Ah the joys of IT work. They never end. Even if you want them too. Even if you pray that they stop, they chase and hunt you down and make you fix stuff. Today I solved the case of a missing DIMM socket. Yes, apparently we lost a socket in one of the Dell laptops. But let me start form the beginning.
Every once in a while (read every hour on the hour) some user calls or walks over to the help desk and cries that his or her computer is slow. It is usually true because spyware and aware tends to be quite resource intensive, and our users are hell bent on installing all of it. And by that I mean they go out of the way to collect new spyware and trojans they don’t have yet. If they find a new piece on the interwebs they go “Oh! I don’t have this one yet!” and they install it. Reimaging their drives is just a temporary measure. Once they are handed in a clean computer, they go straight back to collecting malware with doubled efforts – as if they were trying to rebuild their lost collections.
The only other thing we can do to fix the “my computer is slow” whines is add more memory. It is a simple procedure, and memory is relatively cheap so we often put in extra RAM chips into the computers we reimage so that the users can have more resources to run their mallware. Today someone dropped off a Latitude D520 which according to the specs (and by specs I mean the Dell website) is supposed to be upgradable to 4GB of RAM and has 2 DIMM sockets. Only they couldn’t find the second socket. We had like people standing around and staring at this machine with dumbfounded looks on their faces. I walk over and they show me: the DIMM A socket is not there.
Normally these Dell machines have a little hatch on the back. You loosen up one screw, pop it open and it gives you access to the memory. This machine was a bit different, in that only a single socket labeled DIMM B was present. I even snapped a picture of it with my phone:
I flipped the machine over, booted it up and checked amount of installed memory. It said 1GB and the chip sitting in that exposed DIMM was a 512MB one. CPU-Z confirmed that the mobo had exactly 2 memory slots. Something was amiss here. For a second I wondered if the remaining 512MB is not by some chance soldered into mobo but CPU-Z said that was not the case, so I was relieved. I suggested that maybe the DIMM fell out when they were moving the machine, and sent my minions to check underneath the desks and in the hallway while I worked.
The DIMM socket had to be somewhere on the motherboard. The question was, where exactly was it located. I studied the machine from all sides looking for other access points but found none. It seemed that I will need to take it apart to find out. So I started breaking it down. I snapped off the hinge guard, unscrewed the keyboard, moved it aside and… PEKABOO! I found it:
Do you see it? It is right there, underneath the keyboard. Very odd place to put memory if you ask me. Let me give you a closer look:
Case solved! I’m not sure if this design is present in all Latitude laptops or only in D5xx line. I have a D830 on my desk so I might check if I have the same odd mobo layout. Most of the other machines in the office are Inspirons and a few new Vostros floating around (yeah, the powers that be like Dell a lot) and they all seem to have their both DIMM sockets located on the back, side by side. Which IMHO is the right way to do it. For the D520 replacing both DIMM’s is a two step process that involves removing and re-attaching the keyboard.
Anyways, I figured I’ll share a heart warming story about loosing and finding a DIMM socket.