I'm pretty much a novice when it comes to upgrading computers (have replaced power supplies and graphics cards, but that's it). The computer above comes with 2Gb (2x1GB PC2-5300 MB/sec) occupying two of its four 240-pin DDR2 DIMM sockets. According to the hp motherboard page it supports PC2 3200 (400 MHz), PC 4200 (533 MHz) and PC2 5300 (667 MHz) DDR2 DIMMs, non-ECC memory only, unbuffered. My research has revealed that UDIMMS = unbuffered DIMMS. The same page states that the maximum HP/Compaq approved memory is 4 GB and that 32 bit PCs cannot address a full 4.0 GB of memory.

I am planning to backup all my files and reinstall vista as 64bit which I think I have worked out how to do (although the bios issues referred to in this thread on the hp support forum thread suggest this might not work in which case only about 3.5Gb of memory will be addressable anyway, still better than now. I'm also planning to put in the fastest supported CPU and a new cpu cooler, plus a much better PCI express X16 graphics card (I have 1Gb and 2Gb cards available and will research which to use depending on total memory addressable). I have bought 4Gb (2x2GB PC2-5300 MB/sec DDR2 DIMMs, non-ECC (edit - unbuffered) memory) with the intention of expanding the RAM to 6Gb (with my existing memory).

The thread above mentions the possibility that adding more than the recommended maximum of 4Gb of memory, and using 2Gb sticks in a board designed for 1Gb sticks might damage the motherboard (although the questioner in that case had done both successfully). My question (to which I have not yet been able to find an answer) is, how might this damage the motherboard? Finding out the answer to this will help me assess the risks involved before trying it out.

My research reveals only rather vague answers of the type "no, it won't explode! :)" (answer to Superuser Q) or "possibly damage the ram and motherboard. DO NOT DO IT..." (answer to Tom's Hardware Q) to "most system these days protect from such mistakes" (answer to Spiceworks Community Q).

I hope this is a suitable question for this site and that I have met the research requirements successfully.

  • Vista did not come with rights for both 32-bits and 64-bit installations. So unless you already have a 64-bit Vista license your plan already has holes in it. Your system won't boot with more then 4GB of memory and based on your description you didn't purchase unbuffered memory just non-ECC memory ( based on the description you provided ).
    – Ramhound
    May 5 '15 at 11:32
  • @Ramhound - thanks for that - I believe that I can uninstall vista 32 bit, reinstall as 64 bit and then phone microsoft to get the license updated, although I might have completely the wrong end of that particular stick.Thank you for pointing out my descriptive omission - it is unbuffered but I got carried away when editing... And thanks for your assertion that the system won't boot. Is that based on experience of that particular asus motherboard in an hp computer?
    – Dr Rick
    May 5 '15 at 16:40
  • I normally have come to trust the specifications provided by OEMs. If the specifications indicated 4GB is the maximum there is a technical reason.
    – Ramhound
    May 5 '15 at 16:42
  • @ Ramhound, thank you, that's very clear and helpful. I just want to make sure that the attempt is not going to fry the motherboard.
    – Dr Rick
    May 5 '15 at 16:45
  • There isn't a great deal you can do that would cause you to fry your motherboard. You would have to do something like poor water while it was plugged in to really cause damage. Trying to force the incorrect type of memory would break the memory or the socket itself but not fry the motherboard. In other words you can install more then 4GB of memory it (likely) simply won't boot.
    – Ramhound
    May 5 '15 at 16:48

I believe that this question has now been answered in the comments from @ Ramhound. The answer is that I will not fry my motherboard by experimenting with adding more RAM and that's what I wanted to know. I would prefer to leave the discussion as comment rather than automatically moving it to chat since it may be helpful to others facing the same dilemma.

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