If your system is a 'modern' system with a recent chipset and labeled VISTA ready for example, VISTA 64 would be a good canditate. You will need a 64 bit OS to take full advantage of your 4 gbs. VISTA offers Superfetch, which is a significant improvement over all versions of XP. Try Googling superfectch.
Just to add my 2 cents I did the same thing. I installed 2X2Gb DDR2 ram sticks. Ram is very cheap now so why not. As you said only 3. something will show up as availible. Someone with real knowledge please chime in, but it is my understanding that windows takes what it needs and makes the rest available. I show 3.2 for use on my system. This is a newly built rig so I can't tell you if it is faster with 4Gb installed vs some lessor quantity. More ram can't hurt IMHO.
32-bit versions of Windows XP cannot handle 4GB of RAM by default. Of course, your motherboard will detect the memory, but the OS won't. What you "can" do is try to enable Physical Address Extension to see if XP detects all the memory. Check this:
About 64-bit, not all depends on the OS, but the optimization of the software you are using. I have seen several benchmarks saiying 32-bit programs run slower in 64-bit environments. And you have to download compatible drivers for 64-bit OS. You can have a good rig, a good 64-bit OS, but if your applications are not optimized, well...
Funilly enough I've just installed the 64 bit version of xp and it couldn't be running any slower! I've got my 32 bit edition sitting hear and I'm very tempted to put it back on even if it is going to be allot of hassle.
I've only got 1GB of ram on this computer and a geforce 7600gt since I'm at uni and i'm using my macbook there i can't see the point in buying anything for this computer. But it would be nice if it worked!
I'm having a huge problem with windows installer. Itunes works but can't import or burn CDs apparently. i say apparently, cause i get a message every time i open it saying so but it can import fine. Also Age of empires 3 just won't install. Steam and half life games work fine though, and supreme commander installs but the supporting gas powered games application doesn't.
Now is this a pacific problem for my computer or a 64bit thing? Should i make a new thread instead of hijacking this one? do i ask too many questions? Is the world round...
This is so funny becasue I am asking msyelf the same question...
I have a Quad Core, with 4GB of ram and two Asus 8800GT video cards. I too have the same problem with iTunes, and there are some games that just wont install. Sometimes even IE wont open or is slow. I have an older dell notebook with a 7900GS and 2gb of ram and it runs awesome compared to this new build. I am going to swtch back to Windows 32 and see if i get better results.
i found the problem. nothing to do with the amount of memory, as i expected. if windows needed more than 1GB of memory to run simple tasks i would worry more than i already do about why people chose it.
Anyway. for some reason there was no installer at the path windows support told me that the installer should be at. i was getting error 1719.
so i downloaded the installer, but ironically, it wouldn't install. anyway, i then discovered from fluke that service pack two wasn't/hadn't installed properly (by fluke the latest .net frame work wouldn't install and i was looking through my windows update install history and saw it didn't install).
Anyway, i installed this, and with it came the windows installer. i then tried again, and got a new error, (can't remember what it was but it was fixed very simply), but then got 1719 again.
Anyway, found an article, and the directories are very different for the 64 installer, but there's only one support page for it. if i had read the whole page properly first time round it might have helped.
Anyway, turns out windows had installed the 64bit installer in the registry as the 32bit one, so the image path was wrong. change that and it works fine, and in-fact better than xp. I've now got to reinstall the ones that kinda installed in the hope they'll run better