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Does my computer's CPU dictate whether I can install a 32-bit or a 64-bit operating system?

Specifically, I'd like to install Windows 7 64-bit on my machine that is currently Windows Vista 32-bit. In addition, can I go from 4GB to 8GB of RAM once I'm on a 64-bit OS?

My machine:

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  • 1
    just as a tip, change your workgroup to something other than WORKGROUP
    – Joshua K
    Oct 14 '09 at 16:18
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    How about MSHOME?
    – hyperslug
    Oct 14 '09 at 16:21
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Here's a spec chart for Intel Core2 Quad processors. According to the chart, your CPU does handle 64-bit OS's (Q9450, link to full specs), so you can install whichever you like.

As others have pointed out, once you're on a 64-bit OS, increasing RAM to 8GB will work if the motherboard supports it.

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It would probably be a good idea to download the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor and let it evaluate your system, hardware and software. There are issues beyond 64-bitness in an upgrade.

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Your processor is either 64 or 32 bit. I believe all the c2q range is 64bit, so you should be fine to upgrade. Additionally, you can go from 4GB of RAM to almost any number you can think of :)

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    I'm thinking of 17 exabytes of RAM...
    – hyperslug
    Oct 14 '09 at 16:18
  • @hyperslug: are you sure? i don't even know how many zeroes that is offhand. i'd have to run through the conversions just to write the number out. Oct 14 '09 at 16:22
  • @~quack, the theoretical limit is actually 2^64 which is 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 decimal or 16 exabytes. I picked a number just out of range to be facetious. I'm not sure I could fit that many DIMMs in a CPU case if I poured them in, though.
    – hyperslug
    Oct 14 '09 at 16:29
  • Note: the 4gb ram limit is alleviated by a 64bit os, however, some systems also have other limits which affect your memory limit (e.g., my Dell D520 laptop can only handle 3.25gb memory period, regardless of OS). This is probably less common with desktops, though. Additionally, some OS editions have artificial caps. e.g. Windows 7 Home Basic is capped at 8gb. msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/… Oct 14 '09 at 16:48
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    Ok, I worked it out: if you ground up 16 exabytes worth of 64GB DIMMs into powder, you could fill > 120,000 empty ATX cases. =)
    – hyperslug
    Oct 14 '09 at 17:01
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In your case, you can use either 32-bit or 64-bit O/S without any problems. There are very few 64-bit OS only processors (Itanium?) around, and I don't know of any likely to be used at home.

And yes, you can go from 4GB to 8GB once you're on a 64-bit OS, as long as your motherboard supports it.

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Yes, your machine will run a 64-bit OS, so you can install Windows 7 64-bit. I recommend a clean install (not sure if an upgrade is even possible from 32 to 64-bit). Once you're in a 64-bit OS, you'll be able to use 8GB of RAM.

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