Windows 7 showing Different Installed (4 GB) and Usable Memory (2.96 GB)

Installed and Usable Memory Different on Windows 7

Installed and Usable memory as shown by windows differs when you have installed a Graphics card which shared memory. If you have a graphics card of 1gb memory with shared option, the 1 GB of memory is not usable by other processes. So the usable memory is lower than that is installed.

The above screen shot is from Windows 7 Home on a Dell Studio 15 laptop, with 4 GB installed RAM and an NVIDIA Graphics card with shared memory of 1 GB. Therefore only 2.96 GB of the RAM is usable by the processes.

It is better to buy graphics cards with Dedicated memory even if the memory size is less than that is being shared from RAM. This is because, in shared memory the memory buses might be mostly occupied by the graphics system that can slow the system down. In dedicated memory this problem is avoided because the RAM is not touched for graphics rendering and hence the bus is free for your processes.

19 Feb, 2010
Comments (12)
  • Same Issue

    Hi. I installed 6 GB RAM (4GB+2GB). Config: Win 7 32b, Intel DH55HC, Sapphire HD 5450 1GB DDR3 PCIE HDMI. Can't find if it is sharing memory or not? Would you please help me with that.

    Installed Memory (RAM) : 6.00 GB (3.24GB Usable)

    By Tanmay Chakrabarty on 25 Sep, 2011
  • Ram Explained

    64 bit systems can handle much more ram than a 32 bit system (x86). Operating systems (not just Windows, but most others as well) were written in 32 bit mode due to a decision by Intel to limit processor bit rate handling. Most old processors used 32 bit architecture, which limited the amount of information able to be handled at any one time. An old processor could handle up to 4 Gigs of Ram, so motherboard and OS makers followed suit. It is cheaper to make a system that only needs to handle up to 4 gigs of RAM, and to transfer at 32 bit rates.

    With Windows Vista, and Mac OS X, and other newer operating systems, developers have started using 64 bit systems. The amount of information that can be transfered and handled has increased exponentially, and the amount of Ram that can be used has gone from 4 gb to 16 gigs (Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit) or 192 Gigs for more expensive versions of Windows 7 64 bit. Most modern motherboards can handle up to 16 gigs of Ram.

    As a sidenote, most ram sticks contain at or just under their listed capacity of physical memory. 4 Gigs of ram, labeled on the sticks, may show as 3.9 gigs in Windows 7, even though the sticks are labled as 4. Being lower than 4 gigs of Ram, your WEI rating for Windows 7 is capped at a 5.9 maximum. If you installed more ram, more ram will show, and raise your WEI. In a 32 bit system, the computer calculates all available physical memory from RAM, then subtracts additional memory from this total. For example, if you have 4 gigs of ram installed, and a Geforce GTX 8800 768 mb video card, like i had in my old machine, your listed available ram will be 3.25 gigs. This is because the system prioritizes video memory, then adds the remaining available value, up to 4 gigs. 4 gigs of ram minus the 768 mb video memory=3.25 gigs of ram.

    This will not apply to disk memory, so enabling a larger "cache" space on your harddrive will not subtract from your physical memory.

    One last thing, some motherboards only work with 32 bit systems, and can only handle 4 gigs of ram. If you are going to upgrade to a 64 bit OS, make sure your parts are compatible. Processors have the same issue. Most system parts that have been released in the last 5 years or so are 64 bit compatible, but it is important to check first.

    By Anonymous on 03 Jan, 2011
    • Usable Ram Explained

      Great! .. Thanks a lot for explaining things in detail. Hope this clears the Usable Ram doubt most people have.
      By digitalpbk on 04 Jan, 2011
  • Ok, memory remap enables the

    Ok, memory remap enables the entire amount of 4gb ram for my win7, but I have another issue after doing this: bsod on the very start of OS. mainboard is asus p5b (with up to date bios), rams are kingston 2x2gb ddr2. is there any possibility to solve this problem? the lack of 1gb is quite, let's say, troublesome and I'd be glad if someone would help me with a solution
    thanks in advance

    By dah on 08 Sep, 2010
  • Usable RAM Asus mobo's

    I figured it out. After tinkering with it for a few hours, it turns out that the "Memory Reamp" needs to be enabled. On some Asus mobo's and a few other brands, when Win 7 is installed it recognizes that this problem. The problem was there all along and people just didn't know it until Win 7 was installed and pointed it out as a precursor to a BIOS problem that had been there the whole time.
    1 Enter BIOS
    2 Advanced
    3 Chipset Settings
    4 Enable Memory Reamp Feature
    5 Exit and Save
    6 You’re Done!

    By Dan on 13 Jun, 2010
  • just because you install

    just because you install windows 7 64 bit doesn't mean your ram will be 4 gig , In my case i have 5 gig of ram and a 64bit windows 7 and i still have all the same problems you guys are haveing and I am fighting with the develepers of windows 7 and all they can say is that the ram wont work because i am running a DDR2 SDRAM .. if you go on the web and find yourself a benchmark program and save the report you will end up with a heap of info and if it like this

    General Module Information]

    Module Number: 0

    Module Size: 1024 MBytes

    Memory Type: DDR2-SDRAM

    DIMM Type: Regular Unbuffered (UDIMM)

    Error Check/Correction: None

    Memory Speed: 333.3 MHz (PC2-5300)

    Module Manufacturer: Hynix (Hyundai)

    Module Model: HYMP512U64CP8-Y5

    Serial Number: 1009778688

    Manufacturing Date: Year: 2008, Week: 39

    [Module characteristics]

    Module Width: 64-bits – This also indicates a problem

    That module width 64-bits is not suported with the 64 bit windows 7

    All this info i am explaining to you all now is the info that the microsoft develepers are telling me at the moment

    I hope this helps you as I am still fighting with the develepers about this issue

    By Anonymous on 16 Apr, 2010
  • On some systems, even when

    On some systems, even when you have a dedicated video card with (it's) own onboard ram, Windows will still show a lesser amount of ram than what is actually installed. The solution, in my case, was to go into the BIOS under the "Advanced Chipset" option, and set "S/W Memory Hole Remapping" to "enabled". Once I did that and rebooted, the computer then showed the full 4gb of ram as being available, where as it previously showed 3.25 usuable. This was done without the need for a BIOS update. I'm using Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit.

    Hope this helps someone. :)

    By Vince on 21 Feb, 2010
    • Full 4GB RAM usage

      Yes it seems memory remapping solves the problem for some people (though on many PCs the BIOS just doesn't have that feature), but it will only be solved if you are, as you say at the bottom, using an x64 OS. Otherwise you'll still be stuck with 3/3.2GB max RAM. MS have limited their x86 OSs to around the 3GB mark regardless of how advanced the hardware is. Another good reason I upgraded to Win 7 x64!

      By KP on 01 Mar, 2010
  • 3GB/4GB RAM

    No, apparently according to all the experts I've spoken to (I have this problem - 4GB installed, only 3 used) - the problem is that a 32-bit Windows OS (does not apply to Linux or Mac OS X), has been limited to 3 or absolute max 3.2ish GB RAM. To enable more, you have to install a 64-bit OS, even if it's Windows 7. I wish what you're saying ws true, because my graphics card uses very little shared memory (300MB), thus I should be getting 3.7GB usable RAM and the rest used by graphics. The sad truth is, unless I upgrade to x64 OS, my entire system (graphics included) can only access 3GB, the other 1GB is not used at all. Wasted. Useless. I had this from the Microseoft guys themselves, among others. Of course, your mobo has to support 4GB to start with.

    By KP on 20 Feb, 2010
    • RAM 3G/4GB

      Does that mean you have to install a 64 bit Windows OS on a 32 bit laptop to just access 4 GB Memory ?
      By digitalpbk on 20 Feb, 2010
      • RAM 3G/4GB

        Yes it does. As soon as I upgraded to Win 7 x64 my full 4GB RAM was operational. Before that, only 2.99GB. Simple as that. But x64 has other advantages like much better security, and the ability to dish out far more RAM to each app (I think this applies to 32-bit apps as well as 64-bit ones, tho' they perform even better).

        By KP on 01 Mar, 2010
      • No, You may not install a x64

        No, You may not install a x64 version on a system if your CPU doesn't support X64..

        By Cruel dog on 12 Mar, 2010
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