After enough confusion buying a computer about what type processor, what size hard drive, blah, blah, blah….my book covers all the parts in detail about what parts to consider what about, we’ve had the extra option of 32bit vs. 64bit on our hands. Here’s some information to help clarify what it is and how you can choose and if it’s worth it.
Older systems you’d have to purchase a special 64 bit processor in order to handle the 64 bit Windows. Today, new computers usually all have 64 bit compatible processors. It’s just what type of Windows was installed on it. So for starters, there is only one peice of hardware to consider with regards to 32 bit vs 64 and that is the processor. So, let’s see now how to tell if your processor is 64 bit compatible, why you would need it, and are there any down sides to going to a 64 bit.
How to tell if your processor is 64 bit compatible?:
This is easy if you’re using Windows 7 already. Right click on My computer and go to properties. Click the link where it says “Windows Experience Index”.
Next, click on the link that says “View and print detailed performance and system information.
You will then see a Window that tells you what your current system type is 32 or 64 bit, and 64-bit capable Yes or no.
If you are not using Windows 7, try CPU ID which is available free at http://www.cpuid.com/ . During the install you might want to uncheck the option “I accept the terms of the Ask…” or it will add another unwanted toolbar to your browser.
When you run the program, you’ll see beside “Instructions” like in my example MMX, SSE (1, 2, 3, 3S0, EM64T. If you see 64, it is a 64 bit capable system you have. If you see 32, it is obviously a 32 bit system you are running and not capable of running 64.
Why would you need or want 64 bit?:
Unless you are using your computer mainly for graphics design and/or video editing /video production, you won’t notice a difference in speed. The price difference is nothing since all hardware is compatible now and all you need is the 64 bit software which is the same price as the 32 bit software. So with that said, if it’s all the same price and 64 bit is that much faster, why not go for 64 bit? That leads me to my next point.
Are there any down sides to 64 bit?:
When 64 bit first came out there were many issues with compatibility with various software programs. Today, it’s alot different. Most programs designed for 32 bit version of Windows will work on a 64 bit version of Windows. However, most programs designed for a 64 bit version of Windows will not work on a 32 bit. Device drivers such as printers need to be considered. If you have a printer that currently works on your 32 bit version of Windows and you’re considering upgrading to 64 bit, make sure your printer has the 64 bit version of the printer driver available on the manufacturers website before you commit to making the change.
Can I easily upgrade from 32 bit Windows to 64 bit?
No. Unforuntately you need to backup everything, write down your settings and format the hard drive and do a fresh clean install of Windows.