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Possible Duplicate:
Memory sticks, 32 and 64 Bit OS

Will Windows 7 32 bit edition support 8 GB RAM? or it will only support 4 GB.

Will i have to buy 64 bit version if i want to use 8 GB RAM?

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marked as duplicate by Sathya, quack quixote May 14 '10 at 6:29

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

up vote 3 down vote accepted

32-bit operating systems only support up to 4GB (actually less) of RAM. So yes, you will have to get the 64-bit version of Windows to use 8GB of RAM.

There are some hacky ways to enable more than 4GB of memory on a 32-bit machine, though. For example, you can use PAE (Physical Address Extension), but that's slower than simply installing a 64-bit OS. There is a kernel patch that enables this for Windows 7, but I wouldn't recommend it: it's risky and not worth the trouble when you can just install the 64-bit version of Windows.

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Read the PAE article you linked. 32-bit OSes most certainly can use more than 4 GB of RAM. Also, x86-64 adds an extra level of page table indirection over PAE. It's in no way "faster" than PAE. It's also not appreciably slower. It may be possible to detect in a microbenchmark, but it certainly won't involve a perceptible performance hit. Same with PAE enabled vs PAE disabled. What's more, PAE is almost always enabled on current systems because it's required for NX support. – afrazier May 14 '10 at 3:28
@afrazier: +1 for insight :) – akira May 14 '10 at 7:21
@afrazier: look at the benchmark and you'll see that PAE will be much slower than x64 – Lưu Vĩnh Phúc Aug 29 '13 at 9:57
32-bit x86 OSes can certainly use more than 4GB of RAM with PAE. However, normal consumer Windows are limited to 4GB even if they're running under PAE. That's just because of licensing problem. Only 32-bit server Windows can use more than 4GB. But new Windows server have no 32-bit versions though. 64-bit Windows is certainly the way to go – Lưu Vĩnh Phúc Jun 12 '14 at 2:24

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