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why does windows 7 32 bit show only 2.17 gb usable memory inspite of having 8 gb Ram? Answered

system config'n-

Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit
8gb of RAM
intel i7 processor


hey now i use 64 bit and the situation just got worse
it says 1.7 usable RAM
Please help!

It's been my experience that windows USUALLY has a very large "overhead". I've ran into the same problems in earlier versions. Grant it that I didn't have 8Gb of ram (and didn't really need it...no offense intended) installed, but, when you have 2Gb of ram running XP and it requires about half to run Office and Studio you know that the overhead is high. Poor development of the part of Microsoft is my opinion. I've worked with Microsoft (as a programmer in the REAL world) since version 2 (lucky me).
I usually tell people to run with Linux, it at least runs with fewer problems (no "blue screen of death).
Sorry about that, I was getting up on my soap box again.

OK, wait a minute, if you are a programmer who used to work for Microsoft, then wouldn't you know that A. you couldn't address 8Gb on a 32 bit system, and B. that when it shows "usable memory" that doesn't subtract what applications you are running on the computer? (Granted, it does take a few mb for the system itself, but only a few mb.) Something just doesn't seem right here. Granted, I'm not a programmer, and I know a lot of programmers know very little about hardware, but I would think that anyone who worked for Microsoft would at least know about memory addressing and what "usable memory" is...

I'm sorry, you've misunderstood what I was saying. I didn't work FOR Microsoft, I worked with Microsoft applications and OSs. I've programmed since 1985 up until '03. Overhead problems was always a problem during that time. Also, I haven't messed with Windows 7 (or Vista as far as that goes). Keeping track of memory addressing and usage was a must during my programming years. As far as hardware, I have repaired, built, and cannibalized more computers than I care to (or could) count. Just thought that I'd put a few thoughts out earlier, didn't mean to ruffle any feathers.

OK... I understand now. Still, like you said, keeping track of addressing was a must back then, so I'm surprised that you didn't mention anything about the addressing limitations of a 32-bit system. But the main reason I "went off" like that is because the way you worded your statement sounded like you worked "for" Microsoft. Thank you for clarifying. :)

Also, in regards to hardware, my observation about programmers not normally knowing a whole lot about hardware was just a generalization, I know a few programmers that know quite a bit about hardware, but most of the programmers I know couldn't even configure a Linksys router if they tried! I'm not trying to put programmers down (and I think my observations about programmers who started out 15+ years ago, I mostly know the younger generation of programmers), actually, I like to program very easy programs (I will not say basic programs, since that could be taken to mean that I only know basic) for fun, but I have a very deep respect for good programmers. :)

I had programmed exclusively in DOS from 1985 to 1993 when I learned VB. By Sept. of '03 (I had a heart attack) I had worked in the IT department of a major mid-west city for 12 yrs. In that time I had programmed in DOS (Clipper (all versions), C, and C++), Windows (VB, C++, VC++, C#, HTML, and SQL), and a little in Unix (Perl). At one time I was the ONLY coder for about 85-90% of the city's departments (business applications, web apps wasn't considered REAL applications at the time). From 1993 til 2003 I was more and more involved with hardware. From 2003 til present (became disabled from work in 2009) it's been exclusively hardware and light networking.
I'm sure this is more than you wanted to know, but, I thought I'd just throw it out there.
My interests now are pretty much revolving around electronics since that was my first interest back in the day.
Sorry to be so winded. :/

No problem, I'm sorry I misunderstood you. When I was thinking that you were saying that you used to work "for" microsoft, I of course was thinking "absolutely no way!" That's why I seemed a bit nasty. I'm sorry.

My background is that I know very little about programming, but I used to do computer forensics (mainly data recovery) for the US government. I ended up quitting a year or two back because I was getting into stuff that was downright sickening, and I didn't agree were ethical. (Can't really get into too much detail for legal and safety reasons.) I know quite a bit about hardware, networking, etc... but although I understand the logic behind programming very well, I just haven't taken the time to learn the languages very well. I do quite a bit with batch, a little with VB, C++, and even less with HTML. :)


6 years ago

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/2812434?start=0&tstart=0 was the first hit on google for "32 bit show only 2.17 gb usable memory" (w/o quotes) which states that its a limitation of the 32 bit system. (I would assume (yes, i know what that says about you and me) 2.17 means you also have some graphics card memory (and/or some bad memory))

(deleted first post due to missing end-")" in case anyone wonders)

Nope. Not correct. It should be showing more than 2.17 if you have approx 4 GB addressed. There is another problem someplace else. Most of the time when I see this it means that the memory isn't seated correctly, but there are a lot of other causes as well. ;)

thats why i wrote "(I would assume (yes, i know what that says about you and me) 2.17 means you also have some graphics card memory (and/or some bad memory))" because I agree the number is odd, so there is more/something else to it than the 32bit limit - your note about them not being seated right could be it

Microsoft programed Windows 7 32 bit to only address a maximum of 4Gb of Ram, and so with your installation, you now only have 2.17 Gb left (regardless that you have 8 Gb installed). It's not that your system is incapable of utilizing more Ram, the problem is that Microsoft set "memory limits" to the OS. The 64 bit version on the other hand can address a maximum of 8 Gb for Starter and Home Basic. Home Premium can address up to 16 Gb of Ram, and the Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate versions can address up to 192 Gb of Ram.

There are many unhappy customers out there that figured this out the hard way, so in your case you really need a 64 bit version to utilize all your Ram.


There is THIS article that I found that claims you can remove the imposed limit on the 32 bit version, but I would suggest that you read the whole thing through, and the comments before you proceed. It's not something I've tried, so I can't tell you how well it works (or if it could cause more harm than good). - I gave up on Windows a while ago and bought myself a Mac. Best decision ever. 

Interesting side note for you Mac lovers out there, one of the supposed apple "gurus" once told me and a friend of mine that macs can run 19 bit operating systems. Talk about using words he didn't even understand! :)

What about the PAE? (I thought that was largely the point of the link I gave). no?

OK, without extreme measures, you can't address 4GB. Yes, if you mess around with your kernel, but 2.17 is only just over half of the original limit anyway.

Correct. Without doing anything 4GB is it... oddly though, Microsoft notes on their website, that X86 client versions with PAE enabled have a usable 37 bit (128 GB) physical address space (which is suppose to be the highest permitted physical RAM address)... :-0

Basically they've effectively returned to the diabolical paging schemes of the old DOS days......

For one thing, a 32 bit system can only address 4 gb of RAM, but there are a number of reasons it might only be using 2.17 gb. For starters, make sure the RAM modules are seeded properly.

Seated... not seeded... sorry. My bad. :)


6 years ago

With a 32 bit system there is a RAM limit as the others have pointed out. I thought it was 3.3 Gig and not 4. If this is a system with integrated video then you will loose ram to that. In other words if the system is setting aside 1 gig of RAM for the video then that would leave you with only a little more than 2 gig which is what yours appears to be doing. You might be able to adjust the video ram usage in the BIOS but if you have heavy graphics applications then it will slow that down a lot. If it is not a notebook the best thing to do would be to buy a separate video card and disable the on board one. That would give you back the RAM that is dedicated to that and give you better graphics performance. But still the most that you will be able to use of that 8 gig will be 3.3 (or maybe 4 but I have never gotten more than 3.3) The only other choice is to upgrade to the 64 bit version.

It's probably 3.3 usable... I believe the actual addressable amount is 3.798... something... something... something. The OS is going to steal some of that for base operations, so 3.3 sounds about right for usable.