Some of these issues may sound pretty disappointing, especially given that there are at most few performance advantages for 64-bit Windows versions, and potentially none at all. However, there are a few important facts that are worth keeping in mind:
- A 64-bit OS version provides more advantages than disadvantages, mostly support for 3+ GB of memory, in the light of cheap 8 GB memory kits.
- 64-bit systems don’t perform significantly different than 32-bit systems with the exception of very few applications in the high end.
- The driver situation has been rather good in the last few months, but it may still happen that you don’t find a 64-bit driver for some of your hardware.
- Driver support for notebooks may still be tricky; check carefully.
- There is nothing wrong with 32-bit Windows either, if you can live with the fact that the switch to 64-bit will require a complete reinstall.
- Any system with an OS partition of 2+ TB will require a platform using EFI instead of a conventional BIOS to boot into the operating system.
- Memory kits with 4 GB or even 8 GB of RAM are really affordable, and they speed up your system noticeably due to less swap file and SuperFetch activity in Windows Vista.
- Enthusiasts really should go for a 64-bit solution, even if they have to replace some older peripherals or components.
- 64 bit on notebooks makes less sense, as the platform memory limit typically has been 4 GB. However, if driver support is available, we recommend going for this option for the sake of performance.
- It is safe to go for a 64-bit operating system if you are about to buy a new PC or notebook, especially if the system comes with the 64-bit OS version.
- Upgrading an existing system to 64 bits requires some research into driver compatibility and some of the other issues we’ve discussed above.
In closing, we have another recent article on the advantages of a 64-bit environment for gaming, which we recommend that you read: Gaming in 64 Bits: Tom’s Tests, Microsoft Weighs In.