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32bit vs 64bit OS Memory Reporting Issue

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July 30, 2010 9:24:12 PM

Hello :o 

I've been doing some research and have come to a couple of different conclusions and just ended up confusing myself so I am hoping I could get some help here :) 

I am doing an upgrade to my computer right now ... I am getting a new MB, 6 gigs of memory, video card, CPU ect ... I guess you could say I'm building a new machine almost.

What I was not changing is my OS. But then I heard that my 32bit version of Windows Vista can only read 4 gigs or 3.25 gigs of my memory.

If this is true then am I cheating myself of the rest of the RAM and letting it go to waste ???

I also understood (I am probably wrong) that since my OS only reads the above mentioned ram then it'll dedicate some to the system / apps / then the GPU and if I have a 1gig GPU then I would get 1 gig less of system RAM ... yea that didn't make sense lol...

Now lets say I decide to be lazy and not upgrade my OS and be okay with the outcome would my applications/games utilize all 6 gigs of RAM that I am installing or only what Windows shows. I mean if Windows is running itself on 3 gigs when I really have 6 I dont care. But if my online games are being cheated of an additional 3 or gigs or RAM I will upgrade my OS in a heartbeat.

Please let me know what I should do ...
a b } Memory
July 30, 2010 9:35:10 PM

32-bit has a limit of 3GB, IIRC. I know it's under 4GB. 64-bit has a much higher limit, higher than the amount of RAM you'll ever have. You would indeed be cheating yourself out of 50% of your RAM if you went 32-bit.

The GPU's 1GB of memory is dedicated to the GPU itself, and nothing else. It's so that you don't need to use system memory to buffer video, like you need to with integrated graphics (without sideport memory).

It's hard to say whether to just go with 3GB, or to upgrade to 64-bit. If you use memory intensive applications (CAD, Video Editting, etc.), upgrade. If you don't, I would just go with 3GB, as it'd most likely be adequate.

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July 30, 2010 9:47:56 PM

You're already committed to building a new rig, so drop the $100-120 bucks and get a upgrade version of Windows 7. It'll come with 2 disks, 32-bit and 64-bi, but only 1 product key for either.

Install Vista 32 on your rig, them upgrade to Windows 7 64, which will require a "full" install. There is a way around installing an upgrade version to a clean system. Look in here for a thread like "clean install an upgrade version."

Or don't get 6GB of RAM, only get 3GB.

More RAM is not the only benefit of a 64-bit OS though!
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July 30, 2010 10:09:39 PM

I am committed on a budget unfortunately and now probably don't have enough for a new OS. But, I am still wondering if the games that I run will take full advantage of my 6gigs on a 32 bit Vista or not. If it does then I don't care about upgrading but if my apps/games don't take full advantage of the gigs then I think i'll upgrade.

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July 30, 2010 10:42:34 PM

Acaiv if windows is showing you 3.5 gigs of ram , thats what you will have access to , if your running on a 32 bit OS but you have more then 4 gigs of ram there is NO WAY to side step and access the rest of your ram its just the way windows was written. What I would suggest is get the 6 gigs of ram save up some cash and then get your OS when you have the rest of the money . One thing i have learned since getting my first pc in 96 is .. you will always need more ram !!!
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a b } Memory
July 31, 2010 1:53:10 AM

A 32 bit OS can address 4, and only 4 gig of memory. Period. No more. (Well, some 32 bit versions of Windows server can address more than 4 gig, but that is a separate and totally different conversation than what a desktop PC user will ever encounter)
There are other things in your system besides RAM, that counts as memory.
When Windows boots, it will assign your hardware the memory space it needs first, then what is left up to a total of 4 gig, is how much RAM you have available for Windows to use. A video card usually has 512meg of memory, so that leaves 3.5 gig available, and there are other things as well that count against this, so you end up with about 3.2~3.4 gig of memory left on most systems.
If you put in a 1 gig video card, your available RAM will drop to around 2.8~2.9gig.
You need a 64 bit OS to address more than 4 gig of memory, that is the long and short of it. So yes, you are correct, if you have a 32 bit OS, and 1gig video card, you will end up with around 2.8 gig of usable RAM. That is a fact.
You situation calls for a 64 bit OS if you want to use all your memory. And actually, there is no reason today not to be running a 64 bit OS, none at all.
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