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Windows 7: 32 bit or 64 bit with 4 GB RAM

22 Apr 2010   #1
steve1999

windows 7
 
 
32 bit or 64 bit with 4 GB RAM

We will be shortly ordering a number of new PCs, all with 4 GB RAM. We are unlikely to upgrade RAM in the future. I would like to understand whether I should be ordering it with the 32 or 64 bit version of Windows 7. My understanding is that Windows can only use about 3.5 GB with the 32 bit version? Does this mean that the remaining RAM is completely wasted? Or can it be used for other purposes, such as drivers?

Our PCs are primarily used for MS Office applications.

Thank you in advance for your help.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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22 Apr 2010   #2
not so gray matter

W7 Ult. x64 | OS X
 
 

32-BIT operating systems can only use 2.5 to 3.6GB of ram max. You'll need a 64-bit OS if you plan on using all of that ram. It should be noted however that within the operating system you'll see your actual amount of ram. So it'll tell you you have 4GB but it'll be using less. My previous system used 3.25GB on XP SP3.

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/...a-ca6c26c956d1

EDIT: As long as you don't have any older devices and you find all the drivers for your devices ahead of time I'd suggest that you upgrade to 64-BIT. Any disadvantages will be outweighed when/if you decide you'd like to boost your ram. You may not think you'll need to but a few years ago I wouldn't have thought I'd be thinking about upgrading 4GB either.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Apr 2010   #3
Darryl Licht

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit Steve Ballmer Signature Edition
 
 

First off, welcome to the forums steve1999!

4GB is the max memory a 32 bit OS can address. 2 to the 32 power = 4096! Yes that missing ram is used for certain drivers, etc. Specifically its used for memory mapped devices such as video cards, chipsets, and BIOS ROMS.

The main concern is going to be driver availabilty for your existing peripherals... I'd do the research on those. If you can find 64 bit drivers for printers, scanners, cams, etc then go for the 64 bit version... if not get 32.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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22 Apr 2010   #4
baarod

El Capitan / Windows 10
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by steve1999 View Post
We will be shortly ordering a number of new PCs, all with 4 GB RAM. We are unlikely to upgrade RAM in the future. I would like to understand whether I should be ordering it with the 32 or 64 bit version of Windows 7. My understanding is that Windows can only use about 3.5 GB with the 32 bit version? Does this mean that the remaining RAM is completely wasted? Or can it be used for other purposes, such as drivers?

Our PCs are primarily used for MS Office applications.

Thank you in advance for your help.
Since you are ordering a number of new PCs, please make sure that the other attributes of the systems are similar as well, if not the same. In doing that you realize a variety of efficiencies which I imagine you can ascertain. A single system profile will allow you to keep a single master system image provided you either partition a single hard drive or better, use a system SSD and local data/profile platter drive.

When ordering these machines please make sure that the driver set is not only certified by the manufacturer(s) but that the hardware vendors you are choosing are all long players in the industry with good future prospects.

I say go 64-bit for these reasons. If you can get a verified driver set with these computers today your investment in 64-bit will pay off in the future as your vendors had the foresight to get in the 64 game early and will likely serve you well in future endeavors.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Apr 2010   #5
gregrocker

 

FYI, you are entitled to either 32- or 64-bit with any Windows 7 license, and can switch whenever you want.

So be sure to request or acquire the install media for both in case you want to change.

You can even test both to decide which works best on the hardware, then make a Win7 System image of the final choice to apply to the other HD's. Just wait to activate until after this is done.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Apr 2010   #6
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

The question is whether you even have a choice. Most Win7 systems come with 64bit per default - unless you buy PCs without an OS. For me that is a pity because I find 64bit iffy in several areas - besides it is not faster despite popular belief. But it uses more RAM. Nothing dramatic either way but just to prepare you against false arguments. I have both 64 and 32bit and can compare.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Apr 2010   #7
steve1999

windows 7
 
 

Thanks very much for the assistance.

We purchase from Dell so we select either 32 bit or 64 bit Windows 7.

If the 64 bit uses more RAM, is this then still better than having the 32 bit version, which cannot use all 4 GB but needs less RAM anyway? Presently, our existing Windows 7 PCs have only 2 GB and they can be a bit lethargic at times, when a number of applications are open at the same time. Therefore, I am very much trying to avoid this with the next group of PCs. I want to find the best solution, given our budget constaint (4 GB RAM), to have our PCs as fast and as responsive as possible.

Thanks again for your help.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Apr 2010   #8
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

I think bottom line it will be a wash in terms of performance. The sluggisness of your systems is probably caused by the disk. That you can only cure with a small SSD for the OS and programs. But that is an extra $100 per system (provided those are desktops - laptops is another story). The speed and responsiveness of an SSD is absolutely amazing. Figure an SSD access time of 0.1ms versus 15 to 17ms for a normal spinning disk. And the data transfer times are 3 to 4 times faster.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Apr 2010   #9
kpo6969

 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by whs View Post
The question is whether you even have a choice. Most Win7 systems come with 64bit per default - unless you buy PCs without an OS. For me that is a pity because I find 64bit iffy in several areas - besides it is not faster despite popular belief. But it uses more RAM. Nothing dramatic either way but just to prepare you against false arguments. I have both 64 and 32bit and can compare.
I concur with whs and run both also.
I would suggest 64bit w/ 4GB ram myself.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Apr 2010   #10
Darryl Licht

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit Steve Ballmer Signature Edition
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by steve1999 View Post
Thanks very much for the assistance.

We purchase from Dell so we select either 32 bit or 64 bit Windows 7.

If the 64 bit uses more RAM, is this then still better than having the 32 bit version, which cannot use all 4 GB but needs less RAM anyway? Presently, our existing Windows 7 PCs have only 2 GB and they can be a bit lethargic at times, when a number of applications are open at the same time. Therefore, I am very much trying to avoid this with the next group of PCs. I want to find the best solution, given our budget constaint (4 GB RAM), to have our PCs as fast and as responsive as possible.

Thanks again for your help.
From my earlier post...

Quote:
The main concern is going to be driver availabilty for your existing peripherals... I'd do the research on those. If you can find 64 bit drivers for printers, scanners, cams, etc then go for the 64 bit version... if not get 32.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 32 bit or 64 bit with 4 GB RAM




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