Why isn’t all of my installed RAM available?
Question by Akshay /

I have installed 4GB of RAM in my computer. But in my computer’s properties, it says only 1.96 GB is usable. I don’t know why it’s not all showing, what is wrong?

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Answers (6)
  • Akshay

    i use windows 7 64 bit pro edition.I have 512 mb dedicated graphics card.It used to show the whole thing was available few months ago.Could it be because one of the ram cards is loose/corrupt?(i have 2x2gb) 

    • FIDELIS

      Hello, yest, if that is the case that it the reason for it.  You could try making sure your memory is sitting as it should in the slots.  That means, make sure that clips snap when you insert the RAM.  Make sure both sticks are nice and tight.  Start up your computer and check how much RAM is showing.  If you see the 4GB of RAM showing, that was the problem there.  If after making sure that RAM is sitting the way it should sit, you still do not get the correct reading you could try checking the memory with memtest.  Make sure to set it to at least 6 passes. 

      http://www.memtest.org/

      Or, you could use the memory testing utility included with windows 7.  You could try that one before using memtest to see if it finds any errors.  Just to make sure, after running windows memory testing, run the memtest.

      You can also find out if a memory stick is bad or faulty by trying the following in a memory slot known to work.  Make sure to test both sticks by themselves on same slot:

      — take one of the sticks from motherboard
      — start up your computer
      — if computer starts ok, then ram is ok
      — do the same with the other stick

      If either of the sticks is bad of faulty, your system will not be able to start correctly when you start it with only that stick.

    • Akshay

      thanks FIDELIS,
      that worked one of my cards was not inserted properly,now it shows 4 gb ram available

    • FIDELIS

      Hello, glad to hear that.

  • Mike

    Are you running a 32bit or 64bit operating system?

    In general a 32bit system can only address 4GB of memory which includes the hardware. Even without a dedicated graphics card some of the address space is required for memory of the general hardware leaving you with ~3.7GB of memory addressable in average.

    Now if you add a graphics card with 1GB dedicated memory to the system you are left with only 2.7GB.

    Last but not least a 32bit Windows has a limit of 2GB memory for the user application space and the rest being reserved for the kernel.

    * If you are running Vista or 7 this is why it shows “2GB” or in your case 1.96GB usable

    You could read through this article about 3GB PAE etc. for details but the verdict is that the system is already doing everything possible.

    If Physical Address Extension is an option for your system Windows will activate it on its own. As for the 3GB thingy allowing user applications to use up to 3GB (instead of 2GB) doesn’t help either if the software wasn’t designed for this (which pretty much no 32bit application is).

  • FIDELIS

    Hello, there is nothing wrong with your setup, this is normal when you are running a system in 32 bits.  If you are using windows XP, the only version that recognizes the full 4 GB of memory your system has installed, is the windows XP PRO version.  If you are using Home edition, it will recognize around 3 GB of it or a little bit more. 

    Also in your case, the rest of the memory is shared with your integrated graphics card.  If you check in BIOS, you see the exact amount of memory being shared with your integrated graphics card.  If you want your system to recognized more memory, you could install a discreet graphics card, or if compatible with it, run a 64 bits operating system.