32 bit vs 64 bit – Full Comparison

32 bit vs 64 bit: The Key Differences Explained

32 bit and 64-bit computers are references to the processing speed of computers. It is specifically referring to the computer’s processor. A computer’s processor – also known as the CPU – is responsible for executing a computer’s code and all operations. It is one of the most important parts of a computer, as it is essentially the hub of all computing activity. 

The vast majority of currently available commercial computers are either 32 bit or 64 bit. The “bit” specifically refers to the processing power of a computer and references the number of bytes that can be accessed by a computer while it is performing a specific computing operation. As the name implies, 64-bit computers are faster and capable of performing more operations per second. However, 64-bit computers are not always necessary, and for many common residential or commercial operations, 32 bit computers are more than adequate. 

32 bit vs 64 bit
Close-up of an NXP MPC8245ARZU400D 32 bit Integrated Host Processor, PowerPC

32 bit vs 64 bit: Side by Side Comparison

32 bit64 bit
What it isThe processing power of a computer’s Central Processing UnitThe processing power of a computer’s Central Processing Unit
Primary UseOverall availability of bytes of Random Access MemoryOverall availability of bytes of Random Access Memory
Name32-bit computing64-bit computing
Conceived19481961
Initial ReleaseThe 1960s1991
Influential DevelopersIntel, AMDApple, Intel, AMD
Open formatNoNo
Technologies influenced64-bit technology, CPUs, RAMCPUs, RAM

32 bit vs 64 bit: Must Know Facts

  • The difference between the two processing units is in more than just mere graphics and power. 64 bit computers also come with additional security features that make it far less likely to be infected with a virus or other malware. It is also critical for data download speed, as higher processing power means a higher speed of download. 
  • 32 bit and 64 bit technology is available on more than just computers. This processing power also impacts mobile devices and the overall performance of a computer’s operating system, such as Windows or Apple.
  • When it comes to mobile games or other computer games, players will typically prefer 64 bit computers over their older counterparts. 
  • As of the late 2000s, 64 bit processors became the industry norm. These days, you would be challenged to find a commercially available 32 bit device. 

32 bit vs 64 bit: Summary

32 bit vs 64 bit
Vintage rare, used, Atari Jaguar gaming console on wooden table. This was the first game device to operate on 64 bits.

32-bit devices – first commercially available in the 1960s – became the industry norm in the 1990s and 2000s. At the time, they were considered technological innovations for their ability to process data, quick download speeds, enhanced memory capacity, and more. Almost every operating system made the transitions as well, and during this time period, almost every computer operated on a 32-bit device.

In the early 1990s, 64-bit computers began their infancy, with the first video game device – the Atari Jaguar – operating on 64 bits. The device was far too expensive to be commercially successful at the time, but advances in technology made these devices more popular and cheaper. Gradually, programs began to shift towards 64-bit operation, and soon, 64 bit became the industry standard. Windows operating system moved in this direction in 2005, and this is widely considered to be a turning point in the development and popularity of the 64-bit processor. 

32 bit vs 64 bit: Which is Better?

There is no question that 64-bit processors are superior in virtually every respect. Be it for using games, accessing data with quick speeds, running programs, or simply managing your life, a 64-bit device has exponentially more speed and processing power than its 32-bit counterpart. Indeed, by and large, 32-bit computers are no longer available. 

32 bit vs 64 bit – Full Comparison FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are 32 bits or 64 bits better?

64 bits are better. They provide faster processing speed, quicker ability to render graphics, and enhanced security features. By and large, 32-bit processors are not even commercially available at this point, and you would likely have to look very hard to find a 32-bit device.

How do I determine 32 or 64-bit?

In most cases, you can determine what type of processing speed your computer, gaming device, or mobile device is operating on by examining its settings or checking out the hardware specifications on the device.

If you are trying to determine whether or not to purchase a 32 bit or 64 bit, you are going to likely have that decision already made for you: In most cases, 32-bit devices are no longer in production. Most operating systems – including Linus, Apple OS, and Windows – have already transitioned to 64 bits, and 32-bit devices are being faded out of operation. Programs that rely exclusively on 32-bit devices can still be found, but they are becoming less prominent and popular, as computers increasingly shift towards processors that are 64 bit.

Is 32-bit or 64-bit better for gaming?

For gaming – just like everything else – 64-bit processors are better. They can operate at a faster speed, render graphics at a quick rate, provide additional detail, and generally provide a smoother and more realistic gaming experience. Additionally, most games these days are so advanced that they simply cannot be played at 32 bits, as 64 bits were, by and large, the industry by the late 2000s.

What is the difference between 32 bit vs 64 bit?

The main difference is the speed at which these processors operate. 32 bit processors can access 4,294,967,296 bytes of RAM (or random access memory), while 64 bit processors can access 18,446,744,073,709,551,616. This is obviously a massive difference, and it is one that is noticeable for anyone using these devices.

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