How to get more than 3GB in Windows Vista 32-bit

Out if the box, Vista (32-bit) only detects a maximum of 3GB of RAM. You're probably gutted if you just bought a 4GB PC.

Vista 32-bit systems can actually detect 4GB RAM (and more!). Sometimes the O.S. does not see the 4th GB of RAM but that can be remedied by typing the following command (as Administrator):

BCDEdit / set PAE forceenable

This forces Windows Vista X32 to use 4 or more GB of RAM. (PAE stands for Physical Address Extension)

For more information on BCDEdit see:

Author Paul Hayman

Paul is the COO of kwiboo ltd and has more than 20 years IT consultancy experience. He has consulted for a number of blue chip companies and has been exposed to the folowing sectors: Utilities, Telecommunications, Insurance, Media, Investment Banking, Leisure, Legal, CRM, Pharmaceuticals, Interactive Gaming, Mobile Communications, Online Services.

Paul is the COO and co-founder of kwiboo ( and is also the creator of GeekZilla.


Andy Brudtkuhl said:

How much RAM have you been able to use with 32-bit Vista using this technique? Is there a software limit or is it simply limited by its motherboard capacity?

01/Oct/2007 23:18 PM

Frederik said:

I bought a 4gb vista machine from dell and it only recognised 3gb. Dell gave me a refund on 1gb. Surely dell should preconfigure vista to recognise the full 4gb when they're building the system.

04/Oct/2007 09:17 AM

David said:

Hi, tried this on my dell machine and it made no difference - any reason why?

24/Oct/2007 09:36 AM

Marcus said: it doesn't!

13/Jul/2011 18:26 PM

Add Comment


Your comment has been received and will be shown once it passes moderation.