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Windows 7: Is 32bit Win7 better than 64bit for most purposes?

08 May 2012   #1

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 Pro 64-bit

This is just a personal opinion and others may very well disagree. But I think Windows 7 64-bit is better than 32-bit simply because of the ability to make better use of installed memory. A 32-bit machine is limited to 4GB minus whatever memory might be set aside for graphics, etc. Most folks see about 3 - 3.5GB of usable RAM on a 32-bit machine. If your machine is upgradeable (or came with) more than 4GB RAM then 64-bit is the way to go.

As far as using older legacy XP programs you could try running them in compatibility mode.

Compatibility Mode

Or, since you indicate you're using Ultimate, you also have the option to download the free Windows XP Mode which may let you have an even better experience.

Windows XP Mode - Windows 7 features - Microsoft Windows

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08 May 2012   #2

MS Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit

Another vote for the recommendations from marsimar (us South Texans think alike).

64 bit is the only choice in my opinion.

Here's another link for you:
32-bit and 64-bit Windows: frequently asked questions
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08 May 2012   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

There is a performance hit when virtualizing, but it isn't as much as you'd think. I've also found that most apps that need to be virtualized are so old, the virtual machine still provides MUCH more power than the original systems that those games/apps would need. For example, a VM on my system is still a much faster compuer than the original StarCraft was every tested to run it works fine.
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11 May 2012   #4

Windows 7 x64

Another reason: I think that Windows 7 is mostly installed in x64 variants. Thus software developers have optimized for that scenario.
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11 May 2012   #5
Microsoft MVP


If less than 4gb RAM I prefer 32 bit for better performance.

With 4gb RAM a 64-bit factory preinstall is noticeably faster with ordinary use after reinstalling 32 bit - however this can also be due to losing the bloatware.

There are uses where 64 bit makes a difference, but it would surely need more RAM to matter? I think making 4gb standard for OEM PC's preinstalled with 64 bit is a flaw and would upgrade RAM if I needed it for uses which function best with 64 bit like PhotoShop.

You'll also have some RAM apportioned to hardware. You can see how much on a bar graph by typing Resource Monitor in Start Search box, click on Memory tab.
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24 May 2013   #6

Window 7 32/64
Great question!

Sorry for the "late update" but... I have been building and reconditioning pcs for years.

Seems to me that Windows 7 32-bit seems to run much faster with the same amount of RAM than 64-bit. Considering that many older pcs max out at 4GB (some even 2GB), 32-bit is a great choice.

Understand that 32-bit Windows sometimes won't "see" more than 3GB, even if the machine has 4 (and 4 is the maximum that 32-bit Windows can see in any event).

I would use a minimum of 2GB RAM, using 3GB to start is a better choice if possible.

I have taken machines that were running XP and upgraded them to Windows 7/32 and they are running much better than XP was; over time, the mound of XP updates and patches took its toll, and XP got "sloggy" on many of these computers, so it was time to retire or regroove them. The ones that I've upgraded to Windows 7/32 have new lives. BTW good idea to get rid of those PATA drives and use SATA if you can! AND, Windows 7 is designed to work with SSDs, XP is not SSD-friendly! Slower machines greatly benefit from the use of SSDs, if you want to try these.

You also gain some compatibility with older apps when using 32-bit Windows 7. So.. if your older machine can be upgraded to Windows 7, and you don't need (or have) more than 3-4GB RAM, consider the 32-bit version.

FYI, OEM key codes seem to be usable with both OEM Windows 7/32 and /64, so you can try both if you have the time and inclination.

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24 May 2013   #7

Windows 8 Pro (32-bit)

I've found that Windows 32-bit does run way better than 64-bit on the same hardware if it only has 2gb of RAM. While windows 64-bit does remove support for 16-bit apps, I do believe the 64-bit CPU also is unable to support them (I'm unsure though). I wouldn't be comfortable running apps that old however, as they predate malware and it's effect on software design.
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25 May 2013   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

Most CPUs built in recent years are 64 bit. They are fully capable of running 16 bit applications in real mode or under a 32 bit OS. 64 bit operating systems are not able to run 16 bit code because they lack the 16 bit subsystem that is necessary to do so. 64 bit systems can run 16 bit code when running a compatible OS under a virtual machine.

16 bit applications would be immune from all malware except that which is designed to infect 16 bit systems, which is very little.
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26 May 2013   #9

Windows 7 Professional x64

I've found my internet browsers (choose one: IE, Firefox, or Chrome) use more & more RAM over the past 18-24 months with each new update. They used to use 2 GB, now they use over 4 GB when I'm surfing all day. This is why I had to switch to 64 bit Win 7; because my XP machine didn't have enough RAM to run the browser for more than 2-4 hours without crashing the browser. Now with Win 7 64-bit, I bootup using 3 GB of RAM and my browser usage typically runs me up to the 5.5-6.5 GB line.

My dad needs his XP machine upgraded or replaced, it's 5 years old. He's not on the internet much at all so the browser problem wouldn't likely bother him. He can't do Windows 8, so it's a question of putting Win 7 32-bit on the 2nd partition, or shopping e-bay for used Win 7 machines. We've got only a few months left to pick up a Win 7 disk online, they go offsale at the end of October.
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26 May 2013   #10
Microsoft MVP


Guard your browser Add-ons like a rottweiler. You really only need Flash unless you're prompted for something else and don't need to run it all the time. Otherwise a lot of crap gets lodging in there freeloading on your resources and often spying on you, which is another reason I wouldn't let anything start with the PC except a lean mean AV like Microsoft Security Essentials.

If you remove add-ons they often will keep running/spying from the registry, so its best to root them out with - Downloads.

And of course never run the bloated worst-possible Windows 7 factory OEM preinstall but instead Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7 or until you can get the perfect install I would at least Clean Up Factory Bloatware
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 Is 32bit Win7 better than 64bit for most purposes?

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