Laptop repair accomplished

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I just wanted to log this into the archives as it may help someone some day.

Gateway laptop, my daughter said it felt like things had slowed down.  I
checked all the obvious stuff, such as what all was loading at startup,
virus, spyware, etc.  Still felt a bit sluggish, and different than it used
to.  I noticed that an error message buzzed by at bootup, so I finally
grabbed it - something to the effect that the memory size had changed.
Since I had not done it, it bothered me.  I physically checked & reseated
the memory, and booted the computer on a memory testing program.  Some of
the time it read the correct amount, some of the time it didn't.

I will jump to the conclusion here.  I eventually narrowed the problem down
to one of the memory sockets, and finally found that two of the connector
legs had cracked loose from the circuit board.  Part of the time they
contacted, part of the time they didn't, so some of the time the machine was
missing 64 meg of memory.  Reflowed both legs and good to go.  Of course,
all this investigation was possible only with the use of the microscope -
those little legs are hard to see at all, let alone find 2 with cracks.
Hope this helps someone else some day.


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Re: Laptop repair accomplished

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I had a similar experience with my AST Ascentia, which rather irritatingly
used proprietry memory sockets. There were two memory sockets but only one
was populated (16MB on board IIRC and and 8MB on the memory module- it may
have been vice versa). Occasionally it would boot with the full 24MB,
occasionally it wouldn't. Swapping the memory module to the other socket
sorted the problem out, and when I inspected the bad socket, sure enough one
end had skipped the flowsolder bath and was virtually dry. What tiny bit of
solder there was had cracked and failed.

I never bothered fixing it as memory modules were silly money so I was never
likely to expand it. Even the smart Li-Ion batteries were ridiculous at over

Unlike full size motherboards, laptop memory sockets tend to be surface
mount rather than thru-hole, so it stands to reason they will be much
weaker. It's lucky you had the skills to repair it- I wonder how many
otherwise decent laptops have been trashed for the want of a relatively
simple (though delicate) repair.


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