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Windows 7: RAM usage & upgrading RAM @ laptop

02 Jun 2012   #1

Windows 7 professional 32bit
RAM usage & upgrading RAM @ laptop


I have some questions considering RAM, I have a elitebook 8530p, 4GB RAM. If I look up windows taskmanager, I note that I have 0 "free" RAM, but 2GB available ram, and about 2 GB cache, and total 3 GB. (math doesn't work here )

Now I checked the specs and it seems I can upgrade my ram to 8GB. Of course I should upgrade my windows to 64bit otherwise there wouldn't be any use. Now my questions are :
- What the heck is "free" RAM, "available" RAM, "cached" RAM ?
- Is it worth upgrading RAM @ a 3y old laptop ?
- I noticed some tools minimizing/shifting RAM usage to certain programs of choise, any of them worth checking out ?

thx in advance :)

My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jun 2012   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


Hello svennd and welcome to Seven Forums.

Great questions. Here's what I think I know about RAM.

Free RAM – It’s not being used for anything
Available RAM - That's all physical memory which is immediately available for use. It includes the Free RAM, but also includes the Cached RAM.
Cached RAM - In the geekiest sense, cached memory (RAM) is a special kind of memory that a computer processor (CPU) can access more quickly than it can access regular RAM. But some folks refer to cached RAM as the memory that's automatically set aside for hardware. For example, let's say you have a 1GB graphics card and 4GB of RAM. A portion of that 4GB is automatically set aside for the graphics card and other hardware on your computer. That's why on a 32-bit computer with 4GB RAM you'll see various articles stating you'll only have about 3-3.5GB available, give or take. Interesting previous Forum thread here you might want to read.
Total RAM - As it implies, this is the ... well ... total of your RAM modules.

To get a better visual representation of how your RAM is being utilized on your machine, take a look at Resource Monitor.

Resource Monitor

Depending on how you use your computer (heavy on video editing, or large multiple files like spread sheets open at the same time, etc.) 4GB is usually enough for most people. If and when you get a new machine, then consider getting the 64-bit version and more RAM. And as far as using any 3rd party tools to tweak RAM usage, I wouldn't bother. Windows 7 does a really nice job taking care of that all on its own.

Hope this helps a little.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jun 2012   #3

Windows 7 professional 32bit

Hey marsmimar,

Thx for your answer it definatly solved parts of my questions. Now I checked the resource monitor, and this is what shows :
- hardware reserved (1060 MB)
- in use (888 MB)
- Changed (/edited ?) (100 MB)
- Stand-By (2GB)
- Available (10 MB)

So your right, my system uses 4GB, just 1GB is eaten by hardware.

Memory isn't that expensive, for about 150 euro I would have 8GB (max). A new machine is x10, so I would like to keep this machine as long as possible. But I don't really know what the bottleneck is here, so I hope to solve this first :) However, thanks for the explanation!

ps. I'm not native English so maybe translations are wrong
My System SpecsSystem Spec

02 Jun 2012   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


As you said, if you want to get the most out of your laptop you could go to 64-bit and max out the RAM. But you might have some problems finding 64-bit drivers for an older machine. You'd have to check on the manufacturer's support website for drivers and downloads. If it's a home built machine you'd have to check each item separately; motherboard, CPU, graphics card, etc.

Then there's the other problem that you can't upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit. It has to be a clean install. And that means all of your software, programs, apps, etc would also have to be reinstalled. And you'd have to make sure that they are all 64-bit compatible or there's a 64-bit version available. Plus you'd have to make sure all of your personal data, files, photos, music, etc were safely backed up so they could be reinstalled.

You may want to look through this tutorial and see some of the things that can be done to speed up your machine. Not everything will apply to you and some of these suggestions could cause serious problems if not done correctly. So make sure you have a restore point or, better yet, a system image in case something goes wrong.

Optimize Windows 7

I am a native English speaker (well, native American speaker) and you're doing great!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jun 2012   #5

Windows 7 professional 32bit

hey marsmimar,

Again thx for your reply. I'm sure that most of the hardware does support 64bit, as a note was added by the manufacturer that this computer also supported windows 7 64bit. But from what I see, thanks to your support, I have 2GB ram "waiting" and my 4GB ram is used. (1GB hardware, 1GB in use, 2GB waiting)

So switching to 64 bit wouldn't add more RAM to my "user" layer. Adding more RAM won't really speed up my computer since I have 2 GB waiting. So I got all my answers, thanks !
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jun 2012   #6

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


You're very welcome, Svenn. Glad I could help out a little.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 RAM usage & upgrading RAM @ laptop

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