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How to tell if your PC is TRULY capable of Vista 64 Bit?

by CassilineKnight / August 8, 2008 7:27 AM PDT

Okay I'm trying to figure out if the new computer my parents bought from HP is capable of running Windows Vista 64 Bit....

Now when I go to System,click on the Windows Experience Index, and click on the "View and Print Details" button it says the follow


Manufacturer HP-Pavilion
Model KL654AV-ABA a6460t
Total amount of system memory 2.00 GB RAM
System type 32-bit operating system
Number of processor cores 2
64-bit capable Yes

Okay that seems simple enough if I go by that alone right? My computer should be able to handle and run Windows Vista 64 Bit right?

Well I went to the MS website to investigate further and when I went to the upgrading section it says the following...

"Warning: You cannot upgrade unless you have the 64-bit Windows operating system running on a 64-bit capable PC. Learn more.

Find out if the Windows Vista operating system is right for you. Read these instructions to see if you can enjoy the Windows Vista experience. All upgrades for 64-bit editions of Windows Vista are available for purchase and download. However, some versions might not work with your PC or current edition of Windows. We currently offer only upgrade editions of Windows Vista for download."

Does this mean that I will not be able to install 64 Bit Windows on my PC since it came with the 32 Bit version? If so that sucks. Is there anyway to work around it?

Last but definitely least MS says to:
1) Confirm that your PC is capable of running 64-bit software.

1. Open the "System Properties" window
2. Click the Advanced tab.
3. Click Environment Variables.
4. In the "System variables" list at the bottom of the Environment Variables window, look for a variable called "PROCESSOR_ARCHITECTURE". If your PC has a 32-bit processor, this variable will have a value of "x86". If it has a 64-bit processor this variable will have a value of "x64"."

I did EXACTLY as the instructions say and for "PROCESSOR_ARCHITECTURE" I have a value of x86.

So according to the website I am not able to run 64 Bit Windows Vista which contradicts what that Print Summary says.

Which one is right? Do any of the experts suggest a solid proof way of knowing whether or not your computer can run Windows Vista 64 Bit Edition and if so what's the best way to install it if you already have the 32 Bit version?

I would appreciate any help anyone can give me regarding this matter. Let me know if you need more information...

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This has a Core 2 Duo CPU
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 8, 2008 7:40 AM PDT

SO there is no doubt it will run Vista 64. HOWEVER can you find all the drivers for this OS? If not, then forget about it.

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by Jimmy Greystone / August 8, 2008 8:31 AM PDT

Yes, pretty much every dual core CPU sold is capable of running Vista x64. The only possible exceptions would be the Pentium D, which was never very widely adopted, and the Core Duo, which should not be mistaken with the Core 2 Duo.

Of course along with the drive issue Bob raised, you should also know there is no real upgrade path from the 32-bit Vista to the 64-bit one. It involves formatting the system and doing a fresh install. So there's no best way, because there's only the one way.

What exactly are you hoping to gain by running Vista x64? Only specific apps will be any faster, and only if you have 64-bit versions of these apps. With only 2GB of RAM, it's not like you need to worry about the memory limitations of the 32-bit Vista. Also, it's an HP, there's no point sinking any more money into an HP/Compaq system, period. They will be awful no matter what OS you run on them. Depending on how long your parents have had the system, I'd strongly suggest taking it back. So long as you don't exchange it for an Acer, it's likely a step in the right direction quality wise.

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Yes, it is...
by John.Wilkinson / August 8, 2008 9:50 AM PDT

Note that the two sources you cited used slightly different wording. (Capable vs upgrade.) You cannot upgrade from a 32-bit version of Windows to a 64-bit version of Windows because they are largely different under the hood. However, you can install Windows Vista x64, either alongside Vista x86 or replacing Vista x86 as your computer is capable of running a 64-bit OS. The difference is that with an upgrade all of your files, settings, and applications remain whereas a clean install means you must reinstall everything else from scratch as well.

Hope this helps,

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Thanks for the clarification.
by CassilineKnight / August 8, 2008 9:59 AM PDT
In reply to: Yes, it is...

Yeah that makes sense. It just bothered me that MS was saying on their own Vista Update page that if the value was x86 that I could not run 64 bit windows which confused me.

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Wait I'm sorry
by CassilineKnight / August 8, 2008 10:18 AM PDT
In reply to: Yes, it is...

I'm sorry but thinking on it that still doesn't make any sense. It clearly says that if you have a value of x86 then that means you have a 32 bit processor....

Yeah this is a Core 2 Duo processor in the computer. But the specs according to Windows say that it has a 32 Bit processor.

You can't run a 64 bit system on a computer that has a 32 bit processor right?

I'm not trying to make this harder than it needs to be but the explanations people are giving aren't making any logical sense.

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No, then yes...
by John.Wilkinson / August 8, 2008 2:04 PM PDT
In reply to: Wait I'm sorry

The x86 value of the environment variable PROCESSOR_ARCHITECTURE, despite what you may infer from its name, is determined by the version of Windows installed. Thus, skipping over the details, it actually means you're running a 32-bit version of Windows, causing your processor to act like a 32-bit processor. That's why it reports your system is 64-bit capable, but displays the x86 value (in numerous locations).

But you're right on the second part...a 32-bit processor cannot run a 64-bit operating system.

Hope this helps,
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by CassilineKnight / August 8, 2008 2:26 PM PDT
In reply to: Yes, it is...

So to summarize the processor in my computer (which I'm guessing is the Intel Core 2 Duo Processor that came with it) IS a 64 bit processor BUT it's ACTING as a 32 bit processor because I have Windows Vista 32 Bit Edition installed on the computer right?

So if I wanted to switch it over to 64 Bit I would have to do a clean install of Vista 64 Bit after removing the current OS on the computer right?

Thanks for the response. I really appreciate it.

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Exactly right...
by John.Wilkinson / August 8, 2008 2:35 PM PDT
In reply to: Conclusion

64-bit is the future, but the switch, unfortunately, means starting with a blank slate via that clean installation. That's why it's typically not worth the trouble at this point unless you haven't invested much time into setting the current system up.


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by CassilineKnight / August 8, 2008 9:57 AM PDT

Okay I guess MS's own website is wrong going by what you're saying...

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