Windows 7 (32bit or 64bit)?

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ThaArtist
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Windows 7 (32bit or 64bit)?

Post by ThaArtist » Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:52 am

So I'm reading on techreport.com (quoted below) that 32 bit OS don't use more then 3.5 gigs of ram. Is that to say if I got 8 gigs of ram on my system the other 4 would be useless? Or is it just saying that only windows won't use more then 3.5 gigs? I'm slightly confused and thrownoff by this. Any clarification would be greatly appreciated.
That brings us to another point: should you go 32-bit or 64-bit? Since all of the processors we recommend in this guide are 64-bit-capable and all of our systems have 4GB of memory or more, the x64 release strikes us as the most sensible choice. This recommendation is relevant to folks who buy retail and upgrade editions, too—you might have to ask Microsoft to ship you x64 installation media first, but installing an x64 variant looks like the best idea.

As we've already explained, 32-bit flavors of Windows only support up to 4GB of RAM, and that upper limit covers things like video memory. In practice, that means that your 32-bit OS will only be able to use 3-3.5GB of system RAM on average and even less than 3GB if you have more than one discrete GPU. With new OSes and games pushing the envelope in terms of memory use, the 4GB limit can get a little uncomfortable for an enthusiast PC.

There are some caveats, however. 64-bit versions of Windows don't support 32-bit drivers, and they won't run 16-bit software. You'll probably want to make sure all of your peripherals have compatible drivers, and vintage game lovers may also have to check out emulators like DOSBox. Still, hardware makers have improved x64 support quite a bit since Vista came out two and a half years ago, so you'll probably be fine unless you have something like a really old printer. (For some background on what makes 64-bit computing different at a hardware level, have a look at our take on the subject.)

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Post by shleepy » Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:06 pm

You won't be able to use more than 3.5Gb. Get the 64-bit version if you have 4Gb or more of RAM.

ThaArtist
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Post by ThaArtist » Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:18 pm

That doesnt make any sense. I see lots of systems all day at best buy sams club walmart that has 6-8 gigs of ram. Something doesnt add up?

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Post by idale » Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:27 pm

shleepy's right, you won't get more than 4GB (less various reserved bits that will add up to at least 512MB (sometimes more, my 32-bit Vista usually only sees like 2.7GB of 3GB)) on 32-bit. If those 6-8GB systems are being sold with 32-bit Windows, they won't be able to use most of the installed RAM (but 64-bit is getting more common on preinstalls, at least from what I've noticed, due to the higher base RAM being used).

If you're going to go with more than 4GB of RAM, then you'll want to go with a 64-bit version of Win7 so the extra RAM is addressable. And these days, 64-bit shouldn't be a major impact in your usage of the computer as it definitely was with XP Pro and somewhat was with Vista. I've had 64-bit Win7 running since the public beta on my laptop with no issues, for example.

ThaArtist
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Post by ThaArtist » Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:34 pm

Thats great to hear idale! I will definitely go with 64 bit so I can use 8 gigs and hopefully 16 gigs in the future when its more affordable lol... Yeah I also just readup on the message boards at microsoft.com and this is something I never ever heard of. Crazy!

There are alot of systems sold with unused ram at stores. I guess the logic behind that is to keep a system relevant for as long as possible and the user could upgrade the OS to address more ram? I dunno...

For anyone else reading this. The easiest explaination I found from a user on Microsoft's messages boards was this:

This is real simple.

8 bits = 256 addresses
16 bits = 256 X 256 = 65536 addresses
32 bits = 65536 X 65536 addresses = 4,294,967,296 addresses 4gb
64 bits = 4,294,967,296 X 4,294,967,296 = 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 addresses

You can't address more memory than the physical addresses unless you want redundant memory.

ThaArtist
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Post by ThaArtist » Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:45 pm

So what are the main components that need to be compatible? Obviously processor. Then what else do I need to check to see if the system I just ordered is 64 bit compatible?

The graphic card reads Memory Interface 128-bit so Im guessing its 64 bit compatible right?

Im guessing thats the only two that matter... graphic card and processor?

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Post by bean1975 » Wed Nov 04, 2009 2:10 pm

Just the CPU. One, what the video card does is its own business, it only talks to the system over the PCI Express interface. More than that, a CPU being 64 bit is an absolute internal thing. The system is not affected by this at all. For example, many LGA 775 socket motherboards could be used by 32 and 64 bit CPUs.

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Post by ThaArtist » Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:26 pm

Awesome... that means my $490 system will be able to run win7 64 bit nice....

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Post by alleycat » Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:35 am

I find it bizarre that new systems are being shipped with 32bit W7. I thought the 32bit version was only for legacy purposes. It's time to move on.

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Post by jhhoffma » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:07 am

The main problem is that all of your device drivers are going to have to be x64-compatible as well. Many older devices will not be.

That also goes for codecs and the like.

It not just as easy as picking up the x64 version and clicking the Install button. There's a reason it hasn't become exclusively x64 yet, despite desktop CPUs being available since 2003.
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Post by danimal » Thu Nov 05, 2009 1:48 pm

ThaArtist wrote:So what are the main components that need to be compatible? Obviously processor. Then what else do I need to check to see if the system I just ordered is 64 bit compatible?
look and see if the cpu supports virtualization, because it will give you capabilities that may come in handy later... there is another thread on here about that, check it out.

the smoking hot deal for win7 right now is to get it with an edu email address, i got two copies of win7 professional, full verision, not an upgrade, for $70 total, shipped to my door:
http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/hot-deals/953148/

it's a bit of a ymmv deal, depending on who you talk to at the microsoft order center, but get on it before they shut it down completely... you can also order it online via a download, for similar pricing, but it's the upgrade version only.

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Post by idale » Thu Nov 05, 2009 2:47 pm

jhhoffma wrote:The main problem is that all of your device drivers are going to have to be x64-compatible as well. Many older devices will not be.

That also goes for codecs and the like.

It not just as easy as picking up the x64 version and clicking the Install button. There's a reason it hasn't become exclusively x64 yet, despite desktop CPUs being available since 2003.
Not necessarily, but things can definitely get complicated with drivers/codecs when x64 is in the picture. As I recall, at least, 32-bit programs will be using 32-bit drivers/codecs, and 64-bit programs will be using 64-bit drivers/codecs, which can potentially make for a mess. I don't know if this is always the case, but it's something to be aware of.

x64 is definitely getting more mature all the time, though, and it's much more likely these days that you won't have issues than in years past. (But yeah, if you're hanging onto some old hardware, it's possible you may have issues. At least Microsoft seems to have their own drivers for almost everything these days, which also helps lessen the worry.)

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Post by Monkeh16 » Fri Nov 06, 2009 8:15 am

ThaArtist wrote:For anyone else reading this. The easiest explaination I found from a user on Microsoft's messages boards was this:

This is real simple.

8 bits = 256 addresses
16 bits = 256 X 256 = 65536 addresses
32 bits = 65536 X 65536 addresses = 4,294,967,296 addresses 4gb
64 bits = 4,294,967,296 X 4,294,967,296 = 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 addresses

You can't address more memory than the physical addresses unless you want redundant memory.
Yes, you can. Look into PAE. Most x86 CPUs (and all x86_64 CPUs running in 32-bit mode) can address 64GB of memory, although it's a little slow. However, you're almost always running in PAE mode even if you don't have lots of RAM, because it's needed for the NX bit.

Unfortunately, Microsoft won't let you use more than 4GB in 32-bit non-server OSes.

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Post by cmthomson » Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:49 pm

The big issue with 64-bit is drivers for older hardware.

If your system doesn't have anything older than about 3 years attached, you're good to go; x64 will not only address more memory, it also has some new instructions that speed up general code a few percent.

If you have an old scanner, printer, camera etc, then you may be stuck with x32, as I am, because many vendors (especially HP) will never release updated drivers for them. Partly they're hoping you'll use this as a reason to replace all those devices. :roll:
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Post by kittle » Fri Nov 06, 2009 3:49 pm

cmthomson wrote:The big issue with 64-bit is drivers for older hardware.
older hardware and older programs as well.
in xp x64, any 16-bit program just wont work. so all my old DOS games just quit working when I upgraded.
The only real problem was an older version of a database I use for development.. the installer was a 16-bit windows program. but a copy of vmware and my old copy of windows 2000 solved that.

Ive been running 64bit winXP since 2005.
Ive had zero problems with downloading and installing codecs.

But before taking the plunge, I made sure there were drivers available for the major components of my system: motherboard, video card and sound card. Nowdays, those should be a no-brainer to get.


The other major advantage is upgradeability. I started with only 2gb of ram, which was plenty... back in 2005. nowdays its just barely adequate. so I just went out and got a 4gb kit, installed it and I was off and running. Things are much happier with 6gb of ram.
With a 32-bit OS and associated motherboard, that kindof upgrade is just not an option.
So even if you only get 3gb of ram now.. with 64bit windows you can upgrade in the future w/o having to buy extra software or upgrade your entire system.
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Post by ThaArtist » Fri Nov 06, 2009 3:49 pm

Thanks been reading... its some good info... Im def going 64 bit

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Post by colm » Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:02 am

I have yet to see as a home user, who goes beyond a gig for 1 program...
and if more than one....what in heck supercomputing event is happening.

I made a prog that had to check for duplicates in a 105million list long, the dupe check had to multiply the list many times over its size....for 1.3gb of ram.Colossal function. HUGE. all on a wee itty bitty 32 bit system.
vid editing, as much as adobe may claim is 64 bit superhero, is still an outrageous fib...again a gig of ram to spare is about all...
If you have a specific purpose, to get to my point, then go for the extra addressing. that brings me how much multitasking a 90w overhetaer called a "voltage regulator module" does anyway...I pop them with a "single" core prescott...HMMMM.
If I stood on a mountain with truth, would a 64 bit big daddy try and dos attack me defending his lies? you know, like a win98 script kiddie with his big bad system? :roll:
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Post by Mats » Tue Nov 10, 2009 11:51 am

ThaArtist wrote:So what are the main components that need to be compatible?
- CPU
- Memory controller

People forget the memory controller most times, but it has to be 64-bit compatible too, just like the CPU.
A good example is the 32-bit 945 MCH used in LOTS of laptops together with socket M and a (32-bit) Yonah or (64-bit) Merom CPU.
Newer budget Intel Core 2 Duo chipsets have RAM limitations too.

Many new CPU's have the MC integrated though.

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Post by Shamgar » Tue Nov 10, 2009 12:53 pm

cmthomson wrote:The big issue with 64-bit is drivers for older hardware.

If your system doesn't have anything older than about 3 years attached, you're good to go; x64 will not only address more memory, it also has some new instructions that speed up general code a few percent.

If you have an old scanner, printer, camera etc, then you may be stuck with x32, as I am, because many vendors (especially HP) will never release updated drivers for them. Partly they're hoping you'll use this as a reason to replace all those devices. :roll:
kittle wrote:older hardware and older programs as well.
in xp x64, any 16-bit program just wont work. so all my old DOS games just quit working when I upgraded.
The only real problem was an older version of a database I use for development.. the installer was a 16-bit windows program. but a copy of vmware and my old copy of windows 2000 solved that.

Ive been running 64bit winXP since 2005.
Ive had zero problems with downloading and installing codecs.

But before taking the plunge, I made sure there were drivers available for the major components of my system: motherboard, video card and sound card. Nowdays, those should be a no-brainer to get.
Sounds similar to my situation. Looking to upgrade to Win7 some time in 2010. I have some older devices including a modem and printer from ca.2002. I don't think there are 64bit drivers available for either of them. There may not even be any for my newer devices less than three years old either. I'm personally happy using the older devices as they still work fine for me and throwing them out and "upgrading" just adds more junk to e-waste. I also use many legacy and 16bit apps. So going 64bit would mean a complete overhaul of the way I work and the hardware I use.

Theoretically, 64bit is supposed to provide significant improvements in security, useability and performance. People have been saying this for years though. Maybe 2010-2012 is the time for it to establish itself in the mainstream? Personally, I think the whole argument put forth of "moving on" to 64bit is mainly about the RAM addressing issue. Only a small percentage of computer users require RAM in excess of 3GB. For the rest, I suspect it's about bragging rights. One could argue that programs are more bloated and require more RAM nowadays. Even with bloatware, RAM footprint can be minimised by disabling unnecessary services, features and visual enhancements. Skins, addons and plugins consume increasing amounts of memory and disabling/limiting those will help keep RAM usage low. For the eye candy generation, it may feel like having their fun spoiled though.

64bit also uses up more drive space so you have to allocate more for your partitions and user folders. Many would argue that RAM and hard drives are so cheap nowadays that space and memory consumption is a non-issue. I don't tend to agree with that argument. Just because they're cheap and the space is available doesn't meant I want programs and the OS consuming 10x what they did a few years ago to "make use of" the hardware.

Getting 64bit Windows seems like the way to go although that road still appears treacherous for many users including myself. Looks like I may just stick to 32bit XP for now. Plus Win7 is still way too expensive in my part of the world for the retail versions. It's quite laugable really that you have to spend that much for an OS. I think Microsoft is asking the world to subsidise the losses it made on Vista. Smart financial folks they are. Got to give them some credit.
Last edited by Shamgar on Tue Nov 10, 2009 1:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by RoGuE » Tue Nov 10, 2009 1:21 pm

Shamgar wrote: It's quite laugable really that you have to spend that much for an OS.
Not for all people. All US students (with a college email address) can buy Win 7 Pro x32 or x64 OS's for 30 dollars. Legally.

yeah, it's expensive if you're not a student...still worth it IMO.

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Post by Shamgar » Tue Nov 10, 2009 1:38 pm

RoGuE wrote:
Shamgar wrote: It's quite laugable really that you have to spend that much for an OS.
Not for all people. All US students (with a college email address) can buy Win 7 Pro x32 or x64 OS's for 30 dollars. Legally.

yeah, it's expensive if you're not a student...still worth it IMO.
US prices are usually lower compared to the rest of the world. Not just for software. You probably have some sort of agreement there for the educational sector to get the price down as low as 30USD, so students like yourself can get bargain on a shiny new Windows. Here, even with the exchange currenty at 0.93USD, we're expected to pay 279AUD for Home Premium, 399 for Pro and 419 for Ultimate. These are for the full retail versions and I'm going off an online vendor so prices may be lower or higher in other places. Upgrade versions are slightly cheaper and OEM is a lot cheaper still. But that's a general idea of the initial outlay for moving to Win7. Students here will probably get a special discount program as they do for Office but that doesn't help me much because I am not a student.

When the dust and prices settle down, I'll look to getting one of the retail versions. I hope Win7 can last me as long as XP. Something tells me that 7 may not have as long a shelf life as XP since MS is already working on Windows 8, which may be released as early as 2012. All conjecture at the moment but something to think about if you have or are thinking on forking out the hard earned on Microsoft's latest.

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Post by ThaArtist » Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:08 pm

Austrailian students can get it for $49.95 AUD

Heres the link:

http://www.microsoft.com/australia/wind ... grade.aspx

I dont know about the MSDN alliance if thats only in the USA or everywhere cause Im getting win7 pro 64bit for free through my school from that alliance. (Its downloading now)...

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Post by AZBrandon » Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:16 pm

RoGuE wrote:
Shamgar wrote: It's quite laugable really that you have to spend that much for an OS.
Not for all people. All US students (with a college email address) can buy Win 7 Pro x32 or x64 OS's for 30 dollars. Legally.

yeah, it's expensive if you're not a student...still worth it IMO.
Add me to the list of WinXP users who still haven't been able to bring themselves to spend the money. Even the OEM edition (which will be potentially unusable if you ever replace the motherboard) is $140. I'm sure I'll upgrade eventually - then again, maybe I really should use my linux system to see just how well wine does at running Windows software. Mainly its just my GPS software that is the app I am doubtful that getting my GPS software to work right under linux is going to happen. It's probably worth testing though.
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Post by hybrid2d4x4 » Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:00 pm

ThaArtist wrote:That doesnt make any sense. I see lots of systems all day at best buy sams club walmart that has 6-8 gigs of ram. Something doesnt add up?
A few family members bought Acer/Tosh laptops during the last year with 4GB RAM and both came with Vista x64, so the major players seem to have jumped on the bandwagon. Most users seemingly not noticing the switch speaks to the maturity of x64 drivers and OS implementation IMO.
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Post by Shamgar » Wed Nov 11, 2009 6:23 am

ThaArtist wrote:Austrailian students can get it for $49.95 AUD

Heres the link:

http://www.microsoft.com/australia/wind ... grade.aspx

I dont know about the MSDN alliance if thats only in the USA or everywhere cause Im getting win7 pro 64bit for free through my school from that alliance. (Its downloading now)...
Thanks for the link. I'm not eligible for that offer unfortunately as I'm no longer a student. But if I come across anyone who is and who needs Windows7 for study, I'll be sure to let them know if they don't already.
AZBrandon wrote:
RoGuE wrote:
Shamgar wrote: It's quite laugable really that you have to spend that much for an OS.
Not for all people. All US students (with a college email address) can buy Win 7 Pro x32 or x64 OS's for 30 dollars. Legally.

yeah, it's expensive if you're not a student...still worth it IMO.
Add me to the list of WinXP users who still haven't been able to bring themselves to spend the money. Even the OEM edition (which will be potentially unusable if you ever replace the motherboard) is $140. I'm sure I'll upgrade eventually - then again, maybe I really should use my linux system to see just how well wine does at running Windows software. Mainly its just my GPS software that is the app I am doubtful that getting my GPS software to work right under linux is going to happen. It's probably worth testing though.
All things considered, I suppose the asking price for a full retail copy of Windows is not that bad, considering that a lot of software these days is just as or more expensive. But a lot of people will probably end up with an OEM version bundled with a bare box or name brand desktop or laptop.

I decided that if I'm going to make the big change to Win7, I may as well buy the full retail version rather than the upgrade or OEM one. Probably spending more than I need to but just happier if I do it that way.

I've almost had enough of MS and wanted to make the brave change to Linux full time. But, like many Windows users, it's not as easy as it sounds. Win7 looks like a good platform and XP Mode will at least allow me to run my older programs. If I can get a good deal on the Professional version, I'll be happy to keep using Windows for the forseeable future.

Again on pricing, MS is made to look a little greedy -- by Apple of all people. Mac users can upgrade to the latest Mac OS 10.6 "Snow Leopard" for just 39AUD for a single user or 69AUD for a 5 user licence. Even for older users of a Mac OS, the full retail version is 229AUD. Quite a lot cheaper than Windows 7 (for non-discount eligible customers anyway).

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Post by xan_user » Wed Nov 11, 2009 7:59 am


Again on pricing, MS is made to look a little greedy -- by Apple of all people. Mac users can upgrade to the latest Mac OS 10.6 "Snow Leopard" for just 39AUD for a single user or 69AUD for a 5 user licence. Even for older users of a Mac OS, the full retail version is 229AUD. Quite a lot cheaper than Windows 7 (for non-discount eligible customers anyway).
10.6 is a SP for OS X.
When M$ starts charging for service packs and updates, and insists on you only using their expensive hardware, then you may have a valid argument.

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Post by Shamgar » Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:25 am

xan_user wrote:

Again on pricing, MS is made to look a little greedy -- by Apple of all people. Mac users can upgrade to the latest Mac OS 10.6 "Snow Leopard" for just 39AUD for a single user or 69AUD for a 5 user licence. Even for older users of a Mac OS, the full retail version is 229AUD. Quite a lot cheaper than Windows 7 (for non-discount eligible customers anyway).
10.6 is a SP for OS X.
When M$ starts charging for service packs and updates, and insists on you only using their expensive hardware, then you may have a valid argument.
Didn't realise it was a service pack. Apple just appear to market it as an "upgrade". Shows you how much of a Windows man I am in any case. I'm the last person to defend Apple or their products. I don't own any of them. FWIW.

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Post by Shamgar » Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:30 am


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Post by RoGuE » Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:44 am

Shamgar wrote:
I decided that if I'm going to make the big change to Win7, I may as well buy the full retail version rather than the upgrade or OEM one. Probably spending more than I need to but just happier if I do it that way.
WHOA WHOA WHOA...hold up there, speedy. The "upgrade" software is still the FULL version, it just means you have to have a windows liscense already! Do you have XP or Vista? Then doing a clean install of the OS will replace it, and you can no longer use that liscense.

The upgrade is the FULL version of the software though. It just means you need to be using windows already. Not linux or OSx

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