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Windows 8 32-bit or 64-bit?

    Question

  • Hello:

    I am confused about the difference between 32-bit vs 64-bit Windows. My current laptop's processor supports 64-bit architecture, it has 4GB of RAM, and it is running 32-bit Vista Home Premium. I am thinking of moving to Windows 8, but I am undecided whether I should go for 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 8 to get the best performance out of my existing system. Note that I cannot go beyond 4GB of RAM as it is the maximum that my board currently supports.

    I heard that 32-bit system cannot make use of the full 4GB of RAM. On the other hand, I also heard that 64-bit system ideally requires 8 GB RAM. So I am confused.

    Any advice?

    Thanks.

    Henry

     

      

    Tuesday, October 16, 2012 2:27 AM

Answers

  • 32 bit Windows has an address limitation that means that you never get access to a full 4GB. It's hardware dependent, but I've typically seen 3.25GB.

    4GB should run a 64 bit OS well, but the justification may not be there with only 4GB installed. (64 bit software can use more RAM, but you won't have the RAM.) I don't know about Win8, but Win7 X64 has some limitations that aren't present in the 32 bit version. Example: no 16 bit software will run.

    As far as I know, there are no significant performance differences between 32 and 64 bit versions.

    If your current system supports a maximum of 4GB, there's not much point in going to X64. (Some people would do it because having Windows declare that only 3.25GB of the installed RAM is usable would be galling.)

    My advice? Upgrade your hardware and get X64. ;-)

    • Marked as answer by Hankas Wednesday, October 17, 2012 2:22 AM
    Tuesday, October 16, 2012 4:08 AM

All replies

  • 32 bit Windows has an address limitation that means that you never get access to a full 4GB. It's hardware dependent, but I've typically seen 3.25GB.

    4GB should run a 64 bit OS well, but the justification may not be there with only 4GB installed. (64 bit software can use more RAM, but you won't have the RAM.) I don't know about Win8, but Win7 X64 has some limitations that aren't present in the 32 bit version. Example: no 16 bit software will run.

    As far as I know, there are no significant performance differences between 32 and 64 bit versions.

    If your current system supports a maximum of 4GB, there's not much point in going to X64. (Some people would do it because having Windows declare that only 3.25GB of the installed RAM is usable would be galling.)

    My advice? Upgrade your hardware and get X64. ;-)

    • Marked as answer by Hankas Wednesday, October 17, 2012 2:22 AM
    Tuesday, October 16, 2012 4:08 AM
  • x64 has the advantage of better performance of x64 apps, like streaming H264 video. I've also noticed a few apps which are x64 only.

    My computer running Win8Pro x64 consumes around 1.7GB (running KMPlayer and Firefox)

    Tuesday, October 16, 2012 5:08 AM
  • LOL.

    I wish I can upgrade the hardware, but it's a laptop. The manufacturer (Acer) says that the board supports up to 4GB RAM. I take it as anything more than 4GB requires a new motherboard. I may as well buy a brand new laptop. LOL

    Anyhow, I think I am gonna go 64-bit. Thanks for the advice.

    Henry

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012 2:21 AM
  • LOL.

    I wish I can upgrade the hardware, but it's a laptop. The manufacturer (Acer) says that the board supports up to 4GB RAM. I take it as anything more than 4GB requires a new motherboard. I may as well buy a brand new laptop. LOL

    Anyhow, I think I am gonna go 64-bit. Thanks for the advice.

    Henry


    Unless you need to discard some ancient software because X64 doesn't like it, you should have no regrets.
    Wednesday, October 17, 2012 2:58 AM
  • 32bit system can address 4GB memory, but not all your 4 GB physical memory will be addressed. Therefore even you only have 4GB memory, only 64bit system can fully use it.


    Please remember to click “Mark as Answer” on the post that helps you, and to click “Unmark as Answer” if a marked post does not actually answer your question. This can be beneficial to other community members reading the thread. ”

    Thursday, October 18, 2012 8:07 AM
  • Hi,

    I want to update some information. I have just installed Windows 8 Pro today. To my disappointment, apparently I cannot switch to 64-bit. I purchased and downloaded Windows 8 Pro through the Microsoft website. I burnt the ISO image to a DVD. I formatted my hard disk and rebooted from the DVD. It was a clean install, and not an upgrade over an existing OS. Starting from the purchase process all the way until the installation was complete, there was no option for me to choose 64-bit OS. It seems that they just automatically choose what is right for me. That is disappointing.

    On the positive side, the installation went smooth. I have prepared the drivers to my hardware in case if things went wrong, and it seems that I don't really need them. Windows 8 automatically find and transparently update the drivers. Just make sure that you enable device downloading over metered connection. It was disabled by default.

    Saturday, October 27, 2012 7:21 AM
  • Hankas, could it be possible that you re-download the ISO from another machine running 64-bit windows?  The version should be 64-bit.  You can go here, https://www.mswos.com/  and use your order details to re-download and get the product key.
    Saturday, November 24, 2012 3:23 AM
  • It's not ancient, its "legacy". LOL
    Friday, December 28, 2012 2:29 PM
  • Hi,

    Are you sure your laptop is 64-bits? I find pretty strange that it came with Windows Vista 32-bits installed.

    Anyway, it's moot to install a 64-bits OS on a laptop not supporting more than 4 Gb RAM.


    Sebastian Sajaroff Senior DBA Pharmacies Jean Coutu

    Friday, December 28, 2012 2:45 PM
  • It's not ancient, its "legacy". LOL

    "Legacy" is a marketing term that companies invent when they want to sell you something new...;)

    It's not expressly just a ram issue, either--most folks think that the difference between 32 & 64 is just the amount of on-board ram addressable.  You need a 64-bit cpu to run the 64-bit OS, and the 64-bit cpu has more physical registers than a 32-bit cpu, and generally better hardware security circuitry, too.  If someone with a 32-bit cpu tries to install 64-bit Windows he won't be allowed to do so--the x64 OS install routines will stop him and explain the problem (ie, 64-bit OS'es need 64-bit cpus, etc.)  OTOH, 64-bit Intel-compatible cpus will run 32-bit OSes just fine (be so much simpler if we could still just say "x86" to denote Intel 32/64-bit compatibility, wouldn't it? But these days the term "x86" is supposed to denote "32-bits."  Go figure.)    He's made the right decision to go x64 even if he's limited to 4 gb of ram, imo.  When he buys his next desktop he can take it with him and see support for much greater amounts of ram, too.

    (I build all of my stuff and so I keep forgetting that if you buy a pre-assembled desktop it'll already come with Win8x64, most likely.  LoL...)

    Friday, December 28, 2012 5:01 PM
  • I realize this is an old thread, but I wasted a lot of time on this issue, and I would think my anecdote would be very helpful for others.

    The long and short of it is, I'm running the older system noted at the bottom of this reply.  First I installed Windows 8 x86 and the system showed "4GB Ram (3GB usable)".  I was almost always on the edge of using all physical RAM, and the system was very slow.  I have a basic discrete video card, yet the x86 build showed that my mobo was still utilizing 1GB of shared memory, even though the motherboard documentation states that a discrete card automatically disables shared video memory and the integrated graphics.  It turns out this was not the case, and actually due to 32 bit system ability to utilize RAM.

    So, I took the plunge, and reinstalled Windows 8 x64.  My system immediately showed 4GB usable.  The snappiness of the system is night and day BETTER.   In conclusion, if you have 4GB Ram I would DEFINITELY install a x64 version of windows 8, because most systems will not be able to utilize 4GB of ram on a 32bit architecture.  If you have 3GB or less of Ram, I assume x86 Windows 8 would be the way to go.

    - B. Hurd

    System Specs

    OS Name x64 Microsoft Windows 8 Pro with Media Center; Version 6.2.9200 Build 9200; System Type x64-based PC; Processor AMD Athlon(tm) 64 X2 Dual Core Processor 4200+, 2200 Mhz, 2 Core(s), 2 Logical Processor(s); Installed Physical Memory (RAM) 4.00 GB
    • Proposed as answer by ar1397r Sunday, September 01, 2013 7:33 PM
    Friday, March 01, 2013 5:17 PM
  • Win8 x86 can also use 4GB if you hack it a bit.

    look at the installed RAM (it shows 4GB and can use all)


    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"

    Friday, March 01, 2013 9:44 PM
  • thank you for solution..i will try this becoz the same problem i am suffering thanks once again
    Sunday, September 01, 2013 7:34 PM