Switching to 64 bit Windows 7 – my experience
I’ve been running Windows 7 64 bit version for a while now and I think I can formulate a conclusion about it. I’ve never tried seriously a 64 bit OS till now. I’m not counting playing a few hours with Windows XP 64 bit version or Ubuntu 9.04, so I’ll try and tackle this matter from a 64 bit beginner’s point of view.
The fears people have about switching to 64 bit software
First I believe it’s best to make a short list of things people say about 64 bit software, things that more often are not true and put the stoppers on 64 bit mass adoption. Some of those fears crossed through my mind of course before deciding what version to install.
- drivers are immature or don’t exist at all, so you’ll have problem with your PC components, especially exotic models
- there are a lot of application compatibilities and for sure some of your favorite software will not work
- games run slower and require more memory
Those I think are the most important stoppers for those who have to choose between 32 bit and a 64 bit OS.
My experience with Windows 7 64 bit version
Let’s take it from beginning and presenting a little bit my hardware configuration. I own a desktop with components which are about an year and something old, so pretty new hardware: Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, Gigabyte motherboard with P45 chipset, 4 GB DDR 2 SDRAM, 1000 GB Seagate hard drive and nVidia GeForce GTX 275.
Installation went without any problems, the only hardware not recognized, therefore not working, was my integrated Realtek sound card but installing the pack from Gigabyte’s website (or Realtek’s) solved this little problem. So no problems with drivers, but that was my case. Always check if the components you put into your computer have 64 bit drivers before switching to a 64 bit OS.
From performance point of view I’ve played the first days the same games I did on the 32 bit installation of Windows 7 RC1: Modern Warfare 2 (a beautiful game) and NFS Shift. Both games ran smoothly without any issues of compatibility. I didn’t felt any difference from 32 bit to 64 bit, but if it were it would be measurable, not distinguishable.
Now let’s get to application compatibility. I didn’t had any problems with my own favorite apps, but I found some small issues with my Gainward utility app (for the VGA card) which seemed not to remember settings I made, and I did recall it worked in the other install, but this is one minor annoyance.
About memory consumption, it’s nice to boot and see there’s 3 Gigs of free RAM, as a 64 Windows 7 (Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate) can work with a maximum of 192 GB, while Windows 7 32 bit is limited to 3.25 GB so before this last install I’ve always lost 750 MB RAM (and imagine my first computer had 4 MB RAM). So I didn’t feel any difference in used memory.
In general I don’t feel any performance difference between 32 bit and 64 bit Windows 7, plus stability is great, and that’s important for me as I’m running an overclocked system.