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Question

I have a X100e Thinkpad and it came with 3GB of ram and a 32bit operating system  and I was hoping to upgrade it to 4GB, but I've read it is not worth doing so unless it's 64bit. Is this the case?  

Answer

 

Conventional wisdom is that 32 bit Operating systems will not be able to make use of much memory beyond 3 GB for user applications since some is reserved for video, and there are some differences in system optimization.

 

One approach when considering whether the upgrade is worthwhile, especially if it means updating to a 64 bit version of the OS is to determine how much of the existing system memory is being used. 

 

This can be checked this by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Del within windows to pull up task manager, and then choose the performance tab, to see what percent of your ram is being used.  In this XP version below, less than 1GB is being used.

 

task manager mem capacity.png

 

 

There are a number of good reference sources to learn more about 32 bit addressability and the theoretical and practical limitations of system and OS configs.

 
http://blogs.technet.com/b/markrussinovich/archive/2008/07/21/3092070.aspx

  

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa366778%28VS.85%29.aspx

 

Physical Memory Limits: Windows 7

The following table specifies the limits on physical memory for Windows 7.

Version Limit in 32-bit Windows, Limit in 64-bit Windows
Windows 7 Ultimate

4 GB

192 GB

Windows 7 Enterprise

4 GB

192 GB

Windows 7 Professional

4 GB

192 GB

Windows 7 Home Premium

4 GB

16 GB

Windows 7 Home Basic

4 GB

8 GB

 

Physical Memory Limits: Windows XP

The following table specifies the limits on physical memory for Windows XP.

Version Limit in 32-bit Windows, Limit in 64-bit Windows
Windows XP

4 GB

128 GB

 

Physical Memory Limits: Windows Vista

 

The following table specifies the limits on physical memory for Windows Vista.

Version Limit in 32-bit Windows Limit in 64-bit Windows
Windows Vista Ultimate

4 GB

128 GB

Windows Vista Enterprise

4 GB

128 GB

Windows Vista Business

4 GB

128 GB

Windows Vista Home Premium

4 GB

16 GB

Windows Vista Home Basic

4 GB

8 GB

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