Why does 18GB of RAM report as 2GB in Windows?

Christopher Markley March 17, 2015
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Why does 18GB of RAM report as only 2GB in Windows 8 64-bit?

I am using Windows 8 [64-bit] and 6 x 3 GB DDR RAM, however the computer itself lists 2 GB (installed) which is impossible since even if only one stick were to be recognized it would at the least be 3GB of RAM installed.

Again I have Windows 8 64-bit as the operating system, so the cap on 32-bit systems for maximum RAM is not the issue.

  • Intel (R) Core (TM) i7 CPU 920 @ 2.67 GHz
  • Installed memory (RAM): 2.00 GB
  • System type: 64-bit Operating System, x64-based processor.

I am truly baffled as to what steps I should take. Does anyone have any ideas on how I might fix this issue? Do you have any trouble-shooting tips? Thanks.

  1. ronaldo
    April 10, 2015 at 1:55 am

    the bios recognize the 18 Gib of ram ? If yes the OS should recognizes too.
    Try replace Windows 8(tm) by Linux.Gnu/linux doesn't this problem ;)

  2. Reahubber
    March 25, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    That shouldn't be true, I am sure it is your mistake, It is not possible at all 18GB report 2GB.

  3. Chris
    March 25, 2015 at 11:19 am

    As Jan said, it is impossible to have a 3 gb RAM module. I think he may well mean that the RAM is DDR3 (as opposed to DDR2 etc). It could be that his system is not compatible with DDR3. I suspect the system came with 2 gb of DDR2 RAM and the user has upgraded to 18 gb of RAM. This would explain why Windows recognises 2gb of RAM but not the 18 gb of RAM. A scan at crucial memory and / or using Speccy may help to identify what RAM is installed and compatibility.

  4. Bruce E
    March 19, 2015 at 3:59 am

    If it is DDR RAM, that is probably part of the problem. The boards I am familiar with that support his processor require either DDR2 or DDR3 and if he is using DDR, it's going to have problems.

    And 3GB RAM modules don't exist AFAIK. And I know miles.

    Christopher, go to CPUID, download and install CPU-Z. Run it and select 'Save report as .TXT' from the Tools menu. Post the results here. It will give us all kinds of gory technical details about your motherboard, memory and video card installed in the system.

    • Doc
      March 19, 2015 at 8:51 pm

      Conversationally, "DDR" could mean DDR, DDR2, DDR3, or DDR4. Since each version has keyed sockets, they wouldn't install at all, let alone boot up to 2GB, if they were the wrong generation of memory.

    • Kannon Y
      March 21, 2015 at 7:13 pm

      That kind of stands out as strange. Really strange.

      There are a rare few boards which supported two different memory standards, but in separate sockets, using a third party chipset. There seems to be one of these that pops up every time we transition to a new memory standard:


      I had a dual memory AMD K7 motherboard back in the early 2000s. It couldn't use two kinds of memory at the same time. It's either all DDR or all DDR2. The board I used to have was combo DDR and SDRAM. It was my primary media center up until a few years ago -- hard to believe a system can last that long.

      DDR and DDR2 are not pin-compatible and when DDR gets shoved into a DDR2 socket, that's a guaranteed short. So likely it's what Doc said -- DDR3 or maybe DDR2. The 900 series of Core i7 I think is DDR3. Here's a 3GB memory module for DDR3:


      More or less, this is one of the strangest corner-cases that I've seen published on Answers.

    • Kannon Y
      March 21, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      I left something out -- this is likely ECC RAM, which I have zero experience with. The only thing I know is that they may not work properly with a non-ECC motherboard.

      Bruce, do you think this is perhaps the case?

    • ha14
      March 21, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      you have to use an ECC supported motherboard to use the ECC feature of the ECC rams, (ECC function within the BIOS), you can use both in a Non-ECC motherboard but some motherboard will not accept an ECC module, depending on the BIOS version. Some server have a bios hardcoded to fault if ecc is not present

  5. Christopher Markley
    March 18, 2015 at 2:56 am

    Thank you for your input Jan, I do truly appreciate any help here.

  6. Chemy
    March 18, 2015 at 12:13 am

    Maybe it is important to know where he found a 3GB module, also a motherboard with 6 slots. Most of the DDR (that I know so far) are 2^n GB, so it can possible in sizes like 1GB (2^0), 2GB (2^1), 4GB (2^2)... you got the point, so maybe the problem is the TAG in the modules.

    • Jan F.
      March 18, 2015 at 1:24 pm

      Absolutely correct – I fully overlooked that. It is indeed questionable what memory modules are actually being used.

    • Bruce E
      March 19, 2015 at 3:54 am

      ASUS has a SuperComputer motherboard with 6 memory slots, so I can see that.

    • Chemy
      March 19, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      That's ok, but the main issue is the amount of GB of the RAM module, the MB of some servers has more than 12 slots, but it is weird to install Windows 7 on it, but again, you can, so where did he find the 3GB modules

    • Doc
      March 19, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      A Skulltrail (Socket 1366) motherboard would have 3 or 6 DIMM slots for triple-channel memory.

    • Jan F.
      March 20, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      It is not about the slots of the motherboard. DIMM slots are really only limited by the physical space, the increase in costs for multi-layer boards to wire them all in and in the bigger picture the bandwidth of the memory controller. There are server boards with 24, even 48 DIMM slots.

      The point is that the memory modules are produces in sizes of 2^n, meaning 128MB, 512MB, 1024MB (1GB), 2048MB (2GB), 4096MB (4GB), 8192MB (8GB).

      Therefor the OPs statement about having 6 DIMMs, each with 3GB is questionable to be the case.

    • Doc
      April 13, 2015 at 8:08 pm

      Intel Core i7 900-series CPUs on Intel X58 motherboards support triple-channel memory. I have no idea about the 3GB DIMMs.

  7. Jan F.
    March 17, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    My guesses:

    - the memory needs to be reseated into the slots

    - the memory needs to be rearranged into a specific order/slot usage (see motherboards manual)

    - check compatibility of the memory and your motherboard

    - the processor needs to be reseated (while the chance is very slim, one of the pins connecting the memory controller might not have proper contact and therefor causing one or more memory channels to fail)

    Last but not least the option no one wants to hear and/or can perform:
    test the memory in another system
    test other memory in this system

    It may just be some bad memory sticks.

    • Jan F.
      March 18, 2015 at 12:00 am

      One option I forgot: Memory speeds. The motherboard might use the wrong refresh rates for the memory which can cause all kind of weirdness.

  8. ha14
    March 17, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    open charm bar and type:
    Diagnose your computer's Memory Problems
    or Control Panel > System and Security > Administrative Tools, you will find the Windows Memory Diagnostic shortcut

    DDR3 Memory Population Guide

    1.Press Start -> Run
    2.Type msconfig
    3.Go under the "Boot" tab
    4.Click "Advanced options" button
    5.Uncheck "Maximum memory"

    maybe you need to flash BIOS?

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