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My PC has AMD Sempron 2600+ (1.6 GHz) processor, 1.25 GB of RAM, low-end video card integrated on the motherboard: VIA/S3G UniChrome Pro IGP (64 MB). I am running Windows XP on it.

If I put Windows 7 Professional on the machine, will it be much slower comparing to good old XP?

In case I will be installing Windows 7, should I choose 32-bit or 64-bit?
Is 64-bit version much faster comparing to 32-bit version?
If there is a problem with 64-bit version of any software during installation, can I always install 32-bit version of it?

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You gain NOTHING by using Windows 7 x64 because you do not even have 4GB of memory. Since the computer is old its unlikely to have signed x64 drivers for you hardware. This means you would either have to disabled that security feature ( which defeats the purpose of using x64 operating system ) or use the x86 version which allows unsigned drivers to be used. –  Ramhound Jan 27 '12 at 12:57

4 Answers 4

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Should be fine with Windows 7 as long as there are Windows 7 drivers (as noted by @Lamar B) . Also get more RAM. I have one IE window and Outlook 2007 running with a few background items like AV and I am using almost 2GB of RAM

Note that Windows 7 will have a many drivers "built in" so you may want to try the install if that is possible and see what happens. Have NIC and Video drivers handy on USB or CD if possible.

Also as noted, unless over 4GB, use 32 Bit. You can use 32 bit apps on 64 Bit OS but not all will be happy.

I did this update on an older Dell laptop and Windows 7 detected all but one driver

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Your statement about 32-bit applications running on a 64-bit operating system are false. 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Windows Vista are able to run 32-bit applications without the 32-bit applications knowing they are on a 64-bit because of WoW64 –  Ramhound Jan 27 '12 at 12:59

In my experience, Windows 7 will run on older hardware about as fast as XP does. However, especially with older video cards, you'll probably not be able to do an 3D acceleration, so if you want to watch videos even as simple as youtube, the experience will be much worse than in XP where it'll have the drivers to hand off such stuff to the GPU.

So if you're simply using this as a word processor or a file server, you'll probably be OK. But if you want to use it for internet browsing you should probably keep XP.

Also, 64-bit is entirely dependent on your processor. If your processor is 32-bit, you won't have a choice. And if your processor is 64-bit you'll want to run it that way, even if you have less than 4GB of RAM, contrary to what Lamar says. 64-bit isn't a function of memory (it does control how much memory your system can use, but it's not controlled by memory at all), it's a function of the capability of the CPU.

Personal Experience: I ran Windows 7 on an 8 year old HP laptop running an early Core processor (about 1.8Ghz) and even though Intel would not support drivers for Windows 7, the default drivers included in the OS were very capable. As mentioned earlier, I didn't get 3D acceleration from the integrated graphics, but I still got full/native resolution on the display and the only real problem was watching any sort of video.

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Definitely run the Windows Upgrade Advisor and see what it says. Windows 7 is pretty flexible, from what I've seen, on the demands for hardware.

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You should be able to run windows 7 however you may want to get more RAM if possible. Also, as you are using older hardware you should make sure win 7 has drivers for all of your hardware. As for 32 bit vs 64 bit go for 32 bit unless you give the system 4gb+ of RAM.

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64-bit isn't a function of memory. If the CPU can handle 64-bit, you should install the 64-bit version of the OS. –  music2myear Jan 25 '12 at 22:16
    
While I don't disagree with this comment, for most people, what LamarB said holds true. A lot of end users just don't NEED to utilize the 64 bit capabilities of the OS and CPU. –  Paperlantern Jan 26 '12 at 4:53
    
@music2myear - He gains nothing by using 64-bit operating system. He would have to provide signed drivers for hardware that likely DO NOT have signed x64-bit drivers. –  Ramhound Jan 27 '12 at 13:02

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