Jump to content
CaptainPC CaptainPC (New Member) New Member

Windows 7: 32 Bit Or 64 Bit Edition?

Lounge   (2,511 Views 3 Comments)
article_pluralized; 15,264 Visitors; 326 Posts
If you find this topic helpful leave a comment.

With the release of Windows Vista users were confronted with too many flavors of the OS from which to choose. Should I go with Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, or yada, yada, yada? To make things even more confusing, the Vista flavors also arrived in both 32 and 64 bit editions.

Vista 64 bit was new to most users, but XP was actually offered in a 64 bit edition as well as the much more widely used 32 bit edition. XP 64 bit never really took off because it was such a pain to obtain hardware drivers for computer components during XP's heyday. A 64 bit OS requires 64 bit drivers to make the system function, but most manufacturers balked at coding 64 bit drivers due to the lack of public demand. So what is the difference between 32 bit and 64 bit Windows Vista or Windows 7?

There are several differences, and you can find tons of articles on the internet about the subject. But the most significant difference that matters at this time to the typical PC user concerns the quantity of RAM (Random Access Memory, or memory chips) that 64 bit Windows can address versus the 32 bit editions. 64 bit Windows requires a 64 bit CPU (Central Processing Unit, such as Intel Pentium 4, Core2Duo or Athlon 64, Athlon dual core, and later processors, etc.) in order to function, and most folks already have that and have had a 64 bit CPU for several years now. 32 bit Windows runs just fine on a 64 bit processor, but it can only address a maximum of a little over 3 GBs (gigabytes) of memory. 64 bit Windows can address much more memory than you can find on premium laptops and desktops available now. Typically, you find laptops and desktops with 2 or 3 GBs of memory running 32 bit Windows 7, and from 4 to 8 GBs of memory on laptops and desktops running 64 bit Windows 7. So which should you buy? Right now, which one you go with, in terms of performance, is not a big deal. You will find for the most part, that 32 bit Windows will run as fast as 64 bit Windows on both laptops and desktops. The reason for this is most software is 32 bit and is therefore unable to take full advantage of a 64 bit operating system. The extra memory you can have with 64 bit Windows will just allow you to open more programs at the same time. However, when 64 bit applications become more abundant, you will be prepared to utilize them, and that alone makes 64 bit windows attractive.

64 bit Windows systems will process data at twice the rate of 32 bit Windows, just as you can move more traffic simultaneously over an 8 lane highway than on a 4 lane highway. But there are other factors that have an effect on perceived performance, such as the system bus speed, memory speed, etc., and all these figure in to the mix. The greatest stumbling block today is that almost all software we use on our computers is coded in 32 bit. To see increased performance, programs have to be written in code that can utilize the capabilities of 64 bit processors and 64 bit operating systems. If you have Windows 7 in a 64 bit edition, you have both a 32 bit Internet Explorer and a 64 bit Internet Explorer on your computer now. Just try the 64 bit IE, and you should see it run faster than the 32 bit IE, but if you want to see Flash video in web pages, you will be disappointed, because developers have yet to release a 64 bit Flash plug-in. Even in this specific scenario, performance of both versions of Internet Explorer are impacted by the volume of web traffic on the site you are visiting, as well as the speed of your internet service provider.

Change is one of the indisputable realities of life. 64 bit computing is going to displace 32 bit computing in the days to come, much as 32 bit computing eventually buried 16 bit computing. We are already in transition, but who knows how long it will take? It is not likely to happen overnight, but technology changes rapidly. There are rumblings that Windows 8 will be a 128 bit operating system. Hang on!

What is your take? Do you use 32 or 64 bit Windows, and what were factors in your choice?

Edited by Joe V

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
With the release of Windows Vista users were confronted with too many flavors of the OS from which to choose. Should I go with Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, or yada, yada, yada? To make things even more confusing, the Vista flavors also arrived in both 32 and 64 bit editions. Vista 64 bit was new to most users, but XP was actually offered in a 64 bit edition as well as the much more widely used 32 bit edition. XP 64 bit never really took off because it was such a pain to obtain hardware drivers for computer components during XP's heyday. A 64 bit OS requires 64 bit drivers to make the system function, but most manufacturers balked at coding 64 bit drivers due to the lack of public demand. So what is the difference between 32 bit and 64 bit Windows Vista or Windows 7?

There are several differences, and you can find tons of articles on the internet about the subject. But the most significant difference that matters at this time to the typical PC user concerns the quantity of RAM (Random Access Memory, or memory chips) that 64 bit Windows can address versus the 32 bit editions. 64 bit Windows requires a 64 bit CPU (Central Processing Unit, such as Intel Pentium 4, Core2Duo or Athlon 64, Athlon dual core, and later processors, etc.) in order to function, and most folks already have that and have had a 64 bit CPU for several years now. 32 bit Windows runs just fine on a 64 bit processor, but it can only address a maximum of a little over 3 GBs (gigabytes) of memory. 64 bit Windows can address much more memory than you can find on premium laptops and desktops available now. Typically, you find laptops and desktops with 2 or 3 GBs of memory running 32 bit Windows 7, and from 4 to 8 GBs of memory on laptops and desktops running 64 bit Windows 7. So which should you buy? Right now, which one you go with, in terms of performance, is not a big deal. You will find for the most part, that 32 bit Windows will run as fast as 64 bit Windows on both laptops and desktops. The reason for this is most software is 32 bit and is therefore unable to take full advantage of a 64 bit operating system. The extra memory you can have with 64 bit Windows will just allow you to open more programs at the same time. However, when 64 bit applications become more abundant, you will be prepared to utilize them, and that alone makes 64 bit windows attractive.

64 bit Windows systems will process data at twice the rate of 32 bit Windows, just as you can move more traffic simultaneously over an 8 lane highway than on a 4 lane highway. But there are other factors that have an effect on perceived performance, such as the system bus speed, memory speed, etc., and all these figure in to the mix. The greatest stumbling block today is that almost all software we use on our computers is coded in 32 bit. To see increased performance, programs have to be written in code that can utilize the capabilities of 64 bit processors and 64 bit operating systems. If you have Windows 7 in a 64 bit edition, you have both a 32 bit Internet Explorer and a 64 bit Internet Explorer on your computer now. Just try the 64 bit IE, and you should see it run faster than the 32 bit IE, but if you want to see Flash video in web pages, you will be disappointed, because developers have yet to release a 64 bit Flash plug-in. Even in this specific scenario, performance of both versions of Internet Explorer are impacted by the volume of web traffic on the site you are visiting, as well as the speed of your internet service provider.

Change is one of the indisputable realities of life. 64 bit computing is going to displace 32 bit computing in the days to come, much as 32 bit computing eventually buried 16 bit computing. We are already in transition, but who knows how long it will take? It is not likely to happen overnight, but technology changes rapidly. There are rumblings that Windows 8 will be a 128 bit operating system. Hang on!

What is your take? Do you use 32 or 64 bit Windows, and what were factors in your choice?

I think it will depend on your need. At present, 32 bit is the most widely used and also the most prone for attacks. 64 bit on the other hand, is good if you are a computer chess enthusiast like me, when speed really matters...64 bit usually has backward compatibility modes on using 32 bit for programs that can't tolerate 64 bit, but there is no 32 bit to 64 bit compatibility under the 32 bit environment or OS.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello John83,

Great comment! I fully agree; it all depends on a persons need.

Thanks for your comments. They are much appreciated. It is my hope that others will chime in on their preference.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
×