Stuck in the 4GB Morass


I want to know if 32-bit Windows 7 will limit how much system memory I can install. I know that 4GB is the maximum that 32-bit Windows XP will recognize. Is this the same for Windows 7? Do I need to buy 64-bit if I want to install more than 4GB memory?

—Anthony Roth

We’re afraid so, Anthony. The 4GB RAM cap is a limitation of most 32-bit OSes—except for Starter, which is limited to 2GB. Additionally, Microsoft has imposed some arbitrary memory limits on its 64-bit versions, from 8GB in Home Basic to 192GB in Ultimate, Enterprise, and Professional. As you probably suspected by now, there are ways to bypass the 4GB RAM limit for 32-bit operating systems using Physical Address Extension—32-bit Windows Server 2008 can support up to 64GB of RAM, but Microsoft sticks to the 4GB RAM limit on consumer versions.

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