Windows PC Not Using Full RAM – How to Fix?

Your Windows PC not using full RAM? That’s a shame, especially when you already don’t have much RAM.

Wandering once more through the settings of your Windows OS, you may come across an extremely disturbing notice:

RAM: 8 GB (3.25 GB available)

When seeing such a “statement” the user becomes perplexed. Why is there so little available? Where does the rest of the RAM go? To these and many other questions we will now give an answer.


Why Won’t Windows Use Full RAM?

In fact, there can be many reasons, but let’s look at the most common ones:

  • 32-bit version of Windows;
  • system settings;
  • BIOS/UEFI settings;
  • The built-in video card has reserved some of the RAM for its own needs;
  • RAM bar not fully installed;
  • hardware malfunctions.

How Can I Make Windows Use All RAM?

As you may have already guessed, the right solution will depend on the source of the problem. We recommend just going through the list below and going through the solutions one by one.

Checking the system’s bit version

32-bit versions of Windows can use no more than 4 GB of RAM. 8, 16, 32 or even 64 GB – it does not matter how much RAM is installed in your PC as long as it has a 32-bit OS. To check the bit mode of your OS, you need to open Settings→System→About (for Windows 10). Understandably, if you want to access the full amount of RAM, you’ll have to install a 64-bit OS on your PC.

Unlocking RAM through MSConfig and the command line

In the Windows Advanced Options, you can find a setting that is responsible for the maximum amount of RAM the system can use. Normally, this setting is not active, but it is possible that some software (or even the user himself) has activated it.

  • Press WIN+R;
  • type MSCONFIG in the blank and press ENTER;
  • go to the Load tab and click the Advanced Settings button;
  • uncheck the Maximum memory checkbox;
  • save the changes and reboot your PC.

You can also unblock RAM with a special command:

  • press WIN+R;
  • type CMD and press CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER;
  • run the following commands in the console:
    • bcdedit /set nolowmem on
    • bcdedit /set PAE forceenable
  • restart your computer.

Adjusting BIOS/UEFI settings

Some versions of BIOS and motherboard chipset drivers may cause the user’s PC to display incorrect information about the amount of RAM available. If that happens, just update the firmware/drivers and everything will be back to normal.

In addition, in the BIOS settings of older motherboards, you can find a feature which allows you to unlock the RAM. The name of this setting varies depending on the manufacturer, but it often includes words and phrases like “remap”, “H/W”, “memory” and “4G”. Anyway, go to your BIOS setup and try to find such an option there and then activate it.

Reducing the memory of the integrated GPU

Built-in graphics cards can use some of the RAM memory as video memory. If you have an integrated GPU, it is probably responsible for reserving part of the RAM for its own needs. You can decrease the video buffer capacity by adjusting the BIOS settings. Usually, the corresponding option is in the advanced settings section, and its name contains such words and phrases as “UMA”, “GPU Buffer” and “iGPU”. If you don’t use the built-in solution, you can safely set the minimum allowable values.

Checking the RAM sticks

Not the most pleasant thought, but quite probable: there is obviously something wrong with the RAM sticks. Check your memory for errors:

  • press WIN+R and run MDSCHED;
  • click on the option about checking and rebooting your PC;
  • follow the process of checking RAM and review the results.

Alternatively, you can also check your memory with the Memtest86+ program.

Plus, it’s a good idea to take a look inside the computer’s case. This is hard to do, but there are times when users don’t fully plug the RAM sticks into the motherboard socket. We recommend opening up your PC and re-plugging the memory.

So, were you able to get Windows to see the full RAM capacity? Please share your progress in the comments!

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