32 Bit vs 64 Bit: Key Differences Between 32 And 64 Bit

Read this product feature-wise comparison along with advantages and limitations of 32 Bit vs 64 Bit to understand which one is better:

We commonly hear about 32 bit and 64 bit, and still, many computer users are not clear on the differences between 32 bit and 64 bit. First of all, 32 bit and 64 bit is applicable to the below three aspects:

  1. 32 bit and 64-bit processors.
  2. Operating system supporting 32 bit and 64 bit.
  3. Software used in an operating system supporting 32 bit and 64 bit.

Thus, the first wave of technological development came in areas of processing power, when 64-bit processors were first launched by AMD64 based processor in April 2003, Opteron and Athlon.

Then, to support a 64-bit processor, there came an operating system supporting 64 bit in the market. For example, Windows for 32 bit as well as 64 bit.

Post having a 64-bit processor and 64-bit supported operating system, then came software which was to be used in 64-bit architecture. For example, Excel application for 32 bit as well as for 64 bit.

32 bit vs 64 bit

32 Bit vs 64 Bit

In this computing world, we are introduced to two variants of processors: 32 bit and 64 bit. Hence, along with technological evolution, the demand for fast computing and multi-tasking gained prominence, and this required processors with much more ability to perform.

Most computers during the era of 1990 to 2000 were built on 32-bit architecture, but with time things are changing and 64-bit architecture is the new norm, which also lends support to 32-bit architecture. A processor lets us know how much memory access it can have from the CPU register.

For example, A system with a 32-bit processor can access around 4GB of RAM or physical memory, whereas a 64-bit system can easily handle the memory of more than 4 GB, thus increasing the processor’s performance capability.

So, the next question that comes to a user is how 64 bit and 32-bit systems differ and which is the best to choose, based on user requirement. We will also address how to check whether 32-bit or 64-bit version is being used in the system, and if a user wishes, how can he upgrade his processor to 64 bit or vice versa.

Difference Between 32 And 64-bit Processors

We need to understand Bit first. In the computing world, Bit is the most basic unit of information and Bit is the short form of Binary Digit, which means it can be represented by two values – either 0 or 1. It is called Binary, as there are only two possible digits: 0 and 1. The Binary system is also called Base 2.

These Bits can be grouped together, and in multiples called Bytes, Kilobytes, Megabytes, Gigabytes, etc to store data and execute transactions.

Some basic standards used in the market (relation between Bits and Bytes) are:

1 Nibble = 4 Bits

1 Byte = 8 Bits

1 Kilobyte (KB) = 1000 Bytes

1 Megabyte (MB) = 1000 Kilobytes

1 Gigabyte (GB) = 1000 Megabytes

1 Terabyte (TB) = 1000 Gigabytes, and it goes on.

Binary Bit Strings

Binary Bit Strings

Thus, along with each incremental bit, it doubles the number of possible combinations.

Similarly, if we go on to calculate for 32 bit and 64 bit, it comes out something like this as below:

32 bit64 bit
2 ^ 32
= 4294967296 Byte
= 4194304 KB
= 4096 MB
= 4 GB (Giga Byte)
2 ^ 64
= 1.84467440737 e+19 Byte
= 1.80143985095 e+16 KB
= 1.75921860444 e+13 MB
= 17179869184 GB
= 16777216 TB
= 16384 PB
= 16 EB (Exa Byte)
32 bit processor can support upto 4 GB RAM64 bit processor can support more than 4 GB RAM

Therefore, millions of bits can be processed by a computer every second. Thus, a RAM and a hard drive’s storage capacity is normally measured in Megabytes (MB) and Gigabytes (GB). Hence higher the configuration, the more space for computing power.

32 vs 64 bit: Product Feature-wise Comparison

Product features32 bit64 bit
Ability to perform number of calculations per secondLowHigh
Speed at which a task can be completedSlowFaster
Multitasking and switching between applicationsMay observe hanging problemsSmooth functioning
System compatibility with different versionsIs not compatible with higher versionsWith minor alterations, has ability to support 32 bit environment i.e. backward compatible.
Take full advantage of new technologyHas limitations.Can take full advantage.
Data and Storage Handling i.e., support to RAMAround 4 GB of RAMGreater than 4 GB of RAM
Gaming & 3D Graphic programsProvides limited support and user experience is not smoothRecommended for these activities with good experience

Which Is Better: 64 bit vs 32 bit

When you have 4 GB of RAM or more installed on your computer, the benefits of using a 64-bit operating system are visible. Large amounts of memory can be handled more efficiently by a 64-bit operating system as compared to a 32-bit system.

In terms of responsiveness, a 64-bit system can be more responsive and can smoothly run several programs at the same time, and seamless switching can be done between the running programs frequently.

64-bit version unleashed a lot of improvement avenues, including improved security and wider industrial applications, and better performance for games with the ability to harness more memory power.

Thus, here only one point needs to be considered. In order to harness or utilize the full potential of a 64-bit processor, you should have a supporting 64-bit operating system, and the software should be on 64-bit architecture. If any one of the objects is in a 32-bit configuration, that means it will not give optimal performance.

Hence a 64-bit processor would have an edge over a 32-bit processor on the below combinations, thus giving superior processor performance.

#1) Processor core variant: Nowadays, a 64-bit processor normally comes in Hexa-core or Octa-core variant.

#2) Logical processor variant: Combined strength of the actual number of physical cores times the number of threads that can be run on one physical core. And 64 bit comes with a higher logical processor variant.

#3) MHz and GHz: Rate at which a processor can complete a task processing cycle. Thus, processors with the latest technology are endorsed with better performance.

#4) Hyper-Threading technology being used, etc.: Allows core to do multiple tasks simultaneously, without one impacting the other. This is used in a 64-bit processor.

Further reading =>> Top Windows Repair tools

How do I know if I need 32 bit or 64 bit?

In terms of processors, normally all the processors available in the market nowadays are 64 bit only. But yes, a user should look at the operating system being used in his device. So, based on the architecture of the operating system, the software that runs on the operating system will vary.

So, the next topic illustrates how we can find out, whether we are using a 32 bit or 64 bit processor and operating system through our device system settings.

Is My Windows 32 bit Or 64 bit

Steps to check in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1

  1. Click on the Start button
  2. Then click on Settings > System > About
  3. Inside About settings > On the right side, under Device specifications, you can see System type.

Steps to check in Windows 7

  1. Click on the Start button icon
  2. Then right-click on Computer > Properties.
  3. Inside System, you can see the system type.

Below is a sample screen displayed for Windows 10 system, where it is being displayed that a 64 bit processor along with a 64-bit operating system is being used.

for Windows 10 system

Is a 64 bit faster than 32 bit?

A 64-bit processor is faster than 32 bit, in terms of superior performance or experience. But the other compatible applications/systems should also be configured on 64 bit.

How Can I Change From 32 bit To 64 bit

Speaking ideally, there is no way of changing a 32-bit processor to a 64-bit processor, or changing a 32 bit operating system to 64-bit operating system, as both the architecture is very different, and thus it is not allowed. But still, if some hack is applied, then it will have an impact on the entire chain ranging from processor performance to support operating system and software being used.

In order to upgrade from the 32-bit version to the 64-bit version, it should ideally be a new install

  1. You would require to reformat your hard disk and then install the 64-bit version
  2. Post this, reinstall everything else that you had on your device.

Advantages And Limitations

Advantages of 32 bit CPU:

  • Suitable for limited/light usage.
  • Compatible with older version systems around 1990–2000s.

Limitations with 32 bit CPU:

  • Due to very minimal market demand for 32-bit processors, most of the vendors/manufacturers have stopped offering 32-bit processors/applications.

Advantages of 64 bit CPU:

  • Increased superior performance.
  • Enhanced security.
  • Support higher virtual memory.
  • Supports multiple cores, thus increase in computing power.
  • Ability to multitask.
  • Higher operational efficiency, thus providing a superior user experience.

Limitations with 64 bit CPU

  • Does not support some of the 32-bit applications.
  • 32 bit cannot be upgraded to 64 bit.


As computing denotes power and to get things done quickly in a seamless way, the way forward is a combination of 64 bit processor, 64 bit operating system, and software supported by 64 bit for optimum performance.

Hence as a user, if your requirement is to watch videos, browse the web and use basic productivity tools like word processing and excel, then a Dual-core processor or Quad-core processor may meet your requirement. But if you are one of those doing more than these, then a higher score would be ideal to choose, to deliver that smoother user experience.

Therefore, whether you are upgrading your existing system or purchasing a new system, choosing the best CPU will matter. A major difference in performance can be observed with variation in higher clock speeds or core count. Based on the CPU you choose, it also dictates your motherboard option. Each processor works with a specific set of chipsets and a CPU socket.

Suggested reading =>> Top tools to monitor CPU Temperature

In this consumer technology space, go for the best processor available right now with your budget, and pair a strong CPU with ample RAM and one of the best SSD (Solid State Drive). You need a fast SSD to speed up your reads and writes, as a slow storage drive forces your CPU to wait, thus giving a poor performance.