PC Newbie-Question about RAM

Hi Guys,
I’m a complete computer newbie & you guys have been a great help in answering my previous questions.

So here’s another one - I have a decent computer for the first time, running Windows XP, P4 with 3.0ghz with 512MB Ram.

I had a look at my system information and it said ‘Total Physical Memory’ is 512MB but the ‘Total Memory Available’ is only 207.06MB Ram. This is probably a stupid question but where does the rest of the ram go? I realise some must go to programs running in the background but is it normal to have this much less?

I ask this mainly because I’m just getting into computer gaming and coming from a Console Gaming environment (PS2 & Xbox) it’s confusing me. Case in point is I recently bought ‘Medal of Honor:Allied Assault’. I thought that an older game (2002) wouldn’t be so dependant on the newest graphics cards & such, but to get it to run smoothly I still have to drop the detail,texture, lighting & other effects down to lower levels. Am I going to have to shell out for more ram & a graphics card to get a decent look & performance out of the game?

Sorry for the long question but I find all this information very helpful in the long run as my interest in computers keeps growing.
Thanks in advance,

Rez. :confused:

I would bet it is more your video card than RAM. Are you using an onboard card? If so upgrade to a cheap card and it will help alot.

Windows XP usually takes approx 200MB’s just for basic functionality.

Chances are that if you are running older games & your performance is pitiful, then you have an onboard video card, which possibly takes another 64 or even 128MB of your ram.

When you fire up your onboard video card, your PC suddenly loses 1/2 of it’s ram cycles to the video card & potentially a very large chunk of ram & the performance of your system becomes pitiful.

Upgrading to a cheap video card with it’s own ram, will return your Ram bandwidth to the CPU & you will get much better performance overall.


I agree with all of the above-

However - I would do myself a big favor and increase the RAM to a minimum of 1 gigabyte (about $100-US) or if you can afford it 2 gigabyte (about $200-US)
and THEN look into your video card needs (after the RAM upgrade - you may not need one)-


More ram is always a good thing.
But I’d suggest that 1GB of ram at 1/2 the bandwidth stolen will provide much less performance than 512MB with full bandwidth.

Games he’s playing are older games, and don’t require the massive 1GB of ram, but they do require decent 3D video performance.

Thanks to everyone for their replies, it helps alot,
As suggested I think I’ll get a cheap graphics card & upgrade to 1GB of ram, that way I’ll be covered either way,
Thanks again,


Good plan IMO-