How I fixed memory slot failure

posted in: Hardware, Laptop hacks | 63

Is it possible to fix laptop memory slot failure with a guitar pick? Yes, it is. You will not fix the memory slot itself, but you can work around the problem. :)
Today I received a Toshiba Satellite Pro 4600 laptop with the following complaint:

The laptop starts and works properly, but recognizes only one of the two memory modules installed. The laptop has two 256MB RAM modules installed, but registers only 256MB.

 

Two memory modules

First of all, I removed the memory cover to find out if both memory modules are installed correctly. The laptop had two 256MB Kingston modules installed and they were seated properly.

256MB memory detected

When I started the laptop and entered the BIOS setup menu, I found that only one of the two memory modules is detected and the laptop registers only 256MB (262144KB) of RAM instead of 512MB (524288KB).
Just a side note. In the computer world 1MB=1024KB. That’s why 256MB=262144KB and 512MB=524288KB.

I tried reseating both memory modules but it didn’t help.
After that I tried installing both memory modules in both memory slots one by one and here’s what I found. The laptop worked absolutely fine when both memory modules were installed into the slot A, but failed to boot with both memory modules installed into the slot B.
Apparently, there is nothing wrong with the memory modules and the laptop has a faulty memory slot B. The memory slot is permanently soldered on the motherboard. If one of the slots fails you’ll have to replace the whole motherboard or use the laptop with only one working slot.
Buying a new motherboard for this older laptop wouldn’t make any sense because it’s too expensive, but the laptop is still in a good working condition except the faulty memory slot B, so I continued playing with that trying to find the solution.

press on memory module

I noticed that the laptop start normally with the memory module installed into the faulty slot if I slightly press on the module with my thumb. And this gave me an idea.

guitar pick

This guitar pick is going to fix my laptop. :)

install guitar pick

I installed both RAM modules back into the slots and then placed the guitar pick over the module in the slot B as it shown on the picture.

close memory door

I thought if I close the RAM door it will press on the guitar pick/memory module and it will have the same effect as pressing on the module with my thumb. And it worked!

512MB memory detected

Both memory modules were detected properly and the laptop registered all 512MB. After “the fix” I tested memory with Memtest86+ and the laptop passed the test.
I wouldn’t call it the best solution for fixing a faulty memory slot but in some cases it will work.

By the way, I didn’t charge the customer for this “repair”, he knows what is going on and how I “fixed” his problem.


63 Responses

  1. cj2600

    Luke,

    Hi I have a laptop made by great quality and would like to know how to take it apart as I have a bad vibration in the cd burner

    First of all, test your DVD drive with different CDs and DVDs. Do you have vibration with all of them or with only one particular disc? It’s possible that your DVD drive is fine but the disc is bad.
    If you have same problem (vibration) with different CDs and DVDs, there is something wrong with the DVD drive. In this case you’ll have to replace the drive.

  2. Hi I have a lapatop made by great quaility and would like to know how to take it apart as I have a bad vibration in the cd burmer
    Can anyone tell me if they have ever had a noisy cd burner on a laptop it makes a vibrating sound

  3. cj2600

    TheKookie,

    How bout a guide on dealing with warranty shops that don’t want to do the repairs?

    What do you mean don’t want to do the repair? If the laptop is still under warranty and it’s broken, they have to fix it. They will not repair the motherboard, just replace it with another one but who cares? If it works, it works.
    I work for a warranty center and we do not repair parts under warranty, we just replace the whole part, even if it’s something simple like a broken power jack. Replace the whole damn board. :)

  4. Sounds like your employer doesn’t understand the wisdom in investing in tools.

    I had one employer who had 2 botched test PSU’s in 2 seperate departments; the molex connectors came undone. Do we store-use or even borrow the $8 punch tool on the shelf?

    Nope.

    We replace both supplies and I make darned sure they’re both BTX so the same problem doesn’t happen again. $100 a pop.

    I can see a certain wisdom and advantage over a good flathead of the right size (I bring 4 separate sets of screwdrivers to work) will do the trick and unless the customer is a complete ass they will never notice the microscopic indents.

    *hopes this doesn’t turn into a nerd-war*

    Hrm, now here’s a question. How bout a guide on dealing with warranty shops that don’t want to do the repairs?

  5. cj2600

    What am I doing with a guitar pick at work? This is one of my main tools. :)

  6. TheKookie

    cj2600. I agree wholeheartedly that the solution is a good one; I wasn’t accusing you of being a bad tech. I am highly entertained. The permanent best solution is to get a soldering iron with a very fine tip and go to town and charge the guy for the labor, but hey, that’s just me; I can be a greedy bastard.

    What I’m saying is guy is probably going to sell the machine to get his money out of it upon sensing it is going and buy a new one, and when the thing fails again a year down the line, the next tech is going to open the laptop up, look inside, see a guitar pick stuck in a memory slot and since most aren’t as sharp enough to understand why it is there, blow a brain gasket

    Or what’ll happen is it’ll fail and he’ll forget and take it to you again, who will not also remember, and will go WTF at your own quick-e-fix.

    Ok, I’m going off the deep end into cluthulian insanity, can you blame me?

    Now the REAL question is, what are you doing with a guitar pick at work man? Don’t you REALIZE? Music leads to dancing, and dancing leads to shenanigans! And bosses don’t like shenanigans!

    *looks around, puts on headphones, starts disassembling something expensive with a hammer and a screwdriver*

  7. TheKookie

    Here’s a good one.

    Had a laptop with memory that was *perfectly* loose; you smack the machine, it start failing the memory test (windows memory diagnostic) HARD, then it goes back to normal. Smack it again, it f*cks up, then it’s ok.

    So, I reseat the memory. Works fine. Smack smack smack, ok. Drop it an inch, hardlock and the screen goes blank. :O

    Running it through a pcdoc 6 hdd test. Lets see if it hardlocks in pcdoc again.

    I’m calling this the “Smack-test” in my logs and I’m going to see if management (who reads them daily) asks.

  8. cj2600

    TheKookie,
    Before I “fixed” the memory slot I talked to my customer and explained that he has three options:
    1. Replace the whole motherboard and this option will cost him a few hundred dollars
    2. Use the laptop as is with only one good memory slot
    3. Use the laptop with my fix and see how long it last (by the way, I didn’t charge him for this repair).
    He decided to go with the option 3.

  9. Had office depot techs destroy a SIMM slot on a P1 overdrive machine and they taped the SIMM memory stick into the slot using masking tape a few years back.

    This is what that reminds me of.

    Mind you, over time the solder joint will go, but hey. The next tech to look at it is going to have a serious WTF moment.

  10. Mary Kay Jones

    I need info on taking apart a Gateway MX6440 notebook. Please tell me where I can find this information.

    Mary Kay

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