|Installed Memory vs RAM Usable by Windows|
|Articles - Featured Guides|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 14 June 2010|
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Installed Memory vs RAM Usable by Windows
Most PC users are familiar with the 4GB system memory limitation of 32-bit Windows Operating Systems, which is why 64-bit computing has become the standard for computer enthusiasts. Occasionally though, a computer system will not report the correct amount of RAM installed. In this article, our 64-bit Windows 7 test system had 6.00 GB of installed memory but indicates only 4.00 GB usable RAM available. While some may dismiss this as a case of defective RAM, you might be surprised by the culprit. Benchmark Reviews troubleshoots Installed Memory vs RAM Usable by Windows.
Diagnosing system memory problems is usually a strait-forward chore: test each module individually using free tools such as Microsoft Memory Diagnostic or Memtest86+. This process usually roots out the defective module, and allows you to move on with replacement. Unfortunately, not all problems are so easily solved. In some cases, the computer system will work without errors or crashing, but the amount of installed memory is more than what Windows reports as usable. This is where troubleshooting can take you to task.
Windows Installed memory (RAM): 6.00 GB (4.00 GB usable)
Modern computer hardware is very durable, but factory defects and improper handling still account for the majority of failures. System memory, often referred to as RAM (Random Access Memory), is the middleman between the processor and Operating System. RAM is installed into DIMM (Dual Inline Memory Module) sockets on the motherboard, which adds another component into consideration when troubleshooting. The mainboard can occasionally be to blame for memory problems, too, making it difficult to discern between faulty RAM or motherboard. But what about the CPU?
Many new processors have an integrated memory controller (IMC) built into the CPU, such as the triple-channel DDR3 controller equipped on Intel Core i7 Nehalem LGA1366 processor series. Subsequent dual-channel AMD and Intel processors have utilized this technology, further complicating the process of troubleshooting bad system memory (unless you have compatible RAM and CPU components on hand to test with). In the next section, Benchmark Reviews gives a brief overview of how to diagnose desktop memory problems, and reveals how a faulty IMC can cause Windows hardships.