I am building a new computer, the motherboard can take up to 8GB of RAM, but I’m only installing 3GB to start with. Should I install a 64-bit operating system now, or wait until I upgrade the RAM?
Hello, the previous answers have already explained the facts. Also take into consideration that your cpu has to be able to run 64 bits...not only the motherboard. If I was building a new computer, I would install the 64 bits operating system because of the benefits it provides, and also because nowadays pretty much all manufacturers are leaning towards 64 bits architecture. If things keep going the way they are, in a few years you will not be able to get 32 bits operating systems.
i wrote an article on my blogging website this morning only on 32 bit vs 64 bit - Fully Explained.
Visit it to get the full explanation about these two types. I have explained all the major differences in really simple language, the way i understood them.
As long as the processor of your new computer supports x64 it is safe to install a 64bit Operating System, even with 3GB of RAM or less.
I never really tested whether a 64bit OS consumes more RAM by default but even if that was the case Memory Management is designed to allocate and reallocate that memory via caching. So in any case you will have the memory available for whatever process needs it.
As for applications it doesn't have any negative effect running 32bit software on a 64bit Operating System. It is true that they won't take advantage of the larger instruction set but there will be no degradation or whatever. For example a lot of the currents [high end] video games are 32bit applications and they perfectly run on any 64bit system performance vise.
Since those points are rendered insignificant it brings me back to your own statement: If you are planning on upgrading your RAM some time in the future it is only logical to go for a 64bit System now. This allows you to upgrade at any time without facing the limitations of a 32bit system, without having to format and install a 64bit version.
It is also a question of money - for example:
A retail copy/licence of Windows 7 includes both, the 32bit and 64bit versions and can be (re)installed as one or the other. Therefor it is quite expensive.
The OEM (System Builder) versions which are a lot cheaper are limited to one instruction set. If you buy an x32 OEM licence you will not be able to install the 64bit Operating System. If wanted to switch you would have to buy another x64 OEM licence.
Well, I think installing a x64 OS is only necessary if you have more than 3/4 Gb RAM. Besides, in my experience, x64 systems consumed more ram than x86 systems on my machine and if you install a x64 OS you need to install x64 apps too, otherwise x86 apps won't take advantage of your system. Sorry for my bad english