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Overclocking, Benching, Events, Tweaking & Modding => Overclocking motherboards with Intel processors => Topic started by: Bit on September 12, 2009, 07:25:54 am

Title: 32Bit OS and 4GB of Ram, Having Problems, Read This...
Post by: Bit on September 12, 2009, 07:25:54 am
This first thing to point out is that unless you have a 64-bit Operating System (Windows XP x64, Windows Vista (Home Basic, Home Premium, Business or Ultimate) 64-bit or one of the 64-bit Linux distributions, you CANNOT itilise all 4gb of memory! This is nothing to do with a hardware incompatibility, or a problem with Windows XP Home/Pro - Vista or earlier versions of Windows, this is entirely down to a limitation of 32-bit computing.

32-bit computers can only access a maximum of 4gb of memory in total, which not only covers your RAM, but also you video cards' onboard memory and in some cases sound card onboard memory. For example, if you had a high end PC with a brand new Radeon HD 3870 X2 video card featuring 1gb of GDDR4 video RAM (Note: 1gb = 1024mb), and a Creative Labs X-Fi sound card with 64mb of X-RAM, this makes a total of 1088mb of memory that the Operating System is addressing already. If you then install 4gb of memory into your PC, the 32-bit Operating System will essentially ignore 1088mb of that 4gb (4096mb), and will only recognise 3008mb of system memory, which is a shade under 3gb. This means you will have purchased 1gb that not only never gets used, but as far as your PC is concerned, isn't even there!

This can go on to cause other problems, if wasting money isn't a big enough one, especially with modern motherboards that use dual-channel RAM. The motherboard will almost certainly at some point need to send data to the part of the RAM which is effectively cut off by the Operating Systems' inability to detect and use it, which will result in system crashes, lost data, and possibly worse. Eventually Microsoft brought out an update for Windows XP and Vista (the only 32-bit versions they still support) which limits them to only supporting 3.5gb of system memory, regardless of what other devices that have RAM fitted are installed. This solved some if not many of the problems of possible data loss but does still cause problems with BSOD's and does nothing for those people who buy 4gb RAM to use with their 32-bit Operating System.

Don't think that i am saying 4gb RAM is a waste of time and money, those of you with 64-bit PC's, particularly if you are using Vista, will find that 4gb really is the sweet spot with your Operating System. Not only can 64-bit Operating Systems support 4gb with no issues (they can actually support anywhere from 16gb up to 128gb), but you'll notice a good performance improvement even over 2gb. Whether you would need more than 4gb is debateable, unless you are doing some professional level animation of film editing perhaps, but for now 4gb is a good companion with a 64-bit Operating System.... Just be sure you have a 64-bit Operating System before you buy such an amount of RAM.
Title: Re: 32Bit OS and 4GB of Ram, Having Problems, Read This...
Post by: Elemental_Dragon on September 12, 2009, 12:42:01 pm
Yeah..... see the thing about that is, well, quite simply put, value for money these days.

3x 1GB sticks = no dual channel mode so less speed and more expensive than 2x 2GB sticks, which, yes, you can't use all 4GB but will give better performance

32bit = 4GB total - BIOS file - Paging - on board GPU/Network/SB - add in cards (eg. GPU, Soundcard)
e.g. 4GB - 208kb - 64mb (soundcard) - 512MB GPU = ~3.4GB total addressable RAM

So lets take a Dell PC for example, it's a home PC designed to do basic home stuff and is bundled with 4GB RAM. Will it see 4GB? Well it will see 3.97ish because it only subtracts on board RAM and BIOS because that's all it needs to. There's nothing else in there stopping it from using the 4GB.

Thus - 4GB in a 32bit OS isn't always a waste - but you should always do the maths both financially and software to work out what would be best for yourself.

Title: Re: 32Bit OS and 4GB of Ram, Having Problems, Read This...
Post by: Bit on September 12, 2009, 08:48:54 pm
You are entirely correct there Elemental_Dragon, however this is the overclocking section and not many Dell PC's owners come here for advice. If they do it's not because they have ram issues, lockup issues.

It's the overclockers who have large gfx cards and maybe SLI configs that have the issues with 4GB of ram and a 32 bit OS, for me it's the most sensible place to post for people having problems as the OS attempts to address duel channel dead ram.

But maybe I'm wrong, I am so very often..