Memory upgrade for Windows 7 32bit

Posted on 2011-10-11
Last Modified: 2013-11-10
I have a computer with Windows 7 32bit with 2Gb of RAM, they are two modules of 1Gb each. The computer has space for 4 modules.

I want to add more memory, so I planned to add 4Gb more of RAM, to have 6Gb, I know that in order to be fully able to see all that memory is using the 64bit version of Windows 7.

I know that Windows 7 64bit, uses most memory for the mere fact of being 64bit, and my main doubt is if it needs exactly the double of RAM, because I see in the Microsoft minimum requirements that 1GB is the minimum for 32Bit and 2GB for the 64Bit, i.e. exactly the double.

So, I wonder that if I add just 1GB of RAM, so to have 3GB and stay with Windows 7 32bit, will be the same, in terms of available memory for programs, that adding 4GB so to have 6GB and install Windows 7 64bit.

The main use for this computer is Visual Studio 2010, Delphi XE, and Office applications.

I hope I explained well. Thanks for your comments.
Question by:fischermx
    LVL 10

    Assisted Solution

    by:Tyler Laczko
    I understand you question.

    And make the switch to 64 bit. The 6 GB will preform A LOT better than the 32 bit 3 GB.

    LVL 89

    Assisted Solution

    by:John Hurst
    And in addition to that, 64-bit with lots of memory and a fast hard drive runs rings around 32-bit. I switched to a 64-bit operating system in 2008, never to return to 32-bit. I think my comment is complementary to the comment above re: memory.  .... Thinkpads_User

    Expert Comment

    mixing memory types some mother boards cant take it. have you checked your mother board manualy to see that it can take 2*2 and 2*1 gig memory. also is it ddr2 or ddr3 in your computer ddr2 can only go up to 8 gig i think but it is some thing to look into. 3 can go alot higher.what speed does the memory in your computer run at as the new ones would probley have to match or you may have problems. if you check your mother board manualy it should answer what it can take and then if you go for 4 gig then go for  windows 64bit other wise keep to 32. to save having to rebuld your computer
    LVL 69

    Expert Comment

    Most motherboards recommend installing memory in pairs (or triplets), to take advantage of dual or triple channel operation.  You can install a single memory module by itself, but it probably won't operate as fast a pair.  Windows requirements are not multiples of RAM modules.  In addition, filling all 4 RAM slots with non-ECC memory can present too much of an electrical load to the motherboard and cause random crashes.
    LVL 70

    Accepted Solution

    While Microsoft does indeed state a requirement of 1GB for the x32 version and 2GB for the x64 version, the fact is both run fine with 1GB (see the following Properties display).

    As Callandor noted, I would NOT recommend adding just 1GB => this would result in a degraded dual channel mode, which would effectively slow down your memory bus.    If you want to stay with the x32 version, bump the system up to 4GB (it won't "see" all of it, but you'll still be working in the optimum dual channel mode).

    In either case (staying with x32 or switching to x64) I would buy 2 2GB modules and either (a) replace your 1GB modules if you're staying with 32 bit (you may want to do this first, to see if you really need more);  or (b) add them to the system for a total of 6GB if you choose to move to 64 bit.

    Note that installing 4 modules in an unbuffered system can sometimes result in less stable memory operation, as this is a fairly high load on the address and data buses.    That's why most server systems use buffered modules (which result in 1 load/module instead of 16 loads/module).

    I would suggest the following:  

    (a)  Buy 2 2GB modules and replace your existing 1GB modules.
    (b)  After running with 4GB for a while, if you think you might like to switch to 64 bit, FIRST install the original 2 modules in the 3rd and 4th slots and run like that for a few days to confirm your system is stable with 4 installed modules (you won't "see" any more memory with the 32-bit system, but the bus will now be loaded with 4 modules).
    (c)  If all is fine with 4 modules, then go ahead and reload your system with the x64 version of '7

    As noted above, here's the Properties page for a Windows 7 x64 system with 1GB of RAM (it runs just fine):

    LVL 91

    Expert Comment

    >>  I know that Windows 7 64bit, uses most memory for the mere fact of being 64bit, and my main doubt is if it needs exactly the double of RAM,    <<   the ram requirement for 32 and 64 bit versions are the same; the 64-bit version doesn't need the double.
    the difference is that 64 - bit versions of ANY OS can address more ram  - 32-bit versions are limited to 4 GBMax
    more RAm will let your applications and OS run faster, because of less disk action - or swapping
    LVL 10

    Expert Comment

    Microsoft specifies 1GB as the minimum RAM for 32 bit Windows 7 and 2 GB for 64 bit. But don't read too much into that. First, the 2 GB is simply rounded up to the nearest GB. Second, memory usage by Windows itself is not a fixed quantity but highly dynamic. garycase said that the 64 bit version would run with only 1 GB and I don't doubt it. In fact, after installation it would probably run with substantially less than 1 GB but performance would be very poor.

    The fact that the minimum for 64 bit is twice that for 32 bit is not all that significant. It does not imply that a 64 bit OS will need twice the memory of one running a 32 bit OS to do the same thing.

    While the overhead for a 64 bit OS is higher it can also make more efficient use of more memory. The total per process address space of a process in a 32 bit OS is 4 GB and that imposes some severe limits on applications and the OS itself. The maximum size of the system cache is roughly 500 MB, no matter how much RAM is available and there are restrictions on how even that can be used. 64 bit systems also have limits but at the present time they have little real meaning. Each 64 bit application has a private address space of 8192 GB, and that may be increased in later systems. For some application types that can be an enormous advantage. System address space is also increased to 8192 GB, allowing for a much larger system cache and one that can be more efficiently managed. And that is only the beginning.
    LVL 70

    Expert Comment

    FYI Just for grins, I just installed Windows 7 Home Premium on an old Inspiron 1100 with 640MB of RAM => it installed and runs just fine (albeit a bit slow ... as you'd expect with a 2.4GHz Celeron).

    I was going to toss this old laptop, but may just bump the memory up to 1GB and keep it as yet-another spare machine :-)

    ... I was a bit surprised the installer didn't balk at the limited RAM.
    LVL 91

    Expert Comment

    did that also, Gary, and i found the slowing down comes into effect as you install the rest of the applications : office, AV Adobe and flash reader etc...
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    Author Closing Comment

    Thank you!

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