Memory capability of my motherboard

I have a Dell Dimension 5100 with the following Service Tag: 4NN8H81
Windows 7 32-bit.

The motherboard is currently poplulated with two 2-GB RAM DIMMs, for a total of 4GB.

I know that my Operating System (Windows 7 32-bit) will only see/utilize 3.5GB of this memory.

My question is this:  If I add two more 2GB DIMMs, for a total of 8GB RAM:
1. Will my motherboard recognized it and be able to use it for a dual-monitor video card that I am about to install?
I was sold the additional two 2-GB DIMMs by Dell (when I bought the video card from them), but am now starting to wonder if my video will actually be able to use this 8GB.

When I go to, and download and run the scanner tool, the results say that I can have populate each of my four memory slots with 2GB each, for a total of 8GB.

I also get confused about this:  if my Operating System will only see/utilize 3.5GB of RAM, can the other 4.5 of memory be used by other devices, hardware, video card, on the system?

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The only way I know of that could work is if the video card itself had slots for the memory to be installed. otherwise you are stuck with the just over 3 gig of usable memory 32 bit limitation.

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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I don't think so, because the hardware has to use (interface with, via drivers) the memory on-board and the limit there is 3.5Gb. Within some small variance, that is your limit.

If you need to work with more (I like lots of memory), you should use Windows 7 64-bit. ... Thinkpads_User
PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
Your plan will work until Windows boots :)  Windows must address all resources - whether you have 500MB worth or 1500MB worth, and since 32-bit can only see around 4 billion addresses, it makes no difference if there is 4GB or 8GB of RAM in the system - Windows will manage devices within the 4GB of memory that it is capable of addressing.  I wish there was a trick to make it work ... there just isn't.
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dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
>>  can the other 4.5 of memory be used by other devices, hardware, video card, on the system?


See thinkpads_user's comment above for that.


You can use the missing 0.5 Gb for a RAMdisk.  See which talks about using it in Windows 7.

This talks about Windows XP and the Gavotte disk.

Note you'll need suitable hardware for this.  
32-bit operating systems can only deal with 4 gigabytes
2 to the power of 32 = 4294967296 = 4 giga

So, no, any physical RAM you toss in greater than 4 GB won't be used.
The OS maps its virtual address space of 4 GB to the hardware.
That's where big video cards and a 32-bit OS get to be a problem.
32-bit Windows CANNOT run at all with a 4GB video card.
The entire address space would be consumed by the card.

So no, your extra RAM would be unused
Just like the original answer the only way you can use more ram in this system for a video card without it being a complete waste of money is if there are memory slots on the card in which you can upgrade the amount of ram it uses. But If we are wrong one way to check is to go into the bios and attempt to dedicate as much memory as possible to video and see if it changes the specs of what is truly recognized
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
No, your added memory modules will NOT be "seen" by XP OR by your video card ... Dell sold you 2 completely useless memory modules relative to what you wanted.

There IS a way to use the extra 4GB (but not the unused RAM in the upper range of the 4GB address space).    You could create a 4GB RamDisk using the DataRAM RamDisk product:

A better alternative, however, is to simply reload your system with Windows 7 x64.
☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
Interesting - Dell's spec for the Dim 5100 says it's BIOS limited to 4GB anyway - but then they also ignore any DIMM size larger that 1GB

Having said that the Crucial checker is not foolproof either.
cliffordgormleyAuthor Commented:
I have two 2GB DIMMS, and it does appear to recognize it, despite what it says in this link:

cliffordgormleyAuthor Commented:
I know this is a stupid question, but I just want to confirm if I can install Windows 7 64-bit on this Dell 5100 Dimension x86 (32-bit machine).  I would think not.....
Please confirm.
You will need to upgrade that processor in order to run a x64 os.
I would recommend going with a intel dual-core. They are inexpensive
and run fairly well.

50 bucks and free shipping.

From what I have read about your system it is uses LGA 775 for the processor
socket type, and normally the baseline Dells run 65w processors.

If you are curious about the limits here is Microsoft's KB on os memory limits.

Good luck!

Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
The Service Tag for your system shows it uses a 2.8GHz Prescott CPU with a 533MHz bus.     There are 4 possible processors this could be -- two of these support Intel x64;  two do not.     You could remove the heatsink and look at the actual processor ID to check this -- but a FAR easier way is to just download and run this little utility:

... this will tell you if your CPU is 64-bit capable.

cliffordgormleyAuthor Commented:
Yep, I got a display that says my existing CPU is 64-bit capable!
But then I wonder why the results of my MSINFO32 indicate:  System Type:  X86-based PC

Thanks All for your help so far!!!
PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
MSInfo32 is only talking about the OS installed, not the physical computer's capabilities.  W
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
As noted above, the "system type" of x86 simply refers to the system architecture of your current OS ... NOT to the capabilities of your CPU.    Securable confirmed you have an x64 CPU -- which is what you needed to know r.e. whether an x64 OS is an option.

Since you have an x64-capable CPU, you CAN install an x64 OS if you want to.   If you have a retail copy of Windows 7, you can reinstall using the x64 version without the need to buy a new license.    If, however, you have an OEM license you'll need to buy a new license to switch to x64.

cliffordgormleyAuthor Commented:
thank you all!
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