There is a clear difference between the then term installed memory and usable memory. The term Installed Memory refers to the amount of physical memory installed on your PC, whereas usable memory refers to the amount of memory that can be used by windows ( or what is available for windows after sharing some of the installed memory with other hardware ).
Recently I noticed that my PC has become slow and upon inspection I found that Windows was only able to use around 6GB of RAM out of the 8 GB installed on my PC. This was a odd situation as I had the 64bit version of the Windows 7 ultimate edition installed on my PC, which was capable of handling more than 4GB of ram as opposed to the maximum 4GB ram limit of 32 bit version of windows. It took me some time, but ultimately I was able to find the cause and fix it.
This is a problem that has been bugging many windows users and fortunately it can be fixed easily. However the cause of this error differs from one PC to another and so there are many solutions for fixing this error. The following is a list of all the probable causes for this error and how you can fix them.
- Cause 1: The most common cause of this error is related to the sharing of installed ram with other hardware such as integrated graphic cards on motherboards. As these integrated graphics do not have any memory of their own, they usually share the memory from the physical memory installed. Fortunately, the memory consumption of the integrated graphics can be adjusted from the motherboard’s bios settings.
- Cause 2: Secondly, the amount of usable memory also depends on the version of windows being used. All the 32bit versions of windows can handle a maximum of 4GB ram, whereas the 64bit version can handle more than 4GB of ram. Adding to this, there some versions of windows such as the Windows 7 Starter Edition, which can only supports 2 GB of installed memory.
Physical memory limits in Windows 7
The following table specifies the limits on physical memory for the different versions of Windows 7.
|Version||Limit in 32-bit Windows||Limit in 64-bit Windows|
|Windows 7 Ultimate||4 GB||192 GB|
|Windows 7 Enterprise||4 GB||192 GB|
|Windows 7 Professional||4 GB||192 GB|
|Windows 7 Home Premium||4 GB||16 GB|
|Windows 7 Home Basic||4 GB||8 GB|
|Windows 7 Starter||2 GB||2 GB|
- Cause 3: Last but not the least, sometimes the RAM modules are not inserted probably in their slots and this limits windows with less usable memory. So its always a good idea to take out the RAM sticks and re install them in their slots on the motherboard. This has proven to fix the maximum usable memory on windows most of the time.
In case you are not facing any of the above problems, you can manually increase the maximum amount of usable memory on windows through the Microsoft System configuration settings ( Msconfig.exe ).
This is what worked for me and for those who want to try this out, here’s how you manually increase the maximum amount of usable memory on windows through the Microsoft System configuration settings ( Msconfig.exe ).
How to Increase the Maximum Usable Memory in Windows
- Step 1: Type in Msconfig in the windows search box and press enter.
- Step 2: Select the Boot tab and click on Advanced options.
- Step 3: Select the Maximum Memory Checkbox and click on OK.
That’s it, now you will need to reboot your PC and when it turns on, you can check the property of My computer and windows should be using the maximum usable memory.