Bad memory, no sound?


Dec 8, 2014

I have an old Dell Inspiron 1520. It's a little over 7 years old and has been heavily used in that time. It has all its original components. I've been having some fairly regularly BSODs, not too frequently, but once a week or so. Recently, I lost all sound on the laptop. (One day it worked fine, the next day there was nothing. I hadn't made any changes to the computer or installed any new software.) I've done some research on forums on sound problems and run a bunch of downloadable diagnostic software (WhoCrashed, HotCPU, some other Dell and Windows diagnostics, check disk, along with a few programs that test the hard drive.) I'm almost certain the BSODs are memory problems. A number of the WhoCrashed reports pointed to memory issues. The laptop failed the Dell diagnostic tests both for memory and video card memory (all the other video card tests passed fine.) I have a feeling, because it was so sudden and my laptop is so old, that the sound issue is also a hardware issue (I've checked all the settings and uninstalled and reinstalled audio drivers, to no avail.) However, so far none of the other tests I've run have pointed to any other problems other than memory. (Though I'm clearly a non-technical person and I've really just been running a bunch of diagnostic programs suggested on various forums like this.)

My question is this: I'm buying a new laptop and have backed up my important files on this current one, but was hoping to keep this old one around to use it for a few other things. I was thinking of replacing the memory sticks, but I wonder about the sound issue. (I think both the video card and sound card are integrated - video is: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3000, audio is: High Definition Audio 2.0) Can memory problems cause a sudden loss of sound? And is it more likely that the memory problem is with the system memory or with the video card memory? Are these even two discrete things, or does the video card simply use the system memory (so that the failure of the system memory would cause the video card memory to fail the Dell diagnostics?)

I don't want to pour too much money into this old laptop, so I'm trying to get a sense of whether replacing the memory might also solve the sound problem, or if I'm dealing with two (or even more than two) different issues.

Phillip Corcoran

An integrated graphics adapter (which is what your Inspiron 1520 has) doesn't have dedicated video memory of it's own so it has to use some of the installed RAM (what's known as "shared" memory). That will explain why the installed RAM and the graphics memory are both coming up with errors in the diagnostic tests.

I can't guarantee that replacing the RAM with new sticks will fix everything, but your tests show that it does need replacing if you are prepared to spend money on it. It will certainly be a step in the right direction.

If you have several sticks of RAM installed it would be a good idea to test each one on it's own to pinpoint which sticks are faulty. That could save you some money (unless of course they are all faulty).

The sound issue, however, is a separate problem which you will need to post separately if you get the RAM & graphics sorted.


Dec 8, 2014
Thanks for this. I was hopeful the memory problems might be causing the sound problems so that I could kill two birds with one stone, but I guess not!
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