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I have a Macbook that's maxed out to 4gb of ram. I had Leopard running on it, as well as the 32 bit version of Windows 7 installed with Bootcamp. Under Windows 7, only 2.97gb of 4gb of ram is useable by the OS. I recently upgraded to Snow Leopard which comes with the latest version of Bootcamp that now supports the 64 bit version of Windows 7. My question is, if I install the 64 bit version, will that number increase? Also, is there any benefit to upgrading to the 64 bit version? (I have access to either through my MSDN subscription, so I can grab any version I need.)

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since 64bit computing is still in its infancy and many 64bit apps will use more memory than their 32bit counterparts, you will hardly gain anything from this upgrade. 64bit windows only makes sense when you go beyond 4 GB RAM. – Molly7244 Oct 21 '09 at 18:56
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Most people tend to focus on the 3Gb memory limit, but there are other advantages to using a 64-bit operating system, Windows or otherwise. There are features available in the x86-64 architecture that are unavailable to 32-bit operating systems.

Also, since you have access to the software via MSDN, the only cost for you to try it is time spent installing it. If you find that it doesn't work well for some reason, switch back.

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Thanks for the link. I think I'll do it over the weekend, and see if I like it. I've imaged my current 32-bit install, so, like you said, if I don't like it, I just roll back. – BFree Oct 21 '09 at 20:41

Installing 64-bit Win7 will make all of your memory show up. 32 simply can't address that much. Molly makes a good point, 64-bit apps tend to use more memory but you will also be able to use more of it. I currently am using it on my notebook with 3 GB of RAM and have no issues and I did it just in case I want to upgrade my RAM in the future.

Ultimately, it's not a huge deal, but if you want access to all 4GB, then I'd do it. You won't see a huge benefit unless you go above 4GB. Also, there really aren't many downsides IMO as most peripherals and apps are now compatible (in some way) with 64 bit. (either through Win7's 32-bit mode or XP mode). From Microsoft, here is the FAQ regarding the two different systems. Hope that helps!

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