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Why Is Only Half of My RAM Usable?

Pc Ram Modules

Chances are, your computer is running slower than you need it to. Often, this is because the RAM on your computer isn’t being used to its fullest extent. This causes all sorts of issues and will lead to freezing, crashing, and causing all sorts of frustration.

Quick Answer

If your RAM isn’t being utilized fully, then something is limiting its performance. This can happen by using the wrong Windows version or system configurations or your RAM sticks are not properly connected to the motherboard.

While this might not seem like a big deal to many, a slow computer can be frustrating and annoying to owners. There can be numerous reasons why only half of the RAM installed in your machine is usable, but, fortunately, there are fixes. 

When your PC is underperforming, and its RAM is only being used halfway, it might be due to one of these reasons. 

Reason #1: 32-Bit Version of Windows 10

If you have a 32-bit version of Windows installed on your PC, you’ll find that the amount of system memory (RAM) you can use is limited to 4GB. You can check what version of Windows you have installed by selecting “Settings”> “System”> “About” from the “Start” button.

Because of this limitation, even if you have more than 4GB of RAM installed, your PC will only be able to use 4GB of RAM. Luckily, it’s not a big issue and can be resolved. All you need to do is upgrade to 64-bit Windows, which comes with support for more RAM.

To upgrade from the 32-bit to the 64-bit version of Windows, you must reformat your hard drive, install the 64-bit version of Windows, and then reinstall all other software and drivers.

Reason #2: Poorly Connected RAM Modules

Check your RAM physically to make sure it is connected to your motherboard’s RAM slots before blaming your PC for not using all the RAM. In the case of loose connections or incorrect alignment, your PC will fail to detect all of your memory.

The first thing you can try is to reseat your RAM. First, power your computer down and remove the RAM from your motherboard. Wipe off any dust or other build-up from the surface and then place it back in the slot.

If that doesn’t work, try placing the first stick of RAM in a different slot. After doing this, reboot your computer and see if there is any change.

Reason #3: System Configuration Errors

Additionally, system limitations and configurations could limit the amount of RAM you could use. You can limit the amount of RAM accessible on your computer in the Windows settings. 

To fix the issue, you can either type “msconfig” in “Run” or search for “System Configuration” in the Windows dialog bar and then open it. Go to the boot tab and click on advanced options once the System Configuration panel opens.

In this section, you will see Maximum Memory with a checkbox. You can change these settings according to your system configuration or simply untick the box to ensure your computer can use the full amount of memory.

Reason #4: Outdated or Incompatible BIOS Settings

Your PC may not be able to access all of its installed memory, which could be because of outdated or poorly configured BIOS. Outdated BIOS can cause your PC to access only a portion of the available RAM rather than all installed memory.

To update your BIOS, you first need to find your current BIOS version and then find the latest BIOS update from your motherboard’s support page. Depending on the manufacturer and model of your motherboard, the process varies.

In the same way, some BIOS settings may prevent Windows from accessing all of the RAM. Restoring your BIOS to default settings may be the best way to resolve issues with incorrectly configured BIOS. 

Reason #5: Faulty RAM Stick or Memory Slot

If all else fails, the problem may be a faulty memory stick or a problem with the motherboard’s memory slots. While the likeliness of a faulty RAM module is not low, you should also inspect your motherboard to see that the memory slot is not faulty.

You can use the elimination method to determine which memory stick is not performing well. To determine if the RAM is faulty or not, attach one RAM stick at a time and start the computer. This will help you identify the faulty memory stick.

Additionally, be sure that all memory slots on your motherboard are working since, in most cases, faulty slots can cause problems with the memory. You can also run memory diagnostics by searching for it in the start menu and ensuring everything works.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do 64-bit Windows support 16GB RAM?

Windows’ 64-bit version supports up to 6TB of memory with the Enterprise edition and up to 2TB with the Pro one.

What is the maximum RAM for Windows 10 32-bit?

Windows’ 32-bit version supports only up to 4GB of memory. To use more memory, you need to upgrade to the 64-bit version.

Will more RAM speed up my computer?

Installing more RAM to your computer may cause it to run a little faster or eliminate the small points where things get stuck now and then. 

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