Ensuring That You Have Adequate RAM

Random access memory (RAM) is the vital stuff that keeps Windows running smoothly Having enough physical (main) memory helps reduce the operating system's dependence on virtual memory, thereby maximizing the number of times Windows is able to fetch information from fast memory chips and minimizing the number of times it has to get data from your (relatively slow) hard disk. How much memory do you need?

Microsoft's official hardware requirements for Windows 7 specify that a system must have at least 1 GB of RAM to run 32-bit Windows, and 2 GB if you plan to install 64-bit Windows . In our experience, doubling these minimums will provide a better ride for most installations

But don't assume that more memory is always better. As it turns out, there is such a thing as too much memory, especially if you're running a 32-bit Windows version . First, there's the question of how much RAM (how many memory modules and in what sizes) your computer will physically accommodate . And then there's a hard mathematical limitation: because of the nature of address spaces, 32-bit versions of Windows can use no more than 3 .5 GB of RAM, and often considerably less. The exact amount varies depending on the hardware in question; for more details see Knowledge Base article 929605, "The system memory that is reported in the System Information dialog box in Windows Vista is less than you expect if 4 GB of RAM is installed," at w7io.com/929605. (Although the title specifically refers to Windows Vista, the information applies equally to Windows 7 .)

With a 64-bit version of Windows 7, this limitation on physical memory vanishes, to be replaced by limits that are defined differently for each edition of Windows Table 20-2 has the details for all editions

Table 20-2 Physical Memory Limitations in Windows 7

Windows 7 Edition

Limit in 32-Bit Windows

Limit in 64-Bit Windows


4 GB

a GB

Home Basic

4 GB

a GB

Home Premium

4 GB

16 GB


4 GB

192 GB

Enterprise/Ultimate 4 GB 192 GB

Enterprise/Ultimate 4 GB 192 GB

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    How to Ensuring that you have adequate RAM?
    9 years ago

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