Microsoft offers Windows 10 as a free upgrade to computers running a genuine copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Similar to previous versions, the operating system is available on different versions and two versions: 32-bit and 64-bit.
While upgrading from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro is not free, what many people are not familiar with is that Microsoft won’t require a lot of money to upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit.
However, the upgrade path only allows switching from a qualified version to its equivalent performance on the same architecture. This limit means that if your computer runs a 32-bit version of Windows 8.1, after the upgrade, you’ll be stuck with the 32-bit version of Windows 10 – even if your processor Calculator can handle the 64-bit version. The only solution is to install a clean operating system and reconfigure all of your applications and settings.
In this Windows 10 guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to verify whether your computer supports the 64-bit version, and we’ll walk you through the process of upgrading to Windows 10 (x64 ).
Make sure Windows 10 64-bit is compatible with your computer
A 64-bit version of Windows can only be installed on computers with capable hardware. As such, the first thing you need to do is determine if your computer has a 64-bit processor.
You can quickly get this information from the Settings app.
- Use the Windows key + I shortcut to open the Settings app.
- Click System.
- Click About.
- Under System type, you will see two pieces of information: if it comes to a 32-bit operating system, the x64-based processor, then that means your computer is running a 32-bit version of Windows 10 on microprocessor 64-bit processing. If it says 32-bit operating system, processor based on x86, your computer doesn’t support Windows 10 (64-bit).
Alternatively, you can open the System Information to gather processor information:
- Open the Start menu, search for System Information, and press Enter.
- Under System Summary, on the right side, find the System Type. If you see an x64-based computer, your computer can run a 64-bit version of Windows. If you see an x86-based computer, you can’t install a different operating system architecture.
Also, although most current computers will run Windows 10, if you have an older computer, you need to make sure the processor has the features it needs. According to Microsoft’s support page in Windows 8.x and later, the operating system requires three essential characteristics, including Physical Address Extension (PAE), No-eXecute (NX), and Streaming SIMD Extensions 2 (SSE2). Besides, Windows 10 (64-bit) also requires the CMPXCHG16b (CX16) feature present in the processor.
The Windows installation wizard always checks for hardware compatibility before the installation begins. If the processor does not support these features, Windows 10 will not install.
If you want to verify that your computer includes support for these features, you can use a command-line tool called Coreinfo from Microsoft’s Windows Sysinternals.
- Go to Windows Sysinternals and download Core info.
- Open the folder where you downloaded Coreinfo, right-click on the zip folder, and select Extract all.
- When the Coreinfo folder opens, click File, and choose the Open command prompt.
- Enter the
coreinfo command and press Enter.
- Core info will list the processor information and make sure PAE, NX, SSE2, and CX16 (you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + F to open the find command). If there are four features, you can upgrade to Windows 10 (x64).
Make sure 64-bit device driver versions are available
Also, you want to make sure that other components in your system, such as the video and sound card, are 64-bit compatible, as 32-bit drivers won’t work.
If your computer is just a few years old, it’s more likely that there are 64-bit drivers available. However, older components may not even be supported anymore. Before switching from a 32- to the 64-bit version of Windows, check the manufacturer’s website to see if there is a 64-bit driver available.
Make a full backup for your computer
You will make significant changes to your computer, so it’s best to do a full system backup before upgrading.
You can use our previous tutorial too.
Remember that you’ll also need to back up your files to an external drive or OneDrive, as they’ll be deleted during installation.
Perform a clean install of Windows 10
Since there is no direct path from the 32-bit to the 64-bit version of Windows 10, the only solution is to install a clean operating system.
Quick Tip: Before performing a clean install, you should make sure that your copy of Windows 10 has been appropriately activated. You can view this information on Settings> Update and security> Activation. Create installation media for Windows 10
Connect a USB drive with at least 4 GB of free space.
- Visit Microsoft’s Windows 10 download page.
- Click the Download tool now button and save the Media Creation Tool on your desktop.
- Double-click the MediaCrationTool.exe file.
- Read the license terms and click Accept.
- Select the option Create installation media for another PC.
- Click Next.
- Uncheck the option Use the recommended options for this PC.
- Make sure to choose the language, edition, and, more importantly, architecture, in this case, 64 bit (x64).
- Click Next.
- Select the USB flash drive option.
- Click Next.
- Select the drive from the list.
- Click Next.
- Once the installation media is created, close to the Media Creation Tool.
Install the 64-bit version of Windows 64 bit
- Restart your PC with the installation media connected and start installing Windows 10.
- On Windows setup, click Next.
- Click Install Now.
- As before you had an activated version of Windows 10, you can skip the option if you are prompted to enter a product key.
- Accept the license agreement and click Next.
- Click Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).
- Select and delete system partitions – usually: Drive 0 Partition 1 and Drive 0 Partition 2.
- Click Next and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation.
Once installed, make sure to go to Settings> Update & security> Windows Update to download the latest updates and drivers. If some drivers are not available through Windows Update, check your computer manufacturer website to download and install the 64-bit version of the required driver.
Now, it’s also time to install any previous apps and restore your files from backup.
64-bit benefits of Windows 10
Between 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows, there is no feature difference. However, there are productivity benefits. For example, the 64-bit version has a RAM-limited 3.5GB limit found in the 32-bit version of the operating system. This advantage means that on computers with at least 4GB of RAM, you’ll be able to run multiple apps simultaneously. Other applications like Google Chrome will be able to handle more open tabs, and you’ll be able to run more memory-intensive applications, such as AutoCAD, Photoshop, and video editing programs.
It must be pointed out that while we focus on Windows 10, Microsoft also does not support a direct path between architectures for previous versions of the operating system.