32bit or 64bit. Back in time when Windows Vista came out, there were too much risk choosing 64bit since most of the software and hardware drivers only supported 32bit.
Today, most of hardware driver supports 64bit, and software works on both 32bit and 64bit without much of the problem. If you don’t have specific software that only runs on 32bit OS, it’s better to choose 64bit OS.
However, there are some cases that you don’t have choice.
Case you can only select 32bit
Following are some cases that you can only have 32bit choice.
- CPU does not support 64bit
- RAM contain less than 2GB
- You are using 32bit OS, and want to keep data and settings
- You are using software that doesn’t run on 64bit OS
- You have hardware which doesn’t support 64bit OS (no driver)
For CPU, most of recent PCs have no problem running 64bit, but there are still some PCs that doesn’t support 64bit. Many of recent Low-Cost netbooks use Atom processor, and many model of Atom processor only supports 32bit OS. Vaio P series for Example. You can find info about Atom processor 64bit support at Wikipedia.
To check what CPU you are using, open Start Menu, right click Control Panel, and select “Property”, and you will see system info. CPU info is listed there.
For CPU other than Atom, like Intel or AMD, look info at x64 Wikipedia.
If you are currently using 32bit OS, upgrading to 64bit OS means clean installing OS, since upgrading to different bit version is not supported.
Case you can only select 64bit
Here’s some case you can only choose 64bit.
- Have over 4GB of RAM
- Currently using 64bit OS and want to keep data and settings
- Want to use software which supports 64bit
32bit OS can only utilize up to 3.5GB RAM. If you want to play games, do graphic artworks, edit movie file, want to use other memory eating application, and you put 8GB or 16GB RAM to your PC, then you have to use 64bit OS, or you are just wasting RAM.
Many of graphic / movie editing software supports both 32bit and 64bit. For such memory eating software, 64bit version runs faster and manages memory better.
Therefore, most of the case, your choice is narrowed down due to CPU, memory, or currently using environment. If you have 64bit choice, I would recommend using 64bit.
Next part, I will explain Windows 8 edition and upgrading.
This post is also available in: Japanese