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Difference between Windows 7 x86 and x64, and which I should use.

DorkmanDorkman Registered User regular
edited May 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
I am not overly computer literate, but I certainly know enough to get me into trouble, thus my current predicament.

During this computer's short life span, I managed to lose the reinstall disks that were provided, and mess up Windows Installer to the point that I can no longer reinstall it. At all. So I figured why not wipe it clean and start fresh.

Since I figure I have my product code slapped on the side, I acquired another copy of Windows 7. However it seems to be x64, where as the version installed on my PC at this point is x84. Is this a significant difference? I have some people telling me to go ahead and run with it but they run pretty lose with their computer setups and know a whole lot more then I do, or at least let on that they do.

This computer has an AMD x4 965 Processor with 4gb of ram, it claims to be a 64 bit processor, so x64 seem legit. But if that were the case then why was x86 installed.

Either way, I hope someone can give me an affirmative enough answer to either go ahead with this or look for a proper version. Any help at all on this would be splendid folks. It's truly appreciated.

Poke Black 2 FC: 0390 6923 7158


  • zerzhulzerzhul Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited May 2012
    That is definitely a 64 bit processor (I own one) and Windows 7 x64 runs just fine on it. One thing I'm not familiar with, however, is how the license keys for Windows 7 work. It's possible (although unlikely?) that you could have a key that only works for x86. Considering an x86 version of windows won't even utilize all 4GB of your ram, I would suggest installing the x64 as long as your license will support it. This will mean, in the future, when downloading things like drivers for video cards, and various programs, that you will need to make sure to select "64 bit" over "32 bit" if you want to run the 64 bit version of something. 32 bit versions of /most/ things run just fine on x64 windows though, so you should be fine either way (as long as you select x64 for drivers).

    I'm sure others will fill in my blanks where necessary.

    Edit: in addition, as to the title of your thread, x86 is a 32 bit version, x64 is 64 bit. Most of the world has moved on to supporting 64 bit stuff just fine, and by running the 64 bit version of something you gain great things like being able to utilize more resources (like being able to use tons of RAM instead of being limited to < 4GB by 32 bit windows) among other efficiencies and whatnot. Obviously it's slightly more complicated than that, but since you said you're not overly computer literate I'm not going to bother with the detailed explanation, instead I'll leave you with this handy article (it's dated, and more and more software now works with 64 bit windows, so the drawbacks are much less than they used to be): http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/should_you_upgrade_64bit_windows_7

    zerzhul on
  • DraygoDraygo Registered User regular
    edited May 2012

    answer to licensing

    32 bit license is transferrable to a 64 bit install between equivilant versions of windows.

    Windows 7 home premium 32 bit license can be used in a windows 7 home premium 64 bit install.

    Draygo on
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    What draygo says. The main benefit is that you can use a larger set of RAM on your system. 32 bit applications still run in a 32 bit user space, so you can benefit from 64 bit OS in a few ways. Biggest thing used to be drivers but that's pretty much not even an issue anymore.

    New computers should always be 64 bit.

  • zerzhulzerzhul Registered User, Moderator mod
    bowen wrote: »
    New computers should always be 64 bit.

    Unless for some crazy reason you have a piece of software or peripheral hardware that is simply not 64 bit compatible in any way, and doesn't have an equivalent replacement that you can purchase, but this is a rare thing.

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    So rare. But surprisingly almost all the big box vendors still sell 8gb of ram with a 32 bit OS. Like... really?

  • zerzhulzerzhul Registered User, Moderator mod
    bowen wrote: »
    So rare. But surprisingly almost all the big box vendors still sell 8gb of ram with a 32 bit OS. Like... really?


  • CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    Since no one seems to have explained this yet, "x86" is an instruction set architecture; it determines the fundamental commands that a processor can execute. It is not related to whether your processor operates on 32-bit numbers or 64-bit numbers. Sometimes "x86" is also used to refer specifically to the 32-bit implementation (according to Wikipedia; I've never heard it used this way). I'm guessing this is the usage zerzhul was going with, although I don't think it's what the OP is using.

    Saying "64-bit or x86?" doesn't mean anything--a system can be both or neither. What you probably want to do (aside from hitting up Wikipedia) is to get a 64-bit OS. Your processor implements a 64-bit version of the x86 instruction set. You could run a 32-bit OS if you wanted, but there's very little reason to do so.

    MWO User Name: Gorn Arming
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  • zerzhulzerzhul Registered User, Moderator mod
    Yeah, I didn't think that part of the explanation was important, although I know the difference. Knowing that we're talking about versions of windows, the issue is 32 bit windows vs 64 bit windows.

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    Well x86 generally refers to the 32 bit microprocessor architecture, x64 based microprocessors generally support the x86 instruction set, but in the context of saying x86 vs x64 you generally are assumed to be talking about x86-64 vs x86 processors.

    Just a casual use of the processor nomenclatures there, I don't think OP is concerned on which instruction sets his CPU will support but rather which version of windows/hardware he should get. Unless he somehow gets his hands on an Itanium chip or something.

  • DehumanizedDehumanized Registered User regular
    To make things as simple as possible, you want x64.

    The only reason to shy away from it is if you're not running modern hardware (and thus incapable of running 64-bit, which is not the case here), or if you are such as a business running 16-bit dinosaur software.

  • mbannickmbannick Registered User regular
    It's also likely that the key thats on the sticker is an oem key and wont work with a non oem copy of windows.

  • DorkmanDorkman Registered User regular
    First of all, I just wanted to say that my long absence wasn't due to a catastrophic failure and just general life business. As I am sure most of you were gravely concerned.

    Either way, things have seem to have gone off without a hitch! I may not have understood exactly was being said here, but I appreciate everyone for describing what was going on, and I feel like I have learned at least a little bit.

    Kudos to everyone! Problem solved!

    Poke Black 2 FC: 0390 6923 7158
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