64 is twice as better as 32, right?
April 1, 2008 1:38 PM   Subscribe

Is Windows XP 64-bit ready for me? Am I ready for it?

Look forward to rebuilding my system later this week and I'm considering switching from 32-bit to 64-bit Windows XP.

My setup will be as follows:

- AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ (dual core, 2.2 ghz)
- 6 gigabytes of ram (two DDR667 and two DDR800 sticks)
- Motherboard is a MSI K9N SLi Platinum
- Two SATA 3.0 drives configured in RAID 0 using nVidia's on board RAID controller. (I have a seperate drive which will receive incremental backups in case the RAID 0 array goes south.)
- Dual BFG 7600 GT video cards setup for SLi

The reason I'm interested in XP 64 is twofold: one, I want to take advantage of the 6 gb of ram, and two, I'm hoping for better performance and stability.

The machine is my primary desktop used for routine internet browsing, office work, and game playing.

Some questions that pop into my head: 1.) Will Windows XP 64 play nice with my SLi setup? 2.) Will my games (BioShock, Crysis, The Witcher, Civ IV, Total War, etc) work in 64? 3.) Will Windows XP 64 like my RAID 0 setup?

Is there anything else I should take into consideration? Am I missing something? Is there a case to be made for staying with XP 32 bit?

Thanks for any and all advice and speculation.
posted by wfrgms to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You may need to get a bootable driver disk to recognize the RAID setup, but I've got three RAID 0 pairs running on XP64 right now.
posted by notsnot at 2:13 PM on April 1, 2008

Drivers on XP-64 are super, super shitty

So a pretty definite no to 1 and 3, and you're going to have problems with a lot of number 2, with no real performance improvement unless they've released a 64-bit executable

Go 64-bit Vista or forget about it
posted by Oktober at 2:16 PM on April 1, 2008

You could try Linux if you're not interested in Vista.
posted by delmoi at 2:20 PM on April 1, 2008

Notsnot: I'm aware that I'll a the driver disk for the RAID install. Thanks.

Oktober: I'm not interested in Vista.

Delmoi: Likewise, I'm not interested in Linux. (Seriously? Did you even read my question?)

I thought briefly about putting a caveat in my question explaining that I'm not interested in Vista or Linux... but I figured, "Naaa... only the XP 64 bit guys will come in here anyway."
posted by wfrgms at 2:57 PM on April 1, 2008

Seconding Oktober - XP 64 is an evolutionary dead end. Vista 64 is well short of perfection, but at least driver manufacturers are working on it. Bottom line is, stick with XP 32 and live with unutilised RAM, if you're not prepared to take the Vista leap.

On a slight tangent, any reason for SLi'ing 2 7600s? You'll likely get better performance from a single 8800.
posted by Bodd at 3:06 PM on April 1, 2008

The reason I'm interested in XP 64 is twofold: one, I want to take advantage of the 6 gb of ram

For? Unless you're running some seriously memory-intensive applications, 6 GB of RAM is overkill. If you're really just using it for "routine internet browsing, office work, and game playing" then 6GB of memory is a waste of money. Just get 3 GB (2x1GB and 2x512MB) and you'll be fine.

and two, I'm hoping for better performance and stability.

You're definitely not going to find that in 64-bit XP. Since Vista is out, stick with 32-bit XP and used the money you've saved to get a beefier video card (and I agree with Bodd, you'll almost certainly get better performance and less headaches from a single 8800 than a brace of 7600s).
posted by Nelsormensch at 3:28 PM on April 1, 2008

64-bit was a mess for me, switched back. Couldn't get drivers for my other hardware. Lots of software won't run. People only half-way ported to it before vista was put into the pipeline ahead of it.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:32 PM on April 1, 2008

Dittoing the ditch XP64 and just go with Vista64 or stick with XP32.

It's not a matter of Vista vs XP, but rather a matter of technological evolution & what the market bears resulting in a lack of device drivers. Evolutionary speaking, XP/2000 was built with 32-bit device drivers in mind as a step-up from the 16-bit world of pre-NT, and the manufacturers followed suit. Keeping 64-bit DDs in mind with Vista is the next evolutionary step in computing, and there's little compelling reason to continue supporting XP64.

For the marketplace and making money, 64-bit hardware simply wasn't mainstream with XP for most of its lifespan. Up until recently with dual-cores (well, I guess AMD has the x64, but whatever) and >4 gigs RAM (I agree with Nelsormensch here), 64-bit architecture simply was not utilized by the masses (there's always the server market, but XP isn't something I'd use as a server). With Vista out now, drivers will most likely be written for XP/2000, Vista, and Vista64-not that uncommon- while continuing to exclude the XP64 world.

So, yea, I would stay with XP32 simply due to XP64's lack of support from everyone.

Also, I am a Windows fanboi, and am not aware of many XP64 users.
posted by jmd82 at 3:43 PM on April 1, 2008

I asked a similar question a while back, and got much the same answers. I didn't believe them, and went ahead and wasted a LOT of my time trying to find ways around the obstacles, thinking that there must be a way...so let me summarize the comments you're going to get and how true they are.

1) 64-bit XP has no future. Absolutely true. The only reason it has a past was that it serverd two purposes; one, to serve as a 64-bit test bed while Vista was being developed and no one was sure how 64-bit was going to shake out; two, because there were a few customers out there, mostly in CAD/CAM/Drafting/etc/ that needed XP (no better at the time) but had specialized need for more RAM than 32-bit could use. Windows 64-bit is all Vista from now on. (Until 7, whatever that's going to be.)

2) Drivers are a bitch. Absolutely true. Very few devices had 64-bit XP drivers written for them. Think you can use a 64-bit Vista driver you found, thinking that it'll work with 64-bit XP? That's what I thought before I bought, then bricked an $1800 64-bit tablet trying to get 64-bit XP to run on it. They're different. 64-bit XP was specialized/custom enough that noone really bothered manufacturing devices or developing device drivers for it, since there was such a tiny market, and about half the members of that market could conceivably develop their own. You've got an advantage in that you're building a system from scratch, but you're going to have to do a lot of hunting before you find a full kit of 64-bit XP compatible components. And I repeat, some, but NOT MOST, 64-bit Vista drivers will work with 64-bit XP.

3) Um, buy a console? Your main focus for 64-bit XP seems to be the increased capacity to use RAM. And your next question is about your games. So I'm assuming that your main/sole reson for wanting to go 64-bit XP is so that you can use the stable base of XP gaming, but with more RAM than XP can handle in 32-bit. It SEEMS like a good plan, but I think you're digging yourself a hole there. You're going to waste time nearly equivalent to the time you spent gaming in the last 6months trying to get this to work, but without any of the fun. And you'll end up spending more on hardware that turns out not to be compatible, or is comatible with only this odd frankensystem and obsolete in 6 months, that you would absolutely be better off buying a console, maybe two if you can't decide.

That's my twenty cents. I have my fingers crossed that someone will post with a magic answer for you that will make it work and get me my time and money back.
posted by bartleby at 3:49 PM on April 1, 2008

Have you thought about Windows Server 2008? It's got the newest Vista tech without all the annoying bits, and there are a few websites showing how to customize it as a desktop os. I'll be skipping XP64 and Vista and going straight to 2008 on my home machine.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:53 PM on April 1, 2008

Similar, previously
posted by Sonic_Molson at 5:09 PM on April 1, 2008

Gaming-wise, Windows XP 64 isn't a viable option. It's barely usable in a corporate environment - no chance with a gaming desktop. You have to choose - XP 32 or Vista 64.

A single 8800 of any flavor will crush 7600GT SLI, no comparison. With SLI, you're getting less than the performance of twice a single card. Whereas with the 8800 line, you're getting way more than twice the performance of a single 7600GT. Not to mention that 8800s take advantage of DX10 (Vista) while the 7600GT is only DX9-compliant. Neat little comparison tool here. It doesn't have 2x7600GT but the 8800 numbers should make it painfully obvious.

I assume the RAM you're spec'ing is 2x2GB DDR800 on top of old 2x1GB DDR667. If that's the case, you may want to see if the performance is better with just 4GB DDR800 vs 6GB mix of DDR800 and DDR667. It's very possible to take a performance hit when you mix-match different clock speeds.
posted by junesix at 5:14 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone for the suggestions and advice. I suppose I'll reconsider switching to XP 64 and stick with XP for the time being.

bartleby et al: thanks for the info.

Blue beetle: your Windows Server 2008 suggestion has me scampering for more info. Thanks!

junesix: point taken on mixing different speeds of ram. I'll keep that in mind.

Regarding my dual 7600 GT setup. I'm in the market for new card(s), but I'm waiting to see how things shake down price wise on quad core CPUs. I'm deeply pissed that my MSI board doesn't seem like it will support AMD's Phenom processor. I'm not entirely sure if my next motherboard will be SLI or not - it sort of suckers you into buying two video cards every time you upgrade.

Thanks again!
posted by wfrgms at 8:00 PM on April 1, 2008

I am going to beg you not to use Windows XP 64 bit. I realize you're already considering not using it, but here's another story to add to the pile...

I used Windows XP 64 bit for a couple years. I had to ignore a lot of bizarre errors because not enough programs support it. I had trouble getting printers to work, Quicktime wouldn't install properly, installing the new IE broke my computer and I had to roll it back, there weren't appropriate sound card drivers so I had to do a lot of haphazard work-arounds, etc. It was a nightmare, but I wanted to take advantage of my 64 bit processor and I didn't see another option.

Well, I realized that recently there is more support for Windows XP 64, partly because so many kinds of software scrambled to support Vista 64 bit. I backed up all my data and decided to completely reformat and reinstall Windows XP 64, hoping that installing the newer versions of programs from scratch would mean no weird errors from the older programs or work-arounds.

Not so. I tried reformatting and installing it THREE TIMES and every single time, the Windows Updater wouldn't even work correctly straight out of a fresh install. It would freeze and not download anything. Using Microsoft's advice to fix this, it still didn't work except this time it would tell me I had chosen to skip all updates when I would tell it to install them. Basically, I had no good way to update the OS at all, and I hadn't even gotten a chance to configure anything to screw it up. Thinking back, I think I had this same problem when I first installed the OS.

I finally gave up and installed 32 bit XP. I'd rather be able to use my OS without errors than take advantage of the 64 bit processor. And hell if I'm EVER getting Vista. 32 bit XP hasn't given me any real problems yet.

I've come to hate the Windows OS after being a default fan for twelve years now. 32 bit XP is really the last version that is worth a crap. I ended up installing Ubuntu 64 bit and duel-booting, and I only use Windows now if it's something I can't run in Linux. There is still some frustration, but everything runs much more smoothly and opens more quickly on Ubuntu, and I'm willing to put in the extra effort to configure things and troubleshoot them. Still, though, in the event that you were interested I can't whole-heartedly recommend Ubuntu either, particularly if you have an ATI video card like I do. If you have nVidia and it sounds like something you might be interested in, there's no harm in installing it.

The next computer I get will be a Mac, though, and I never thought I would say that. The Mac OS is more stable and most programs run on Macs now. If I had an Intel chip I would just use a work-around to get the Mac OS on this computer, but alas, I have an Athlon.

But anyway, whatever you do, don't use XP 64. It does not play well with others.
posted by Nattie at 5:40 AM on April 2, 2008

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