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Why is Windows XP reporting different amount of RAM than is installed?

By bamim2
Jun 19, 2011
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  1. This is my very first post on this site, so let me apologize up front in case I'm not following the proper procedure or I'm saying something REALLY stupid. I've tried to follow the rules, provide enough info & post a properly worded (albeit LONG) question(s). I'm sure this has been answered here before, but I couldn't figure out exactly how to search for it if it is. On to the point...

    I have several PCs running 32-bit Windoze XP SP3 with latest & greatest updates. They each have internal graphics 'cards' that are not being used & I've 'tried' to turn them off in the BIOS. Most of them do not report the full amount of RAM that is installed in the system when I right click on "My Computer" & choose "Properties".

    2 PCs have 4GB of RAM. These systems have a 1GB graphics card & they report about 3.5GB RAM (each reports a different amount). These are (almost) totally different PCs with the exact same graphics card.

    1 PC has 2GB of RAM. This system has a 128MB graphics card, yet it reports 1.5GB of RAM.

    I also have
    1 PC that has 2GB of RAM & a 128MB graphics card & it reports 2GB of RAM,
    1 PC that has 1GB of RAM & a 64MB graphics card & it reports 1GB of RAM.

    Can somebody please explain:

    1) What am I doing wrong with the systems that are reporting less RAM than is installed?
    or
    2) What can I do to get them to report the correct amount of RAM?
    or
    3) Why is Windoze XP reporting less RAM than is actually installed?
    or
    4) What additional info I can provide so that somebody here has enough info to give me a good answer?

    Thank you!
     
  2. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,219   +157

    Hi Bamim,
    A couple of things. What are you using to get the memory info from? You may be seeing the "unused" or availible ram left on your system...not the total installed.
    Secondly, The system information does not combine and report Graphics memory/buffer with main system memory. you can download software to see the reporting of Graphics memory.
    thirdly, 32 bit operating systems will only recognize up to 4GB of system ram, after reserving a portion for system hardware (memory mapping) it will then report the "availible" or "useable" ram you have at your disposal for running applications.
    Hope that helps.
     
  3. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,889

    If you click on Start and then Run, type dxdiag and hit enter, this will show the full amount of installed RAM.

    The best thing to do with an internal graphics card that is not being used is to remove it, some cards do take a chunk of your system memory.

    In a nutshell, what you are seeing is perfectly normal.
     
  4. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,703   +1,886

    What is "Windoze"? No matter, as long as somebody saves me enough to get high too.
     
  5. bamim2

    bamim2 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    These responses are VERY helpful. Thank you.

    When I said 'Windoze' I really meant ... Ok. I was just goofin' on Microsoft. I'm a long time Windows guy, but also run OSX (Mac), Linux & Solaris on my network, so I was just making fun of Bill.

    First, thank you for the "DxDiag" thing!! Wow, very seldom do I learn something completely new about Windows (see? I do know what it is), but I learned something there. Not that I don't learn anything, but I don't usually learn about something I've never heard of that's in Windows. THANKS!

    That said, I haven't had a chance to look at all of that stuff, but I will & get back to post it here. I thought I would answer the other questions too.

    I'm getting the memory info from (as I said in my post) right clicking on "My Computer" & choosing "Properties" & on the "General" tab (didn't put this part in the original post sorry), down in the right hand corner.

    I also use CPU-Z & PC Wizard to get info & those two show the same amount as what is installed. It's just the way Windows reports it that's confusing me.

    I understand that the 4GB limit (due to the 32-bit bus & all) has a lot to do with things, but that's why I put info about the 4GB systems & the 2GB systems. One 2GB system shows the system has 2GB of memory, but the other one shows 1.5GB of memory. The one that shows 1.5GB of RAM shows that one has:
    "Physical Memory 2048MB DD2-SDRAM", but when I click on that it shows a breakdown of:

    A0 (RAS 0) 1024 (Single Bank)
    A1 (RAS 2) 512 (Single Bank)

    I guess that's the problem, but I don't understand what it means exactly. Can anyone take a shot at explaining the reason why it shows 512 in the back that's really 1024 please?
     
  6. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,889

    Have a shot with this free software, it gives a lot more detail than dxdiag, infact there is little it will not tell you about your PC's setup. If this doesn't show the full amount of RAM then there may be a fault on it or the RAM slot.

    http://www.snapfiles.com/get/belarc.html
     
  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,703   +1,886

    How does this differ from "SIW" (System information for Windows)?

    You must download this version. "SIW Without Installer (English-Only)", it's at the bottom of the page: http://www.gtopala.com/siw-download.html
     
  8. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,889

    Long time since I used SIW but I think Belarc Advisor gives a lot more information, give it a run Captain and you will see what it reveals.
     
  9. bamim2

    bamim2 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Belarc shows the same thing as PC Wizard did. It shows 1536MB of "usable memory". It shows that one slot as a 512MB. PC Wizard shows that it has 2, 1024MB, that that one of them reads as 512. Belarc doesn't have that type of info. It does have enough detail to make your head numb though. It is helpful. Thanks.

    I guess I'll try swapping the 2 sticks of RAM & seeing if the problem follows the RAM or the slot & then go from there. I'll be back...
     
  10. bamim2

    bamim2 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    The problem in that system appears to be the RAM since I swapped slots & the same RAM stick still reports to be 512MB when indeed it is 1024MB. Anyone have any ideas on that?

    It's faster than the other stick, but PC Wizard still reports it to be the same other than that (& that it shows up as half of it's size). I know there used to be something about single/dual density or something like that.

    I have contacted the place I bought it from to see what they know. I just bought it a few months ago. Long enough ago that it's not covered under warranty. I doubt that the problem is actually BAD RAM, I would guess it's something like it's too fast or the wrong type for my system, right?

    Any help would be appreciated.
     
  11. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    Run SIW and look under Memory->Device Locator->Slot # for each memory stick. At least in my case, SIW tells me the Part Number of each memory stick. I can google the part # and confirm the published size of the part # = size being reported

    Code:
    Property	Value
    XP-PRO3 (Dell Inc. OptiPlex 360)
    Memory Summary
    Maximum Capacity	4096 MBytes
    Memory Slots	2
    Error Correction	None
    DRAM Frequency	399.0 MHz
    Memory Timings	6-6-6-18 (CL-RCD-RP-RAS)
    
    [B]Device Locator	Slot 1[/B]
    Manufacturer	Hyundai Electronics
    [u]Part Number	HYMP125U64CP8-S6  [/u]
    Serial Number	3C21167C
    Capacity	2048 MBytes
    Memory Type	DDR2 (PC2-6400)
    Speed	400 MHz (DDR2 800)
    Supported Frequencies	266.7 MHz, 333.3 MHz, 400.0 MHz
    Memory Timings	4-4-4-12-16 at 266.7 MHz, at 1.8 volts (CL-RCD-RP-RAS-RC)
    Memory Timings	5-5-5-15-20 at 333.3 MHz, at 1.8 volts (CL-RCD-RP-RAS-RC)
    Memory Timings	6-6-6-18-24 at 400.0 MHz, at 1.8 volts (CL-RCD-RP-RAS-RC)
    Data Width	64 bits
    Manufacturing Date	2009, Week 31
    EPP SPD Support	No
    XMP SPD Support	No
    
    [B]Device Locator	Slot 2[/B]
    Manufacturer	Hyundai Electronics
    [u]Part Number	HYMP125U64CP8-S6  [/u]
    Serial Number	3C411662
    Capacity	2048 MBytes
    Memory Type	DDR2 (PC2-6400)
    Speed	400 MHz (DDR2 800)
    Supported Frequencies	266.7 MHz, 333.3 MHz, 400.0 MHz
    Memory Timings	4-4-4-12-16 at 266.7 MHz, at 1.8 volts (CL-RCD-RP-RAS-RC)
    Memory Timings	5-5-5-15-20 at 333.3 MHz, at 1.8 volts (CL-RCD-RP-RAS-RC)
    Memory Timings	6-6-6-18-24 at 400.0 MHz, at 1.8 volts (CL-RCD-RP-RAS-RC)
    Data Width	64 bits
    Manufacturing Date	2009, Week 31
    EPP SPD Support	No
    XMP SPD Support	No
     
  12. bamim2

    bamim2 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    So when you say "run SIW" you really mean search for SIW, then download it, THEN run it? I did that & this is quite a program too. It shows:
    "Maximum Capacity 1024 MBytes [Wrong value reported by BIOS]",
    which I assume is part of my problem, but I don't know that that means exactly. Any ideas?

    I'm guessing the PC-6400 is just too fast for my old Motherboard. Does that seem right? Its Specs actually say "DDR2 400/533 Support, 2GB Max". I've often used RAM that's faster than what the manufacturer says, but NEVER had a problem with that. I have done some searches on the brand of RAM I'm using (Elixir) & they get some pretty bad reviews. Maybe I'll try buying 2GB of the type of RAM that the board calls for & see if that works & stop putting you guys through all of this.

    Thanks for any thoughts you can provide on this.
     
  13. bamim2

    bamim2 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I almost forgot to say THANK YOU for turning me on the very cool software. Even though I had figure out what SIW was & how to find it, I'm quite impressed with what it shows. My head is still spinning from all that info, so I apologize for not making it clear that you guys have been VERY helpful. I've learned a lot & come away with cool parting gifts as well. How cool is that? Plus, I'd never even heard of "dxdiag" & I had the 3 year old version of Belarc. Now I've got the current one.

    I'm going to assume that I have bad RAM or the wrong speed. I've just ordered another 1GB stick for $12.50 to my door! I can't beat that. It's not really worth wasting any more of anyone's time with trying to figure out WHY this RAM is crap. It just IS. You guys Rock! I'll be back...
     
  14. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,714   +397

    Could be a longshot, but you could try giving the motherboards a BIOS update. Perhaps they could only see X amount of RAM when they came out but with an update they may be able to see more.
     
  15. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    Yep, that's exactly what i meant.

    I was actually seconding the captain's original SIW recommendation earlier in the thread (to give original credit where due :) )

    In any case, glad you figured out what i meant. We're all glad to try and help :)
     
  16. bamim2

    bamim2 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I'd also like to try the "upgrade my BIOS" route too. I can't seem to find where to download the proper Phoenix-Award BIOS for that PC though. It's a strange one. The PC is an Everex & it has VIA chipset. I've tried the Phoenix web site & that keeps sending me off to some wacky BIOS program called BIOSAgentPlus. I downloaded it for another system I have & all it does is try to sell me the program & then want me to download updated drivers. I'm leery of those types of programs.

    Does anyone know where I can find & download a Phoenix-Award BIOS for something like that?
     
  17. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,889

    Can you identify the manufacturer of the motherboard and the model number (SIW may give you that info), you would need to go to the manufacturers site to get the Bios that will be specific to your motherboard. If you install the wrong one you could make your system unbootable.

    Or, try to find a support site for the manufacturer of the PC, the Bios should be available from there also.

    You may just find that using the correct speed of RAM for the mobo will correct the problem and avoid the danger of doing a Bios update.

    You are wise to stay away from that Wacky Bios program.
     

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