How can I make Windows recognize my full amount of RAM?

Douglas Mutay October 18, 2012
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I have Windows 7 installed in my laptop and recently found that the OS is only recognize 2Gb of my RAM while I have 4GB of RAM installed.
Is one of my RAM modules faulty or is there any setting I need to adjust? The same happened when I installed Windows 8 Consumer Preview.
I have checked the BIOS and it shows 4Gb or memory available. Thank you for your support.

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  1. venkatesh
    November 6, 2012 at 8:21 am

    How can I make Windows recognize my full amount of RAM?..........

  2. Douglas Mutay
    October 26, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Thank you all for support and ideas. I have installed the 64bits and bam! All my full amount of RAM is now available! Thanks

  3. Jim Chambers
    October 20, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Check for updated BIOS and chipset driver on Dell site, download and install. Reseat SODIMM's using contact cleaner.

  4. Sam Mackay
    October 20, 2012 at 9:44 am
  5. Alex Figueiredo
    October 18, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Try windows 7 x64 version. Works fast and recognize the full amount of memory

  6. Dimal Chandrasiri
    October 18, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    go for a 64 bit windows version.. 32 bit only recognizes maximum of 2GB.

    • Mike DeGeorge
      October 18, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      No. It recognizes 3 - 3.5GB of RAM. Depending on the hardware config.

  7. Paul Pruitt
    October 18, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    I looked up your processor: http://ark.intel.com/products/67355/Intel-Core-i5-3210M-Processor-3M-Cache-up-to-3_10-GHz-rPGA

    It appears to be a 64 bit processor so 64Bit Windows would work.

  8. Boni Oloff
    October 18, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    You just need to use X64 version of windows,..

  9. ha14
    October 18, 2012 at 9:25 am

    try to do a memtest using hirens boot cd
    http://www.hiren.info/pages/bootcd

    go to run and type msinfo32 check the ram and see how much is reported.
    Open resource monitor and check Memory section

    32bit Windows has a limit of 2GB memory for the user application space and the rest being reserved for the kernel
    http://blogs.technet.com/b/marcelofartura/archive/2006/09/14/3gb-pae-awe-what-basic.aspx
    If Physical Address Extension is an option for your system Windows will activate it on its own.

    Also check if your ram are correctly inserted.
    -take one of the ram out
    -start pc, if it starts well then this ram is good
    -do the same with the second one.

    try Crucial SYstem Scanner
    http://www.crucial.com/systemscanner/
    see what will report

  10. mmaduekwe stanley
    October 18, 2012 at 8:33 am

    You are using a 32bit version of your OS. Try installing a 64bit version of your preferred OS to utilise more than 2Gb of RAM because 32bit OS are limited to use just a maximum of 2GB RAM .

    • Skeeter Sanders
      November 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm

      Wouldn't simply expanding your PC's memory capacity be more effective than upgrading form a 32-bit to a 64-bit OS? My PC is a Dell Precision Workstation 690 with 4GB of RAM installed, but is expandable to a maximum of 32 GB. I don't need that much RAM, as it's my home computer. Would simply doubling its RAM capacity to 8 GB do the trick?

  11. mmaduekwe stanley
    October 18, 2012 at 8:30 am

    You are using a 32bit version of your OS.
    Try installing a 64bit version of your preferred OS to utilise more than 2Gb of RAM because 32bit OS are limited to use just a maximum of 2GB RAM .

  12. Kannon Y
    October 18, 2012 at 7:29 am

    It might be possible that your video card is siphoning off around 1.5 gigs of RAM. Bruce mentioned it as a possibility; in my opinion, your integrated video card is the most likely culprit.

    Most laptops use integrated GPUs, which are referred to as Integrated Graphics Processor or IGP for short, which lack dedicated RAM.

    These units allocate your laptop's RAM in place of dedicated memory (which is pretty terrible for frame rate at high resolutions). But on some of the newer laptops, which are heavily dependent on this kind of memory, there can be substantial diversions of system memory to the IGP.

    You can test this out by going into your BIOS settings and looking for memory that's been allocated to the IGP. Unless you game a lot, you can get away with the minimum setting for memory allocation to the IGP. However, if you do go into your BIOS, be extremely careful and make sure to not make any changes unless you're sure about what it is you're doing. Good luck!

    • Douglas Mutay
      October 18, 2012 at 7:40 am

      Thanks Kannon, I will check the BIOS and look for the IGP. But don't you think 2Gb just for video memory is a lot? And if the video card is my culprit, how much RAM should I allocate for it. I am not really a gamer and I use my laptop for normal use like typing, video, etc.

      • Bob
        October 18, 2012 at 10:56 am

        I believe max any 32bit version of Windows will see is 3.5GB, regardless on if you have a shared graphics or dedicated graphics.

        If you want to see more of your RAM, you will need to lower how much is allocated to the shared graphics, or switch to 64bit Windows.

      • Mike DeGeorge
        October 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm

        What version of Windows are you using? Like the name and edition. If you're using Starter edition...I believe that would be your culprit.

        • Douglas Mutay
          October 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm

          I am using Windows 7 Ultimate edition and I even tried the Windows 8 Consumer preview. but both 32-bits.

      • Kannon Y
        October 19, 2012 at 6:25 pm

        On an Intel system 1.5 GB is way too much draw. IGP on an Intel chipset at max usually only takes about 500MB. Maybe there are some BIOS that draw more, but I've never heard of them.

        Ha14 mentioned that the hardware vendor may have, by default, allocated memory to the OS kernel, using a feature called PAE. PAE allows more than 4GB of RAM to be used in a 32-bit operating system.

        This is the first time I've heard of this feature, but it sounds quite credible. Because it allows for optimal RAM allocation, it's actually a good thing then. In a laptop, in general, 64-bit operating systems have more overhead and consequently have a reduced battery operating life span. 32-bit systems generally run for longer with less heat production.

    • Douglas Mutay
      October 18, 2012 at 7:49 am

      For references here are the specs of my laptop. It's a Dell Inspiron 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ i5-3210M processor (3M Cache)
      Display 17" High Definition (720p) LED Display with Truelife
      Memory3 4GB 4 Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1600MHz
      Hard Drive 750GB 5400 RPM SATA Hard Drive
      Optical Drive 8X Tray Load CD/DVD Burner (Dual Layer DVD+/-R Drive)
      Video Card Intel® HD Graphics 4000

  13. Rajaa Chowdhury
    October 18, 2012 at 3:39 am

    Maybe you are using 32 bit Windows. Use 64 bit Windows to resolve the issue.

  14. Bruce Epper
    October 18, 2012 at 1:38 am

    There probably isn't anything wrong with your RAM modules since the BIOS is recognizing the entire 4GB. I would assume that you are running a 32-bit OS which will limit you to being able to use 4GB in the system, but the system will also "steal" some of that address space for the hardware in the system (especially video cards). You can get around this limitation by using a 64-bit operating system or using less demanding video and networking hardware in the system.

    • Douglas Mutay
      October 18, 2012 at 7:17 am

      Thank you Bruce for the answer. Yes, I am actually using a 32-bit OS and will surely try a 64-bit to see if it will resolve the issue. But I remember I had in the past to remove the original OS that was in 64-bits because it was not compatible with most of the software I use that was build for 32-bit.

    • salim benhouhou
      October 18, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      thank you Bruce for the explanation

    • Jan Fritsch
      October 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm

      In general I agree.

      But from personal experience it could also be a not properly seated RAM or CPU. Last time I changed the thermal compound on a system the CPU wasn't properly seated afterwards which resulted in the BIOS stating 4GB RAM and Win7 saying "4GB (2GB usable)"

    • Shawn
      October 18, 2012 at 2:15 pm

      the 32-bit OS is not at fault here, if windows 32-bit was the issue here then it would report around 3-3.3gb of ram.

      its most likely an issue with the BIOS while the BIOS has been can read the chip size of 2x 2GB for a total of 4 it is only setup to use up to 2GB you see this a lot with the intel 945-965 chipsets

    • Mike DeGeorge
      October 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      I have to say that just because the BIOS fully recognizes the RAM...doesn't mean there's nothing wrong with it. I had a faulty RAM module...and my system(including Windows) recognized all of my RAM(8GB).

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