What is the Max RAM that Your Computer Can Support?

Learn what limits the max RAM amount that your computer is able to support and find out how to increase your maximum RAM limit right here.

There are three factors that limit the highest RAM amount your computer is able to use:

  • 32 or 64 bit CPU
  • RAM limit of operating system
  • RAM limit of motherboard

Let's begin with the CPU first. It matters if your CPU is 32 bit (x86) or 64 bit (x64) because this affects what type of operating system you can install. If you have a 32 bit CPU, you will only be able to install 32 bit operating systems, which effectively lowers maximum amount of RAM to just 4 GB.

The good news is that almost all modern processors are 64 bit (with rare exceptions such as Intel Atom). Just to be safe, here's how to check if your processor is 32 or 64 bit:

1. Download CPU-Z, a free program that reveals a wealth of info about your CPU

2. Under the CPU tab, look for the "Instructions" field (outlined in yellow below)

3. If your processor is 64 bit, it will show EM64T or AMD64 under "Instructions"

Checking if CPU is 64 Bit

Max RAM Supported by Your Operating System

Windows 8 64 bit Enterprise
Windows 8 64 bit Pro
Windows 8 64 bit
Windows 8 32 bit

512 GB
512 GB
128 GB
4 GB

Windows 7 64 bit Ultimate
Windows 7 64 bit Enterprise
Windows 7 64 bit Professional
Windows 7 64 bit Home Premium
Windows 7 64 bit Home Basic
Windows 7 32 bit (except Starter)
Windows 7 32 bit Starter

192 GB
192 GB
192 GB
16 GB
8 GB
4 GB
2 GB

Windows Vista 64 bit Ultimate
Windows Vista 64 bit Enterprise
Windows Vista 64 bit Business
Windows Vista 64 bit Home Premium
Windows Vista 64 bit Home Basic
Windows Vista 32 bit (except Starter)
Windows Vista 32 bit Starter

128 GB
128 GB
128 GB
16 GB
8 GB
4 GB
1 GB

Windows XP 64 bit
Windows XP 32 bit

128 GB
4 GB

Mac OS X 64 bit

96 GB

Linux 64 bit
Linux 32 bit
Linux 32 bit (with PAE)

1 TB
4 GB
64 GB

Taking a closer look at the table above, you will notice that 32 bit operating systems can access just 4 GB of RAM at most.

And there's more bad news: This 4 GB memory limit is shared between RAM and other devices (e.g. video, audio and network memory) so this further reduces the amount of available RAM to 3 - 3.5 GB in most cases.

Lesson of the day: If you intend to have 4 GB of RAM or more, it's highly recommended that you install a 64 bit operating system (unless you are stuck with primitive device drivers or programs that only work in 32 bit).

Max RAM Supported by Your Motherboard

Since your motherboard manufacturer is the one who decides the max RAM amount that can be supported, the only sure way to know is to consult your motherboard manual (outlined in yellow below):

Pin It

If you're a laptop user, then your owner's manual will contain the answer to the maximum amount of RAM that can be supported. Just look for it under "technical specifications".

Digesting everything that we have explained so far, a computer with a 64 bit processor, running Windows 8 64 bit (128 GB RAM limit) and having a motherboard that supports up to 32 GB of RAM... will be able to support up to 32 GB of RAM.