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Why does my newly built PC not recognize all 4 GB or RAM?

Posted on 2007-11-29
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Last Modified: 2013-11-10
I have just built a new PC.  I've listed the specs below.  The problem that I'm having is that Vista doesn't see all 4GB's of RAM, however the BIOS does see all installed RAM.  The amount seen by Vista is 3325MB.  I have switched all RAM sticks out with exact replacements and I get the same issue.  The BIOS has been updated.  Any assistance is greatly appreciated.  Thanks in advance.
OS: Vista Home Premium  32Bit
CPU: Intel Q6600
MOBO: Intel DQ965GFEKR
RAM: Super Talent 4X1GB PC800
HD: Seagate 250GB SATA II (jumper removed)
Case: Antec Sonata III
PSU: Antec Earthwatts 500
Video Card: EVGA 7600GS 256MB PCI-E
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Question by:GTKINC
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by:Lance_P
ID: 20378527
check the bios settings and see if you have an onboard video card that has some share specified.
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by:Lance_P
ID: 20378540
disable the onboard video feature and set the shared memory to 0
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McKnife earned 250 total points
ID: 20378575
Perfectly normal with Vista32. It will see between 3 and 3.5 GB depending on the mainboard. You need vista64 for 4 GB, no way out.
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by:garycase
ID: 20378793
As noted above, this is normal -- and there's nothing you can do to change it unless you switch to a 64-bit OS.

A 32-bit address space can address 4GB of locations.   There are quite a few system elements that have to be mapped to this address space:  BIOS shadowing, video BIOS shadowing, AGP apertures, PCI mappings for the sound card, etc. => so there's nowhere to map a full 4GB of memory.   The total size of the area used for all these mappings depends on your system configuration ... items such as the amount of video memory, size of the AGP aperture, number of PCI devices, etc. ... but the system area is always assigned starting at the top of the 4GB address space; so there's no impact except on systems that have a full 4GB of memory installed (such as yours).

Bottom line:  Your system's working fine.   Vista is using all of the memory that it can, and there's nothing you can do to let it use more unless you switch to Vista x64 (which will "see" all 4GB since it will map the system elements higher in the address space).
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Author Comment

by:GTKINC
ID: 20379493
Thanks all. Gary, this is what I suspected.  I understand the basic concept of a 64bit OS, however, if I choose to install a 64bit OS vice 32bit, I will have issues finding basic programs that run at 64bit that aren't overly expensive, won't I?
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by:garycase
garycase earned 250 total points
ID: 20379591
The 64-bit situation is better now than it was a year or so ago ... but it's certainly true that compliant drivers and some programs are hard to find.   My "main" system has Vista Ultimate 32-bit, Vista Ultimate x64, and XP (32-bit ... all 3 versions) installed in a multi-boot setup.   Vista Ultimate x64 works very nicely with MOST of the programs I use => including some fairly old audio editing applications (Cool Edit Pro, DC-Art, etc.), and works nicely with office applications and most of the graphics tools I use.   I have found a few "glitches" ... and it has a few driver issues that can be frustrating ==> so I wind up spending most of my time in 32-bit Vista Ultimate.   But overall Vista x64 is a pretty stable OS ... a lot better than some of the rumors would lead you to believe.    And far more of my older applications work with it than I had expected [but I've also found many that do not].

... it might be worth setting up a multi-boot environment and installing x64 so you can try it for yourself.   I'd suggest using Boot-It NG to manage the boots; although it's not free, it's very reasonably priced and does a LOT for the $$
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Author Comment

by:GTKINC
ID: 20379850
The above being said, if this PC was being built for someone who wasn't very technically savvy, I should just stay with 32bit until 64bit is the across the board standard, sound right?
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by:garycase
ID: 20379914
Yes, I'd agree.   The "minor" glitches I notice in x64 may seem a lot more severe to someone who didn't understand what was happening and/or what to do about them.   For that matter, the same could be said of 32-bit Vista ... although it's not nearly as notable as with the x64 version, and I expect substantial improvement in a few weeks when Service Pack 1 is released (I've tried the Beta).

... you might want to consider simply removing two of the RAM modules (I noticed you're using 4 1GB modules rather than 2 2GB modules).   You'd then have 2GB installed & 2GB "seen" by the system --> so no "wasted" memory.   In addition, with unbuffered RAM the memory subsystem is more reliable with only 2 modules installed.
If you do that, be sure you leave the remaining two installed in the correct slots for dual channel operation :-)
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Author Comment

by:GTKINC
ID: 20419935
Thanks Gary.  So to clarify, if I were to use two 2GB Modules, the system would recognize and utilize all 4GB's?
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by:garycase
ID: 20420814
Only if you use Vista x64.   With 32-bit Vista you'd "see" the same amount you're seeing now (3325MB).
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Author Comment

by:GTKINC
ID: 20420882
Thanks again Gary for the very concise responses.
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by:garycase
ID: 20421271
You're most welcome, as always.
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