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from the benefit of being able to use above 3gb ram limit (loosely put ... don't take strictly) ?

I have a 64bit processor, but all my software is 32-bit, and I'm thinking about upgrading to win7. Old 32bit software will run fine, I guess, with some glitches in running 16-bit software, but that is to be expected.

If I do not have any 64-bit versions of software, is there a reason why I would want to install 64-bit version of windows ? On 64-bit version of windows I can still run 32-bit softwre, if I understood correctly (since 64-bit cpu's have 32-bit instructions subset) ?

Just wondering if I got it right, and the first question.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I was talking this over with a friend very recently and I came to the conclusion that there are no real benefits if everything you have 3GB of memory or under.

I always thought that 64bit machines ran 32bit code in emulation and it should be slower, however I installed Windows Vista x86 and x64 side by side and could not believe that the x86 edition started about 6-10 seconds quicker.

Also the benefits are more free hard drive space.

Typically programs that are designed for x64 machines are marginally larger (as the overhead code to support the larger address space is bigger) but again, this is only a tiny fraction bigger.

Lastly, I noticed that even the same processes that are 32bit seem to sometimes take up more memory when running on a x64 machine.

There will be a time when x86 is ancient and you will not get Windows to run on it, but I don't think that will be for some time and even then, you will most likely to still get 32 bit programs running on top of it (They would really be shooting themselves in the foot if not!).

To sum up, in my personal opinion, if you have under 3GB of memory and have no special reason to need to have a x64 machine, I wouldn't.

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I can't share your observation about startup time. When I switched from 32-bit to 64-bit, the latter was marginally quicker, and only by maybe 2 seconds (which was probably more due to the fact that it was an almost-clean install). I don't think startup time is really supposed to be different between the two. –  Sasha Chedygov Sep 25 '09 at 4:37
    
When you had the 32bit, was it a fresh install? I did the test around 60 times on different hardware as part of a paid review from a company. I found this on everything I tested and if you have seen the opposite, please say as I am very interested to hear... if possible, can you give hardware details. –  William Hilsum Sep 25 '09 at 4:43
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short answer: none whatsoever.

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Lol! Way to make me feel silly for writing up all that I did! –  William Hilsum Sep 25 '09 at 1:56
    
well, i can't think of any, the operating system is rather a hybrid, the whole shebang is still more or less in it's infancy and if you don't have to address more than 4 GB RAM, then stay away from it. –  Molly7244 Sep 25 '09 at 2:03
    
Actually, I can think of one: WinRAR and Photoshop are faster in 64-bit mode. :) But other than application specifically designed with 64-bit processors in mind, you're right, there's no point. –  Sasha Chedygov Sep 25 '09 at 4:39
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It makes your PC easier to upgrade- both in hardware and in software. If you suddenly needed some extra RAM, and you're on the limit, you'll have to reformat to a 64-bit OS first before you can upgrade~ The same goes for software.

=D I always install 64-bit OS when the hardware allow~

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For the most part I would strongly recommend 64bit Windows, it is the way of the future. I have been using 64 bit Vista (it isn't as bad as the press makes it out to be) for over a year and it has been faultless.

However there are some things to be wary of,

  • 16 bit software will not run on x64 Windows (do you really still need 16 bit software?)
  • Some older hardware may not have 64 bit drivers (be wary of old printers for example)
  • <2G of memory it is probably better to stick with 32 bit Windows

On the plus side of the ledger 64 bit Windows enables extra security features not available to the 32 bit version.

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