Reply 20 of 21, by JudgeMonroe
shadmere wrote on 2020-08-06, 18:55:
I am extremely rusty on this, but is a whole mb of conventional memory even possible? I thought that was just the first 640k by definition.
There are some weird edge cases where you can get 700k or more of conventional memory depending on the hard/software load out, but this a parlor trick. The reality is that there's a handful of programs from the late DOS era that have really high requirements (OP mentions Falcon, which requires 614000, and The Legacy is another hog that requires 610000) but virtually any software will run in 600K, which is easy to achieve with even casual tuning of stock drivers and memory managers. Modern utilities designed around efficiency (ctmouse, XHDD, shuscdx, etc.) help even more. At a certain point it's like a switch flipped, everyone started using DOS extenders and conventional memory essentially stopped mattering, and after that it became Windows's problem.
Most memory pressure back in the day came from poor optimization of unrelated installers. For instance, SoundBlaster installs a bunch of resident architecture -- as you can see in OP's screens -- that are flat out unnecessary for anything other than the CLI playback tools that have nothing to do with the games you want to play. Then you have issues like not loading things high, placing drivers at the top of the config.sys where they *can't* load high, etc. Like I said, even casual tuning of these issues yields enough conventional memory for most applications and games.