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64 bit Vista: Advantages and Disadvantages

by samusgravity / December 31, 2008 5:10 PM PST

I just ordered a Studio 15 laptop through Dell. The sales-person that I talked to got me a deal on an almost fully-loaded student version. He said that it came with a 64-bit version of Vista Home Premium. Because the system has 4 GB of RAM, he said that this is a plus, as 32 bit versions can't utilize more than 3GB of RAM.

Now, I was wondering what the pros and cons are of 64-bit Vista. I have heard that 64-bit is just better in general. If so, why?


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by samusgravity / December 31, 2008 5:30 PM PST

I already found something on this topic! Sorry about the post!

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Heh, might as well answer
by FrankQC / January 1, 2009 9:02 AM PST
In reply to: Sorry...

Heh, even if you found some information on this topic, it is interesting nevertheless.

The difference between x86 and x64 computer architecture is that one reads in 32bit and the other reads in 64bit. The salesman was right, x86 (32-bit) cannot read anything between 3-4GB. x64 (64-bit) will allow you to exceed that.

The advantage is that 64-bit programs tend to run faster (from experience) and tend to run smoother at the same time.

The disadvantage is that once in a while you will need to find 64-bit versions of a program.

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by samusgravity / January 1, 2009 9:21 AM PST

That was a bit more informative than the site I found... Thanks! I also checked the Vista Program Compatibility site, and found that all of the apps that I want to run will work on 64-Bit Vista.


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Not entirely true
by alakzam / January 1, 2009 10:13 AM PST

A 64-bit OS will have no effect on a 32-bit program's execution speed. If you have a 32-bit and 64-bit version of the same app, odds are the 64-bit version will be a bit faster, but only to any significant degree if it makes use of a lot of 64-bit variables.

To the average user, aside from being able to use more than 4GB of RAM, and needing to make sure to use only 64-bit drivers, there is not going to be any real difference between the 32 and 64-bit Vista.

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by FrankQC / January 1, 2009 10:17 AM PST
In reply to: Not entirely true

Yea that's why I put 'once in a while'

And yea. 32-bit most the time will work on 64-bit because of x86-64 -bit (correct me if I'm wrong).

I based my judgment on a small server I host for some people.. and the client choice for Windows is 32-bit or 64-bit (so chances are there's a difference?)


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That's part of it
by alakzam / January 1, 2009 12:05 PM PST
In reply to: Perhaps

Running 32-bit apps on a 64-bit OS requires both hardware AND software support.

You need a CPU capable of executing 32-bit code AND you need 32-bit libraries for the programs to link against. When you install a 64-bit Windows, it uses something called WoW (Windows on Windows) to make for compatibility with 32-bit apps. Basically it installs a "shadow" set of 32-bit DLLs needed to run 32-bit apps. So 32-bit apps are still subject to all the same limitations they would be on a 32-bit OS.

And just for the sake of completeness, x86-64 is just the name of the instruction set AMD came up with for the Athlon64. It largely preserves the backwards compatibility with the x86 instruction set we've had since the 8086. Kind of a double edged sword, since there's a very very large amount of x86 software out there, but at the same time it is really hamstringing developments in computer power consumption reduction and other areas. Anyway, Intel calls it EMT64 in their line of CPUs. It's almost exactly the same thing, it's just Intel trying to save face after their IA64 instruction set sank like a stone with the very expensive blunder that was the Itanium that gave AMD the time it needed to take the lead in the 64-bit instruction set game.

Unlike most people think, due to the x86 backwards compatibility, it's not a fully 64-bit instruction set. The memory limit is 48-bits not 64. Still, it will be probably at least another 5-10 years before we start bumping into that limit. With any luck we'll be on 128 or even 256-bit CPUs by then.

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The CPU...
by samusgravity / January 1, 2009 12:10 PM PST
In reply to: That's part of it

supports 32-bit and 64-bit code, so I am fine

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by FrankQC / January 1, 2009 12:12 PM PST
In reply to: That's part of it

Yea, in regards to 256-bit.. I remember once I tried to customize a Mac Pro and it was at 256-bit processor. I was amazed. It might be sooner than we think.

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Thanks to all
by samusgravity / January 2, 2009 1:30 AM PST
In reply to: 256-bit

I think that I just got all the info I need!

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Software and driver incompatibilities cost me $1,850
by emmanuelm / August 24, 2009 1:38 AM PDT

I got an HP 64 bit Vista last year. Several old software and drivers will not install and/or run:

1. Corel Draw 7.0 circa 1998: installs, does not open. $150 to the garbage.
2. Zone Alarm Security Suite, current version: will not install. ZA told me they will not write a 64 bit version. $100 to the garbage.
3. Olympus 8x10 dyesub photoprinter circa 1999 : error message when installing driver, Olympus told me they will not write new driver. $800 to the garbage.
4. Canon DR2080 scanner circa 2000: error message when installing driver, Canon told me they will not write new driver. $800 to the garbage.

Total cost of "upgrading" to 64bit: $1,850 (a lot more than the price of the computer).

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Sounds to me like
by Jimmy Greystone / August 24, 2009 1:57 AM PDT

Sounds to me like you failed to do your due diligence before buying. You rushed out and bought something, just assuming things would work, but didn't actually bother to check, or even run the Vista Upgrade Adviser that takes most of the work out of it.

Can you say for certain that those programs would even work with the 32-bit Vista? Microsoft likes to try and maintain some level of backwards compatibility, but you're talking about programs that are about 10 years old at this point. At some point, a line needs to be drawn on providing backwards compatibility. It's like clearing out the old brush in a forest to prevent fires and clear the way for new plants to grow.

Your only real legitimate complaint is ZoneAlarm. And that too could have been avoided if you had done your homework before buying. It might have helped you avoid the mistake of buying an HP system as well. Oh well... Just be sure you learn from this experience. Any time you do a major upgrade like the operating system, assume every single program and bit of hardware will NOT work until you have reliable confirmation otherwise. Then plan contingency scenarios for what you'll do if the time comes to pull the trigger on the OS update, and some important bit of software or hardware isn't supported.

And we're not even getting into the fact that you're using the prices you paid for these things when they're new, not their value today. You could very easily sell these no longer supported bits of hardware and recoup at least SOME of the expense of buying a new one. You'll never get it all, but you can at least get SOMETHING. And you're keeping the stuff out of the landfill.

So maybe instead of sitting around feeling sorry for yourself and trying to get other people to feel sorry for you, you should try being a little proactive about it. Learn from your mistake so that you never make it again, and then do what you can to lessen the current blow (i.e. selling the printer and scanner) as much as you can.

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