The Difference between 32-bit and 64-bit Computing

December 16, 2015 | By tuan.mai@nzxt.com | PCDIY

Nowadays, most modern processors and computers are built to handle 64-bit computing, but 32-bit software and operating system installations are still very prominent. For a novice user, being asked whether to install a 32-bit or 64-bit version of a piece of software or operating system can be very confusing without any context.

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference was or which version you should install, this blog post is for you!

What is a bit?

To put it as simply as possible, 32-bit and 64-bit simply refers to the way in which a CPU (processor) handles “bits” of information. A 32-bit version of Windows (sometimes called x86) can only handle a limited amount of information, specifically RAM (random access memory). A 64-bit version (sometimes called x64) on the other hand is meant to handle a much larger amount of RAM.

Why does RAM matter?

The Difference between 32-bit and 64-bit Computing

So what exactly does handling a larger amount of RAM entail? This refers to the ability for your computer to store more information in its RAM for immediate access, which results in quicker responses from your open programs and applications. If your computer has more RAM to access, this means you can run more programs simultaneously or use memory intensive applications such as Adobe’s Creative Cloud more effectively.

Which version is better?

With increased access to RAM and therefore increased performance, you’re probably wondering why all systems and programs aren’t running on 64-bit. The answer is that a majority of software actually doesn’t require that much memory usage to begin with. That’s why only certain programs will ask if you want to install a 32-bit or 64-bit version of the software. By default they are 32-bit software which works perfectly fine in a 64-bit Windows installation anyways. If the situation was flipped it’d be a different story. A 64-bit software cannot be installed onto a 32-bit Windows installation simply because the RAM access won’t match up.

Which version should you install?

A 32-bit Windows installation can typically only take advantage of 4GB of RAM or less, a very small amount by today’s standards. Most PCs are being built with more RAM and therefore come with a 64-bit Windows installation right out of the box. So how can you upgrade from a 32-bit installation to a 64-bit installation? Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to do this as you’ll have to reinstall windows from scratch. But remember, this kind of upgrade is only worth doing if you have more than 4GB of RAM to work with. For the modern PC gamer, a 64-bit system is pretty much a requirement as PC games are becoming more and more advanced and therefore memory-intensive.

Game on!

The Difference between 32-bit and 64-bit Computing

As always, don’t hesitate to write us in the comment field with any additional questions you may have. We love to hear your feedback and are happy to answer any questions you have. Happy gaming!

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