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New Computer/4 GB Question

Discussion in 'PC/Windows/Linux' started by davidwcramer, Jun 1, 2007.

  1. For those of you who are more versed on computers than I - I just purchased a new Dell PC, with Vista and 4 GB RAM. I'm using it solely for photography, and have NX and PSCS3 loaded - both are running smooth and fast, especially since I took out the McAfee which was hogging up everything. When I check the RAM, it shows 3096, not 4000. I asked the Dell tech (?) and he said this was accurate since 1 GB is attributed to Vista. I understand that point, but still don't know why the full 4 GB isn't stated as onboard. Being the suspicious type (or actually more accurately, the naive type) I decided to ask some people here, whom I trust to set me straight. Am I getting my 4 GB worth?
  2. Phil Lee

    Phil Lee

    Jan 17, 2007
    Sale, UK
    Take a look at this for more info.
  3. moffo


    Oct 20, 2005
    Central TX
    See if you get a splash screen on system boot (from power off)-- this should tell you what the system thinks is there as far as hardware before the OS loads. Otherwise the boxes aren't all that hard to open up...

    My system reports 2047 MB on a system that I know to have 2 GB.

    Does your system have 'shared video memory' or a separate graphics card?

    (I know the Mac guys, if they're reading this, are giggling...)
  4. Thanks Phil and Michael. The read was helpful. I'll check the splash screen next time I boot up from a power off. I think my system must be reporting available memory, as a gig of it is in use otherwise. I've got intel dual-core processor as well, and the system is much faster than my previous 2 GB machine. I even merged a 1GB panorama on it fairly fast, considering my previous machine would choke at that level.
  5. Hi David,

    All you have to do to check your ram is "RIGHT" click on the "My Computer" icon on your desktop or in your start menu, then select at the bottom of the list, "Properties" and there it is, you ram, cpu what version of windows etc....
  6. This is part of why I was initially concerned. When I check My Computer properties, it reports 3070 RAM. If I understand the paper recommended by Phil above, this is the "available" RAM after other nonmemory devices take their share.
  7. Congrats on the new computer, David.
    Let us know what you think of it after you've had more time to use it for photography apps.

    aka beaucamera

    P.S. What were the specifications of the one you got?
  8. By rebooting it will show the ram at start up, but it also should show the correct ram in the Properties of My Computer. Mine at work shows the 4gb of ram, and my notebook show 1gb of ram, and not the available ram after windows uses it...

    You can also right click on the blank part of the menu bar at the bottom of the screen and select Task Manager. When the windows opens, select from the top tabs "Performance" and at the bottom it will show "Physical Memory (k)", and this will show total memory, available memory and system cache...

    So the "Total Memory" here should indicate that you have 4gb, It will have an odd number like 4196000k or something like this but it will be over 4000000k...
  9. Kerry Pierce

    Kerry Pierce

    Jan 7, 2006
    I have 4gigs ram installed and Vista doesn't do that for me, or for anyone else that I've asked. Supposedly, the 64bit versions of XP and Vista will handle 4gigs better than the 32bit versions, but the 64bit versions have other issues.

    Regardless, here's the link to the MS knowledge base article on this topic, which sort of explains it in plain english, why 4gigs doesn't show up.

    Here's a screen cap of my Task Manager, which shows total RAM of 3325 megs.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  10. Thanks Wally and Kerry. My Task Manager screen is similar to yours, Kerry. The Microsoft paper seems to concur with others. When I boot up, total physical memory is 3069.
  11. Oh OK..!!! I guess Windows Vista must show different than Windows XP Pro. I'll have to wait until Monday to have a another look at my work station. I do know that XP has a lot of trouble handling any memory above 3gb, and that Vista was suppose to handle 4gb and the higher versions (not sure exactly which ones) are claimed to handle up to 8gb....
    Hope I didn't lead you up the garden path David with the info I suppled...:rolleyes: :rolleyes:  Guess thats one of the main reasons we use Unix at work....
  12. Kerry Pierce

    Kerry Pierce

    Jan 7, 2006
    Then you've got something else going on, David. It may not be a problem or may be something that you can't change. It's a very complicated issue, at least to me. For example, if you have a high end video card with lots of ram, it will reduce the amount of physical ram that you have available, because it has to use part of that 4gig address space. My video card has 256megs of ram. Then your bios, motherboard and ram type/configuration also come into play, along with your PCI interface. All of that stuff requires addressing below the 4gig limit, at least with the 32bit versions. Some motherboards use a bios that allow you to change the memory map. Mine does not, AFAIK. I didn't bother to investigate further.... :redface:

    The bottom line is that the hype about Vista being able to use scads of RAM is BS. That was the main reason I bought Vista and of course, the sales guy at the computer store said it can address a bazillion megs. :eek:  The truth is that it is not much better than the 32bit version of XP. You just don't need to use the /3gig switch to easily use more than 2 gigs.... :rolleyes: 

    The worst part is that MS has gone into stealth mode with Vista. It has at least 4 versions of Vista and all of them have different things disabled or enabled and none of the boxes tell you what the real differences are. :frown: For example, you can't boot from an upgrade CD like you used to be able to do with previous versions.... :Crunk: :mad:  They just keep making things harder for the average Joe, intentionally so. :mad: :mad: 
  13. Kerry Pierce

    Kerry Pierce

    Jan 7, 2006
    It depends on which version of XP and Vista you're talking about, Wally. The 32bit XP had to use a switch, /3gig, to enable use of more than 2 gigs, IIRC. There are 64bit versions of XP and Vista, but most programs won't run that way and a lot of hardware vendors won't fuss with writing 64bit drivers. So, at least for now, there seems to be little point in using the 64bit versions.

    Dunno where the 8gig claim came from, but it's hype and completely untrue for the 32bit versions of Vista. MS tech support is getting a ton of complaints about the 4gig limitation. Supposedly, they're working on a way around the issue.... Great, another kludge to goof things up... :frown: I've been building my own systems for well over a decade. Vista is the first OS that has caused me to call tech support. Not only did I have to call them, I had to spend hours on the phone with them without ever resolving some of the issues I have. This is on a machine that is fully Vista certified, according to them.... :rolleyes: 
  14. Keis


    Jan 13, 2006
    Fort Collin, CO
    No actual problem

    If you are running any OS (all 32 bit) except Vista 64 bit or some Linux OS's that means the max addressable memory the OS can "see" is 4gb but the OS takes up some so you could put 12GB in your computer and what you could use would be the same. I doesn't make any difference what computer or hardware you buy, including a Mac, you would have the same problem.

    This is a IT math issue. No hype or guru can "fix" it.
  15. TimK


    Apr 17, 2006
    Hong Kong, China
    Yes, that'e a limitaion of 32-bit systems, unless you are using Server OS that has remapping capability.
  16. after spending a couple of years googling the same question I came to the conclusion that XP PRO 32bit will not show 4gb. If you have the right hardware you can change some settings but I've yet to find anyone that has done it. I had XP x64 and it showed 4gb in Computer Properties and Photoshop but the OS was so buggy I gave up on it after about a 18 months.
  17. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    David :

    It sounds like you were shorted by Dell on memory. AFAIK, the checks you're running would show the installed memory, especially the RAM POST, as the operating system or video card doesn't have the opportunity to grab up memory pre-boot. However...

    It's also possible that one of the memory sticks is loose in its socket. You'll need to open your computer up and look at the memory slots to see if ones loose. Based on your "seeing" 3GB, you're probably equipped with four slots, and one stick could have popped loose in transit to you. Memory is usually pushed down into the slot (carefully, please !) until you hear a distinct "click" and the arms on the sides of the stick rise and engage the dimples on the edges of the ends of the stick.

    If you can't see anything distinctly wrong, you can unslot each memory set and reset it. I've had to do this once or twice over the years after moving a desktop, as the mobo memory slots aren't always the most carefully manufactured items, and memory can "pop" loose, but not always visibly. It's a pain, but Pournelle's Cable Rule also applies to things like memory. :mad: 

    OTOH, if you have three of four slots populated with memory sticks, well, I'd think a call to Dell would be in order. If I were in-state now, I'd drop by and offer to check this, but I'm over on the TX Gulf Coast now.

    John P.
  18. Many of my friends who run Win XPPro/32 for Pro Tools see the same thing, Windows will only show/recognize 3 gb but it will use some of the fourth anyway. I wouldn't be too concerned about it. I know several people that have done system stress tests at 3gb and then at four and did have improvement, it's just nowhere near as much improvement as you see from going from 2 to 3. Dell does some weird stuff, So I have no idea what kind of mobo config you may have in there... but I think everything should be fine... I really think it would be better to be running XP Pro locked down behind a hardware and software firewall( or maybe just a separate user account with no outside connections if that's possible ), but I like running my systems lite with no antivirus. ( I'm carefull and only use those for work, no e-mail web etc... ) I run XP Pro on one of my Mac Pro drives, it doesn't have access to all the ram in the system but it flies along quite well. You can run some kind of test, perhaps video conversion or something with one stick out and compare the times... or just remove them all and install each stick one at a time in each slot to make sure all slots and sticks are good, just ground ourself, one little static shock can kill a stick quick. Good luck man.
  19. Well one thing you need to find out is if Vista you have running is the 32bit version or 64bit version? If the 32 bit version they you are limited to 2GB unless you make a adjustment to allow the OS to see the extra RAM. There is a fix you can do.. otherwise you might want to get the 64bit version of vista which has a RAM limitation of 128GB....
  20. technick


    Jun 8, 2007
    Atlanta, GA

    I've got to agree with John here, if you are only seeing 3067 during post (Power On Self Test) you either have a bad stick of memory, the memory is not slotted correctly or dell screwed you and gave you two 512 sticks instead of two 1024 sticks. The only way to tell is open your system up and inspect the memory. Most memory is marked with the size and timing.

    On a related note, be sure to ground yourself before touching any of the components. You wouldn't want to fry any of your new equipment with static discharge.
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