What is the difference between 32 bit and 64 bit Windows?

You may have noticed that Windows operating systems come in different software packages like Home, Professional and Ultimate editions but they are also separated between 32 bit and 64 bit versions.

The 64 bit versions of the Windows operating system has been available since the time of Windows XP, but most people do not really understand what the difference is between the two.

Below we will explain the disadvantages of a 32 bit operating system and give some reasons why we feel it's better to use a 64 bit version.

Problems with 32 bit versions

All 32 bit operating system are limited to 4 GB of RAM since the size of a 32 bit value won't allow more than that.

Apart from that he memory being limited to 4 GB, 32 bit systems suffer from hardware memory loss were hardware like your video card and motherboard BIOS take up room in that same 4 GB space.

Mark Russinovich found that a desktop running 32-bit Windows with 4 GB of RAM and two 1 GB video cards only had 2.2 GB of RAM available.

This would show that the better your video card or other hardware the less available RAM you would have for the rest of your system.

The 64 bit difference

Unlike it's counterpart, 64 bit systems can access up to 17.2 billion gigabytes of memory.

This not only insures that you can use larger amounts of RAM but it also insures that you system is ready for future upgrades, because other components will not be reducing system resources.

It should also be noted that although 64 bit can access large amounts of system memory, you're still limited by how much you're operating system can handle.

Home editions are limited to 16 GB while Professional and Ultimate versions can use up to 192 GB of RAM.

Which version do I have?

This information is listed in the properties tab of your system.

Windows XP

  1. Right-click on your Computer icon on the desktop.
  2. Then choose Properties from the menu.

Windows 7 and Vista

  1. Right-click on your Computer icon on the desktop or in the start menu.
  2. Then choose Properties from the menu.