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32-bit vs. 64-bit systems

What is the difference between the 32 and 64 Windows? To move to 64 bit, does that mean just different software, or does it also require different hardware? Like what? And is any hardware able to be used for both?


Any modern PC capable of running Windows 7 should already have a 64-bit capable processor. The CPU must support 64-bit instructions, for AMD it needs AMD64 for Intel it needs EMT64. In any case, anything dual core definitely supports this, most of the last generation single cores also support this. You can run 32-bit or 64-bit operating systems on these processors.

As long as your CPU supports it, it is simply a matter of installing a x64 operating system to take advantage of it.

The main difference between x86 and x64 is the ability to natively address RAM greater than 4GB without using PAE. If you have 4GB of RAM or more, or plan on upgrading to that amount or more, then 64 bit is the architecture that you are after.

  • Thanks, Mark! That helps a lot. Beside being able to use more memory, any other advantage for the CPU? And does the 64-bit affect any other hardware, eg, video card,etc
    – fk
    Oct 31 '09 at 17:27
  • One needs to remember that not all software products and drivers are available in 64-bits. Also 32-bits can use about 3.5 GB out of 4 GB, which is still quite a lot.
    – harrymc
    Oct 31 '09 at 17:31
  • Note that every modern computer might not necessarily be able to run 64-bit. For instance, Netbooks have the Intel Atom processor, many (if not all?) of which are 32-bit processors. Oct 31 '09 at 17:32
  • @fk: You can consider it future-proofing your system. The next version of Windows may only be 64-bit and not offer 32-bit, and with hardware vendors pushing only the 64-bit version on their new PCs, drivers and software support may eventually start to favor 64-bit. Oct 31 '09 at 17:33
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    @harrymc - That truly depends on the rest of the hardware. If you have a video card with 1GB onboard, you are looking at closer to 2.75GB of addressable RAM
    – MDMarra
    Nov 12 '09 at 15:20

If you go to Steve Gibson's site www.grc.com you can download a small applet - Securable - which will tell you the 64 bit status of your computer easily. The main advantage of 64 bit is the ability to use more than 3.5 gigs of RAM. If you have the 64 bit system, I'd use it as the drivers are all there now and more and more apps are being written to take advantage of it. It's the future.

  • Thanks, Steve! Securable was fast and efficient and helpful.
    – fk
    Oct 31 '09 at 18:43

when comes to 32 bit which it will transfer the data in 32 bit and 64 bit is of 64 bit data transfer the architecture of 32 bit and 64 bit is different. if we want to use the 64 bit operating system the motherboard and processor must be capable of 64 bit processing then only we can install the 64 bit operating system. 32 bit operating system can only supports upto 3.4 gb of ram and 64 bit operating system can supports from 4 gb to some extent depends upon the operating system we used it may supports from 192 gb to 2 tb


most current hardware is compatible with either version.

Windows x64 is a hybrid operating system, meaning many components (e.g. Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, etc.) are present in both 32bit and 64bit variants and most 32bit programs work just as well with Windows x64.

is it worth to change? only if you have more than 4 GB RAM in your system.