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Windows XP showing 2GB of RAM from 4GB installed in a new high-end system

Posted on 2006-10-21
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Last Modified: 2013-11-10
I have just finished custom building my desktop PC and faced many problems that I’ve solved in the past week. Most of these problems were ASUS motherboards related. I first tried a P5N32 SLI SE Deluxe that didn’t want to work with my DDR2 memory at 800 MHz regardless of the overwhelming evidence on the net of failure for such attempts. Then I changed the motherboard 3 times and tried MSI and Gigabyte with no luck. I have finally settled for the ASUS P5WDG2 WS Professional. This motherboard is great (so far) and has recognized my 800 MHz memory after manually altering the related BIOS options, but for some reason, the motherboard thinks I’m overclocking and it increased the voltage. Thus the heat increases and I decided to overclock the CPU from 2.93 MHz to 3.2 MHz anyway!

Here is my PC configuration:
1 x ASUS P5WDG2 WS Professional motherboard
1 x Intel Core 2 Extreme X 6800 (running @ 3.2 GHz Default is 2.93 GHz)
1 x eVga nVidia GeForce 7950 GX2 (1GB)
4 x 1GB RAM - Super Talent 1GB 800MHz DDR2 (item # T800UB1GC4) CL 4-4-3-8
1 x WD Raptor 150GB 10000 RPM (C drive)
1 x WD 320GB 7200 RPM (D drive for storage)
The motherboard has built in HD sound, FireWire, RAID, and other features.

My problem:
No matter what I do, my Windows XP Pro SP2 won’t recognize the 4GB of RAM installed. The motherboard does recognize the 4GB at 800 MHz and as DDR2. Windows on the other hand only shows 2GB of RAM! The previous motherboard I tried (P5N32 SLI SE Deluxe based on nVidia nForce 4 SLI 16X chipset) did show 3GB of RAM in Windows, but this new one; the ASUS P5WDG2 WS PRO (based on Intel 975X chipset)that I’ve settled for only shows 2GB in Win XP. I did update the BIOS to the latest version available on ASUS website (v 408) with no luck. Is there a solution for this? I know I can’t see 4GB in Windows, I know about the 4GB RAM limit and I want to keep the RAM for future proofing my system (Windows Vista). All I want is for Windows to see more than 2GB of RAM, at least 3GB, because I run a ton of applications in the background and I want to utilize more of my RAM. Any suggestions?
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Question by:alkelabi
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by:Mark
Mark earned 150 total points
ID: 17780222
There has been many discussions on the subject. Check this EE post for alot of the info you are looking for.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Q_21733435.html
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by:Mark
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ID: 17780229
You may want to consider XP 64 bit OS as this would see all the memory but you would need to assess the compatiblity of your application in the 64bit environment as there may be some applications that won't work.
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by:alkelabi
ID: 17780275
Thank you sparkmaker for the quick answers, I did search and read all similar questions on EE for such info before posting my problem. Windows XP 64 bit is not an option for me right now.
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by:garycase
ID: 17780389
When you say it's "... onlyl showing 2GB ..." do you mean 2.0GB, or is it "about 2GB" (e.g. 2.xxGB) ??

I've described in great detail why you see less than 4GB in the post referenced by sparkmaker;  but if you're seeing EXACTLY 2.0GB there may be some other issue here.   I'm not, however, surprised that what you're seeing is in that range ... you have a 1GB video card, plus all the other reservered address, which clearly will occupy most of the upper memory addresses.

I would, by the way, remove two of the memory modules and simply run with 2GB installed.   The memory will be more reliable with only 2 modules installed.
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by:alkelabi
ID: 17780436
Thanks for your comment garycase. Windows XP does show only 2.0GB! Exactly 2GB!! Does this mean anything to you?
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by:garycase
garycase earned 350 total points
ID: 17780501
So if you right-click on My Computer and select properties you see exactly "2.00GB of RAM" displayed at the bottom ... right ??

It's possible that's a coincidence, and actually is the amount left over after all of the reserved addresses are assigned, but I'd look very carefully before concluding that.   What memory options (not counting the timing setup) do you have in the BIOS?   I believe Asus provides for a "memory hole," which I discussed in the question linked to above => the bottom line is do NOT enable the memory hole and see what XP shows then.

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by:alkelabi
ID: 17780708
garycase, yes when I right click My Computer the properties tab shows exactly "2.00GB of RAM". I searched the BIOS for the "memory hole" option but it's not present. If you like, here is a link to the motherboard manual from ASUS, it contains all the options of the BIOS: http://dlsvr01.asus.com/pub/ASUS/mb/socket775/P5WDG2%20WS%20Professional/e2703_p5wdg2-ws-pro.pdf

If the previous link is slow or not functional, I uploaded a copy of the file to my website: http://www.alkelabi.com/p5wdg2-ws-pro.pdf
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by:garycase
ID: 17780759
I looked through the manual, and also did not find any reference to the Asus memory hole feature that's used on some of their other boards.   What happens if you clock the RAM at 667MHz ??

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by:alkelabi
ID: 17780853
garycase, same thing if I clock the RAM at 667MHz, only 2.00GB shows up in Windows. I have uploaded 3 screenshots from my BIOS settings that I think are relevant. I also included a screenshot of CPU-Z findings and a shot of the properties panel in My Computer:

1. This screenshot from the motherboard shows that it recognizes the memory http://www.alkelabi.com/MBSH01.JPG
2. This screenshot from the motherboard shows CPU & memory voltages http://www.alkelabi.com/MBSH02.JPG
3. This screenshot from the motherboard shows memory settings http://www.alkelabi.com/MBSH03.JPG
4. This is a screenshot of CPU-Z in Windows XP recognizing 4GB of memory http://www.alkelabi.com/CPUZ.JPG
5. This is a screenshot of My Computer properties in Windows XP recognizing only 2GB of memory http://www.alkelabi.com/MYCOMPUTER.jpg
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by:garycase
ID: 17780878
A couple other questions:

(1)  Why are you not using the SPD info to configure the memory?   Did you try that?  [the "Configure DRAM timing by SPD" setting on your 3rd screen shot]

(2)  What does your current BOOT.INI look like?  Just post it here.  [I presume you know how to access it;  the easiest way is to right-click on My Computer, select Properties, select the Advanced tab, click on Settings, then on Edit => then just copy the current contents and paste them here]
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by:garycase
ID: 17780893
... also, are your memory modules single or double sided?  (memory chips on one side or both)
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by:alkelabi
ID: 17780929
garycase, thanks again for your interest and quick responses.

(1) If I use SPD the motherboard will default to 667 MHz instead of 800 MHz! Not to mention that timing will go from CL 4-4-3-8 to 5-5-5-12. So I had to go for the "Manual" option and enter the settings of my memory. Please look here for the RAM specs: http://www.supertalent.com/SuperTalentMemory/pdf/T800UB1GC4%20spec.pdf
The RAM manufacturer clearly points out that this RAM works with this motherboard.

(2) This is BOOT.INI content, I tried the /3GB parameter but it didn't have any effect so I deleted it:
[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

(3) I think it's double side, please check the previous link to confirm, it refers to a very small PDF file detailing the RAM specs from the manufacturer http://www.supertalent.com/SuperTalentMemory/pdf/T800UB1GC4%20spec.pdf
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by:garycase
ID: 17780949
"... The RAM manufacturer clearly points out that this RAM works with this motherboard. " ==>  Note that they also say "Tested with two modules installed".   As I noted above, your memory runs much more reliably with only two modules installed, ESPECIALLY if they're double-sided modules.

But back to my question:  IF you use SPD, does XP still just see 2GB?

Also, just in case your motherboard is defaulting to a remapping in the 4GB installed memory case, try adding the /PAE switch to your BOOT.INI ==> i.e. change the last line to:

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect /PAE


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by:alkelabi
ID: 17781096
garycase, I did some tests to answer your questions:

1. I have added the /PAE switch to my BOOT.INI and there was no effect in Windows. The only thing that changed was in the Properties of My Compute: General. It added a line under the amount of memory saying "Physical Address Extension". Here is a screenshot: http://www.alkelabi.com/mycomppae.jpg

2. I have enabled SPD in the BIOS options but it didn't have any effect on Windows XP. I tried it with and without the /PAE switch. When I enabled SPD though, the motherboard ran my RAM at 800 MHz but not at the desired timing. Instead of CL 4-4-3-8 it went to CL 5-6-6-18. Here is a screenshot of CPU-Z with SPD enabled http://www.alkelabi.com/CPUZSPD.JPG
I went back to the BIOS settings and disabled SPD, this allowed me to enter RAM timing manually.
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by:garycase
ID: 17781191
Well ... since even if this was resolved you'd be very unlikely to have more than 2.2 or 2.3GB available (because of the 1GB memory card plus all the other reserved addresses) I would simply remove two of the modules and run with 2GB installed.   The memory will be more reliable anyway ... especially running at 800MHz with two unbuffered double-sided modules.
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by:alkelabi
ID: 17781232
garycase, I'm really hoping that it doesn't come to this and that there might be a solution. Even if Windows XP didn't recognize more than 2GB, I would prefer to leave the 4 gigs in anticipation of Windows Vista Ultimate (I'm guessing it's a 64bit OS) so please confirm this to me: well the full amount of RAM be recognized by Windows Vista Ultimate? (I'll take an educated guess!).

Furthermore, I have sent support requests to Super Talent, the RAM manufacturer, and ASUS, the motherboard manufacturer. I hope to receive an answer from them soon and I'll post it here if I got any.

If no one came up with a solution on EE, I doubt that I'll find an answer at all! In that case, the points for this question will go to you garycase.
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by:garycase
ID: 17781257
Vista will be available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

Suggestion:

(a)  Image your current system to another disk (backups are always GOOD)

(b)  Download the Release Candidate of Vista (take your pick, 32 or 64 bit or both => they're free and don't expire until next summer):  http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/preview.mspx

(c)  Find out for yourself how much memory they "see" :-)   [you might enjoy trying Vista as well]


http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/preview.mspx

Note:  I would resize your current C: partition [you can do this easily with Boot-It NG (www.bootitng.com)] and then create a separate partition for Vista.
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by:mobo57
ID: 17821470
alkelabi, I am having the same problem with my P5W DH Deluxe, E6600 and 4 gigs of OCZ Platinum 6400.  Tried /PAE, changeing mods, etc. Need the memory for video editing.  Still searching.
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by:garycase
ID: 17821682
alkelabi => Did you try Vista ??  ... if so, how much memory did it see ??
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by:alkelabi
ID: 17822094
No, I didn't try Vista yet. Asus however contacted me by e-mail. One of its tech support sent me a Beta version of the BIOS (0501) that's not available on their site. The Beta version had no effect!! I sent the results to Asus and I'm waiting for their reply. I'll post whatever they send me here so it might benefit someone else.
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garycase earned 350 total points
ID: 17822243
Hopefully they can resolve it.  But do note that the memory was only tested with 2 modules.   As more and more systems begin to have larger amounts of memory, I think desktop boards will begin to incorporate support for buffered memory modules => they work MUCH more reliably than unbuffered modules ... particularly when more than 2 modules are installed.   The simple fact is the waveform distortion that 64 loads on a bus driver creates makes it very hard to maintain reliable operation; especially at higher clock speeds.   I don't know if this is your issue ... but it may very well be a contributor.   The only way to know for sure would be to install 2 2GB modules or 4 single-sided 1GB modules => either of which would be VERY expensive at the moment.

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by:The_Penguin_PWNS
ID: 37182983
WOW!!! I have never seen so much nonsense with this issue....here's my deal...Optiplex 760 with 4gb of ram installed...bios sees 4GB windowsxp x86 shows 2....before we get ready to refer me back to the memory addressing...i take a harddrive out of another 760 and snap it in this one without changing ANY other parameter of the pc's configuration and i see 3.25(aka 4GB in a 32  bit environment) SO! before i have to reinstall the OS to get it to the correct 3.25~3.5 that i should see ....does anyone have a regfix for this or am i just whispering in a tornado here? (you know doing certain things against the wind)

i have seen 2 trillion posts across the web for this...and how is a 3gig switch going to work if it sees 2gb of ram in the first place...
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