Microsoft still offers both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 10. But, whether you’re installing Windows 10 or Windows 7, you should almost certainly skip the 32-bit version and get the 64-bit version instead.
The 64-bit version of Windows is also known as the “x64” version of Windows, while the 32-bit version is also known as the “x86” version.
Your PC is Almost Certainly 64-bit
64-bit PCs have been mainstream for a long time. Intel’s first big 64-bit consumer CPU was the Core 2 Duo, which was released in 2006. AMD released the Athlon 64 in 2003. If you have a PC you purchased or built in the last decade, it’s almost certainly a 64-bit PC.
There are some exceptions, of course. Early versions of the very underpowered Intel Atom CPU line were just 32-bit CPUs. But those were so slow when they were released that it’s very unlikely many people are still using those discount netbooks and tablets today.
Computers with 64-bit CPUs can run 32-bit operating systems, but there’s really no reason for them to do so anymore. Even on a 64-bit operating system, you can still run 32-bit applications just fine.
Why You Should Install the 64-bit Edition
32-bit versions of Windows are limited to 4 GB of RAM, which is a small amount these days when even budget PCs these days usually have 8 GB or more. If you want to actually use more than 4 GB of RAM—and you probably do—you’ll need a 64-bit version of Windows.
In addition, 32-bit programs (even if they’re running on a 64-bit Windows operating system) can only access 2 GB of RAM each. Modern demanding games and professional tools can easily use more than 2 GB of RAM.
Given that limitation, it’s no surprise that many applications now require a 64-bit operating system. For example, if you want to play the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V and many other PC games released in the last few years, you’ll need a 64-bit version of Windows. ZBrush, a 3D modelling tool, discontinued its 32-bit version. Even NVIDIA has stopped working on its 32-bit graphics drivers, so you’ll need a 64-bit operating system to get new graphics drivers for NVIDIA hardware.
64-bit versions also have a number of useful security features that 32-bit versions of Windows just don’t. For example, an expanded address space allows Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR)…
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