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How can I enable PAE on Windows 7 (32-bit) to support more than 3.5 GB of RAM?
Is there way to enable 4 GB RAM in 32-bit Windows OS?

According to the official windows memory limits, Win 7 only supports 4 GB of RAM. I, however have been reading some forums and some say they are using 8 GB RAM with good performance. I am wondering if I can use 8 GB before I purchase.

  • 1
    In that link above, you can find a kernel patch to remove the Windows memory lock (limiting you to 4GB of memory), which will allow you to use the full 8GB. Feb 27 '12 at 18:25
  • The chipset and bios must also support 8gb or no patch will work.
    – Moab
    Feb 27 '12 at 22:13
  • 1
    I am running the patch with 16 GB and it seems to work, although I should point out that I have found 2 versions of the same patch and one of them (the one in Russian) seems to indicate that it will unlock RAM up to 128 GB. Nov 13 '12 at 14:32
  • Not MS-Windows, but I was running 32bit Debian Gnu/Linux with 8GB. It just works. This is with the PEA, kernel. Each process is limited to 3GB. I then switched to the 64bit kernel, but everything else 32bit. Then the process limit went to 4GB. (I had to install a 64bit version of virtual-box, to get it to work on this kernel, everything else just worked). Aug 13 '18 at 13:29

You can install 8 GBs on 32-bit system, but you won't be able to use it. You need a 64-bit system to do that.

  • 1
    Then what is the point? I am trying to see if it will be used or not. Feb 27 '12 at 17:54
  • @Pangea Absolutely none. You have to use 64-bit system to take advantage of large RAM.
    – Malcolm
    Feb 27 '12 at 17:59
  • 4
    What part of the multiple times being told from multiple sources and Microsoft themselves you can't use more than 3.8GB of RAM in 32 bit Windows do you still not understand?
    – user22908
    Feb 27 '12 at 18:02
  • Jarrod, it looks like he heard about PAE and has some wishful thinking =). Some 32-bit server editions really do support up to 128 GB. Windows 7 does not, though. See AlvaroGMJ's answer below.
    – Chris
    Feb 27 '12 at 18:07
  • 3
    @Pangea maybe because they don't know what they are talking about. Even with that PAE hack, which is incorrectly described as letting you use more than 4GB of RAM per process, it doesn't. You are still limited to something like 2GB per process. And it is a complete hack, it will probably break existing already broken non-64bit apps and other nasty side effects like not being able to update the system correctly. Again, what about "you can't do this" is not clear.
    – user22908
    Feb 27 '12 at 18:36

When using 32 bit machines, only 3,8 GB will be detected and used. If you want more, switch to 64 bits. I'm currently using 16GB on a Windows 7 64 bits Edition.


The system that allows an OS to use more than 4GB of RAM in 32bit machines is called PAE. Windows supports it, but according to Wikipedia the amount of RAM you can use is limited to 4GB anyway. (Maybe there is some hack allowing that limit to be removed?)

Read more about PAE on Windows: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa366796(v=vs.85).aspx


My box has 4GB ram and when I'm on 32bit Windows I can use only 3GB ram but with PAE I was able to use the rest with a ram disk. When you have 8GB maybe it's possible to use 5GB for a ram disk but anyway the usage is limited to a ram disk.

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