RAM Not Detected: Why It Happens And 6 Ways To Fix It Forever

RAM is the ambrosia of many PCs/laptops, and since apps and games require more RAM to work properly, it might be a good idea to get some additional RAM on your PC. But what happens if your computer doesn’t detect the new RAM?

It might be a simple issue of inserting the RAM wrong in some cases. However, if your RAM is not detected even if you didn’t do anything, then you might have some configuration issues or bugs.

Why is my RAM not detected?

The electrical contacts of your PC/laptop can, in time, accumulate some dust. Though it sounds minor, it can lead to issues such as having your RAM not detected. In other cases, your new RAM might not be compatible with your PC.

To establish why your PC does not detect your new RAM, it’s important to rule out every option until you find the answer. Here are the most common reasons why your computer won’t detect old or new RAM, and how to fix it!

1. RAM isn’t inserted properly

If your RAM is not detected by the motherboard, it’s quite possibly because you haven’t seated it properly. Most new RAM not detected errors come from users’ fear when inserting their new RAM chips into their PCs.

Most RAM sticks need to be inserted firmly and result in a click sound. Even after the click sound, it’s possible that you need to snap back the RAM slot clips down manually.

If the clips can’t be snapped, or the DIMM isn’t perpendicular to the slot and motherboard, you most likely inserted your RAM sticks wrong.

Some motherboards can support DDR4 RAM, but you can’t fit in them DDR4 RAM sticks. Avoid combining different generations of RAM.

2. Motherboard compatibility issue

If your computer does not recognize the second RAM stick that you bought, it might be because the RAM is not compatible with the motherboard. Some RAM DIMMs have a higher capacity than a motherboard.

For example, every motherboard has a maximum amount of supported RAM and a number of RAM slots to fill. It can be anywhere from two to eight.

If your PC/laptop’s motherboard has a maximum RAM capacity of 16GB, and you have only 4 RAM slots, those RAM slots will probably accept only 4GB RAM sticks.

If you insert an 8GB RAM stick in the RAM slot, it might not be detected. Instead, you should fill all 4 RAM slots with 4GB RAM sticks. Check your motherboard’s manual if available, or check it online.

3. Faulty DIMM

If your new RAM is not detected, it’s quite possible that you’ve bought a faulty DIMM. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to check if your new RAM stick is damaged or defective.

Usually, these things are caused by transportation or rough handling, so you might get a replacement.

4. DIMM has dust

Your RAM might have some errors, or it won’t be detected if its electrical contacts have dust or something is obstructing them. DIMM electrical contact is quite sensitive to dust particles and won’t connect properly.

5. RAM slot is defective

If your computer is not recognizing the second RAM stick, it might be due to a defective RAM slot. This is rarely the case; however, if your motherboard has a defective RAM slot, you should get some professional help.

Any such problem related to your motherboard is a sign of what’s about to happen; your computer will slowly start to experience failures. You need to address this urgently if, indeed, the RAM slot is defective.

6. Defective motherboard or obstruction

Your motherboard might be defective if your computer is not recognizing RAM. If you have a warranty, you should change your motherboard right away. Similarly, your CPU might need reseating.

Loosening up your CPU cooler might release some pressure on your RAM slots, which is known to typically cause RAM slot malfunctions.

How to make a PC detect the new RAM?

A PC not recognizing RAM is very frustrating; however, you don’t need to throw out your new RAM stick right away.

The RAM not detected error might be a simple configuration error. Here is what you should do if your PC/laptop doesn’t detect your new RAM stick.

1. Check if RAM is inserted properly

If your DIMM isn’t perpendicular to your RAM slot and motherboard, or if the clips can’t be snapped completely, your PC/laptop won’t detect your new RAM sticks.

To insert new RAM sticks on a desktop, follow these four steps:

  1. Fold back both RAM slot clips;
  2. Insert RAM stick firmly straight down;
  3. Push until both clips snap back into a locked position (you should hear a click sound);
  4. Optional – in some cases, you need to snap back the clips manually on the DIMM.

When it comes to inserting a new RAM stick into a laptop, things are a bit trickier, especially when it comes to RAM DIMM. The DIMM is often inserted at an angle. You need to push it down the frame until it clicks into position.

Sometimes, even the correct seating might not be enough. Make sure to apply sufficient pressure on the stick without causing any damage to the circuit board.

2. Motherboard compatibility

Usually, different generations of RAM might not fit in the same RAM sockets. A motherboard might support DDR4 RAM sticks, but it won’t be possible to physically fit a DDR3 RAM stick. Similarly, you need to be sure your motherboard’s RAM DIMM capacity isn’t passed.

Check your laptop/PC’s motherboard specifications online. If your motherboard can accept a total of 16GB of RAM and it has only 4 RAM slots, it won’t detect RAM sticks higher than 4GB. You will need to insert only 4GB RAM sticks into these slots.

If you insert an 8GB RAM stick, it won’t be detected by your motherboard. Consult your motherboard manual if available. RAM not compatible with motherboard errors are rare; however, you need to rule out this possibility to move further.

3. Run a diagnostic

You might have purchased a faulty RAM DIMM stick, which is why RAM is not detected by the motherboard. Luckily, you can run a diagnostic with software tools to see if this is the case. Use programs such as MemTest86 or MemTest86+ to check your new RAM stick.

You can also do this with Window’s built-in memory diagnostic tool. Press Windows Key + R, and write mdsched.exe. Click OK, and the Windows Memory Diagnostic will pop up. Click Restart now and check for problems (recommended).

Windows will tell you if there is any problem with your old or new RAM stick. It might solve some bugs and even get rid of the RAM not detected error.

A computer not detecting RAM doesn’t necessarily indicate that it’s defective, though, as other factors count (such as faulty RAM slot, dirty electrical contacts, etc.) – remember to rule these out first.

4. Clean electrical contacts

When your RAM isn’t detected or presents errors, the electrical contacts on the DIMM may have gathered dust or are obstructed somehow.

To clean your RAM sticks electrical contacts, follow these steps:

  1. Gently remove your RAM DIMM out of your PC/laptop;
  2. Dip a simple cotton swab lightly in 91% isopropyl alcohol (don’t use conventional cleaning products to avoid corrosion);
  3. Gently wipe each contact;
  4. Let the alcohol completely evaporate for a couple of minutes;
  5. Check electrical contacts for any possible residual dust, cotton, or liquid;
  6. Give a quick blast of compressed air on each side of the DIMM;
  7. Re-insert RAM sticks.

While you are here, make sure there isn’t any obstruction on the RAM slots, and be sure to properly seat them. You can also try to loosen up your CPU cooler as it might release too much pressure on your RAM slots.

5. Change RAM slot

Some RAM might not be detected because you inserted the RAM stick in the wrong channel. Consult with your motherboard manual if possible. Usually, if a motherboard has 4 RAM slots, you can divide them into two channels.

Slot 1 and Slot 2 are channel 1, while Slot 3 and Slot 4 are channel 2. You can try different RAM slots and channels to establish if any RAM slot is faulty. If this is the case, you need to change your motherboard. Read more below.

6. Replace the motherboard

If you believe you are dealing with a faulty RAM slot, which causes your RAM not detected issues, you need to test all your RAM slots. Insert the working RAM stick in different slots and see if your computer boots properly. 

If one of your RAM slots is defective, your computer won’t boot properly. If this is the case, you need to replace your motherboard. In most cases, a warranty can be used to replace your motherboard. 

You can take your devices to a service and have professionals directly look at your problem. If new RAM is what you need, you can also ask them to add it once they have repaired everything on your device.

F. A. Q. 

What are some dying motherboard signs?

If your PC freezes or glitches often, it might be a sign of a dying motherboard. Frequent blue screens, slowness, not recognizing hardware, overheating are all some bad signs that you may need to replace your motherboard.

Is used RAM safe to buy?

Used RAM sticks are generally safe to buy as they are usually durable. However, you should make sure that the seller has good reviews. Compare their price to the same RAM stick but new. Lastly, be wary if a deal sounds too good.

Can RAM damage the motherboard?

The motherboard itself usually generates a RAM voltage through the use of a converter. The converter detects short circuits in RAM and cuts its power to prevent damage. Generally, RAM sticks can’t damage the motherboard.

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