Windows 7: 64-bit or 32-bit? Memory and performance

Windows 7 32 bit vs. 64 bit? In this first part of a comprehensive series I discuss how 64 bit and 32 bit Windows 7 differ with regard to performance and memory.

Michael PietroforteMVP By Michael Pietroforte - Wed, August 5, 2009 - 81 comments google+ icon

Michael Pietroforte is the founder and editor of 4sysops. He is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) with more than 30 years of experience in system administration.

Articles in this series

Vista x64 vs. Vista x86

Contents of this article
  1. Memory
  2. Performance

In my last post, I described my experiences with Vista x64. Today I will focus on two important topics related to the Windows 7 64-bit vs. Windows 32-bit controversy: memory and performance.

Memory

The most significant advantage of a 64-bit system is that it can use more than 4GB of RAM. One thing that has changed since I last concerned myself with this topic is that most new desktops and laptops now come with at least 4GB of RAM. The problem is that like Vista, Windows 7 x86 is capable of only using about 3 GB of RAM. By contrast, Windows 7 x64 cannot only make use of up to 16TB 192GB RAM, but is capable of using the memory remapping feature of modern BIOSes, which allows the operating system to really use the complete 4GB. Thus, if you install Windows 7 64-bit on a 4 GB machine you won’t waste 1 GB of RAM like you would with Windows 7 32-bit.

Microsoft-64-bitMoreover, it is only a matter of time until 3GB will no longer be enough for modern applications. One example is Windows 7′s XP Mode feature, which allows you to use legacy applications within a virtual machine running within Windows XP. This feature might prove to be useful for other purposes, for example running Office 2007 and Office 2003 on the same computer simultaneously. Since XP needs 512 MB-1GB to run properly, XP Mode is a RAM eater. As such, if you now deploy Windows 7 32-bit then you might be soon want to move to 64-bit, just because you will have to upgrade your machines with new memory. My own laptop has 8 GB of RAM and I can tell you that I need every byte of it. I’m lucky that my laptop supports up to 16GB.

Performance

In a previous article about Vista x64, I outlined how the 64-bit version will usually only perform better as it allows you to use more memory, rather than because of its computing capacity. Only applications that are optimized for 64-bit will run faster than their 32-bit counterparts. There are now significantly more 64-bit apps out there than a year ago, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that they will be faster than their 32-bit counterpart. Usually, there is only a special 64-bit edition because the 32-bit version wouldn’t run properly on a 64-bit Windows OS.

This is different only for some performance-dependent application types, such as mathematical software or video editing programs. Hence, if you have software whose vendor explicitly endorses 64-bit, then you might notice improved speed with Windows 7 x64.

On the other hand, Windows 7 64-bit won’t slow down your computer. There might be a little overhead in some computations because it logically takes longer to process 64 than 32 bits. However, in practice you won’t realize the difference. All performance tests I’ve seen prove that in most cases there is simply no noteworthy difference between 64-bit and 32-bit when it comes to performance.

However, this might soon change. There is no doubt that the future belongs to 64-bit. More and more software vendors will offer special 64-bit editions of their applications as time goes on. The most prominent software will be Microsoft Office 2010, which will also have a 64-bit variant. It remains to be seen whether Excel or Access will perform better in 64-bit.

In the next article of this series, I will cover Windows 7 64-bit’s software and hardware compatibility.

Series NavigationWindows 7 x64 or Windows 7 x86? My experiences with Vista 64-bit - Windows 7 64-bit vs. Windows 7 32-bit – Hardware and software compatibility

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81 Comments- Leave a Reply

  1. Job Hunting Tips says:

    I had no idea that 32-bit architectures could only handle a maximum of 3 GB of ram.

    Shocking that computer companies will allow you to build and ship a 32 bit system that has more.

  2. Yeah it is really funny. Most 4GB machines you see in the shelves these days come with Vista x86. This false belief that 32-bit supports 4GB is widespread.

  3. Donald Haase says:

    Your article contains a factual error: “Windows 7 x64 cannot only make use of up to 16TB RAM”. 16TB is simply one of the theoretical limits. In fact, no version of Windows 7 can address more than 192GB of RAM (not that it makes a huge difference).

  4. Donald, thanks! I corrected the article. I think there is a huge difference between 16TB and 192GB. ;-)

  5. Andrew H says:

    Windows 7 x64′s maximum RAM depends on what edition you have. You can only upgrade to 192 GB on Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate. The other editions support less maximum RAM.

    http://community.winsupersite.com/blogs/paul/archive/2009/04/25/revealed-more-windows-7-rc-details.aspx

  6. david says:

    can you have windows vista 64bit and/or windows 7 on a 32bit system or would it not work

    email me asap

    dave21raidrs@aol.com

  7. Kathie Miller says:

    We just bought 3 computers for our business and they all have Windows 7 Home Premium on them. It has a 64 bit and I tried loading our business software but when it wouldn’t load I called support and they told me the program only works with 32 bit. I’m guessing our only solution is to down-grade to XP so it will work. We hate Vista and won’t use that. I’m assuming we can’t change the windows 7 bit as I understand they have a 32 bit. This is just confusing and I’m really getting disgusted with the whole deal. I tried booting with our XP Professional upgrade but it didn’t recognize that we had a previous windows operating system. Any ideas? Of course microsoft support won’t help. On a new machine we should get free support.

  8. You could use your software with XP Mode. Another option is to install the 32-bit version of Windows 7.

  9. John says:

    What happens if I load windows xp7-x64 not -x32 on a computer using only 2g ddr2 ram?

  10. mehrdad says:

    hello , the perfect OS for computer is MACINTASH snow leopard

  11. morf says:

    Macintash? Thanks Mehrdad I’ll look out for that one. does it come with a spell checker?

  12. Dave says:

    I have Windows 7 Home premium x64 edition. My laptop has 4 Gigs of ram. I am a student and use it primarily for school and research and reading. I multi-task like crazy. sometimes 4 and 5 internet windows open receiving live feeds, word documents, pdf, downloads, etc… and i do this all at the same time split screen all that, and windows handles everything perfectly. I have no problems and have been quite shocked as to the performance level of windows7 x64. I am not the most computer savvy person however. Other than keeping lotsa junk off my startup programs, and not leaving millions of old applications installed, and clearing your internet files, is there other ways to maximize my use of ram so it can be more focused with performance.

  13. palookajoe says:

    In reply to mehrdad — December 18, 2009 about macintosh. IMO mac is the worst OS out there, hardly any progs work with it and having to mount everything is pretty bogus in my opinion….takes way too long to install programs. Mac is a minority and always will be.

  14. Haakon M says:

    In reply to palookajoe — February 17, 2010
    It shows that you have not used mac so much.
    Of course, there are most progs for windows-based computers since MS covers 90% of the world.
    “Having to mount everything is pretty bogus in my opinion”…well, well. I guess that you do not have Deamon Tools for Windows on your computer. That is a program that mounts ISO files. Pretty bogus… :D
    And program installation in OSX is very difficult and takes a looong time; literally drop the program icon in the program folder. That’s it. Takes me 5-10 seconds when i am tired.

    Try things before you criticise it.
    I have both a PC with W7 and a macbook pro with snow leopard. I like them both. W7 is the best OS from MS ever. But it has some features that OS10.6 does not have. And vice versa.

  15. Dave says:

    Response to john
    “What happens if I load windows xp7-x64 not -x32 on a computer using only 2g ddr2 ram?”

    It still makes it run better. You just probably won’t need W7x64 and could do just fine with the 32 bit version. Whatever you do get rid of vista, the user interface in my opinion is much smoother on 7.

    And for all those PC or MAC guys I would just like to say that I used MAC Snow leopard once and the next day my cat got ran over by a truck. Im not saying that had anything to do with it, but you can never be to careful and now I avoid using any MAC/OS:)

  16. Dave, I like your argument with the cat. I wonder how many snow leopards had to die because some Mac believers wanted a white covers for their car seats in their Jaguars. ;-)

  17. Grigsgr says:

    Hello. I read your article and i found it quite interesting.
    I came into this article because i was searching for a solution or an explenation for my problem.
    I was using windows 7 32bit and i decided to upgrade to the 64bit edition cause my laptop has got a 4GB DDR3 RAM.SO i installed the 64bit edition and using it for about two weeks.
    Since day one my laptop is running so much slower that with the 32bit edition and i cannot understand why. It is running slow and freezes on every program i may use. At this time i am using word 2007 and it is frozen. Can somebody explain to me why might this be happening? I am seriously thinking of downgrading to 32bit edition again.

  18. Moushir says:

    Respose to:
    Grigsgr — May 14, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

    Keep im mind iam just a 13 year old kid

    Maybe it does slow down because your Processor was not built to support 64 Bit of Windows making your installed version of windows 64 bit unsupportable by it.

    as i know iam not sure .. if u r not much into gaming and so u can buy a new processor that supports 64 bit making your computer work perfectly like said above, i never bought a 64 bit windows nor processor, so i don’t guarantee what i say

  19. SJS says:

    Puzzled; can somebody offer an answer to this one:

    I have a SONY VAIO notebook — 2Ghz dualcore processor, came with 3GB RAM installed and Vista Home Premium 32-bit. A software-check of the system says that this computer IS capable of running both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems.

    I recently upgraded the OS to Winows 7 — inadvertently installing the 32-bit version, thinking I was loading the 64-bit version — which I think I still will load — I guess as an upgrade.

    So here are my problems:

    1. If I now UPGRADE from my installed-Windows-7 32-bit to Windows-7 64-bit, will I lose all my installed program-settings? Took me HOURS to install all those programs, and I’d hate to have to do that all again.

    2. I’ve now upgraded the memory to 4GB. I had WANTED to bring it up to maybe 6GB or even 8GB, as I understand that Windows 7 64-bit can handle (and run better on) LOADS of RAM. But a memory-chip manufacturer, that I got in touch with, insisted that this model of VAIO (VGN-FZ340E) has a motherboard that CANNOT HANDLE OR RECOGNIZE more than 4GB, as “that’s what the manufacturer recommends as the maximum”. I contacted SONY too and they say the same thing, almost robotically — it just didn’t sound right, considering what I’ve read about the power of 64-bits to handle 192GB (or whatever) of RAM. So — CAN WHAT THEY SAID BE TRUE, or CAN MY VAIO HANDLE MORE THAN 4GB OF RAM (and run better as a result) if I run the 64-bit version of Windows 7?

    Any guidance would be appreciated.

  20. SJS, to your questions:

    1. Yes, you have to reinstall everything.
    2. There is no way to upgrade your laptop to more than 4GB RAM if your motherboard doesn’t support it.

    So it doesn’t make sense to upgrade to 64-bit in your case.

  21. shawn says:

    i have win 7 64bit home premium 64bit new OS install and my itunes loads very slow and so does winamp.
    other apps open fast but they just take forever to load.
    new install and i’m not putting joke on it. what could cause those apps and other apps to load so slow while others load fast.

  22. shawn says:

    i have 4gb ram btw

  23. din says:

    I install window 7 64bit for my labtop..i use 4gb of ram.
    but,why the system properties in my computer just detect (2.90 usable)ram?? tell me why..what should i do to display 4gb installed memory and 4gb ram are usable…

    is the 4gb of ram is already used or just 2.90 is usable??
    help me..

  24. whee says:

    make sure the ram is installed correctly and you have installed the right ram configuration. it should detect it before the OS loads

  25. sdef says:

    hi just got a new comp,2.9 duel core 4gb ram, with a trial run of win 7 32bit ,i play win games videos ect. the trial on win 7 is neally over,so i need to choose on if i should go to full win 7 64bit or 32bit just need a little help what would be better for games

  26. moogen says:

    Hi Michael first of all thanks this review i find it most helpful than the other once’s iv’e come across regarding win 7 x86 and x64.
    still my answer is not fully met.
    i’d appreciate it if you can help me. i just bought a new desktop.specs are;
    processor: i5
    motherboard: gigabyte h55
    vid card: geforce 9800gt(i’m not really sure if they fully support 64-bit but they have drivers for that)
    ram: only 2gb as of now.
    iv’e tried 32 bit win 7 ulti and found it fast but yet since i’m a hard user (i use 3d max etc, more on for graphic arts) and wanting cs5 that led me to use 64 bit cos of after effects but after converting to 64 bit iv’e experienced slow boot and start up. i tired gigabytes smart 6 which includes quickboot and quickboost(overclocking) which drove me way slower..so which version of win 7 should i really use..?and should a stay away from smart 6′s apps..?

    i really need help since iv’e been formatting my for about 10x by now and i think i’m already killing my hard drive :P thanks alot in advance..

  27. nitin pandey says:

    hi Michael..
    i have a problem with my lenovo laptop
    in my laptop 4 GB ram is installed but it shows only 2.96GB usable .now am using the win 7 32 bit
    should i upgrade it to 64 bit , i have i3 processor.
    i have heard that 64 bit can not be used with most software .

  28. sdef says:

    hi nitin pandey i just read up on this window 32 bit only do up to 3gb ram,anymore it wont use it, if you got over you need to go to 64bit.64bit go from 4gb ram to 192gb,, hope this helps

  29. Ravi says:

    Hi ,
    I am using Lenovo thinkpad with win 7 (64 bit) Intel core i5 with 8 gb Ram but when I run a very heavy excel (64 bit trial version) file my computer it says that less than 2 GB ram is used. Can you advise on why the remaining 6 GB of Ram is not used and how can i enable it.

  30. Pradip says:

    Hi Ravi,

    Activating all 6GB RAM do the following.
    start System configuration with folowing.
    Start-All programs-Run-msconfig
    Then go to option Boot and select Advanced option.
    Then check Maximum memory
    Press OK.
    After performing above changes reboot you system.

  31. generic says:

    The problem with only being able to use 3Gb of ram with 32 bit is only windows, linux, OSX, freeBSD and netBSD use 4Gb for 32 bit architectures and with a PAE, Physical Address Extension they can use 64Gb though access is slower for more than 4Gb. As far as I know windows does not support PAE. This is no really relevant because article only talks about windows and windows 64 bit is a lot better than the 32 bit version if you have a 64 bit processor it really makes sense to use 64 bit even if you have less than 3Gb or ram, though you might want to do something about that too. I just thought that the author should not say it is impossible on 32 bit architectures to use more than 3Gb and that he might want to mention this.

  32. Chris says:

    Hello, I am currently running Vista 32, My system says that it can handle a 64 bit version. I am planning on installing windows7 as a dual boot. My two questions were, Would it be better for me to install win7 32 or 64? My instructor at school, said 64 would be slower than 32 because not many companies offer 64 bit versions of their programs n’ drivers. I just wanna make sure that if I install the 64 bit version, everything will run quicker and smoother.
    My second question is, Do upgrade to a dual boot between 7 and vista do i go through the normal reformatting process or do i just pop in the win 7 DVD while Vista is running? Or do i just install from the boot and it gives me the option to do a dual boot then?

  33. enbeuu says:

    I retired my XP system; replaced with Win 7 upgraded to 7 Pro to uss “Virtual machine” for Outlook 2003 PST file for data; it worked but it’s too cumbersome.
    Resorted to purchasing Office 2010 package that includes Outlook 2010 and that program is so easy to migrate into the Win 7 operating system that it totally obviated the need to dual boot, OR even use the VM XP-Pro and outlook 2003.

    My machine only has 4 slots and DDR3 RAm is expensive, now: have added new DDR3 RAM in 4 GB increments; now at 12 GB total RAM and will go to 16 GB by next week; the only operation that is enhanced is Photo manipulation and DVD ripping.

    Never get system hangs due to RAM limits, though.

    DDR3 RAM modules are like gold prices, now, since DDR3 will follow price path e.g., of DDR PC3200, I’m sure.

  34. Aleksxander says:

    What i have heard about win systems.. 1st of alll i had win xp 64 bit there is no diference to 32bit os…. After many years came vista and after win 7…. nothing special…if u think good today we need only 4 gig memory. After taht i saw a forum for win 7 32 bit heck program to open memory to max .. like 64 gig memory russian progamer made that program .. and what after ?
    Why we need 192 gig memory these days when people found 64 bit is still not good as 32 bit ? In many years they did not made a good version and apps …. I am on computers since 1990 and i can tell you its worthless to think what is good what is bad what slows what doesnt slows. When i think from win 3.1 win 95 was great after that win 98 WAS TOP …. Performance everything…
    And after 32 bit was quick and now 64 bit so slow u cant imagine how slow… And i found in forums in win7 Forums The win 7 64 bit or vista it maybe slower for aplication that have use of 32 bit code for 10 percent or even more.. Wtf? So if we use 200 gig rams on need for speed why ? Or if we use on crysis ? NO USE !

  35. Aleksxander says:

    Yea i forgot to say the 64 bit windows doesnt give u more fps or faster games…. I am gamer thats why who is programer he needs more rams who got a machine as a server needs more rams… but a gamer… Why we need 6 gig rams “?

  36. Williams says:

    I Have Compaq C300 with 4gb ram while installing win7 64bit im getting hardware error.
    But win7 32 bit is working fine.
    Kindly this model will support the win7 64bit or not.

    Regards
    Williams

  37. Nayan says:

    1. Is turbo c++ or java work on windows 7 64 bit?
    2. i am a student. and i want to buy a laptop. what should i buy?
    3. i go with 64 bit or 32 bit.

  38. enbeUu says:

    Agree with this opinion; the limitation of 4GB RAM for the OS was limiting; for awhile Firefox, kept crashing, and it was the version; after they re-did the kernel of the browser, I’ve not had problems at all with this 64-bit version and its been with me for now over a year. Bought the 64 bit Outlook so I could use my database of contacts and addresses and it loads easily. I just don’t use it for email anymore; use google mail as it is easier to keep running; plus Google will keep all the mail on their servers, and it’s a $ multi-billion company that preserves the servers and the system is robust beyond anything, I’ve seen today.

  39. Mike B says:

    Got a few questions that maybe you can answer. I’m doing some performance testing and would like to draw from your experience. Specifically, I have a Toshiba Laptop with 4GB of memory, Window 7 64bit OS & Office 2010 64bit version. I was running an Excel performance test where there are 2 worksheets in a workbook. WS1 has 764,000 rows & 25 columns and WS2 has 32,000 rows & 22 columns. I added a column in WS1 to do a simple straigt forward Vlookup. Column A in WS1 looking for exact match in WS2 column 3. Just wanted see what kind of performance gain I would really see with the 64bit OS & Office. Copied the formula (Manual Calcuation Option Checked) on all 764,000 rows and then pressed F9 to calculate. Took about 1 hr 10 min to calculate. Watched the task manager and noticed that both CPU’s were being used at 100%, Excel taking up about 89 to 93% of the CPU’s. The laptop memory usuage for the Excel process never got above 870MB and total memory usage was only at 52%. I was under the impression that the 64bit version would use all available memory and I would expect it to hit close to the 4GB mark for the Excel process. I set the option to use 10 threads and tried that option with various numbers of threads, but got same results. I had run a similar test on a 32bit OS (XP) & Office 2010 32bit versions and got similar results. Am I missing something? Is there another setting/option that I should be using? Any experience with this? Thanks!

  40. enbe says:

    I am not an Excel user; your performance numbers seem too slow for processing or for use. Do you know of a 64-bit Win 7 sysstem with ~ > 12GB RAM; moast systems are using DDR3 DIMMS now; that should speed it up. Try processing on a system that already has more RAM ans see if that speeds the calculations. Not knowing your program on that system; that’s the best thought I have.

  41. Anton says:

    I currently have a 2006 Macbook with an upgraded 320GB hard drive, and I have upgraded it to 2GB of RAM. I want to partition the hard drive, so I can load Windows 7 on it. I have a 2 GHz Intel Core Duo processor and 2GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM with Mac OS 10.6.7. Should I use the 64-bit or 32-bit version of Windows 7? Can my computer handle the 64-bit version without slowing things down, or should I use the 32-bit since I only have 2 GB or RAM? Thanks for the help!

  42. Moses says:

    Hi Michael,

    How are you?

    I have a question, I have an ASUS notebook with windows 7 ultimate 64 bit and 8gb RAM installed. Though my notebook supports 8 GB, in BIOS, CPU-Z and PC Wizard it shows 8GB, but in windows my computer properties and task manager it only sees 4GB.

    Is this a windows problem?

    I have 2 4GB DDR3 1333 RAM installed.

    Hope you could reply to my query.

    Take care and God bless!

    Moses

  43. jay says:

    comment # 30 is the only one with a straight forward answer for me here, it work fine for me, now i can use my windows7 64bit without all the delay and slow down. i also change the processor to 2 in the setting.

    thanks bunch

  44. Karsten says:

    You wrote: “because it logically takes longer to process 64 than 32 bits.”

    This cannot be true as your entire system is now 64 bit which means that it will calculate 64 bit instead of 32 on the old systems.

    So processing 64 bit takts the same time as processing 32 bit, which is the whole point behind upgrading.

  45. Karsten, what I meant is that 64-bit programs are usually larger than their 32 counterparts. For instance, this means that it takes longer to load a 64-bit program from the hard disk. As mentioned in the article, the difference is only small in most cases. The whole point about upgrading usually is not performance but a larger address space.

  46. arshad says:

    hello sir my name is arshad and i am from india i have dell inspiron n4010 with 4gb ram and i5 460m prossesor i was using windows 7 32bit and my ussable ram was 2.99gb and at that time gta4 and crysis 2 where running with a frame rate of 35-50 frames per second i thought that i should upgrad my os to 64bit for optimized performance and i installed win7 64bit but pooooo every thing is just went crash now these games run with 12-15frames secone max suggest me what should i do now downgrad my laptop or what thanks please read my comment and tell me what to do

  47. Hari Prasad says:

    I am interested to purchase HP-pavilion-dv6-6017TX- which is an Intel core Ir 2630qm @2.0Ghz. which comes with windows 7 home premium-64 bit operating system. Can i use this system for design software’s like uni graphics-NX6,NX7, pro-Engineering and autocad12…etc

    Please pass on your valuable comments.

  48. arshad says:

    hi hari my friend is using that same thing which you are talking about.but in my opinion a 64 bit os is good for gaming but if you are talking about soft ware disinging you should go for a 32 bit operating system because it is friendly with most of the software but if you are having 64 bit it may not be friendly or some software will not run in it that thing is good and you may buy it but try for windows 7 32 bit ultimate .please tell me that it was use full or not and can yousolve my problem.

  49. Fouad says:

    Dear Michael

    Thank you for this useful site.
    How much memory will a 32-bit application installed on a Win7-64bit with 16GB of RAM, use?
    1- 16GB addressable by the Win7 OS
    2- 3GB limitation because the application is 32bit
    3- Depending on the application itself
    (The Application is 3DS Max for example)
    Your prompt reply will be highly appreciated.

  50. Pradeep nama says:

    Can any one define me properly differences between architecture of Windows 7 x64 and Windows 7 x86.And suitable think about 32bit and 64bit system.

  51. Paul says:

    Hello,
    I have a 3GB laptop was running Win7 x64 straight from the shop. A year on I needed to re-install windows, I had both x64 and x32 copies, with the x64 disk not working, i have found that x32 runs loads smoother and well within the system resources. Is it safe to say that if you’ve got less than 4GB, always opt for x32?

  52. Arubi Lucky says:

    I have a Window 7 (64 bit) Laptop and a Window Vista (64 bit) Mini Tower Computer but having some problems running some of my applications, a 32 bit application. So how do I make it work even on these Computers.

    I copied a folder containing a FoxBase + from a 32 bit Computer to these my 64 bit Computer but would not work

    Can I also have any FoxBase + program that can run on 64 Bit Computer from anyone please

  53. sebi says:

    i have been using w7 hom basic for ma dell inspiron lap 15.6″. recently i instaled w7 ultimate 32-bit. it shows som variation in my display. it is not like as it before.
    is there any variation in the display of 64 & 32 bit.
    i dont have the dell drive disc . the function keys were not working properly..!!!
    and the sleep option seems desabled.

  54. Marcelo Cantos says:

    The theoretical address-space limit for a 64-bit architecture is not 16 TB, it’s 16 EB, or, more accurately, 16 EiB (2⁶⁴ = 2⁴×(2¹⁰)⁶).

  55. y0man says:

    y0! just install e.g. server 2003 32bit on a 4GB machine and see, how much it uses without any tricks.. just for info… why should 32bit not be able to use 4GB ?

  56. A1D4N says:

    Ok the bit that I dont understand is, by what I have read a 32 bit system can handle at a max up to 4gb of ram where as a 64 bit system can handle wayyy more due to the amount of revolutions of the processor? But if a 64 bit system can handle a significan amount more than the 32 bit system why do they sell some of the 64 bit systems with only 4gb of ram, is this not just restricting them to the same as the 32 bit??? Im trying my best to understand any help ould be greatly appreciated. :’)

  57. A1D4N, actually 32-bit systems usually can only handle 3GB and as I have outlined in this series, 64-bit has other advantages.

  58. A1D4N says:

    Michael Pietroforte, yes I have read that, I have been reading various forums and websites on the matter and that has come up quite a bit but hat im stuck on is the fact that say 32 bit systems only use 3gb then you are waisting 1gb of ram but 64 bit machines can handle upto 16eb? now no computer is sold with 16eb of ram so is a 64bit computer with say 4gb of ram limited to 4gb instead of the 16eb it is capable of?

  59. How much RAM a PC can use depends not only on the operating system, but also on the motherboard. You have to ask the PC vendor how much memory the machine supports. Most PCs can be upgraded to more than 4GB. The reason why PCs with 4GB are sold with Windows 64-bit is because you would waste 1GB with Windows 32-bit.

  60. johne53 says:

    Interesting to read the comments from people who upgraded to Win64 and then found their machines running slower! I’m guessing they probably carried on using their old 32-bit apps after the upgrade. Some programmer colleagues and myself are working on a Windows app (currently 32-bit) and have noticed how sluggish it is when run on Windows 7 64-bit. We’ve spent months trying to find a reason for this in our own code but can’t find anything. Presumably Win64 needs to emulate a 32-bit VM for running each 32-bit app. From the tests we’ve done, the emulated processor seems to be roughly equivalent (performance wise) to an old Pentium IV or AMD Athlon etc from about 10 years ago. i.e. 32-bit apps will run but not necessarily very well. I don’t know if it’s possible to ‘tweak’ the VM performance but I’d be really interested to find out.

  61. Marcelo Cantos says:

    32-bit software doesn’t run virtualised in a 64-bit OS. There are some performance penalties associated with accessing 64-bit OS functionality via some kind of adaption layer, but the penalties are quite small. A sizeable chunk of OS functionality runs in user space, for which 32-bit versions of the system libraries are available, and kernel-level functions go through an adaption layer for all processes, not just 32-bit ones.

    Note in particular that MS Office runs 32-bit even on a 64-bit OS (there is a 64-bit Office, but almost no one installs it due to some significant limitations vs the 32-bit version). I run 32-bit Office 2010 under 64-bit Windows 7, which is itself running in VMWare Fusion on my MacBook Pro notebook. It starts Excel in under one second. I generated some data and got it to plot a graph of four thousand data points with lines and markers, then resized and moved the graph around. So far I haven’t been able to measure the time it takes to do any of these operations. They are effectively instantaneous. Microsoft would be skinned alive if Office regressed to ca 2001 performance.

    There are some performance implications due to the larger size of pointers, which also makes lookup tables and other kernel data structures grow in size, which in turn hurt cache locality. But again, the difference should be imperceptible to most real-world users.

    By far the most common cause of performance issues on PCs in the real world is lack of RAM. Most of the complaints above seem to involve machines with 4 GB RAM or less. That really isn’t enough these days. Even 32-bit systems are at the threshold of pain running modern OSs and software. 64-bit systems, being just a little bit more memory-hungry, tend to push these systems over the edge. Get more RAM. 6 GB should be the minimum, with a preference for 8 or 12. Alternatively (or in addition), switch to an SSD; due to the negligible seek times, this will dramatically reduce the cost of paging when RAM is exhausted.

  62. handa fanda says:

    i would wait till all my programms offically support 64 bit os as simple as that

  63. Leevy says:

    No one actually mentioned why is 32 bit OS limited to only 3 GB of memory, I mean can’t someone just write a hotfix or something ?

  64. Jack McCarty says:

    I purchased a used 3DBoxx from a graphics artist w/ Vista Ultimate 64-bit running (but kinda shaky) and decided to upgrade to stable Win7 Ultimate. The system on Vista was showing all 18GB of RAM useable. When I upgraded with a clean install (it’s complicated…that was the path travelled) to Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit, only 3GB is useable. The upgrade was a costly mistake if I can’t get the existing installed memory all working as a team. How do I harvest all that sweet memory that I saw working on Vista 64-bit?

  65. Load the default BIOS settings and also make sure that you don’t limit the RAM with msconfig to 3GB.

  66. geebs46 says:

    Great article and posts – and sorry if I’ve missed something obvious :) I’m soon receiving an on-line purchase viz an i5 processor c/w 8 gb ram. If I choose to install 32 bit version of windows 7, will 5gb ram be wasted (or will the processor be thankful I bought extra ram on the basis that some software eg speech recognition works best with plenty of ram)? BTW if the future is 64 bit, I’m not exactly seeing positive posts above!

  67. geebs46 says:

    Hey re my post #68, I think I’ve actually managed to unravel the issues – ‘found the link below that essentially seems to indicate there will be no problems running 32 bit programs on my likely implementation of the Windows 7 64 bit o/s that will access/make full use of the 8gb ram I’ve ordered. I assume that 32 bit software with an i5 cpu is all gonna work pretty fast :) Best

    http://community.office365.com/en-us/f/172/p/5547/22027.aspx#22027

  68. Bobby says:

    3GB hotfix LOL!!

    I am actually surprised that you are not mentioning the architecture issues involved in using 32bit programs on a 64bit OS. Pretty much, a 32bit program using 1GB of memory in a 32bit OS will consume 2GB in a 64bit OS. So if you are just using 32bit program thats pretty much all of them today and you have 4GB of RAM you are better off using a 32bit OS and use 3GB than using W64bits and getting only to use 2GB!!!

  69. Marcelo Cantos says:

    @Bobby: If a 32-bit process asks the OS to allocate, say, 512 MB of RAM, why would a 64-bit OS hand over double that amount?

  70. black boricat says:

    laptop or notebooks has a limitation in putting RAM, thats why when you put a 2x 4gb(8gb) ram, sometimes they read only 4gb, it depends on the brand manufacturer,

  71. Alex says:

    Well, as for the “Performance” you have stated that 64-bit applications fare better than their 32-bit counterparts. I am sorry to say, that really depends on the developer doing the coding and what tools / compilers and linkers they use. Sometimes the 64-bit applications are worse in terms of speed.

    I know this because I am an electrical, electronic and software engineer. I’ve seen my share of doozies on a 64-bit OSes when applications are written for 64-bit only.

    A note about the way Intel and AMD x86 machines are created along with their chip sets. The 32-bit address space is in fact 4 GB RAM maximum, however it will vary on how much of the RAM is usable because of inefficiencies in the hardware chip sets they use. Some will have better support for more memory than others. There is another part to chip sets many people don’t know or talk about. Some chip sets in the BIOS will allow you to take certain devices off the memory mapping which will allow you to gain more RAM in certain situations.

    For example, you have say, Windows XP Home 32-bit and you have a Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-US2H version 1 motherboard with 4 GB RAM installed, set at 512 MB RAM for video. Currently, you will have a max of 2.75 GB RAM usable showing but there is an option in the BIOS that allows you to switch the 512 MB of RAM for video above the 4 GB RAM barrier, now that works in 64-bit OSes but does something very interesting in a 32-bit OS such as the 32-bit version of XP, Vista or 7, it will get drop in the area of the RAM you can’t normally see with the OS, it gets remapped. So it then will show as 3.25 GB of RAM that is usable while the system is still 100% functional, with no problems. There are little tricks you can use for certain motherboards to eek out little bits of RAM here and there for a 32-bit OS like XP, this works for Windows 2000 as well, if you were curious.

    As it stands, most people don’t understand how memory is addressed in a computer in 32-bit let alone 64-bit mode. This harkens back to the days of expanded and extended mode addressing of memory.

    Expanded memory model means that memory is directly addressed and is not paged, you can see the full 4GB or what ever is installed. You need a 64-bit system and CPU to install more than 4GB RAM however (in the case of AMD / Intel).

    However, the way in which things worked in the newer Intels / AMDs and to have the different modes on the processors work well with each other; Virtual, Real, Protected and other modes, they had to use paged memory addressing aka extended mode addressing. It depends how each chip set would implement the ability of using extended mode addressing, it’s not just a CPU thing in this case, unfortunately (it would be so much easier if it was). Also, it would also have to do with what options they were putting in their chip set and whether or not a PC manufacturer was going to implement all those features or find a way to shut those options off to gain a little more RAM. Some of the older chip sets would not allow you to disable parts or features, it’s was either on or off and as a fixed memory map.

    Now, I will address the speed of RAM vs. more RAM. The speed of RAM like the speed of the CPU and now the GP-GPUs can have significant impact on frame rates of games. Coupled with the fact that not many memory designs are all that great to begin with. The idea of double or quad rate data RAM sounds great but really it’s not. The industry is actually cheating and getting away with it.

    For example, the data is double data rate but does that really mean? It’s double the data rate than single data rate RAM but that applies to read or seek only not writing, if they were to implement writing cycles to be at the same speed as reading, you would see a huge difference in the way your computer operates. Also, the speed at which the RAM addressing occurs is the same as a single data rate vs. double date rate. When I say addressing, I mean the decoding of an address in memory, not the actual data itself. If they doubled that, in addition to double data rate for read and write, that would be tremendous in terms of performance. However, it’s not.

    The reason why people don’t get very good performance in general from DDR series RAMs is the way they are designed and constructed. They are designed to give a moderate increase in performance while fairly easy to construct on the assembly lines in the RAM manufacturing companies.

    There are other DRAM like methods and designs that can give a lot more performance per Watt, such as the Rambus XDR and XDR2 series RAM chips. However, chip set manufacturers would have to retool completely to gain the speed available in those chips.

    Now, I will talk a bit about the mathematical software, people seem to think that by doing everything in 64-bit operands in machine language / assembly that their equations will magically (er logically and arithmetically) be way faster than their 32-bit counterparts which just isn’t true all the time. There is a lot more problems on a 64-bit processor than on a 32-bit, also if you host a 32-bit application on a 64-bit processor you have more problems. I’ve written both 32 and 64-bit assembly language programs in sufficient complexity that do vector mathematical calculations and other complex subjects for near real-time simulations. Some data is just better to be left in 32-bit instructions because of the timing issues with the 64-bit instructions.

    If you are on a fully 64-bit system, meaning only does 64-bit, the BIOS is written in expanded mode addressing, the OS is written in the same way and you don’t or rather can’t host a 32-bit OS on that without emulating (in a sandbox environment like VirtualBox), then you may see an increase in absolute speed, maybe, just maybe.

    It all goes back to the chip set you have in your system and whether or not you were told the truth about the system you bought; chip set, CPU, memory, etc. Many people are not told the truth about their system before they get it because they wouldn’t buy it otherwise.

    If you do computational work, having RAM with tight timings and descent bandwidth is good but for gaming it’s the opposite, high bandwidth is necessary but go as tight as the RAM will allow at the bandwidth you are running.

    There are far too many variables to accurately say that you will get more computational power out of a 64-bit OS from Microsoft vs. that of a 32-bit OS from Microsoft. It’s all about details, Michael.

    Besides, a video editing piece of software, you should be using workstation grade video cards with a lot of texture RAM among other things and usually those workstations have big beefy CPUs in them, AMD Opterons or Intel Xeons for the big companies that do this for a living. When you do video editing, it’s never done in real time so some people can get by with a 32-bit system, depending on again the details of the project. While, I personally would use a 64-bit system, I also would be using Linux x64 (custom kernel and scheduler not to host the common 32-bit applications and processes (er, I should call them daemons) to do what I need to do. :)

  72. Alex says:

    I have some news for all of you that think that the Apple Macintosh computers based on the Intel series CPUs is a good deal. They really aren’t. They are standard workstation motherboards with Apple Computer’s name silk screened on them.

    Snow Leopard has more things in common with FreeBSD than NextStep from the days of the NeXT computers. The bulk of the source code was back-ported to the newly OpenDarwin standard before it was shutdown and absorbed by Apple Computer as well as the people who worked on the OpenDarwin OS itself. By the way, you can get a copy of FreeBSD and source code if you are brave enough (let alone know what you are doing with a compiler, debugger and linker).

    You can get incomplete open source for Darwin except it doesn’t include the Xfce GUI desktop, for which you have to come up with yourself.

    The same problem is found on Apple based on the Intel series of CPUs and chip set that plagues the standard PCs. You install 4GB of RAM, some of the chip set gets in the way and occupies the RAM space of the 4GB you’ve installed.

    Now if computers were designed correctly, you would have accessory space as a page or separate address space in parallel to the main memory and accessible through special registers in the CPU or MMU (Memory Management Unit, the old days back in the early 1980s to 1990s they were still using these as a separate chip outside that of the CPU itself).

    The problem with this design however is that the accessories would then need their own scratchpad memory aka work RAM which is well, expensive. I know there are computers out there with this exact configuration but most of them are relegated to R&D work, drug and genetic research for the most part. They don’t have the idea of extended memory as I said before, they have expanded memory, direct mapping of components or options in accessory slots and of course a crap load of RAM. Since the memory is accessed as a linear block, there is less programming necessary for this type of addressing mode.

    Granted, these next two companies I can consider a worthy opponents as they do workstation and server motherboards however I am currently in a private industry with clients with special considerations, so I don’t see them as a threat, more of a friendly competition. I will vouch for the quality and services of both SuperMicro and EVGA, they both make great Intel dual Xeon based motherboards for which if you felt adventurous you could actually make a Apple Darwin clone and desktop GUI of what Apple calls OS X, Snow Leopard and Lion releases with these boards.

    However, a notable mention is another group doing just that, making an operating system to work along side OS X except for free, don’t have to pay for it. They are running into some hitches here and there but I am sure they will figure it out, they’re a bright bunch of people. The name of project is called, PureDarwin, just Google or DuckDuckGo it.

  73. Alex says:

    Also, there is an edition that can go above the 192GB RAM barrier however, the cost of the OS itself from Microsoft is horrendous. The maximum memory it can access is 512GB RAM. Also, the problem with chip sets getting in the way of the full 512GB RAM also occurs even on the 64-bit systems. Even if you have the full 512GB installed, you won’t be able to use 100% of it. :)

    Look up the following:

    Microsoft Windows 2003 64-bit Datacenter Edition

  74. Alex says:

    In response to the comment that was left that pertains to this, “what is the recommended of hardware i need to install windows 7 64 bit and i want that he is not stuck to me and go slowley”, from Barak.

    Well, that’s a tough one really, depends on what you are going to use that Windows 7 x64 edition computer for?

    If it’s games, you should go with Intel, I know there are a lot of AMD fanboys and girls out there, as I am one as well but there comes a time when the statistics speak for themselves. AMD has been lagging behind in performance per GHz and per Watt for a little while now.

    Well, if you need absolute speed and power, a tradition motherboard manufacturer would come to mind either SuperMicro or EVGA. I would learn toward the EVGA Classified SR-1 motherboard if you need Intel Dual Xeon multi-core processors, 6-cores a piece, so you have 12 cores but 24 hardware threads. Of course, that system when fully built is effing expensive. That’s what you get for a good workstation.

    However, you could get by with an i7 motherboard from EVGA or Asus ROG certified series if you are a gamer. It all boils down to how much you can spend on the overall system. The Windows 7 x64 is slightly heavily load than Windows XP x64.

    Note: If you want a fast system you should look at getting a big beefy PSU that doesn’t skimp on the accessory power rails because that is where many computer manufacturers try to cheat people, which is dangerous for their reputation.

    This sounds like an off the wall power rating but since the systems are eating more and more power each time they come up with a faster CPU and memory technology. 900 Watts minimum is not out of the question. By the way, not all power supply units (PSUs) are the same, some have more or less current on certain voltages.

    If I knew more of what you are going to use this thing for in terms of maximal use, Barak, I could give you a better idea of what to look for and the possible price range.

  75. Nick Izak says:

    Technically this is a really bad and misleading article.

    There are hacks out there to use more memory for 32-bit versions of Windows. Even Microsoft supported Windows Server 2003 32-bit versions for 8/16Gb with PAE. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/aa366796(v=vs.85).aspx

    Just Google “windows 7 memory hack 32 bit”

  76. Nick, technically it is a really bad and misleading advice to install an unsupported hack of some Russian crackers just to use more RAM on a 32-bit system. 64-bit is the standard now and there is no more reason to run a 32-bit Windows on a 64-bit CPU. Even Microsoft’s PAE caused many issues and nobody uses it anymore. For an extensive discussion of PAE read the comment section here.

  77. simran singh says:

    i have a core 2 duo processor with 2.93ghz, 4gb of RAM. and 320+160gb of hard disk. Is window 7 64bit is suitable for my pc??

  78. Alex says:

    simran singh says:
    December 15, 2012 at 3:52 am

    i have a core 2 duo processor with 2.93ghz, 4gb of RAM. and 320+160gb of hard disk. Is window 7 64bit is suitable for my pc??
    ________________________________________________________________________

    Yes, you can use it but depending on what you are going to use it for, you might be better off using the 32-bit version of Win 7. Put it this way, very few applications actually use 6-bit binaries / executables. The only time I actually recommend you use 64-bit Win 7 or other OSes is that if you have a 64-bit CPU and can expand past 4 GB of RAM, some system boards or laptops / notebooks / netbooks only allow a max of 2 ~ 4 GB of RAM despite having a 64-bit CPU. The 64-bit OSes from Microsoft also require slightly more RAM to run so if you are limited in that aspect, stick with 32-bit.

    There is another thing that needs to be addressed, the software that uses say the COMM ports, Parallel Ports (LPT) are handled differently in 64-bit mode on the CPU and in the BIOS than when it’s running in 32-bit mode. Case and point, the older 32-bit terminal emulation applications that are unaware of the change in the BIOS will try to call a real mode from the x86 BIOS and will return as an error, it won’t be able to access the hardware in that regard because the 32-bit BIOS which also supports 8 and 16 bit calls are not supported in the 64-bit BIOS, also it’s written completely different.

    Now, the thing is this, Microsoft has official dropped 8 and 16-bit support but you can still install a 3rd party application to handle this if you are in 32-bit mode on a 64-bit CPU and give you access to that. If you want access to that capability you need to install a hardware emulator package in 64-bit, what it does is convert from 64-bit mapping and code on the physical OS and 32-bit on the virtual addresses, the software running inside this won’t know anything different than if were running natively. If you need the application names to do this very thing, just drop a note here.

    Another thing, games that use the older DirectX 9.0c support libraries all use less than 4 GB of RAM, the DirectX 9.0c run-times are 32-bit, granted there is a special developers’ edition of DX9 that is 64-bit but that never made it to the mainstream as being used on the open market.

    Something else to remember, most games are CPU / GPU and memory hogs but adding more memory to the system doesn’t always make it faster even if you have a 64-bit system and more than 4 GB of RAM installed. 64-bit bit Win 7 is slightly slower in execution of 32-bit games. If this is what you are going to use it for, games,
    I would recommend 32-bit Win7 if you are going to use it for production of games, big data (data mining), surfing and playing games at the same time (don’t recommend on a portable) than do 64-bit.

    It’s all about what and how you use your computer that will determine if you have a “need” for 64-bit Win 7 and how far your can physically expand your RAM. Hope this gives you a little help.

    Oh by the way, most DX10, DX10.1, (Win Vista) DX11 (Win Vista & 7) and the new DX11.1 (Win8) games are still, only 32-bit, can only see up to 4 GB of RAM.

  79. Alex says:

    I made an error in my above statement:

    Quote:
    “Put it this way, very few applications actually use 6-bit binaries / executables.”

    It is supposed to read as:

    “Put it this way, very few applications actually use 64-bit binaries / executables.”

    My apologies!

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