Windows 7 - Vista 32-bit to 64-bit upgrade and notebook hardware requirements

Asked By TVCC on 30-Jul-07 11:26 PM
I used to think I knew the hardware spec for 64-bit Vista...but now...it
seems Microsoft has either hidden or hedged the requirements.  So let's see
what is said here...

It was my understanding that for Vista 64-bit to have a chance of running
decently, you had to have a dual-core 64-bit processor with 2GB of RAM and a
video card with at least 128MB of dedicated RAM.  Is this still true?

For example, what are the chances that an Acer 5100-series laptop with an
AMD Turion 64X2 TL-56 1.8 Mhz processor with 2GB of DDR2 PC4200 RAM with a
533Mhz FSB and an ATI Xpress 1100 chipset with 256MB of dedicated RAM (as
much as 895 with sharing) will run Vista 64-bit decently, allowing heavy
multi-tasking and occasional gaming or multimedia?

I am thinking about upping the memory from 2GB to 4GB, and understand the
32-bit system will see no more than 3.12GB of RAM.  However, am I to
understand that in order for the system to see the full 4GB when/if I go to
64-bit, that I would have to do a clean install, rather than an upgrade?

I consult and write about this stuff for the masses and I have to say I am
becoming more, rather than less, baffled about how we will ever actually get
to 64-bit Vista computing.




TheNetAvenger replied on 31-Jul-07 02:37 AM
Here is all you really need for a good experience.

1) 64bit CPU (does not have to be dual/multi-core nor HT)

2) 2Gb of RAM. 1Gb works, but as you would guess 64bit apps do take a bit
more RAM.

3) Any Video card that works well with the system and supports PS 2.0 and
has 64mb or RAM, but preferably 128mb of RAM if you are using higher
resolutions than 1280x800. Even with a 2003 Video GeforceFX 5600 AGP card
you will get a great Vista and Aero experience. The need for the latest
video card for Vista is highly exaggerated.

As for upping your RAM from 2GB to 4GB, RAM always helps and in the case of
Vista, it uses extra RAM for some really cool and smart caching. So even if
you move to 16GB of RAM Vista will 'continue' to get faster even though
Vista and your applications are only using 512mb for example.

The 2.5GB or 3.xGB RAM limitation can 'sometimes' be adverted by moving to
the 64bit version; however, this has more to do with the Mainboard chipset
rather than the OS you are using. So if your mainboard is going to reserve a
large chunk of RAM for devices, there is NOTHING the OS can do about this,
and your only solution is to hope the mainboard has a newer BIOS that
addresses this, or to upgrade your mainboard. Many chipsets that are
'common' 64bit board chipsets have this flaw and it ranges from Intel to
NVidia.

So usually the 32bit version of Vista can see 4GB of RAM if the mainboard
supports it since this is the mainboard chipset limitation.

As for the progression to 64bit, it has been slow as most people don't 'get'
the benefits that were 'more' pronounced with the transition from 16bit to
32bit which made pre-emptive multi-tasking on the Intel CPUs possible.  With
64bit MS has done a good, although controversal job, of moving people to
64bit by requiring vendor to actually develop the drivers and even the
signing of drivers has put a fire under many hardware companies to finally
make the jump. Besides the additional RAM address space, 64bit processors
have many other performance tricks and features that most people don't think
about. Just the lower level registers available to the OS/Applications in
the CPU is enough of a jump to make 64bit software faster without even
digging into the other aspects of why it helps.

Vista 64bit is a much better experience than XP 64bit just in the
availability of drivers alone, and Vista is the time for people to seriously
consider moving to 64bits especially if they are getting new
hardware/computers.

We have had great success with Vista 64bit on both high end systems,
upgraded older systems, and even most 64bit laptops from the older EMT64
Intel desktop replacements from companies like Clevo to the newer 'light'
AMD and Intel 64bit based laptops from companies like HP and Toshiba.

Good Luck on your journey.
TheNetAvenger
TVCC replied on 01-Aug-07 12:22 PM
Thanks for your reply...my main focus is on laptops which generally cannot be
upgraded in terms of motherboards and video...so with that in mind...

Are you running Vista 64-bit on laptops that have shared memory graphics, as
nearly all do?  What is the performance like and how much
gaming/multi-tasking are they doing?  Everything I heard prior said shared
memory only was an essential no-no for 64-bit Vista for decent performance.
There is very little readily-available information on shared memory chipset
performance as relates to meeting requirements for Vista 64-bit, even though
the MS KB article on it waffles and inlcudes the 64-bit versions.  There is
no deliniation or reference to this issue at all, yet it's the supposed key
to 64-bit peformance.

I'd also note that HP is the only company building Vista 64 laptops for sale
at the common retail level that I am aware of, and all of those units have
had at least a GeForce 7600 dedicated video chipset with at least 128MB of
Video Ram.  No company, to my knowledge, has issued a Vista 64-bit laptop
that uses exclusively shared memory.  The Toshiba laptops that use Vista
Ultimate are all 32-bit installs.

As far as the 3-4GB of RAM issue, MS itself says they are limiting the
available memory on 32-bit systems to 3.12MB, and I have read elsewhere in
these forums that a clean 64-bit install would be required to have a system
see 4GB, rather than an upgrade from Vista 32 to Vista 64.  Do you have any
direct experience with that issue?  Most of the newer laptops, such as Acer
and others, support 4GB in BIOS.

And as for Micrososft's support of 64-bit...in my humble opinion, the launch
of Vista, especially as relates to 64-bit, has been nothing short of a
fiasco.  Not one in ten people shopping at ther local Circuit City, much less
the sales staff, knows that a Toshiba Windows Ultimate machine is loaded
32-bit, whereas an HP is 64.  And that's just the beginning of it.   We are
now at what...nine months after the Vista launch, and an obscure TechNet
article states that MS is "working on putting together a comprehensive list
of GPU's than can handle Vista 64" and only offers links to vendor sites?

Utterly ludicrous.

Someone at MS should have given thought to the idea of supporting developers
with financial and other incentives to write 64-bit code and drivers rather
than expecting they could jam it down their throat.  If 20% of the Vista
marketing budget had been allotted thereto, everyone would have been in miles
better shape at this point.  The vast majority of these companies are not
swimming in the billions in cash Microsoft is, and will see little or no ROI
for years in re-writing software for 64-bit systems or jumping to provide
drivers anbd having to provide support for them with almost zero return.

Again, my thanks for your feedback and I hope to hear more of your direct
experiences.