RAM and BIOS question/problem

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I am attempting to add RAM to my 2001 Compaq Presario 5320US. The machine works great, but is slow on the internet, and I wouldn't mind other apps working more smoothly.

Just to give some background: the system has 3 slots for RAM, each slot can max out at 512MB (giving a total of 1.5GB). The machine originally came with 2 256MB cards installed. Well, I ordered 3 sticks of 512, matching speed and everything as the original. When I put all 3 sticks in the machine will not boot to windows, it crashes completely about a 1/3 of the time before letting me get to the BIOS. I decided to try it with 2 sticks, and the machine works perfectly. My confusion is why won't the 3 sticks work together?? The only possibility I can think of is that perhaps the BIOS needs updating, which I have not done since purchasing it in 2001. I don't think I have a bad stick of RAM, but will swap them and check.

You're board maybe is dual channel making you use a pair of RAM. The 3rd slot is maybe for a special type of RAM, not totally sure and yeah you maybe need to update your BIOS since it's aging pretty much lol.
Like Joel ^^^ said most likely the board is a dual channel board making it be able to use only a pair of RAM or even the board maybe only be able to hold like whole numbers of RAM e.g 1gb, 2gb , 3gb rather than the 1.5 etc. an you should definitly update the BIOS
Product Specifications Compaq Presario 5320US Desktop PC - HP Customer Care (United States - English)

it doesn't mention anything on his pc specs that the mobo supports dual channel, and even if it did it shouldn't cause a problem if he were trying to use all 3 ram slots.

if the board were to support dual channel, he would need ram in pairs of 2, it doesn't mean that he'll have a problem if he doesn't use ram in pairs of 2.

it does say 512mb supported in each slot, totaling 1.5gigs so the ram you bought should work.

try 1 stick of ram at a time and also test each slot.
Will try that, thanks guys again for the help. But like the above said, Compaq and every other source says this specific model can do 1.5gb total, 512 in each slot.

I tried 2 slots, worked great, then tried 3 again...same problem (showed it couldn't find something to do with C:/windows/system32 <<not exact, going on my own memory).

Last question: Since I'm fairly computer illiterate compared to you guys, I fear screwing with the BIOS. Is there much to fear when updating? I really don't want to attempt to update it and have it, for some reason, not work and be irreversible.
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