We’ve probably all heard to check with your computer system or motherboard manufacturer to find out what the maximum installable amount of memory is for your computer. I’m guessing that’s what most of the third party memory companies do also since who in their right mind would go against the manufacturer’s recommendations? I suggest also checking with the motherboard chipset manufacturer.
I own a Dell XPS 410 that’s used as a test machine. The operating system is Windows Server 2008 R2 with the Hyper-V role installed to allow for multiple guest virtual machines, but with a manufacturer supported maximum memory limit of 4 GB, it leaves a lot to be desired as a virtualization host.
Searching for memory upgrades on Dell’s website finds the information shown in the image to the left. This is the exact same information you’ll also find on all of the major third party memory manufacturer’s websites.
On Dell’s website, the motherboard specs state it uses an Intel P965 Express chipset and supports 512 MB or 1 GB memory chips for a maximum of 4 GB of RAM:
On Intel’s website, the specs for the P965 Express chipset state it supports 8 GB of RAM:
The question at this point: Does the chipset support 8 GB of memory and the motherboard not have enough memory slots to take advantage of it since the Dell specs state a maximum of 1 GB memory chips? The motherboard has four memory slots.
Since I use my XPS 410 as a test server running multiple guest VM’s at the same time, this was definitely of interest to me. I decided to take a chance and purchase two Corsair 4 GB memory kits each of which included two 2 GB matched sticks of 800 MHz DDR2 RAM for a total of 8 GB. Based on the specs from Dell, these memory chips should not have worked.
The system completed POST (power on self test) with the 2 GB memory chips installed:
You’ll need an operating system that supports 8 GB of RAM, but other than that, I haven’t experienced any issues with using 8 GB of RAM in my Dell XPS 410.
My test server is now much more capable of running multiple guest VM’s at the same time while maintaining a remarkable level of performance. I’m taking advantage of the new Hyper-V Dynamic Memory feature in the release candidate of SP1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 since 8 GB of RAM still isn’t much memory for a virtualization host server. Here’s a screenshot of Hyper-V Manager with the dynamic memory feature in use: