Graphics Card RAM Usage

Dell Optiplex gx270 desktop
August 8, 2009 at 01:44:43
Specs: Microsoft Windows XP Professional, 2.793 GHz / 3326 MB
Hello people.

I'm not at all sure that the following inquiry posted successfully when I first submitted it, so I've attempted to repost it as follows:

I very recently installed (after disabling the original onboard graphics controller) the Sapphire HD 3850 Graphics Card in my computer (4.5 years old, but very well maintained).

I have not experienced the much discussed installation, driver and software problems that I've read about in my research prior to this purchase and installation. This graphics card, in general, appears to run fairly well so far, and CPU usage is not an issue.

However, I have concerns and questions as follows:


1) After installing this card and the Catalyst
9.6 HOTFIX directly from the Sapphire site,
I find that there is an immediate reduction
of 512 MB of available RAM for my system
(3328 MB vs 3840 MB).

2) My computer generates more noise
(droaning fan hum) than it did before this
graphics card installation, inspite of the
statements of 'very quiet' operation. It
seems that the additional noise is coming
from the shrouded heat exhaust fan
positioned adjacent to the mobo heat sink
at the rear of my computer (original
equipment but not the PSU fan). This fan
seems to be working harder. The graphics
card fan noise is perceptable but not


1) Is the reduction of available RAM for my
system (512 MB) to be expected with this
graphics card?

2) Is the increased computer noise to be
expected with this graphics card?

3) If not, (referring to both previous questions),
what adjustments can I make to correct the
additional RAM usage and/or increased
computer noise?

My basic system info:

Dell Optiplex GX270
XP Pro SP3
Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz
4 GB DDR1 333 RAM
Sapphire HD 3850 AGP Graphics Card
Corsair VX550w PSU

As I'm not a 'Gamer', I do not require the
'state-of-the-art'. My purpose for this ATI based graphics card is to provide better 'product design' software functionality on my sytem until I replace it (when MS Windows 7 actually proves to be consistently reliable and superior to XP Pro).

Thank you all for your help!

See More: Graphics Card RAM Usage

Report •

August 8, 2009 at 04:20:57
With more than 3 gig of ram on 32 bit OS's addressing problems can occur. There simply aren't enough addresses to accomodate all that ram plus the hardware. Check this recent thread and its links:

Adding that card must have bumped up the requirement for hardware addresses and that was satisfied by reducing the ram addresses. Try removing some ram--to 3 gig or less--and see what happens. If I'm right the correct ram figure will show.

Report •

August 8, 2009 at 07:50:33
As DAVEINCAPS stated Win XP can only access so much RAM and adding a Graphics will reduce the amount of system memory that XP can access. In your case this shouldent be a performance issue at all. As for the extra noise it could be one or both of 2 things: The PSU could be working much harder and producing more heat so the fan will spin faster, or the Graphics card is generating more heat inside the PC and the exhaust fan speeds up to keep temperatures lower. Generally, what your experiencing is pretty normal behaviour.

Gigabyte P35-DS3R
4GB DDR2 800

Report •

August 12, 2009 at 23:49:19
DAVEINCAPS & Mattwizz3:

First I'd like to thank you both for your prompt response to my inquiries on August 8/09. Your respective input is much valued.

I've been away since my posting and the delay in my
response to you is in no way an indication of any lack of appreciation for your responses to my concerns and questions.

As I'm quite new to this site, I'm not sure that this singular reply will reach both of you. If not, please let me know and I'll correct the matter.


The thread and subsequent links that you provided were quite informative for me and expanded my understanding of the operation of my system.

However, I do not plan to remove any RAM as I'm already running at 3328 MB with the Sapphire graphics card installed. Removal of one of my 1 GB boards would immediately limit my system's TOTAL RAM to 3072 MB!

After reading the information that you kindly provided, I now think that my system is accessing all of the available RAM possible.

To Mattwizz3:

Your very clear statement that the addition of a graphics card will reduce the available RAM for my system is appreciated, clear and in actual application... evident! Your comment in addition to the comments and information provided by DAVEINCAPS have addressed my concerns on this matter.

Further, I appreciate your input regarding increased system noise. Both the original shrouded heat exhaust fan and the Corsair PSU fan are thermally controlled. My understanding is that the Sapphire HD 3850 produces some heat (I'm sure more heat than the original onboard Intel R 82865G graphics controller). Any additional heat will certainly cause the cooling fans to work harder... and make more noise!

Thank you both again!

Top Cat

Report •

Related Solutions

August 13, 2009 at 12:02:32
You're welcome

I suggested removing some ram only temporarily as a way to verify if that was indeed the problem. It probably is the reason but it's easy to test.

Report •

August 13, 2009 at 12:21:35

A good idea.

Sometime during the next couple of days, I'll follow up on this test as you've suggested... just to see what results.

I'll let you know what happens.

Thanks again!

Top Cat

Report •

Ask Question