Why Does My Usable RAM Less Than the Installed RAM?
If you are running Windows 7 or Windows 8, you may notice your computer has less “usable” random access memory (RAM) than “installed” RAM. If you installed 16GB, for instance, your computer may only be using 13 or 14GB. So, where is the remaining memory going? And how can you optimize your computer to use the maximum amount of memory possible?
Usable vs Installed RAM
Random access memory plays an important role in the function and overall performance of PCs. It’s designed to store bits of data so the computer can access them with greater ease, eliminating the need to read from the hard drive (which takes longer, FYI). The “usable” RAM is essentially how much RAM your computer can use at any given time, whereas the “installed” amount is how much RAM the computer detects in its motherboard.
RAM Not Installed Correctly
One possible reason why your computer is showing less usable RAM than installed RAM is because the chips weren’t installed correctly. Take a minute to re-insert the RAM chips. While keeping yourself grounded, open your computer’s case, remove the RAM chips, and insert them back into place, making sure you hear the “click” sound as they click into place.
Another common reason why some computers show less usable RAM than installed RAM is because the total amount is limited by the motherboard. If your motherboard only supports 8GB of RAM, you won’t be able to install, and use, any amount greater than 8GB. Check your motherboard’s specifications to determine its memory capacity.
All motherboards are equipped with a BIOS panel. In the event that the hard drive fails, you can start up your computer from the BIOS to install a new hard drive or wipe the existing, malfunctioning hard drive. Be warned, though, messing around with the BIOS settings may restrict the amount of memory that’s usable by your computer.
Finding a Solution
Troubleshooting this problem isn’t always an easy task. If you tired re-inserting the chips to no avail, you may want to switch the slots in which they are installed. After doing so, fire back up your computer’s BIOS to see how much memory it reads. Hopefully, it will read the appropriate amount, but if it doesn’t you’ll have to continue troubleshooting. Launching your computer in Safe Mode may solve this problem; however, this is only a temporary solution, as Safe Mode restricts the usability of a computer.