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4GB 32bit Windows 7 Limit

Posted on 2010-09-12
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
I have updated my motherboard to the following specs:
GIGABYTE GA-790XTA-UD4
AMD Phenom II X6 1055T Thuban 2.8GHz
CORSAIR XMS3 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 TW3X4G1333C9A
XFX NVidia 8800 GS 384MB
Windows 7 32Bit

I know there is a 4GB limit to 32 bit Windows OS, but my systems is saying: Installed memory 4GB (3,070 MB Usable).
I have tried enabling PAE and NoLowMem in the Boot.ini (BCDEdit) and no change. Even tried 32Bit RamPatch and still nothing.

The Resource Monitor says 1026MB reserved to Hardware. The Video Card has it's own 384 RAM.
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Question by:Papote
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rockiroads earned 126 total points
ID: 33659298
I have access to win7 32bit and that also uses around 3gb. Although win7 32bit can support up to 4gb I think because other h/w eg graphics card or some resources requiring memory.  I have read up on this also wondering why my win7 lappy didnt show it and its the same story, win7 32bit only uses/reports around 3gb.
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by:rockiroads
ID: 33659304
I thought of upgrading to 64bit but it seems to much hassle to do that. Apparently you have to backup all your stuff, do a custom install then restore. Plus I am not 100% convinced that everything in terms of my current drivers will still work fine. Perhaps next lappy.
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by:Papote
ID: 33659308
I have even tried changing the Max Memory option in msconfig to 0 and 4096, still nothing.
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by:supports
supports earned 63 total points
ID: 33659317
well 32 bit can use only 3gb, hence the rest will be used by video card ....
check this
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa366778(VS.85).aspx
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by:wolfcamel
wolfcamel earned 63 total points
ID: 33659319
64 bit will be well worth it, i havent had many problems with drivers.
Have a look at a product from laplink that will transfer your programs and settings between OSs..it is well worth it if you have quite a few apps installed - albeit reinstalling is always the best option - sometimes it isnt an option.
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by:Papote
ID: 33659331
The Video Card has its own memory, so no need for memory sharing.
I have some hardware that don't have 64 bit drivers available.
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by:rockiroads
rockiroads earned 126 total points
ID: 33659346
I just wonder though windows always reserve space regardless of memory card or not.
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by:kenycl
kenycl earned 62 total points
ID: 33659351
make sure you have all the windows update installed, but most hardware will only show up to 3gb or slightly more on 32bit. thats the reality of it.
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by:cconstable_work
ID: 33659387
run > msconfig > Boot > Advanced options...
Make sure "Maximum memory:" is unchecked

Also check your BIOS for a memory remapping feature, this needs to be turned on.

Your motherboard specifically states that on a 32bit operating system it will display LESS than 4GB
http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=3263#sp

So perhaps it doesn't support this feature.
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by:willcomp
willcomp earned 124 total points
ID: 33659476
32 bit Windows has a 4GB limit as you already know. Starting at the of the 4GB address space and working down, Windows assigns address space to devices. A very lightly configured system will have over 3.25GB available memory after addresses are assigned. A heavily configured system with SLI video cards may have as little as 2.5GB free. An average system has about 3GB usable memory. Although your video card has its own memory, address space is taken up by the card.

No amount of tweaking, setting PAE, and other tinkering will not affect the amount of usable memory.
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by:willcomp
willcomp earned 124 total points
ID: 33659481
Typos:

"Starting at the of the 4GB " should be:  Starting at the top of the 4GB

"No amount of tweaking, setting PAE, and other tinkering will not affect the amount of usable memory." should be: No amount of tweaking, setting PAE, and other tinkering will affect the amount of usable memory.
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 33659517
Understand, 32 bit technology - NOT WINDOWS is what limits your available RAM.

Consider that 32 bit technology is the SAME technology that a 386 computer used 25 years ago.  At the time, virtually NO ONE had more than 1 MB of RAM. Even when the 486 and Pentium CPUs came out, the most RAM most systems could handle as 128 MB - no where near 4096 MB that is your 32 bit limit.  And at that time, anyone with 128 MB would have their friends drooling!  As things progressed, Video Cards, NETWORK cards, and other devices in the system needed addressable memory space.  Soooo, at the time, figuring that "no one would ever need 4 GB", they realized they could work backwards.  So the Video Cards and other devices used RAM addresses - NOT the actual RAM, but the address space - starting and 4 GB and going backwards.  You want to make more RAM usable to your system?  DOWNGRADE the video card to a card with 8 MB of RAM.  That, combined with the relatively small system resources of most other devices, should recover several hundred MB and get you close to 4 GB.  Otherwise, Your system will not see MORE than 4 GB of RAM and could see as little as 2.75 GB or less - and it's pointless for anyone here to speculate what you will see unless they know the exact hardware config... and frankly, I wouldn't waste the time trying to account for every last MB.

If you need more RAM, then wipe and reload a 64 bit version of Windows.
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by:willcomp
ID: 33659883
32 bit Windows is what limits the amount of RAM on modern PCs. So it is 32 bit Windows and not the hardware. Otherwise, why can you install 64 bit Windows on the same hardware and address well in excess of 4GB RAM?

2 exp 32 is 4GB which is the maximum number of addresses a 32 bit OS can handle. Each bit of unbuffered memory requires an address. Server hardware and 32 bit OSes got around the 4GB memory limit by using buffered memory.
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by:Adam Leinss
Adam Leinss earned 62 total points
ID: 33662110
See http://blogs.technet.com/b/markrussinovich/archive/2008/07/21/3092070.aspx
Could be reserved memory by your motherboard chipset for PCI bus and other devices.
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by:LowLowComputers
ID: 33749284
Somewhere in your BIOS you will see some memory mode settings. That "usable" memory you see is available memory to your system after the 750MB or so that Windows allocated for its kernel usage. You can disable certain memory allocation settings in you bios that will make all your RAM "usable" but it is not recommended,  because Windows will still allocate this 750MB or so of memory, but your programs will still be able to access those areas of memory, causing Windows to run slower as it now has to find available memory every time it needs more.
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by:LowLowComputers
ID: 33749288
Somewhere in your BIOS you will see some memory mode settings. That "usable" memory you see is available memory to your system after the 750MB or so that Windows allocated for its kernel usage. You can disable certain memory allocation settings in you bios that will make all your RAM "usable" but it is not recommended,  because Windows will still allocate this 750MB or so of memory, but your programs will still be able to access those areas of memory, causing Windows to run slower as it now has to find available memory every time it needs more.
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