Windows Vista/7: x86 or x64?

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by ATimson, Jul 6, 2009.

  1. ATimson

    ATimson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm planning on building myself a new computer in the near future--probably Core i5, but possibly a low-end Core i7, depending on prices and specs once i5 is actually available.

    Right now, I'm leaning towards installing an x64 version of the OS. All the hardware except the speakers, printers*, and the mouse will be new, so 64-bit driver compatibility is something I can plan for. I don't believe that I have any 16-bit programs that I run, but if I did I expect for them to generally be handled by DOSBox or an XP VM.

    That said, I haven't actually run 64-bit Windows yet (my previous machine is a 2003 P4 that predates the 64-bit revolution, and Apple doesn't make 64-bit drivers for Boot Camp for my laptop). I was hoping to see if anybody had any suggestions or reasons that I should go with x86 over x64.

    * One printer supports 64-bit Vista, so I should be fine. The other has no Vista support whatsoever, so it's screwed either way, but I'm hoping that maybe I can convince it to work with the XP Mode VM. We'll see.
     
  2. Marc

    Marc Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    Given that Apple is going 64bit with Snow Leopoard so they might do the 64bit windows drivers at the same time.

    But the really clinch comes down to one thing and one thing alone - how much memory can you envisage having in the computer.

    32bit windows top out at a shade over 3.5Gb including what's on your video card. So you could put in 3GB system ram and say a 512Mb video card and you're fine. Go to a 1Gb card and you're gonna loose 512Mb of system ram,

    Tied in with the memory size if the type of memory you use. DDR2 ram gets installed in pairs. You could put in 2 x 1GB and 2 x 512 for 3GB but 4 slots is the normal limit for the boards so you're filled them all up (so you'dve had to thrown out the 2 x 512) or go straight to 4GB and not have it all recognised if you're running 32bit.

    If you go to a DDR3 then ram gets installed in triples (wth boards have 6 slots) and 6GB of ram is becoming a common amount of ram on these boards.

    But when it all is said and done, unless Microsoft does something moronic and has a great price difference between the 32bit and 64bit unless you're got something really obscure that's gonna have problems go with 64bit - less headachs long term.
     
  3. Brent

    Brent Admiral Admiral

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    Go x64 IMO

    I've been running x64 since Vista was first released, the only driver problem I had was with my HP printer, HP did not release an x64 driver version for Vista and they stated they would NOT release an x64 driver for it (or Vista driver period), this was entirely HP's fault, and I am mad at them for it. I had spent $200 on my printer, and come to find out they do not support it in Vista, I can't blame Vista this, I blame HP. The printer is a Photosmart P1000. I had to buy a new printer, got a Canon this time, no problems at all.
     
  4. ATimson

    ATimson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, maybe. But they already have 64-bit drivers for the MacBook Pros; it's just the standard MacBooks (well, and I assume the 13" Pro, given the name change of the unibody) that get left in the 32-bit dump.

    (Then again, I seem to recall reading that more than 4 GB in the old MacBooks caused issues anyways.)

    At this point, at least a 512 MB video card, and quite possible a 1 GB one. If not right away, then later down the line.

    I was thinking probably going with a 4 GB machine out of the gate (especially if I went x64). I know that 1.5 GB is barely comfortable on XP, so I'd want to go with at least 3 GB for Vista/6.1. Add that to the video card, and I'm hitting the x86 cap. (This machine is ideally going to last six or so years like my current machine before being replaced; I expect to add more memory later, and would like to avoid a nuke-and-install, but if there's a good reason to stick with x86 for now I would.)

    (It might see other component changes too--depends on how long the Core i5 socket and PCI-Express last.)

    I'm looking at Core i5/i7, which right away restricts me to DDR3. I'd assumed that they were still only dual-channel for DDR3 (as my laptop only has two slots), but it looks like you're right.

    Benchmarks haven't sold me on multi-channel being a significant performance benefit, so how much I go with is going to depend on the board. If it's only 3 slots, then I might hold back. If it's 6, then yeah, 6 GB (3x2GB) sounds likely.

    I expect them to handle it the same way they do for Vista: for OEM versions, you can get 32-bit or 64-bit, while the retail versions (including upgrades) have a key that works for both but you have to pay a nominal fee ($10 I think) to get the 64-bit media sent to you.
     
  5. ATimson

    ATimson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, I can blame Vista for completely ditching the driver model. ;)

    That said, while it was a HP printer that has no Vista driver, it was three-plus years old when Vista came out. So I can understand it not getting a driver. However, HP's website still claims that there will be one, which is arguable worse. :wtf:

    I'm probably going to replace it with another HP, though. After a terrible experience with a Brother laser before my current HP, I'd have to think long and hard about another non-HP laser printer.
     
  6. Marc

    Marc Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    Just had a look I might be a tad incorrect on DDR3. thought I'd seen memory kits that talked about installing in triples but I've just looked at some of the intel boards and they only have 4 slots.

    Then been to Newegg and looked at some of the boards and some have 6 slots and some have 4.
     
  7. Candlelight

    Candlelight Admiral Admiral

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    The new Macbook Pros use DDR3 and from memory (excuse the pun) they only have two slots.
     
  8. Marc

    Marc Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    Okay I'll clarify the non-laptop, non-MATX motherboards have either 4 or 6 slots :)

    Laptops and MATX boards don't have room for 4 slots let alone 6 :)
     
  9. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Going with x64 is better in my opinion.
    I'm using Win7 x64 (RC) and had virtually no issues with it.
    Driver support is excellent from the OS itself, plus if you get into a pickle, you can always go to your manufacturer's website that created the hardware you are using and dl the x64 driver from there.

    Why going with x64?
    Most obvious response would be: the ability to use over 4GB RAM.
    But furthermore, if your cpu is x64 compliant, then there's a good possibility that in intensive programs, performance will be higher compared to the x86 environment.
    In general I think you can expect slight increase in OS responsiveness/speed and programs that are used in x64 ... in some cases, programs have immensely benefited from x64 environment.

    Anyway ... ultimately it's your choice ... but if you want to maximize efficiency of that new hardware you will be using, then going with x64 is the way to go.
     
  10. Lior .B.

    Lior .B. Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    why is a 64 bit is faster than 32 bit? doesn't the CPU need to process a longer instructions per cycle?
     
  11. Jadzia

    Jadzia on holiday Premium Member

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    Because that processing happens simultaneously. Imagine digging a hole with a 3 inch shovel, or a 6 inch shovel.
     
  12. Bob The Skutter

    Bob The Skutter Complete Arse Cleft In Memoriam

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    I've got a Phenom X3, 4GB DDR2 RAM, and Win 7 X64 has worked perfectly No driver issues whatsoever.
     
  13. ATimson

    ATimson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Thanks for the answers, everybody. I know that XP x64 was essentially broken because of the lack of hardware support; while I was pretty sure that things had improved under Vista, it's good to have anecdotal support. :)
     
  14. Bob The Skutter

    Bob The Skutter Complete Arse Cleft In Memoriam

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    Hmm just come across one problem I am having... Java doesn't seem to be working in my browser.
     
  15. ATimson

    ATimson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That's a solution, not a problem. ;)

    That said: I believe that your plugins have to match the browser architecture. So if you're running a 32-bit browser, you need 32-bit Java; if you're running a 64-bit browser, then you need 64-bit Java.
     
  16. Bob The Skutter

    Bob The Skutter Complete Arse Cleft In Memoriam

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    32 bit browser, 32 bit java, still doesn't seem to be working. fuck it, don't use java that much... guess that's why I've just noticed it and I've been using it for 2 months.
     
  17. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Reinstall the browser and java.
     
  18. Candlelight

    Candlelight Admiral Admiral

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    Or with 2 sticks of memory or 3.
     
  19. Jadzia

    Jadzia on holiday Premium Member

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    'tis more analogous to loading the dirt into 2 wheelbarrows or 3 :p
     
  20. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Premium Member

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    The relative speed of 32-bit vs 64-bit largely depends on what the bottleneck of the program was in the first place. Programs that focus on moving data around will probably be faster in 32 bits; those that are compute-bound will likely be faster in 64-bits, for the larger number of registers available if nothing else.