Adding RAM to my Beige G3 Nearly Killed Me

A week ago Friday (March 21), the two 256MB DIMMS I ordered for my Beige G3 finally arrived at Compu2000 - the store I ordered them from. Since my plans to go to the Island Friday had been postponed, I decided to have an early lunch and head out to get my RAM. I didn't tell my friend Alex who works at Compu2000 that I was coming, since I wanted to surprise him. I had said I was going to be away for a week and wouldn't be able to pick up the RAM until I got back.

v Off to the store I went, took longer then normal because my first bus was late, and just missed the second bus by 2 minutes. Finally I got to the store, and Alex was just leaving. OOPS, next time I had better call in advance. He was heading across the border to another birthday celebration for him. He turned 21 on March 17th. I attended his Vancouver one on March 15. He said he had been guaranteed that the RAM would work in my Beige G3, and I paid for it, and went to catch a bus home.

v While waiting for the bus, I read the label on the RAM case, and it said PC133. This did cause me someconcern as Damien had said that faster RAM works on computers with a slower system bus.

I got home, powered down my computer, opened it up, and popped the two new DIMMS inside, replacing the 32MB and 128MB already there, (I also have another 256MB). It took me about 20 minutes to realize I had the RAM in backwards, and that is why it wasn't going in. Once it was in I connected all the cables to my computer and powered up. I heard the boot chime, and then nothing; I didn't hear any hard drive activity (on the Beige G3 with a Rasdeon there is a sleep bug, which means the monitor doesn't turn on until 75% through the Max OS X boot progress screen), which meant something wasn't right.

I tried zapping the PRAM, which didn't work (the computer wouldn't reboot when I held down the keys to reset the PRAM which in itself is a bad sign), along with powering off and on. Now I was getting extremely worried. Had my good luck of having a perfectly good Beige G3 run out? Up until this point Mac OS X, and all previous hardware upgrades had worked flawlessly. I soon realized that it had to be the new RAM. I powered down, took it out, and booted with the 256MB DIMM I had installed 2 years ago. The computer booted flawlessly, and under "About this Computer" it showed the 256MB RAM was installed.

I tried powering down and installing just one of the 256MB DIMMS. I booted the computer and heard the hard drive grinding away, which was a good sign. Next I saw the Mac OS X progress bar and now I was in the clear... or so I thought. After the desktop appeared and all my apps had loaded, I checked to make sure 512MB was showing up in the 'about this Computer' box, and guess what? Only 384MB was showing up!!!

Well this was strange, the computer was only recognizing 128MB of the 256MB DIMM. I called the computer store and spoke to someone I didn't know and he said that the problem was that I couldn't support double sided RAM. With double sided RAM, only 1 side of the DIMM has the RAM modules on it. With Single sided RAM, the RAM Modules are on both sides of the DIMM.

Since I had an older computer, I needed single sided DIMMS on top of low profile DIMMS (low profile DIMMS are required in the Beige G3 due to the height restraint in the Mini Tower). So when I installed the Double Sided DIMM the computer only saw half of the DIMM, hence only 128MB.

I took out the new DIMM and stuck in my old DIMMS. Well, guess what? My computer once again wouldn't boot!!! Now I was really getting scared. Had I somehow killed my old DIMMS? I gave up and decided to have a nap, since this situation had exhausted me.

After my nap, I had dinner and tried getting my computer to boot again. Still no luck, so I disconnected everything and took out my 32MB and 128MB DIMMS. I then booted and all worked. I then tried just installing the 128MB with the 256MB DIMM. No luck the computer didn't boot.

I then tried reversing the order of the 32MB and 128MB. SUCCESSS!!! The computer booted and all three DIMMS were seen!

v Late Friday evening Alex returned from the US and I spoke to him on ICQ. He said that he had been guaranteed that the RAM would work in my computer. He also said, "How lame of them. I'll make them replace it at no charge."

On Monday I called the store and Alex said he would order the new RAM immediately. When I got home I had a message from Alex saying that he was told I could only use the high quality Kingston RAM, and it would cost him 30% more, but wouldn't charge me extra since it was his mistake/the distributors.

Tuesday morning I woke up, called the store, and the new RAM had arrived. I had an early lunch (again) and went to pick it up. Alex said that he guaranteed that this RAM would work in my computer since it was so expensive.

While at the bus stop, I read the label, and noticed that it said PC100 and not KTA G3/256, which is the part number for the RAM from Kingston for the Beige G3 (when Alex had mentioned that it was the expensive RAM, I assumed it was the official RAM for the beige G3). When I got home, I popped it into my Beige G3 booted (which was a good sign) and BOOM 768MB of RAM!!!! Success my Beige G3 has maxed out RAM.

When I called Alex Tuesday evening, he said only 32MB of the 128MB DIMM I sold him was showing up. Hmm...this wasn't good. I couldn't figure it out, so we just talked. On Wednesday I realized that I had given him the 32MB since I had swapped the 32MB and 128MB when my computer couldn't boot on the previous Friday. On Thursday evening, I will take over the 128MB RAM to his house and we will see how well his Beige G3 runs on 512MB of RAM.

Now, onto the next upgrade - a nice 550mhz G4 CPU upgrade from Powerlogix. That should tide me over until I can get that new Mac late next year (I hope). It will tide me over won't it? Won't it?