Configuration Tips for Windows Vista 64 (CAD Manager's Toolbox)7 Jul, 2009 By: Robert Green
The right system architecture, RAM, and graphics card make the difference in 64-bit operating systems.
In the last CAD Manager's Toolbox, I answered some basic questions about using Windows Vista 64-bit operating systems. I wanted to continue the topic in this installment by sharing some configuration tips that I've found handy.
New Is Better
Although old machines might have to serve us for a while, 64-bit operating systems make a lot more sense on newer machines that have faster multiple-core architectures and modern chipsets that have been developed and tested in 64-bit operating system environments.
My rule of thumb is that you should buy new machines with 64-bit operating systems preinstalled as you phase out old machines and 32-bit operating systems.
The 64-bit operating systems can access a lot more RAM (more on this topic below) and that RAM-addressing space can be serviced a lot better with more processor cores. The sweet spot for 64-bit operating systems now is the dual quad-core 5500 series chipsets that can address as many as 48 GB of RAM. Matching these processors with a high-performance graphics card yields a noticeable improvement in performance.
The simple rule of thumb as far as RAM for 64-bit operating systems seems to be 6 GB or more. With any less than that you won't see the processing advantage. With RAM amounts at 12 GB or more, the performance of 64-bit systems really starts to shine as you notice much less hard disk access and, therefore, faster computing performance.
Worth the Price?
The conclusion I've come to is that 64-bit operating systems are worth it if you invest in new, multiple-core machines that have plenty of RAM and robust graphics cards. If you need the computing performance, 64-bit systems are worth the expense. However, casual computer users can stay on 32-bit systems for the foreseeable future.