Miracles with older PCs

Today I had my lesson with older hardware – especially with those ‘new’ 64 bit machines which can be a real pain in the ass. But let’s start at the beginning of my story. My plan was to install Windows 7 on a PC which had enough CPU power to do so. A few RAM modules should solve the problem regarding memory and the computer should be usable again.

In theory, it’s simple: Open the computer, insert RAM, boot from CD or USB stick and do the install. But for doing so I was rewarded with a bluescreen just at the install. My first idea was replacing the RAM modules as I suspected a bad one, but that didn’t help at all.

Looking into the BIOS, a new version was out which should fix a lot of problems. As I was already dangling around with that I deactivated any device I could to reduce the box to the bare minimum. Without success.

Pretty frustrated I yanked out one of the new RAM modules and the system did work smooth. I started to enable the components again and reinserted the PCI card. The system was still stable. I was wondering about the whole thing and finished the install and applied my updates. But as Windows 7 isn’t much fun without much RAM, I added the missing module again and the disaster continued.

Conflicting modules? I tried different ones and worked my way up to 3.6 GB which seems to be the magic limit of the system – even if it’s 64 Bit. Above that limit, Windows reports that the graphic card drivers are doing nasty things like crashing.

Lesson learned: Old 64 bit systems – even if they claim to support more memory – are having problems when they share memory with the VGA card. As the VGA card is going nuts, the whole system gets unstable.

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