I have recently built (bought) a new computer and I just realized that Windows 7 is 32bit and not 64. The guy at the computer store told me he would switch the OS to 64bit within the next year if i decided i wanted to go with it, I also don't want to format my drive if I don't have to.
I generally use my computer for the gaming, internet and word processing. here is my question, what are the main advantages of going 64 bit for gaming/application speed? From what i understand hyperthreading can only be used in 64 bit windows, will that be a big advantage for me in the next few years (gaming)? Also, until i upgrade my ram (couple years from now probably) will i get more benifit from 4g in 64 bit mode or not.
Thanks for any insight you guys can provide, my system is as follows
P55 i5 650 @ 3.2ghz OC to 3.6ghz (p7p55d-e LX MOBO)
4.00gb of ram 2x 2gig ddr3 (3.49 usable)
1TB primary Hard drive
Evga 460 Gtx
First, hyper threading is a function of the CPU and not OS dependent. Whether you're using 32 or 64 bit Windows 7, it doesn't matter. Hyper threading will be utilized if the CPU supports it and it is turned on in the BIOS (in most cases, it is turned on by default).
Second, If you switch to 64 bit from 32, you have to format the drive. Anyone who tells you otherwise is an idiot. Since wiping the drive is not something you want to do, I would say go 64 bit now if you're going to at all, and if you're planning to move beyond 4GB of RAM, I would definitely do it now rather than later, even if you don't have more than 4GB yet.
The main advantage of 64 bit is memory addressing. It allows both the operating system and individual applications to address more than 4GB of ram. While the individual applications part may not be important for gaming purposes (even the most resource intensive games don't use more than about 3GB by themselves), the operating system part is. If you are limited to 4GB of addressable space (this value is lowered by other things like video card ram eating into the available address space), the main program you are running - lets say a game like Crysis for example - eats up 2GB (not sure if this is correct for Crysis, but for this example, lets say it is). Now lets say you have a bunch of other programs running in the background that want a combined total of 2GB of ram as well.
In this example, you immediately run into a wall. As mentioned above, you only have 4GB of addressable ram, and other hardware components eat into the amount usable by software running on the computer, so as far as the game and other applications are concerned, you really only have 3.5GB of available ram (lets say you have a video card with 512MB of onboard video ram). Since in this universe, 2+2 does not equal 3.5, you system has to start swapping data out of ram with the paging file on the hard drive, thus slowing the system down considerably.
Now in a 64 bit operating system running on the exact same computer running the exact same set of applications, you immediately gain the extra 512MB of system ram that you lost to the video card. 64 bit Windows 7 Professional and higher can address 192GB of ram in any given computer (16GB for Home Premium). With all of this extra room available, the system is now able to address all 4GB of system ram, plus the 512MB of video ram, plus any other ram that is detected (some sound cards, for example have 32 or 64MB of onboard ram for sound processing).
Now if you bump the system ram up to 8GB on your 64 bit install, you have enough for the OS and all of it's background processes, plus your game, with lots of room to spare. This results in a much more responsive system.
In your position I'd take the upgrade immediately since it will allow you to easily add memory to your system later if you need to. If your usage grows enough that you need more memory, it's a cheap and easy upgrade as long as you have a 64-bit capable system.
Thanks Prophesy for your propt and detailed solution for my little dilemma, it sucks I have 1.5 gigs of ram doing squat atm. Now to break the news to the wife I have to take the computer back into the shop for another few day