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Windows 7 32bit or 64bit?

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 
Hey all

I'm getting ready to go from Vista 32 bit to W7 and was wondering if I would run into any issues if I went with the 64 bit version of W7. I just built the HTPC last December so everything is relatively new. I have a Quad core processor, 8mb RAM, new mobo, HD 4550, etc. I don't think I would run into any issues there, but that's why I'm checking with you guys.

I keep all my media on a Rosewill 5 bay storage drive running RAID 5 (software). Would I have any issues with running this? I am just going to wipe out the version of Vista and start over with W7 Pro. I also plan to add a second one of these and eventually go with a hardware RAID solution to house about 20 drives.

I am also planning on using MediaPortal to handle all my media.

I appreciate any advice as I'm not exactly sure of the differences in 32bit vs 64 bit. I've talked to a couple friends who are IT people and they both said go 64, but they don't have HTPCs so I figured I would try to get some help from the people here. I'll be monitoring this thread so if there is any additional information needed, I should be able to respond fairly quickly.
post #2 of 46
I havent tried Mediaportal on Win7 yet for my primary HTPC but IIRC there are some issues with the current 1.0.2.0 release and Win7. I will say I have MP running on Win7 x64 on my test computer and havent had any functional issues yet, but I only use it for movies with MovingPictures and the MyTVSeries plugin.
post #3 of 46
If you want a decent amount of support, you should use 32 bit. 64 bit is still young when it comes to supported software, drivers, etc, and for something as complex as an HTPC you'll really be better off just sticking with 32 bit. 64 bit will not be any faster realistically, and the only thing it will buy you is more than 4GB of memory which you don't need for an HTPC anyway, even if you use it for gaming. 32 bit is definitely the way to go.
post #4 of 46
I recently went 64 bit on my media center with win7

The only thing WMC really needs is a good 64bit MKV splitter, everything else is handled fine with native codecs (since WMC is a 64 bit app on 7).

If you are using 3rd party 32bit apps, they'll work with the same filters/splitter they did on a 32bit OS.


Granted Mike is right, it only gives you support for >4gb of memory. 2GB is all you need for normal HTPC use, so it doesn't provide any tangible benefit. 64bit is good for gaming for sure.
post #5 of 46
I have been using Media Portal on Win7 64-bit both the RC and RTM since the RC was originally released. I have not ran into a single 64-bit related issue.

Personally I would suggest going the 64-bit route as Microsoft has already stated Windows 7 will be the last 32-bit OS. This is going to greatly affect software development and I would not be too surprised if 32-bit projects start becoming less maintained compared to their 64-bit counterparts. The 64-bit version is more future proof and the only real concern with 64-bit OSes at this point are 64-bit drivers and most hardware vendors have really stepped up their support for 64-bit. I don't think you'll run into any using going the 64-bit route.
post #6 of 46
64-bit is the way to go. Compatibility issues are rare these days. All Vista/win7 hardware drivers are required by Microsoft to support 64-bit. You get better security due to the different memory addressing model and and also can use more than 3GB of memory. 32-bit OS limit you to max of 3GB memory accessible.
post #7 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post

64-bit is the way to go. Compatibility issues are rare these days. All Vista/win7 hardware drivers are required by Microsoft to support 64-bit. You get better security due to the different memory addressing model and and also can use more than 3GB of memory. 32-bit OS limit you to max of 3GB memory accessible.

Actually 32bit limits you to 4GB - this is total addressable memory space in the system, so if your video card has 512MB of memory that will drop the total addressable system memory by 512MB, etc.
post #8 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by John_Galt View Post

Hey all

I have a Quad core processor, 8mb RAM, new mobo, HD 4550, etc.

I'd upgrade your RAM to more then 8mb. If you mean 8gb then a 32 bit OS will not recognize all that memory and you wasted your money.
post #9 of 46
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies, looks like 64 is the way to go.

Yes, I meant 8gb. I know 32 bit won't recognize that much but with the price of RAM, the extra cost was marginal so I figured I'd go ahead and put it in there.
post #10 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike99TA View Post

Actually 32bit limits you to 4GB - this is total addressable memory space in the system, so if your video card has 512MB of memory that will drop the total addressable system memory by 512MB, etc.

4GB for the system addressable memory, but the actual processes are limited to 3GB, and you have to set a flag to even get 3GB

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/libr...73(VS.85).aspx
post #11 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike99TA View Post

Actually 32bit limits you to 4GB - this is total addressable memory space in the system, so if your video card has 512MB of memory that will drop the total addressable system memory by 512MB, etc.

Both are false.
post #12 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post

Both are false.

By 32bit I specifically meant windows, not the fact that you can't possibly get more than 4GB of memory on any 32bit operating system, and they're really not false. Go read up some more - the addressable space in 32 bit windows is 4 Gigabytes, not 3. Besides the fact that this is just "how it is", I even have an XP 32 bit system at home with 4GB of memory in it that displays 3.3GB on the system information page.

You can actually max out at less than 3GB of usable system memory if you have enough other addressable space used up by various hardware in the system, ie: a 1GB video card will drop you below 3GB when combined with other things that use addressable memory in your system (just about any device uses addressable memory, NICs, USB host bus, Sound card, etc).

Supposedly in Windows Vista the hard limit for system memory is 3.12GB even if you have less than 880MB of other addressed memory, but I haven't tested this on Vista as I tried to skip it as much as possible.
post #13 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by sotti View Post

4GB for the system addressable memory, but the actual processes are limited to 3GB, and you have to set a flag to even get 3GB

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/libr...73(VS.85).aspx

Yes this basically confirms exactly what I was saying...
post #14 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike99TA View Post

Yes this basically confirms exactly what I was saying...

4gb total adress space for all DMA memory stores (Video ram on PCIe bus, HD buffers, sound card buffers,ect).
So everything that's left after device DMA is backed out is addressable by the OS.

But then there are further restrictions on the memory each process can use and the amount the OS can use.

The limititations are removed in 64bit (or at least each 32bit process is given a clean 32bit address space to work in).

So yes it can see a full 4GB
No 4GB of physical memory won't be available for the OS
Yes the Applications have a soft limit of 2GB of memory and a hard limit of 3GB
post #15 of 46
Forget reclock if you go 64 bit.


Mike
post #16 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike99TA View Post

By 32bit I specifically meant windows, not the fact that you can't possibly get more than 4GB of memory on any 32bit operating system, and they're really not false. Go read up some more - the addressable space in 32 bit windows is 4 Gigabytes, not 3. Besides the fact that this is just "how it is", I even have an XP 32 bit system at home with 4GB of memory in it that displays 3.3GB on the system information page.

You can actually max out at less than 3GB of usable system memory if you have enough other addressable space used up by various hardware in the system, ie: a 1GB video card will drop you below 3GB when combined with other things that use addressable memory in your system (just about any device uses addressable memory, NICs, USB host bus, Sound card, etc).

Supposedly in Windows Vista the hard limit for system memory is 3.12GB even if you have less than 880MB of other addressed memory, but I haven't tested this on Vista as I tried to skip it as much as possible.

Talking about go read more.

32-bit process has upper 1GB reserved for Windows OS. So a 32-bit Windows process itself can only address up to 3GB. A 1GB video card does not take anything away from that 3GB logical addressable space. 32-bit Win2003 OS has special flag for a process that can give the process a little bit more memory space.
post #17 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post

Talking about go read more.

32-bit process has upper 1GB reserved for Windows OS. So a 32-bit Windows process itself can only address up to 3GB. A 1GB video card does not take anything away from that 3GB logical addressable space. 32-bit Win2003 OS has special flag for a process that can give the process a little bit more memory space.

Except we're not talking about a "process", we're talking about total addressable memory recognizable to the Operating System, which is 4GB. You're googling the wrong terms.

Case in point, the actual reason for this is simple. 32 bit means a 32 bit register. This means 2^32 addresses, which if you do the math is 4294967296 bytes, which if you divide by 1024 is 4194304 Kilobytes which divided by 1024 is 4096MB which as we all know is 4GB. This is how many actual addresses can be accessed. So, 4 billion basically. If you have 1 GB of ram, 1GB of video ram, a NIC that addresses 10MB of space, etc, this all gets added up and can not go over 4GB. This is why when people put 4GB of system memory into a 32 Windows system, you typically see 3GB or sometimes even less actual memory, because everything except the system memory grabs the address space first, then what is left goes to the system memory. If you have 1.2GB of memory being addressed by things other than system memory, that leaves 2.8GB of system memory addressable left, which is how much Windows 32 bit will report is available. Some people may have devices in their system that use far less than 1GB of addressable space, leaving more than 3GB of addressable space to windows. In the case of my 32bit XP system here, I have 3.3GB available with 4GB of memory in the system.

Hope that makes sense.
post #18 of 46
I don't need to goole. It's the basic knowlege of a Windows programmer. In fact, if you look at your 4GB 32-bit OS system properties, it will show somewhere around 3.xx total phyical memory, never 4GB. Rest of them are not accessible by OS, let along used by any process.
post #19 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post

I don't need to goole. It's the basic knowlege of a Windows programmer. In fact, if you look at your 4GB 32-bit OS system properties, it will show somewhere around 3.xx total phyical memory, never 4GB. Rest of them are not accessible by OS, let along used by any process.

Ok, so what you're saying is you actually agree with me? After all that arguing, and now you're saying the exact same thing I've been saying for the last 3 posts.... Oh well at least we agree apparently. But it's pretty obvious that even as a programmer you don't fully understand how the physical addressing works inside the OS that you're programming on, the rest of the "4GB" of addressable space is actually used by the OS, just not by the system memory, which is why you see less than 4GB available. You really should go google for this now, it's actually useful information to have.
post #20 of 46
You're totally wrong. Rest of the 4GB space are reserved memory space, not used by OS. This is physical memory space. On a process level, we're talking about logical memory space where top 1GB is reserved by system or OS. The program itself can only store data or code up to 3GB limit.

While your view on actual hardware level (32-bit memory address and 32-bit registers) are basically correct. This is a Windows OS specific limitation. You may have different limitations if you run Linux.
post #21 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post

You're totally wrong. Rest of the 4GB space are reserved memory space, not used by OS. This is physical memory space. On a process level, we're talking about logical memory space where top 1GB is reserved by system or OS. The program itself can only store data or code up to 3GB limit.

While your view on actual hardware level (32-bit memory address and 32-bit registers) are basically correct. This is a Windows OS specific limitation. You may have different limitations if you run Linux.

Every time you post you contradict yourself. I don't get it, first you say you have 3GB limit, then you say you can have above 3GB, now you're saying you can only have 3GB again. I can tell you though that I can and do address more than 3GB of memory on my XP 32bit machine, so regardless of what you're trying to say, you can access more than 3GB of memory in 32 bit windows. You can also be stuck with less than 3GB of memory as I have a system with a video card in it with 1024MB of memory and Windows only sees 2.6GB of system memory with 4GB of physical memory in it.

All of this is really beside the point of this whole thread anyway.
post #22 of 46
I have had ZERO problems with my apps running 64 bit. I decided to go now as we are going to see a push toward 64 bit this time around. Microsoft was VERY clear that they recommend 64 bit over 32 bit. Only issues I had was installing a few patches for a few games like AOE III, but I am not sure if that is W7 or the 64. Works fine and I would have patched it anyway.

The only issue that I have really had is/was IE 8 64. It doesn't like alot of sites as they are written for 32 bit it seems or atleast JAva. Regardless, you have the option to run either 32 or 64 bit IE 8 anyway in W7 64 so you are not limited with one or the other ... and Firefox is 32 bit only right now anyway.

Actually, the limit for memory under 32 bit is 3gb-3.5gb in practicality depending whether you use a 512 or 1gb vid card.

Also, I remember 512mb being the recommended memory for XP. Now you really need 2GB. I think the same will apply with W7. You will probably need 4gb in 2+ years so might as well bite the bullet now..... or not. As most know, big company programmers tend to be lazy and don't seem to worry about how much ram their programs run. Wow, I miss the days of GEOS when they had to fit the OS in <32kbs.

There is a difference in gaming from 2gb to 4gb and some HTPCs are gaming systems as well. This is especially true for new games.

I would rather install the OS, snapshot it for a later restore than have to reinstall down the road for a memory upgrade.

The good thing is you get both (I think unless you get the student edition...could be wrong there.)

Now, I installed 32 on my daughters laptop, but that is a 2004 HP DV4000 Pentium M 2.13 / 2gb /120gb HDD. Runs fine. Actually better in gaming on GW.
post #23 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike99TA View Post

Every time you post you contradict yourself. I don't get it, first you say you have 3GB limit, then you say you can have above 3GB, now you're saying you can only have 3GB again. I can tell you though that I can and do address more than 3GB of memory on my XP 32bit machine, so regardless of what you're trying to say, you can access more than 3GB of memory in 32 bit windows. You can also be stuck with less than 3GB of memory as I have a system with a video card in it with 1024MB of memory and Windows only sees 2.6GB of system memory with 4GB of physical memory in it.

All of this is really beside the point of this whole thread anyway.

He's not contridicting himself.
System level Things:
-The any OS can adress up to the full 4GB of memory. Fullstop
-The any OS will use some of the 4GB of address space for DMA devices instead of main memory, so the addressable physical memory is usually between 3GB an 4GB unless you have huge video card memory (if you had a DMA free setup you could get very near 4GB)

OS level things:
-The applications that run on Win32 are limited to 2GB of memory usage for all applications your are running in total, leaving the rest to the OS.
-If you want you can flip a switch that will let the applications use up to 3GB of physical memory.

In 64 bit world each application gets a full 3GB memory sandbox. This is an important distinction between the two OS's. Some games (The witcher, Company of Heroes, Dawn of War II) with full graphics will hit the 2GB app limit in vista and drop you to desktop with a system out of memory error. The same apps on a 64bit OS with only 2GB of physical memory will not encoutner the same error, because they have more address space.
post #24 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by sotti View Post

He's not contridicting himself.
System level Things:
-The any OS can adress up to the full 4GB of memory. Fullstop
-The any OS will use some of the 4GB of address space for DMA devices instead of main memory, so the addressable physical memory is usually between 3GB an 4GB unless you have huge video card memory (if you had a DMA free setup you could get very near 4GB)

OS level things:
-The applications that run on Win32 are limited to 2GB of memory usage for all applications your are running in total, leaving the rest to the OS.
-If you want you can flip a switch that will let the applications use up to 3GB of physical memory.

In 64 bit world each application gets a full 3GB memory sandbox. This is an important distinction between the two OS's. Some games (The witcher, Company of Heroes, Dawn of War II) with full graphics will hit the 2GB app limit in vista and drop you to desktop with a system out of memory error. The same apps on a 64bit OS with only 2GB of physical memory will not encoutner the same error, because they have more address space.

He is correct though. You have 2gb system memory and 2gb app memory from what I recall. Fine for most apps but some can eat memory.

Of course, this assumes the app is 64 bit. I am not sure it will use more than 2gb of memory anyway if it is 32 bit as it isn't programmed to look for it even if it is possible.
post #25 of 46
I have 4GB memory on 64bit win7. is there any advantage to turning off virtual memory, as i always seem to have plenty to spare, or is this just a bad idea?
thanks,
ej
post #26 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by EJ View Post

I have 4GB memory on 64bit win7. is there any advantage to turning off virtual memory, as i always seem to have plenty to spare, or is this just a bad idea?
thanks,
ej

no advantage. and turning it off can cause problems with some apps there are designed to use it.
post #27 of 46
For the first time I went to 8gb of ddr2 on my main machine and I can tell you that it does help. The bigger factor for the most part seems to be the processor and the actual drive speeds. I dont notice all that much difference between 4gb and 8gb. But there is a gigantic difference between 1 and 2 and 2 and 4. I really think 4gb is the sweet spot. I have a laptop stuck at 3.2 gb or so because of 32 bit and I think installing 64 bit might end up being a tiny tweak to get it smoother. Its hard to say because there are so many factors but the thing is this. In a year are you still going to be sub 4gb? With how cheap memory is i dont see why. I went to 8gb of memory for $100!!! but I spent $550 on 4gbx1 sticks! Its so cheap now. If you have a few extra bucks its probably worth being on 64 bit for the long run. I have ran 64 bit vista since the month it was officially released with very few problems. The only app I ever couldnt run was something that had no development anyways. Basically if its an app worth keeping its probably under dev and updated and probably already working under 64 bit.
post #28 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by sotti View Post

He's not contridicting himself.
System level Things:
-The any OS can adress up to the full 4GB of memory. Fullstop
-The any OS will use some of the 4GB of address space for DMA devices instead of main memory, so the addressable physical memory is usually between 3GB an 4GB unless you have huge video card memory (if you had a DMA free setup you could get very near 4GB)

OS level things:
-The applications that run on Win32 are limited to 2GB of memory usage for all applications your are running in total, leaving the rest to the OS.
-If you want you can flip a switch that will let the applications use up to 3GB of physical memory.

In 64 bit world each application gets a full 3GB memory sandbox. This is an important distinction between the two OS's. Some games (The witcher, Company of Heroes, Dawn of War II) with full graphics will hit the 2GB app limit in vista and drop you to desktop with a system out of memory error. The same apps on a 64bit OS with only 2GB of physical memory will not encoutner the same error, because they have more address space.

Everything you put in this post is what I've been saying all along, not what foxbat has been saying, he in fact has been saying the opposite of this, but flipping back and forth throughout the post. Again, you just confirmed exactly what I've been saying this whole time: Windows 32bit can address 4GB of memory - devices in the system will use up some of this (as you said, DMA addressing, video card memory, etc). At no point in time in this thread have I been speaking about processes themselves, just the OS in general. I know that processes are limited to 2GB of memory (or 3GB with the switch), this is something I don't care about and haven't been speaking of because it's almost a moot point when talking about an HTPC.

Edit: Also FWIW I have 5 computers - Windows XP 32 with 4GB physical memory, Windows Vista 64 with 6GB of physical memory, Win7 32 with 2GB physical memory, Windows MCE with 1.5GB of memory, and Windows XP 32 with 2GB of memory.

At 2GB+, none of the systems with more memory actually had any sort of speed increase, except in the most wild of scenarios (at one point I was playing 5 copies of WoW on one system, which obviously used ~4+GB of memory, in which case the 6GB of memory was needed). For normal system operating, watching blu-rays, playing games that use <2GB of memory (ie: pretty much all of them), there really isn't much difference. The fastest PC in my house (minus the video card) is Win7 32bit with 2GB of memory - my HTPC - because the HDs are faster, the processor is faster, and Win7 is faster. My Vista 64bit system with 6GB of memory and a quad core processor with a much faster Videocard than my HTPC is actually a lot slower overall. The CPU speed is slower and (and this is the real issue) the hard drives are much slower. The SATA HDs in my Vista PC can sustain around 35MB/s transfer, but the SATA drive in my Win7 HTPC sustain around 85MB/s transfer - huge difference and much more noticeable than adding system memory

Lesson here is, memory is not the be all end all, and in fact for most applications having more than 2-3GB is completely unnecessary, so don't harp too much on installing a 64 bit OS unless you absolutely 100% know for a fact you need a crapton of memory.
post #29 of 46
Go for the 64 bit for no other reason than it is the higher end version. Would you rather have 720p or 1080p? How about 5.1 surround or 7.1 surround? You could argue that one is better or worse or doesn't matter.
post #30 of 46
The basic thing to consider is that at the present time the smoothest experience for an HTPC will be with Vista 32. Jump to Win 7 (still not officially released) or 64 Bit (still poorly supported for HTPC applications) and you will increase your pain level.

It is a very simple thing to resolve. Yes, you get the benefit of being able to address all of your 8GB, but if you use this solely for HTPC apps there is no tangible benefit to that. Yes, there are plenty of 64-bit drivers out there, but when you want to use some esoteric small market level device such as the current crop of HD Audio cards you increase your probability of painful issues. The list goes on. At the present time the lowest level of pain will be had with Vista 32.

Win 7 will quickly come into its own, and it can be argued that going with Win 7 32 is the next best thing and will trade short term pain for long term longevity combined with a better OS. I would not bother with 64 bit for the simple reason that you trade pain for no gain.

Think about it. What do you use your HTPC for? Fun and enjoyment? Go Vista 32 or, if you are willing to suffer a potentially reduced fun level for a few months in return for longer life (not sure what the value of that is), go with Win 7 32. If you goal is to be a masochist, go with the 64 bit version of either system with the most pain to be had with Win 7 64 bit.

It all depends upon what you want from your system...
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