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I'm having a problem with my wife's Acer laptop.

It randomly closes windows/applications with no error message, it gives "out of memory" errors, usually while using Firefox, after which it won't open up the task manager/Windows Explorer, and all programs close on their own frequently after the first time. This is fixed after a reboot.

When you can open task manager, it says there's 3+GB of memory, even though there's only actually 1.5GB installed

I ran malwarebytes, and it came up with nothing.

My current suspicion is that it's a bad RAM stick (there's two, a 512MB and a 1GB), but I'm wondering if there's something I may be overlooking that could be causing the problem before I go taking it apart.

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This is probably a hardware error. You are not a repairman, or you wouldn't need our OK to open it up.

The solution is : Take It To The Repairman.

Just taking it apart, with no tools or replacement parts to test out your theories of what went wrong, is not productive.

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