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Windows XP - maximum RAM?

Posted on 2008-10-06
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Last Modified: 2013-11-10
I have a box running Windows XP Professional (32 bit) with 3Gb RAM.  I've read some reports stating that 3Gb is the maximum that XP can use and others stating that it's 4Gb, possibly with extra switches in boot.ini.  I've installed an extra 1Gb (4Gb total) but only 3gb shows up in system properties.  Is it correct to say I'm not getting the benefit of this extra 1Gb and might as well remove it?
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Question by:mark_D74
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by:dblake15
ID: 22649852
You will only get 3.5 total since you have memory allocated for other things (video cards, sound cards, etc.)  It is safe to say that with XP you will not even get close to using that 3 G even with very resource extensive apps.  I would remove it and use it in another box that needs it.  
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by:Darius Ghassem
ID: 22649892
You are getting the benefit of the extra Gig by allowing system components to allocate more memory. Now you won't see the 4 GB within the system properties but it is getting used which is freeing up other memory that would be used for the system components.
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by:ladarling
ID: 22649895
Is it correct to say I'm not getting the benefit of this extra 1Gb and might as well remove it?
For all practical purposes, yes, you are correct. You can evaluate the 4G Ram tuning instructions to see if you might fall into a scenario where it would be helpful, but for everyday computing your system just wont use it.
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb613473(VS.85).aspx
 
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KCTS earned 500 total points
ID: 22649964
All 32bit operating systems can in theory address 4Gb or memory - the trouble is that Windows needs to use some of that 4Gb to address other stuff such as the PCI bus making the max memory that can be utilised a little over 3Gb (if usually varies between about 3.2 and 3.Gb. and you will not get any more.

Windows Server 2003 Enterprise server can use the /PAE switch in boot.ini to use a software based 36bit addressing mode so it can ustilise more RAM - but this option is not available with XP.

So to answer the question directly - it is likely that you are utilising less than 25% of the last Gb of RAM - if you remove it then there will be a slight loss of avaibale ram - but not much.
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by:smittyboom
ID: 22650039
[boot loader]
timeout=30
default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOW S
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect /PAE
I suggest the /3GB switch. It limits the kernel to 1GB and allows the rest to programs. /PAE splits it down the middle. The kernel doesn't need that much ram.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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by:KCTS
ID: 22650124
@smittyboom
You CANNOT use /PAE or /3GB on an XP System !!
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by:smittyboom
ID: 22650323
Interesting. I was referring to this Microsoft Article. http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/system/platform/server/PAE/PAEmem.mspx

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by:smittyboom
ID: 22650336
Is it only for Server 2003? If so this article is very misleading and i apologize for the misinformation.
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by:kingmissile
ID: 23149347
From the article, it seems that the /3GB switch functionality was added to the 32bit Win XP Pro, but the /PAE switch is still only available to OSs that address more than 4GB of RAM, e.g. Windows Server 2003 Enterprise;
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