How much ram can I install in a motherboard under Windows XP?

I have read several postings about users only able to see 3GB ram under Windows XP. Here is my question need a answer before I purchase:

I was given a new unopen ASUS P5B motherboard. The specs are here

Intel® Quad-core CPU Ready
LGA775 socket for Intel® Core"2 Extreme / Core"2 Duo / Pentium® Extreme / Pentium® D / Pentium® 4 / Celeron® D Processors
Compatible with Intel® 05B/05A/06B processors
Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology ready
Support Intel® next generation 45nm Multi-core CPU
Intel® P965 / ICH8 with Intel® Fast Memory Access Technology
4 x DIMM, max. 8GB, DDR2 800 / 667 / 533 MHz, non-ECC, un-buffered memory (can run 1066 MHz)
Dual channel memory architecture

I want to purchase
-Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550
-Ram say I max it out at 8gb
-Plan to keep using Windows XP do not like Vista

1. From what I read, looks like Windows XP 32-bit OS will not see all that memory only 3BG or so. If I want to stick with XP then would installing 64-bit XP be correct for what I want to purchase?

2. What is Windows XP 64-bit? What I mean is if I installed the 64-bit version should I expect the applications I loaded on the 32-bit version to still work on the 64-bit XP install? Compatibility issues?

3. The motherboard I selected with the specs listed above if I ignore all that I read about the 3GB limit on the 32-bit OS would the ASUS P5B see the 8gb of memory if I foolishly installed WinXP 32-bit version?

"""" I am looking for answers to the above question for installing 8gb of memory """""

1. If I only installed 4gb of ram on this motherboard, should I just install the Windows XP 32-bit version? Or would I benefit from the Windows XP 64-bit to get the full functionality of the memory handling?

2. Having more than 4GB of memory a waste? I am a graphic designer but as I have read it seems that WinXP 32-bit uses on 2GB for apps. I am confused on how much memory to purchase and on what XP OS to buy 32 or 64 bit...?

I am a graphic designer using Adobe, Corel, other graphics apps and the system will host a mid-range express PCI video card so I need a powerful machine with lots of memory & processing power..Help

Answers to these question will help my confusion...

What I used for Ref
Explaining another way:
Memory is 'addressed' by Windows.
Addressed means to assign an ID number to it's location. (just like your house).
32-bit Windows only allows 4 GB worth of addresses.
Some addresses are reserved for system (hardware) use and are not available to Windows.
The reserved adresses start at 4GB and are numbered down from there.
Memory addresses for Windows use start at 0 and are numbered up from there.
Where ever the numbers going up run into the numbers coming down is where Windows runs out of available adresses.
That point is usually near 3.5 GB but that depends on the system devices that need reserved addresses in that particular system.

The missing memory , do you mean ram or address space? They are totally different things.
If ram,--> it isn't missing just not used because it can't get address space that is already allocated to system resources(two devices can't share an address space)

If its Address space--> It is used by the
- System BIOS (including motherboard, add-on cards, etc..)
- Motherboards resources
- Memory mapped I/O
- configuration for AGP/PCI-Ex/PCI
- Other memory allocations for PCI devices

The differences you see are within these parameters , perhaps a different video card with more video ram, more PCI cards in one PC that the other.
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Windows XP (or any 32-bit OS) can only handle 3GB of ram, this is true.

Installing 64bit XP would work, but you may run into software or driver issues.  64-bit OSes require different drivers, so make sure everything in your system (hardware) would first be compatible.

As a graphic designer, having more than 3GB of RAM would be beneficial running memory-hungry apps with large document sizes.  Personally, I do my design work on a Mac because it has 4GB and handles running several design applications (Adobe Suite) MUCH better than a PC does.  But if you must use a PC, 3GB is a relatively decent amount of memory, but if you're doing LARGE file sizes (i.e. Banners, Large Posters, extremely high resolution files, etc), the more RAM you have the better your system will run.

If you're doing graphic design for websites, or smaller print work, 3GB of RAM will be fine.

Adobe, as far as I know, is going to be a 64bit application in CS4.  I do not believe they support 64bit yet, but that's not to say I've tried it or it will or will not work on a 64bit system.

I would be wary of future compatibility issues with Windows XP 64 bit, if you choose to go with it.   32bit programs SHOULD run fine in a 64bit environment, but will not take advantage of the 64bit architecture.

Me personally, I'd get the 32bit with 3GB RAM.


Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
parcouAuthor Commented:

Thx yes the raw data files are very large. I take the raw graphics work to transform the design where I can send to my large HP printer for sublimation process and the files/layers and jobs I have open can become very large. I am not familiar with a MAC and think this is a best option but I am stuck with a PC.

I have a plain over the counter HP desktop and it is killing me when I get into opening these large files. My confusion is how much ram to buy that will work under Windows XP. Thx for your answer but as you stated with the work I do the more RAM the better...can I get the system to see it all (no) or what is the right balance for the correct motherboard/ram under Windows XP
The best you can do with a 32-bit OS, is 4gig.
Windows will use some of the high memory area for drivers and what-not, so you usually end up with between 3 and 3.5gigs of usable memory for your apps.
Cloud Class® Course: MCSA MCSE Windows Server 2012

This course teaches how to install and configure Windows Server 2012 R2.  It is the first step on your path to becoming a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE).

To answer your second question, I have not come across any application that would not run on my Windows XP x64 computers that worked on x86. You will need x64 drivers which are readily available for the Asus P5B motherboard and your PCI-E graphics card. These can be obtained from the manufacturers' websites. There are no special steps required to get 32bit applications to work on an x64 OS.

For your third question, coral47 is correct, you would be limited to between 3gb and 3.5gb of available physical RAM. Certain 32bit Windows Server OSes can utilise 4gb+, but you would be better off going for Windows XP x64 rather than a Server OS for your line of work.

From personal experience, I have been running Windows XP x64 on both my home and work computers for over 18 months now and have yet to come across any software that worked on the normal x86 version of Windows XP. I have 8GB RAM in both my home computers, Windows XP x64 can utilise all of it which is very useful what what I do - virtualisation. DDR2 RAM for your motherboard is so cheap now that there's no real reason not to install the maximum amount. You can get 8GB of RAM for a mere £80 now, and when the time comes to make the move to Vista, you'll be even more grateful for the extra memory.
Whoops, I made a mistake. The first sentence of the third paragraph is supposed to read;

"From personal experience, I have been running Windows XP x64 on both my home and work computers for over 18 months now and have yet to come across any software that worked on the normal x86 version of Windows XP that did not work on my x64 systems."

It looked like I was implying that no applications run on Windows XP, which is certainly not the case.
It's probably worth offering these previous threads which discuss XP memory upgrades to 4GB >

"Max memory":

"Memory upgrade":
"The missing memory , do you mean ram or address space?"

I was referring to the physical ram that is not given address space, therefore it is "missing" or not seen or used by the OS.
parcouAuthor Commented:

Thx for the info really helpful hearing this from the x64 side. I really have to think now. Let me throw a quick flip to the question for my knowledge. I do have a Windows 2003 Server box at my home office which runs my home domain using AD. So you are saying that Windows 2003 Server does not have this 3GB limit (not that I will do that) but I may upgrade the box down the road so adding more memory would help that particular box?
Let me know...

From what I read in my computer shower mag. I noticed that all the high-end gamer PC's had strong Intel Core 2 Qxxxx processors a good motherboard, video card but only about 2GB ram...some 4GB..made me think hmmm...but my graphic design work really eats a lot but is that more than a high-end video game would I need more than 4GB...?
You'd need the 64bit edition of Windows Server 2003 in order to handle larger amounts of RAM - the 4GB (or accessible 3GB) limit is not a limitation of Windows, but rather because it is 32-bit.  Anything 32-bit has the 4GB limit.

Here's the actual limits as stated by Microsoft for all of their OSes:
According to the page k_dietz linked to, Server 2003 x86 Standard has a limit of 4GB, Enterprise as a limit of 32GB, and Datacenter has a limit of 64/128GB. This means that the 32bit OS will see and use up to this amount of memory.

They will not, however, allow more than 2GB to be used per process, unless you enable the /3GB switch in the boot.ini file, in which case each process can use 3GB. This is a limitation of 32bit memory addressing, and not Windows itself. This means that, if the process is 32bit, you will have exactly the same limitation in a x64 OS. If you have 8GB of RAM and four 32bit processes, your 32bit/64bit OS can allocate use all of your memory between them (2GB per process x four processes). If the application is 64bit, then your 64bit OS can allocate up to 8TB per process. This is an important distinction.

If your graphical design application is able to offload processing to the graphics card then it may well provide more beneficial than additional memory. In order to take advantage of this ability, you will need an nVidia Quadro or ATI FirePro graphics card, an application that can utilise them, and certified drivers. There may be applications that can use nVidia CUDA or ATI Stream, but I am not familiar with them... and we would be getting quite far off your original topic to discuss them...
parcouAuthor Commented:
Bit off track but it helps build the picture...

Back to the PC..I see why people have Mac's for graphic design this is a headache. I see now either 32/64 bit the 2GB per process is still there...

I will research the graphics application now to see how it is written to use memory and use all the knowledge shared here to decide which OS version to go with but as I just read still have that 2GB process..

I assume gamer PC's really work the video card as well as other items CPU, memory, etc. which I see a lot only with 2GB ram (in the mid-low high-end price range)...I guess they are locked into one huge process the game their playing which all resources target one spot. For me, I will have graphics ups up as well as other desktop functions multi-tasking...well this is my guess :-)

I ASUS (P5Q Deluxe) motherboard that support DDR3 will still have the same OS limitations but could I get a better advantage with this memory speed to overshadow the 2GB process cap...
>> support DDR3 ... get a better advantage with this memory speed...

That's a little hard to say.
At the moment, DDR3 timings are still slow (but getting better) compared to DDR2, so that you don't really gain anything until you get to the 1600 and above stuff.
parcouAuthor Commented:
One last questions and I will complete this...

I received a copy of Windows XP SP2 x64 from an IT business client (yes it has a valid license). This is just for testing before I load the 32-bit version...but I have seen posting where it states that to use a 64-bit OS the CPU has to be compatible.

I know this is a dumb question but where else to ask :-) They are referring to the processor only right not the motherboard? The processor I will purchase is the Intel Core 2 Q9xxxx series. Or does loading a 64-bit OS have to do with the motherboard...well I guess both since you have to have the right MB for the CPU? bit confused...

You're right with your last statement... a 64-bit OS has to be loaded on a system with a 64bit CPU, and the Motherboard has to be capable of supporting the 64-bit CPU.
And this is not a problem for any main-stream cpu made in the last few years. They are all 64-bit capable.
All Core 2 processors are x64 capable which is all you need in terms of hardware to run an x64 OS. The drivers for your hardware must also be available in x64. I checked on the Asus website and all of the drivers for your motherboard are available for Windows XP x64, and your graphics card is PCI-E which means it must be fairly recent and will also have x64 drivers available. Unless you have something you didn't mention in your list of specifications, you're good to go with your copy of Windows XP x64.

If it's not already slipstreamed into the installation media, you should also install Service Pack 2, which is available here;
parcouAuthor Commented:
Thx for all the help...I am on track now!
Why the request to Close the Question?
parcouAuthor Commented:
did I do something wrong....I may have. I want to award points is that not closing the question. All my questions were successfully answered...
parcouAuthor Commented:
See. I knew I was going to mess up I want to split the points with Jm_saunders...can a board moderator help me re-adjust this...sorry..
Yes you can. If the Attention button us no longer around, just post in Community Support with your request and a link to this thread.
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.

Question has a verified solution.

Are you are experiencing a similar issue? Get a personalized answer when you ask a related question.

Have a better answer? Share it in a comment.