Windows Vista forum

General discussion

Vista 64 bit vs. 32 bit

by lattin1 / May 25, 2008 6:18 PM PDT

I currently have Vista Ultimate 64 bit installed on a Macbook Pro but I'm considering switching to a 32 bit version of either Vista or XP because of some software licensing issues. The problem is I have 4 GB of RAM installed and from prior experience with my desktop (Dell XPS 720) I've learned that 32 bit OS's can only use a portion of that RAM. Before I switched to a 64 bit OS on my Dell it was only showing 2.75 GB of RAM installed. I was using Vista Home Premium at the time. If I installed XP sp3 would I experience the same problem?

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We discussed that.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 25, 2008 11:53 PM PDT

SP3 has a tweak to placate the owners of 4GB machines. It doesn't change how Windows works in regard to the RAM or if you want to try the /3GB switch but it stops a few thousand support calls a day.

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So what exactly are you saying?
by lattin1 / May 26, 2008 12:59 AM PDT
In reply to: We discussed that.

XP sp3 can utilize 4 GB of RAM?

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Just so you know.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 26, 2008 1:23 AM PDT

XP SP3 did not change how memory is allocated, used but did change how it was reported. That's why I used the word "placate." I didn't write how Windows (32 bit) utilizes memory since I would be duplicating web content. But the new change in reporting RAM was significant to all the PC makers deluged with calls such as "Dude, where's my RAM?"

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Just so it's on the table. 2GB ram for apps.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 26, 2008 1:54 AM PDT

If you research how Windows works you find that by design it limits apps to 2GB. If you have the right app compiled the right way this could rise to 3GB with the /3GB switch but there are downsides to that switch. I won't duplicate all the web content about this but were you aware of this?

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Y'all can debate this all day long but..
by lattin1 / May 26, 2008 6:34 PM PDT

I still need to know how to get as much RAM as possible from XP sp3. You mentioned setting up apps. the correct way, how do I do this with a program like Photoshop CS3 or 3d Studio Max?

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Right attitude or not,
by fbbbb / May 26, 2008 6:46 PM PDT

Proffitt has mentioned the limitations of 32-bit Windows. There are no particular tweaks on your part. And even with 2Gb, it's not actually a huge deal unless you're working on datasets like... well, we are on 3D/engineering apps, but then you'd be using 64-bit OS's without any debate regarding software licensing in that case.

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With a normal amateur photo ...
by Kees Bakker / May 26, 2008 7:02 PM PDT

being 2 Mb at most, who needs more that 2 Gb to handle it? I don't. Do you?


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Thats the thing, I do need 4gb
by lattin1 / May 26, 2008 11:15 PM PDT

I work alot with 3d Studio Max, Autocad and extremely large photoshop files so I can never have enough RAM. On my desktop pc (Dell XPS 720) I'm probably going to upgrade to atleast 6 GB, maybe 8 if I can afford it. Makes rendering animations fly by. For example, I had to make a 45 second animation of a park modeled in 3ds Max. The first time I rendered it, I was using my Dell laptop with 2 GB of RAM and it took over 14 hours. This wasn't that complex of a model and my lighting skills at the time were not too good. Just for the hell of it I pulled up that same file on my desktop and instead of 14 hours it took 15 minutes. If I can get my new laptop to perform anywhere near that I'll be a happy camper.

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(NT) So what's the problem moving to 64-bit?
by fbbbb / May 26, 2008 11:34 PM PDT
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So you're nog an amateur photographer.
by Kees Bakker / May 27, 2008 5:23 AM PDT

That's clear.

Sorry, I didn't want to insult you, of course.


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In short...
by John.Wilkinson / May 27, 2008 2:11 AM PDT

A 32-bit OS can only support up to 4GB, with around 3.5GB actually usable after taking into considerating memory allocation with respect to installed hardware. Vista SP1 (and I believe XP SP3) makes Windows now report 4GB, but only that 3.5GB or so is actually usable by the OS. However, each app will only be able to use up to 2GB of RAM unless you use the /3GB switch Bob brought up. Note you're then maxed out at 3GB for user-mode virtual address space. Anything beyond that requires a 64-bit version of the OS, which is what it sounds like you need.


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Its a mute point now
by lattin1 / May 27, 2008 6:17 AM PDT
In reply to: In short...

I went ahead and just installed Vista Ultimate x64 again. The reason I was asking this question in the first place was because certain applications that I'd like to be able to use won't run on the 64 bit OS. Also, some of my software licenses will only allow me to activate one 64bit version of the app. and one 32 bit version which creates a problem since most the programs are already installed on my desktop.

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I hope you found it somewhat interesting.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 28, 2008 7:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Its a mute point now

The entire 32-bittiness is not a debate for me. I was exploring what you had read, learned and attempted to share those switches and what the SP3 did (see placate.)

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For me it basically comes down to $$$
by lattin1 / May 29, 2008 12:46 AM PDT

I get all the Microsoft and Apple OS's for free through my school which is obviously a nice situation but for me what it really boils down to is whether or not I can afford to pay extra money to purchase the commercial versions of the applications I need. I run alot of Autodesk programs for example and since I'm a student I can download almost all their software for free. However, with a lot of these programs they only offer the 32 bit version for free. For the 64 bit version you often have to buy the program. That was the reason for posting the initial thread, free software. I don't think anybody can argue the fact that a 64 bit OS is superior to a 32 bit one, atleast when you're using a high performance computer.

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