I have a Dell Dimension 4600 running Win XP Pro. It has run okay (though slow) on 1 GB RAM (4 x 256 MB) for many years.
Today I tried to upgrade its memory to 4 x 1 GB RAM. But on boot-up, the hard drive would not start up, and the screen stayed blank. I switched back to the original memory sticks (4 x 256 MB), but got the same problem.
After trial and error, I found that the second memory slot seems to be "bad". If a memory module is put in it, all I get is a blank screen on boot-up. If it is left empty, the system boots to the BIOS and recognizes the memory that is in the other three slots. Right now that's 3 x 1 GB = 3 GB total. But the system does not recognize the hard drive. The BIOS listed the Primary Drive as OFF. When I changed its attribute to AUTO in the BIOS, the BIOS then had it as an UNKNOWN DEVICE. Even after those changes in the BIOS, the computer doesn't boot past a blank screen, and the light that indicates the hard drive is working is not on or flashing.
I have tried reseating the power cable and data cables to the hard drive (including the connection at the motherboard). I've tried different cables. This had no effect, except that using certain data cables caused the hard drive light to illuminate (steady) for a short time or a long time. But this had no effect on the bootup problem. The computer worked fine last night, so it seems unlikely that a cable went bad just as I was trying to upgrade the RAM.
Any ideas are welcome, but I have two questions:
1. If the second memory slot is bad, could that cause the hard drive to be unrecognizable? In other words, could I have basically one problem (the bad memory slot) or do I have two problems (bad memory slot plus a hard drive not being recognized)?
2. Is there anything I can do about the second memory slot being "bad"? What is the problem there? (Remember that when it has a module in it, I get nothing but a blank screen, but when it is empty, I can get to the BIOS screen.) I think I have seated the module correctly (and deep enough), but maybe there's a contact problem. Is there anything to try in terms of getting a better fit or a better electrical connection? What else is likely to go wrong in a memory slot?
Thanks for any ideas,