There are numerous factors that determine the performance of your computer, such as your CPU, GPU, and RAM. For a high-performance rig, you’ll need quality models of each of these components. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure they’re fully compatible with each other and are capable of utilizing their full potential.
A CPU needs proper cooling and a suitable motherboard to function at its best. Your GPU needs a processor that can handle it, as well as a suitable motherboard and enough RAM storage. Your RAM, to perform at its best, should utilize the full capacity of each stick.
If your RAM isn’t being fully utilized, something is limiting its potential. This can happen by using the wrong Windows version or system configurations, or by your RAM sticks not being properly connected to the motherboard. You can solve this problem by either adjusting various settings, reattaching the RAM sticks to the motherboard, or updating your BIOS.
Fully functioning RAM storage is crucial for budget builds; these typically don’t include more than 8 or 16GB of RAM. With so little capacity, you’ll need every byte to maximize your computer’s performance.
But why is only half of your RAM usable? Let’s find out.
Why Do I Need All of My RAM?
Since RAM is the medium that your major components use to rapidly store and access data, more storage is better. Even if you have 8GB of RAM installed and your computer is using 4GB of that, you’re barely accessing enough RAM to run Windows 10 and a couple of browser windows.
With more RAM, you’re able to handle the basic functions of your computer in addition to a wider range of functionality. The more RAM you have, the faster your system can generate graphics in graphics-heavy games, and the easier it will be to run multiple applications at the same time.
This is why you need to make sure your system is fully utilizing the RAM you have. Even if you don’t have the budget for 64GB of RAM, fully utilizing 16GB of RAM is enough to handle most tasks and undemanding games.
Read the following list of common causes of RAM limitation to diagnose where your system is lacking, and troubleshoot accordingly to get the most out of your setup.
While there are a number of potential causes for RAM limitation, there are two issues that are more prevalent than the others; we’ll focus on these. By isolating the problem to a single cause, you can go about solving it without the risk of causing further issues.
Unless you’ve just built your PC, you may not remember whether you installed the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 10. It may not seem like a significant difference, but it’s actually one of the most obvious causes of RAM limitation.
If you’re running the 32-bit version, your system will only be capable of accessing 4GB of RAM. Even with 8GB or higher, your system is incapable of utilizing more than just the 4GB. With the 64-bit version, the cap is, at a minimum, 128GB (depending on whether you run Windows 10 Home, Pro, Enterprise, etc.).
If you don’t recall which you installed, you can check by accessing your Systems Information. Search this in the Windows search bar, then access the Systems Summary tab. From here, find “System Type”, and it will display which version your computer has installed.
If you have the 32-bit version installed, the only remedy is to reinstall the operating system as the 64-bit version. This will allow you to fully utilize your RAM without any limitations.
A less common cause of RAM limitation could be a manually set limit to how much RAM your system can access. It’s unlikely that you’ve set this without knowing, but it could be worthwhile to investigate.
Go to your system’s configuration settings by typing “run” into your search bar and running the command “msconfig”, or by searching “system configuration” in the Windows search bar. Then. go the “Boot” tab and select “advanced options”.
From here, you’ll be able to see what your maximum memory is set to. If it’s lower than your total RAM capacity, change it to your current available RAM storage. This will allow your system to utilize all of that RAM without limitation.
RAM Connection to Motherboard
While this may seem like an obvious solution, sometimes RAM is improperly attached to the motherboard. This results in infrequent contact between the RAM modules and your motherboard, which can limit the amount of RAM that can be used.
To remedy this, you’ll want to carefully open your case and physically inspect the RAM. If any of your RAM sticks aren’t fully inserted into their slots, you need to apply firm pressure until they are flush with the motherboard.
Be careful not to apply so much pressure that your motherboard undergoes stress. By fully connecting the RAM to your motherboard, your system will have access to all of the RAM you have on the motherboard.
RAM limitation can also be caused by issues with the BIOS configuration of your system. You can remedy this by either checking your BIOS settings, which I’ll explain how to do below, or by updating your BIOS.
Check Your System’s BIOS Settings
Your system’s BIOS settings could very well be the culprit behind your system only using half of your RAM. To verify that this is the issue, follow the steps below:
- Restart your computer.
- Turn your computer back on using the UEFI/BIOS setup (access through Settings > Update & Security > Recovery > Advanced Startup, do this before restarting if not already enabled).
- Enter the BIOS using your computer model’s BIOS hotkey (Esc, F1, F2, or F12).
- Search for Internal Graphics or Onboard Graphics (iGPU).
- Turn off or disable iGPU.
- Find the feature “Memory-Map”, which controls RAM access to Windows OS.
- Turn on or enable the “Memory-Map” feature.
- Restart your computer and check your RAM usage again.
- If the RAM is still not fully used, reenter BIOS setup and enable the “Render Standby” feature, disable “multimonitor”, and set your iGPU to “Auto”. Restart and check again.
If this did not solve your RAM limitation problem, it’s either a result of one of the issues earlier in this article, or simply a bad motherboard or faulty RAM.
Update Your BIOS
If your RAM is outdated, it can cause issues with your RAM utilization. This may not always be the case, but it’s worth trying to update your BIOS before resolving to replace components. Check your manufacturer’s website to update to the latest version of RAM, then update.
Make sure you backup your BIOS before updating just to be safe. If this doesn’t solve your RAM utilization issues, you may need to replace components.
There are a number of reasons why your system may only be using half of your available RAM. It could be that your RAM isn’t properly attached, your Windows OS is only 32-bit, or your system is otherwise configured to use less RAM than you have available. If it isn’t any of these, it could be your BIOS.
Is 4GB RAM enough for Windows 10 64 bit?
4GB of RAM is just enough to run the Windows 10 64-bit OS, but not enough for much else. It’s recommended to have at least 8GB of RAM for everyday tasks and light gaming, but 4GB will at least allow you to run Windows 10 and a web browser.
How much RAM is usable in 8GB?
If all is properly set up, you should be able to use all 8GB. Some of this will go purely to running Windows OS, but the rest should be largely available for other tasks and applications.