What Are the Memory Limits for Windows 7?

What Are the Memory Limits for Windows 7?Last night I was asked about upgrading laptop personal computer systems from Windows Vista to Windows 7 and what the requirements were in regards to Windows 7 memory limits. I believe that the person inquiring about this issue believed that Windows 7 needed more memory than Vista when, in fact, Windows 7 has improved memory usage to such an extent that it uses less memory. However, I personally believe that with Windows, the more memory, the better. Because of my prejudice on the matter, I usually recommend that my clients purchase systems with at least 4 GB of memory.

So while the above is generally good advice, there are other issues to be considered, thus adding confusion to the subject of memory limits for Windows 7. One of these issues revolves around which architecture you are using with your Windows 7 operating system since one version was developed for a x86, aka the 32-bit system, and the other was developed for the x64, aka the 64-bit version of Windows 7. A second issue revolves around which of Windows 7’s six optional program versions you choose since it is offered as a Starter, Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate package. Below is a brief description of each version and the maximum amount of memory each will support.

For the x86, aka 32-bit version of Windows 7, you will find that all except the starter package (which only supports 2 GB of memory) were developed to support a maximum of 4 GB of memory.

While the x64, aka 64-bit versions of Windows 7, supports the Ultimate, Enterprise, and Professional versions with a maximum support limit of 192 GB and the Home premium version with a maximum support of 16 GB of memory, memory support drops to 8 GB for the Basic version and back to 2 GB of memory support for the Starter version.

I hope that this clears up some of the confusion surrounding these different issues as well as resolve some of the disagreements I have noticed among participants in online forums regarding Windows 7 memory maximums which actually have turned into verbal assaults. In one such incident that occurred last year I actually joined in the debate in order to referee and explain to both parties that they were correct because, unbeknown to them, they were dealing with two different architectures.

For more information concerning additional memory requirements, I would recommend you go to the Microsoft’s link below, where you will find a very handy guide that explains everything one needs to know about memory usage for all versions of Windows 7.

Microsoft Windows 7 memory information can be found here.

Comments, as always, are welcome.

Article Written by

I have been writing for LockerGnome since relocating to Missouri seven years ago, where I continue to be a technology enthusiast who enjoys playing with the newest and latest gadgets.

  • http://profiles.google.com/koman92040 Charles Keisler

    While win7x86 supports 4 GB of memory only 3.33 GB gets allocated to the windows kernel, the rest is used for graphics processing, ect. through a process called four gig tuning or 4GT.

    This is like overclocking you CPU, i highly advise against it, most pepped don’t need 600 Mb or more of video memory. and the fact of the matter is when you buy windows 7 you product key is not tied to 32 or 64 bit, so you can barrow a friend’s widows disk and install windows 7 64 with your 32 bit product key.

    I recommend to all of my clients that they upgrade their OS at 3GB to allow for “future growth” which includes moving the hard drive into a new system.

  • http://profiles.google.com/koman92040 Charles Keisler

    While win7x86 supports 4 GB of memory only 3.33 GB gets allocated to the windows kernel, the rest is used for graphics processing, ect. through a process called four gig tuning or 4GT.

    This is like overclocking you CPU, i highly advise against it, most pepped don’t need 600 Mb or more of video memory. and the fact of the matter is when you buy windows 7 you product key is not tied to 32 or 64 bit, so you can barrow a friend’s widows disk and install windows 7 64 with your 32 bit product key.

    I recommend to all of my clients that they upgrade their OS at 3GB to allow for “future growth” which includes moving the hard drive into a new system.

  • http://twitter.com/BrandonLive Brandon Paddock

    @Charles There’s no process called “four gig tuning.” The reason only ~3GB of physical memory can be used on 32-bit systems is that the 32-bit address space is used for things besides physical memory. This is true regardless of the OS you use. Note it isn’t that the memory is being used by other things, it’s that the *addresses* are being used. When you run out of address space, the remaining physical memory is not addressable, so goes completely unused.

    If you have 4GB or higher, you’re generally going to want a 64-bit OS.

  • http://twitter.com/BrandonLive Brandon Paddock

    @Charles There’s no process called “four gig tuning.” The reason only ~3GB of physical memory can be used on 32-bit systems is that the 32-bit address space is used for things besides physical memory. This is true regardless of the OS you use. Note it isn’t that the memory is being used by other things, it’s that the *addresses* are being used. When you run out of address space, the remaining physical memory is not addressable, so goes completely unused.

    If you have 4GB or higher, you’re generally going to want a 64-bit OS.