be smelled from three counties over.

I read the "release notes" that came with a version of the ACY13 BIOS. It mentions that the 512MB limit is enforced by the BIOS in an earlier revision (earlier than CY13102A.ROM). I flashed this BIOS onto a Inspiron 2650 mainboard - it will work just fine (here's another clue - the 2650's mainboard ID is "ADY13"). I even recorded a (low res, blame the crappy phone) video of me flashing the BIOS: YouTube link. I have attached said "release notes" file so that you get an idea of where my source is on this revelation. Edit: attach failed, here's the text file in a pastebin: link

Given that the coreboot (an open source BIOS) wiki says that the BIOS is responsible for initializing the memory controller as part of system startup (and that the system has zero bytes of usable RAM until that's done), the RAM limitation is enforced by the BIOS. The hardware alone is capable - I've also read a report of Inspiron 2650s taking 1GB sticks, aside from my own experience. So, the question is whether or not I can get a dump of the BIOS from the old motherboard. I am considering desoldering the EEPROM chip and transplanting it to the new (Inspiron 2650) mainboard, throwing in a gig or so of RAM, and see if it boots. If it boots, I'll use PHLASH to dump the BIOS and upload it for those looking to break the 512MB RAM barrier. Just note that the old BIOS will probably introduce other bugs (like you'll find yourself limited in the hard drives you can use), which is the cost of more RAM. Oh, you'll lose the Dell logo bootsplash, to be replaced with a generic Phenoix BIOS logo (as seen in the video above)

Note: I've written device drivers. I know how hardware works at a low level.

Edited by Kirn Gill, 21 April 2012 - 07:31 AM.

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