Windows 7 32-64 bit confusion

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by Dr. McKay, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. Dr. McKay macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    I want to install Windows 7 on my iMac (2.8ghz Core2duo, 4Gb of RAM, ATI Radeon HD2600 Pro, Snow Leopard X.6.8).
    However (and I know this question has been asked a lot but here goes anyway), I'm in doubt as to which version to install, 32-bit or 64-bit.

    Seeing as I only have 4Gb of RAM (and have no intention of adding more), I don't think I would be able to fully benefit from a 64-bit version. Moreover, a 32-bit version would give less headaches ; by that, I mean that I would have less problems running older software/games. Furthermore, as most apps today only work in 32-bit mode anyway, there's no need for a 64-bit OS.

    However, when in OS X I open activity monitor, I can see that practically all processes are 64-bit. Is this the same in Win7 ? Would a 64-bit version of win7 make my computer more 'snappy' (not necessarily faster, but more responsive), even with only 4Gb of RAM ?
    I would use Windows 7 primarily to learn about the OS and for games (WoW, Steam), for all of which I have the Mac version as well, but I figured I could get better framerates in Win7.

    So, installing the 64-bit worth it (with a workaround as my early 2008 iMac officially doesn't support a 64-bit version of Win7) or should I just forget about it and install the 32-bit version instead ?
     
  2. Quad5Ny macrumors 6502a

    Quad5Ny

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    #2
    Install 64-bit if possible. Your not going to be able to access the full 4GB with 32-bit (most likely you'll only be able to use 3-3.2GB).

    The only games you'll have trouble running are old 16-bit games (such as Wolfenstein 3D or Blake Stone), everything else will run.

    And yes most built in Windows programs and services will be running as 64-bit processes.
     
  3. Dr. McKay, Sep 15, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011

    Dr. McKay thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    Yes, I realize that I won't be able to use the full 4Gb, I believe 32-bit OS maxes out at 3.3Gb.
    But I don't think that the extra 700Mb is going to make a lot of difference. I won't be running lots of heavy apps at the same time and when I play games, I have the habit of shutting down every running app before launching the game anyway.

    I'll be running OpenOffice, different web browsers, Nokia OVI suite to sync my Nokia E5, maybe some iTunes or Songbird in the background, the command line to tinker with, all of which won't take up much more than 1Gb to 1,5Gb, even when running together at the same time. Games, like I said, will be running without any other apps in the background (except for Steam). So I don't think max RAM is going to be a problem.
    What I want to know is, whether there is a big difference in responsiveness between the 32-bit and 64-bit versions : opening and closing windows, opening apps, switching between apps. And I'm not talking about imperceivable nanoseconds.
    I understand that 32-bit Win7 boots a bit slower than the 64-bit version, but if that's the only measurable difference, then I wonder why I should go for 64-bit... unless you tell me that the speed difference is quite big.
     
  4. MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

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    #4
    Does the retail version not ship with both 32bit and 64bit version ?

    Besides why are you concerned about the 64bit version. If you have neither at the moment, then go for the one that is more supported in your hardware, there is no price differential so it's just common sense.

    What if you decide to upgrade your ram at some stage, are you going to re-buy or re-install Windows 7 again ?

    Again my point is basically - if your starting from a clean slate and have to procure a copy of windows 7 - why not just go for the 64 bit anyway. Why is 32bit even a factor ?
     
  5. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #5
    Yes, I believe the retail disk comes with both 64 and 32bit.

    I generally install the 32bit flavor of windows in vmware since I never give it more then 2gb and it will be a tad faster then 64bit. For bootcamp, I think its safer to install the 64bit version regardless of installed ram. Its easier to install more ram then reinstall windows.
     
  6. Quad5Ny macrumors 6502a

    Quad5Ny

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    #6
    I've noticed 64-bit will try to have more things cached (pre-loaded) in the background because it assumes you will have more memory. Other than that, there is no difference speed wise when compared with 32-bit.

    32/64-bit product keys are interchangeable, if for some reason your purchase does not come with both (bit) discs, you can download the other one from here; http://www.mydigitallife.info/official-windows-7-sp1-iso-from-digital-river/

    64-bit is not any faster/slower than 32-bit (and visa versa). The only difference is it has a larger memory address space.
     
  7. Dr. McKay thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    That's what I needed to know.
    However, I came across something worrying in another thread : 32-bit Win7 (or Vista) running in bootcamp is only capable of addressing 2Gb. That can't be true, can it ? I was under the impression that even under bootcamp, Windows runs just like on any other PC...
     
  8. azxr macrumors member

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    #8
    I have been running only Win 7 32 bit on my work MBP early 2008 for 3 years and have had no problem. Win reports 4 GB installed RAM with 2.98 GB useable.
     
  9. Quad5Ny macrumors 6502a

    Quad5Ny

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    #9
    The 2GB limit you read is PER PROGRAM, not system wide (each program can allocate 2GB for itself). Although if the program "Large Address Aware" it can use 3GB.

    A Mac is a PC. All Boot Camp does is provide BIOS Emulation and creates a Hybrid MBR.
     
  10. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #10
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8J2 Safari/6533.18.5)

    4 GB is 32 bits, so that is what drives the limitation of a 32 bit OS. My 2010 work MBP was only able to address 2.18 GB of its 4GB of RAM under W732. The rest must have been reserved for video RAM or other address space.

    This is why I usually recommend 64 bit for the vast majority of modern computers. Macs or PCs.

    B
     
  11. Dr. McKay thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    I used to have a Leopard/Vista 32-bit config (same Mac)

    I now have Snow leopard and went ahead and installed win7 x64 last night. Everything works just fine, except that my video card was once again recognized as a ATI Radeon Mobility 2600 XT, whereas I have a Radeon HD2600 Pro.
    No problem, I thought, was the same problem with 32-bit vista and installing the Catalyst drivers fixed that. Not so in Win7 x64, I'm afraid. And I installed Win7 just to have better game performance.
    Help !!

    Which leads me to think I should have installed the x86 version... :confused:
     
  12. Dr. McKay thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    Works now, recognized as the Radeon 2600 pro. Everything running smoothly.
     

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