x86 vs x64: What’s the Difference and Which One to Choose?

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x86 vs x64: What’s the Difference and Which One to Choose?
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What is x86 architecture? #

When mentioning x86, you are likely thinking of another term, 32-bit. Are x86 and 32-bit the same thing? Not that… x86 is an instruction set for Intel and AMD CPUs. x32 and x64 are the numbers of bits that can address the memory.

FYI: An instruction set architecture, also referred to as computer architecture, is part of a computer that pertains to programming. The instruction set is the language providing commands to the computer processor and telling it what to do.

Then why is 32-bit usually called x86 instead of x32?

The x86 refers to any instruction set derived from the instruction set of the Intel 8086 processor. Successors of 8086 were named 80186, 80286, 80386, 80486, and all of them are compatible with the original 8086 and are able to execute code made for it.

The x86 is developed based on the Intel 8086 microprocessor and its 8088 variants. Originally it was started out as a 16-bit instruction set for 16-bit processors. Over the years, many additions and extensions have been added to the x86 and it gradually grew to 32-bit instruction sets with full backward compatibility.

Today, x86 is most commonly used to refer to any 32-bit processor which is compatible with the x86 instruction set, it is able to run almost all types of computers like laptops, desktops, servers, and even supercomputers.

What is x64 architecture? #

Similar to the x86, the x64 is also an instruction set architecture for computer processors. However, x64 refers to a 64-bit CPU and operating system.

The x64 is the architecture name for the extension to the x86 instruction set that enables 64-bit code. When it was initially developed, it was named x86-64 and was later shortened to the current x64.

The 64-bit computers can run both 32-bit and 64-bit programs. However, 32-bit computers cannot run 64-bit programs, because the bit sizes are fundamentally different. Latest Laptops are usually preinstalled with the x64 operating system; computers launched years ago could have 32-bit Windows preinstalled.

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X64 or x86, which one to choose? #

Let’s make it clear. When asking this question, we usually refer to x86 for the 32-bit operating system and x64 for the 64-bit operating system.

In computing, there are two types of processors i.e., 32-bit and 64-bit, which tell us how much memory a processor can have access to from a CPU register. x64 or x86, which one should you choose?

RAM Utilization: To fully utilize RAM, you can choose the x64 operating system. A 32-bit operating can maximally utilize 4 GB RAM while for the 64-bit operating system, it is 128 GB.

Software Compatibility: a 64-bit processor is more capable than a 32-bit processor While a 32-bit operating system can only run 32-bit programs, the 64-bit operating system is able to execute both 32-bit and 64-bit programs. Today, most software is compatible with 64-bit operating systems. Also, x64 Windows operating systems can better utilize the functionality of the processor, making your computer run faster.

However, there are things to consider as well: does your machine have an x64 processor? If the machine fully supports x64, then x64 is the best way to go.

Do I have 32 or 64 bit? #

Knowing their difference, you are likely eager to find out whether you are running x64 or x86. This is much easy. You can find this information by viewing your computer’s properties.

Right-click on This PC on Windows 10 Desktop (or My Computer in Windows 7) and choose Properties. Now you are almost there. Just view your system types and you know if you are running x64 or x86.

Read more: How to Find Your Computer Specs Windows 10 [System & Hardware]

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