Computer has three short beeps as it starts

Updated: 06/22/2024 by Computer Hope
Computer memory aka RAM

If you hear three short beeps when your computer is turned on, it's usually a memory-related issue. However, this alert can be generated from video card problems as well. The following sections contain suggestions on what to do if you hear three beeps upon startup.


Most of the steps below involve physically removing parts inside a computer. Before doing so, ensure you're aware of ESD (ElectroStatic Discharge) and its potential hazards. If you don't feel comfortable opening the computer or you have a laptop, have the computer repaired.

Reseating computer hardware

Sometimes, when the computer is moved, or over time, hardware components can become loose. As you can imagine, this loss of connectivity can cause problems. Try fixing this issue by opening the computer, remove each memory stick, and placing them back into their respective slots. If that doesn't stop the beeps, try reseating the video card.

Swap memory location

Try swapping the memory location. More specifically, remove all of your memory and replace it one stick at a time, trying different memory slots. This method helps identify defective memory sticks or motherboard slots.

Recently added hardware

If you've attempted to add memory to a computer and have since started getting beeps, temporarily remove the new memory. If the computer works fine after taking out the RAM (Random-Access Memory), your memory is either incompatible or defective. This same methodology can be applied to a recently added video card.

Reboot the computer

After installing anything inside your computer, try rebooting it two or more times. Some computers require a few restarts before they detect new hardware. If this works, but you have to reboot the computer several times each time you start it computer, you may still have an incompatible memory stick or video card.

Try working components from a separate computer

If you have another computer with a compatible video card or memory, try them in yours. If another computer's hardware works, you know the problem lies with the original hardware. If another computer's (compatible) memory or video card doesn't work in your machine, the motherboard or its slots are defective. You would need to replace the motherboard to fix this problem.