Windows 10: 32-bit or 64-bit – What is the difference and what do I need?

You are just upgrading for the first time? (Re)installing your operating system upgrade? Then the question of the preferred architecture inevitably arises during the setup – is Windows 10 better in 32-bit or 64-bit? Unfortunately, the wizard’s explanations are very sparse in this regard.

In a nutshell, you can rely on the 64-bit version for almost all new devices these days. This is mainly due to further developments in the hardware sector. We tell you the exact background and everything else there is to know about this topic.

But first we answer a basic question, in case you want to learn more about an already active operating system would like to learn:

How do I find out whether I have 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 10?

  1. Click on the Start menu or use the Windows logo key + I shortcut to open the Windows settings.
  2. Under System you will find the Info tab at the very end.
  3. The device specifications indicate under the system type whether you are using 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 10.
32-Bit oder 64-Bit zeigt dir der Systemtyp

At Windows 7 you can also reach the system type via the Start button. There you navigate from Computer to Properties and finally to System.

The technical requirements for 64-bit Windows

As you can see in the screenshot above, you can also see here whether your computer is suitable for 32-bit or 64-bit. To take advantage of the 64-bit version, you need a processor that can run it.

If you are still in the purchase phase, look out for the addition 64 (or Extended Memory 64 Technology) on Intel and AMD processors. As already mentioned, compatibility should be given for all modern devices. In addition, the PC should have at least 2 GB, but preferably 4 GB plus RAM, as well as 20 GB of free memory.

The hardware requirements are now fulfilled. Only older peripheral devices can still cause problems if their interfaces are only designed for 32-bit. Obsolete fax machines and printers often fall into this category, or the almost forgotten spare mobile phone that has to be connected to the computer again. So find out in advance whether all important devices are suitable for 64-bit and install the corresponding drivers. Only then do you solve the Problems with printer installation.

Dieses Gerät ist wahrscheinlich nicht für 64-Bit geeignet
Source: Steve Buissinne on Pixabay

What is the difference between a 32- and 64-bit version?

32-bit or 64-bit – The main advantage of a 64-bit operating system is that it makes your computer more responsive. The more RAM you have, the more obvious this difference becomes. The 64-bit version can use more RAM in a much more targeted and therefore efficient way, especially if you often run different demanding applications at the same time. Similar to the decision between Windows 10 Home or Pro you have to consider what you actually need.

With the release of Windows XP in 2001, Microsoft launched a commercial 64-bit operating system for the first time. However, it was to take a few more years for the technology of average consumption to catch up there. Today’s 32-bit versions are limited to a maximum of 4 GB of system memory. This is because 232 bytes correspond to 4,096 MB. If, in addition, a graphics card is installed in your PC, which possibly takes up 1 GB of RAM, only 3 GB remain for the operating system.

Ob 32-Bit oder 64-Bit hängt von deinem Arbeitsspeicher ab
Source: JÉSHOOTS on Pexels

Do I need 32-bit or 64-bit?

So, to sum up: If your PC has 4 GB of RAM or more, you should choose the 64-bit version. Even a new installation of Windows 10 is worthwhile, because only then can you use the full potential of your hardware. If, on the other hand, you can do without programmes that work with 64-bit, or your computer generally has a little less power, the 32-bit version is sufficient.

When deciding between 32-bit and 64-bit, however, bear in mind that the former has been considered obsolete for several years and is no longer supported in many areas. Just as a Upgrade from Windows 7 to 10 is now highly recommended, we also recommend the 64-bit version if you meet the requirements.