How much RAM can I install?

Discussion in 'hardware' started by TONPumper, Dec 25, 2010.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. TONPumper

    TONPumper Registered Member

    I realize this is a very basic question, but I'm asking it hoping that you'll have questions for me. According to a friend, x86 OS can't read more than 3 GB. He said for it to read 4 GB, I had to get x64. According to this site, the RAM I can hold depends on the operating system. So who's right?
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2010
  2. TheKid7

    TheKid7 Registered Member

    First you should verify how much and what type of RAM that your PC motherboard supports. To find out details on your RAM limit, number of RAM slots and RAM speeds go to the following website and click on "Scan My System" and follow the instructions.

    Windows 32 bit will only recognize slightly over 3 GB of RAM. However, more RAM does not matter as long as your PC's motherboard supports that amount of RAM. More RAM is just RAM that will not be utilized. Typically, budget PC's have only 2 RAM slots and both slots are usually filled.

    I think that most motherboards in the past few years have Dual Channel memory. So for the best PC performance, it is recommended to install RAM sticks that each have the same amount of RAM (Matching Pair of RAM).

    Recently I upgraded a budget Compaq PC (Windows VISTA 32 bit) with 2 X 2 GB sticks of RAM. The PC came with 2 X 512 MB sticks of RAM. The motherboard only had two RAM slots so the 2 X 512 MB RAM sticks were removed.
  3. TONPumper

    TONPumper Registered Member

    I've got the speed at 333 MHz, and I ran the scan and it said my computer can handle 4 GB and has two slots. So you're saying if I get 4 GB, I have to install x64?
  4. Noob

    Noob Registered Member

    Yes, x84 or 32-bit can only handle 3GB of ram due to OS limitations :D
  5. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

    Only IF you want to use all 4 GB in the OS.
  6. TheKid7

    TheKid7 Registered Member


    Your 32 bit Windows just will not use all of the 4 GB of RAM. 32 bit Windows should work fine with 4 GB of RAM installed. You should get a matching pair of RAM memory sticks (2 X 2 GB).
  7. wtsinnc

    wtsinnc Registered Member

    I have a Dell E510 running XP Home (32 bit).
    The motherboard has 4 DIMMs (memory slots), each having a 1gb memory stick.
    Total of 4gb of RAM installed, my OS reads 3.62gb.

    I don't worry about the 0.38gb not being read and utilized; the upgrade from factory installed 4 X 256mb was one of the highest impact and least expensive upgrades I could have made.
  8. Hugger

    Hugger Registered Member

    What they are telling you is correct.
    Keep it Simple please.
    You can buy 2 sticks of memory that are each 2 gigabytes and put them in your memory slots. Remove the memory that is there now and save it for emergencies.
    This stuff used to drive me crazy. Don't let it.
    If your system can only use 3 of the 4G's that you install, that's fine.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2010
  9. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

    Sorry but both of the above statements are incorrect. All 32-bit operating systems can handle 4Gb of RAM as 2^32 = ~4G (that is, 2 to the 32nd power equals 4,294,967,296). However, the amount of RAM that will be "available" to your system for your programs may be less (typically 3.2 - 3.6Gb) due to the way hardware memory addressing is mapped.

    So to suggest the only way to take advantage of more than 3Gb of RAM is to get a 64-bit OS is simply wrong.

    You did not tell us what motherboard you have but I note many (if not most these days) motherboards support Dual-Channel memory architecture. This means they have an even number of memory slots - typically 2 or 4 slots. And to take full advantage of Dual Channel, you want matched pairs. There's no such thing as 3Gb sticks or 1.5Gb sticks. So to get 3Gb you would have to buy 1 x 2Gb and 1 x 1Gb and that would not be a matched pair. If your board supports 4 slots, you could buy 2 x 1Gb and 2 x 512Mb but that's not an efficient use of your money - especially if you do decide to switch to 64-bit later on. It would be much better to get 2 x 2Gb. Even if your system does not take full advantage of the full 4Gb, it is likely to take advantage of at least 200Mb over 3Gb, and that's a good thing. And you may even get more, like wtsinnc, and have 620Mb extra to work with - a very good thing.
  10. TONPumper

    TONPumper Registered Member

    What do you wanna know about the motherboard?
  11. GlobalForce

    GlobalForce Regular Poster

    He's asking whether it supports dual-channel. If unsure, tell'm which one's onboard.
  12. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

    o_O I thought it was pretty clear when I said,
    Making us guess and poke and prod for information does nothing but waste time and cause delays in getting your problems fixed.
  13. wtsinnc

    wtsinnc Registered Member

    I certainly could be wrong here, but based on the OPs supplied info in post #3 of this thread, a speed of 333MHZ indicates PC2700 RAM which is not available in dual-channel format as far as I can tell.
  14. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

    Ummm, no. That's still a guess. But in any case, I think there's some misunderstanding. Dual channel architecture is a function of the motherboard, not the RAM. RAM does not come in single, dual or triple channel formats. It may be "packaged", "marketed" and sold in pairs or triples for convenience, but the RAM modules are the same, regardless how sold. It is important to note that Dual-Channel memory architecture has been around since 2003. So the fact it may be PC2700 is immaterial.
  15. GlobalForce

    GlobalForce Regular Poster

    Bill, you were - perfectly clear. The meat of your opening post conveyed the concept nicely.
  16. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

    Thanks. I try.
  17. Halffull

    Halffull Registered Member

    It's more like 3.24GB actually on XP SP3, that's why it's recommend to go for 4GB.

    To be honest 4GB ram in general is fine anyway, the only reason why you'd want more ram is if you're involved with heavy graphics gaming or video editing or something.

    You can get marginal benefits on a 64bit machine if your harware supports it, but you'd need to do a clean install onto 64bit and IMO it's not worth the small performance increase
  18. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

    Well, "converting" legacy hardware to run in 64-bit mode may not be worth the performance boost for some. But if building new with current CPUs and graphics solutions, or if you have to reinstall anyway, I see no reason to stay in the dark ages with 32-bit. And for the record with at least 4Gb of RAM, 64-bit drivers for all your hardware, and 64-bit applications including browsers, Office, games, anti-malware solutions, the benefits are significantly more than "marginal" and you will definitely experience more than a "little performance increase". Just remember is it easy to be deceived by bottlenecks that have nothing to do with 64-bit. I speak specifically of small amounts of RAM, lackluster graphics solutions, and slow Internet connections.
  19. TONPumper

    TONPumper Registered Member

    Here's what I know:

    Manufacturer Quanta
    Model 30CC
    Version Rev 1
    Chipset Vendor Intel
    Chipset Model GM965
    Chipset Revision C0
    Southbridge Vendor Intel
    Southbridge Model 82801HBM (ICH8-ME)
    Southbridge Revision B1
  20. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

    I guess after all I was not very clear. This is an HP notebook? What is the make and model of your computer?
  21. TONPumper

    TONPumper Registered Member

    HP Pavilion dv6000
  22. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

    I think we've come full circle back to what TheKid7 said on Christmas Day. And according to Crucial your system only supports up to 2 x 1 Gb for a maximum of 2Gb anyway. This is confirmed on the bottom of page 1-2 in the HP Pavilioin dv6000 Maintenance and Service Guide and by the C|Net Review. So it would seem the issue of 3 or 4 Gb for your notebook is moot.
  23. Earth Be Lost

    Earth Be Lost Registered Member

    It will depend on how much RAM your motherboard will support, from there you'll have to see what bit version your Operating System is. 32-bit will only support up to 4GB of RAM; the 64-bit is able to support up to over 128GB of RAM. This will depend on the OS you use and what version it is (home, basic, ultimate, etc).

    From there you will be able to see how much ram your fully allowed to use on your computer.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.