Question about Dell Inspiron 1100 Notebook

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Dell Inspiron 1100 won't read 512 Meg ram.

I tried 2 different chip manufacturers - 1 that absolutely guarantees that their chips work. I know the machine worked fine with the 256 meg chip that was in it. I put that in a coworkers machine and no longer have it. The 512's beep 3 times then a pause and 1 more beep. Then the lights flash at the top of the machine. The chip folks say to clear the cmos but I don't have any memory that works and don't know how to do this otherwise. Any advice would be great. I can't get a 256 chip anywhere locally that will work.


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  • dsteigman Dec 27, 2008

    Didn't address what was stated.

  • dsteigman Dec 27, 2008

    One set of chips is pc2100 (Original speed in Dell) The other is PC2700 that slows down to pc2100. I think my machine doesn't understand the 512 meg as it has no video with these chips and just beeps.

  • acgr4me Jan 03, 2009

    I have the same problem. I tried to install a 512 that is the same specifications that dell recommends and it is doing the same thing mentioned above.

  • tom0419 Jan 09, 2009

    I have the same problem. Can't add anything other than that I tried to flash the bios and the utility from Dell says something about my system being unsupported and won't let me continue.

  • memechose Jan 13, 2009

    I went to the Dell site to flash the BIOS. Can't do it. "System Unsupported." And I have a 512 meg chip to put in, haven't tried yet. Interesting.

  • Kevin Shafer
    Kevin Shafer May 11, 2010

    What speed are the chips you are trying to put in? Dell is very picky about the speed sometimes. For instance, this model will only work with PC 2700 chips.

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Explanation of Dell Inspiron 1100 Memory Upgrade Problem

My Dell Inspiron 1100 had one 512 MB card, and I wanted to buy a second such card to upgrade it to the maximum memory capacity of 1 GB. I installed a 512 MB card from crucial.com that matched all the specs for this machine. When I put it in the DIMM B slot with the old 512 MB card in DIMM A, the system would boot but the display was screwed up. Thinking there might be something wrong with the new card, I decided to try only one card at a time. So I removed the old (working) card and moved the new card to DIMM A. In this configuration, it wouldn't boot. Instead it flashed two of the three lights next to the power button for 5 seconds and then powered itself down.

Thinking the card was defective, I returned it for a replacement, but the next card behaved the same. I went through 4 more cards. All of them failed the same way. One of them was even manufactured by Dell! Yet my old card worked fine, so I knew the problem was related to the memory card and not a problem elsewhere in the laptop.

I Googled for others who had encountered the problem but nobody had an explanation for why the problem occurs. I have now figured out why some memory cards fail in the Dell Inspiron 1100 and others work.

To see if a memory card will or won't work in Dell's Inspiron 1100 count how many chips are on the card. Divide the card's memory capacity by the number of chips. If the result is more than 32 MB, you're screwed! The problem is the boneheads in Bangalore that Dell outsourced the hardware design of the Inspiron 1100 to. They assumed that the maximum memory in any one chip on the card would be 32 MB.

By releasing a piece of hardware with this limitation, they created a situation where a memory card can match all the specs (DDR PC2100, 200 pin SODIMM, CL=2.5, Unbuffered, Non-ECC) and still be incompatible because with this idiot hardware design, maximum memory per chip on the card is an unpublicized spec. that will prevent the machine from working if you exceed the 32 MB limit!

If you have a 512 MB card with 8 chips on it, it will never work. The only ones that do work are the ones with 16 chips.

The hardware design is a mess in other respects as well. See http://www.lieffcabraser.com/dell-inspiron-3.htm for more info.

Posted on Jul 10, 2009

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I had the same problem. I tried several brands of memory unsuccessfully, though they all guaranteed that their products would work with my machine. Finally, my brother (who works in IT) recommended that I go through The Upgrade Place (http://www.theupgradeplace.com/). Great price - less than half of what Dell charges - and the memory worked immediately upon installation.

When I told them that I had a Dell Inspiron 1100 laptop, they said that my PC required proprietary memory (which is true). I paid with a credit card and received the part two days later.

Good luck,
Jay DeKing

Posted on Jan 26, 2009

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I purchased 2 512 banks of memory from Dell. They assured me they would work in my inspiron 1100. It only took me 15 minutes to purchase the new ram. When it arrived, I installed, and the notebook would not boot up. I tried every combination I could think of (1 new, 2 new, 1 new and 1 old) and nothing would work. I ran across this web site and forum and read the comment from Jay Deking. I called the upgrade place and talked with Mary. She was well aware of the inspiron 1100 problem. Says it takes a sepcial memory. Incidentally, there were not 16 chips on each bank either. It took me 1 1/2 hours to get Dell to let me return the memory. I ordered from the upgrade place and the memory arrived today. I didn't flash the BIOS either. Inserted the new memory and walla. Worked like a champ.

Posted on Jan 23, 2010

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