Knowing which version of Windows you have installed is useful information because it will help you install the appropriate software versions and device drivers, as well as tell you whether or not your system is capable of running the most recent iteration of Windows.
With that in mind, here is everything you need to know about CPU and OS architectures in Windows 11, as well as how to determine whether your computer is 32-bit or 64-bit.
How to check computer architecture on Windows 11
If you have a 32-bit processor, you can only install a version of Windows designed for that processor. If you have a 64-bit processor, you can install either the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows.
It is critical to understand your computer architecture if you do not want compatibility issues with your applications and device drivers. All of the methods for testing your computer architecture are listed below.
Check the Device Specifications in Settings.
The Settings app is one of the simplest ways to check your CPU architecture. Here’s how to go about it:
- To open Settings, press Win + I. With System selected in the left panel, scroll down and click on About on the right.
- Then, look for System type under ‘Device Specifications.’ The architecture of your operating system and processor will be listed next to it.
Check System Information
Since the days of Windows XP, there has been a ‘System Information’ app that provides you with all the information you could need about your system. Here’s how to use it to see if your computer is 32-bit or 64-bit:
- Press the Start button and type System Information. Select the first app option that appears.
- Check the ‘System Type’ entry here.
Examine the ‘Program Files’ folder.
Only systems with an x64-bit architecture can run 64-bit versions of Windows. They can, however, install both 32-bit and 64-bit software programs. This is why, on a 64-bit computer, there will be two ‘Program Files’ folders – Program Files and Program Files (x86). 32-bit Windows, on the other hand, can only install 32-bit programs and thus have a single ‘Program Files’ folder.
- Simply go to the C: drive (default system drive) and look for the ‘Program Files’ folder to determine whether you have a 32-bit or 64-bit computer (s). If there are two, your computer is 64-bit. If it is one, it is 32-bit.
Check System Info in Command Prompt
Terminal applications such as Command Prompt and PowerShell can easily extract system information. Here’s how to use the Command Prompt to determine your computer’s architecture:
- Start, type cmd, and then select Run as administrator.
- Then enter the following code:
- Enter your password. The architecture of your computer will be mentioned next to ‘System Type.’
In PowerShell, examine the OS architecture.
Follow the steps below to check your OS architecture in PowerShell:
- Start, type PowerShell, and then select Run as administrator.
- Then enter the following code:
OSArchitecture wmic os
- In the following line, PowerShell will highlight your operating system architecture.
Keyboard shortcut to check computer architecture
- To determine whether your system is 32-bit or 64-bit, simultaneously press the Windows key and the ‘Pause’ or ‘Break’ button (Win + Pause). If your laptop has a built-in keyboard, you may need to press the Function key to access the Pause button (Win + Fn + Pause).
- This will open the Settings app’s ‘About’ page, where you can find your system architecture next to ‘System type.’
difference between 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows
What does 32 or 64 even mean? This is the width of the CPU register in computer processors.
The CPU register stores a small amount of data for when it needs to access it quickly. A 32-bit CPU register can hold up to 2³² entries (and thus can only access 4GB of RAM), whereas a 64-bit CPU register holds up to 2⁶⁴ entries. When it comes to speed and performance, 64-bit processors clearly outperform their predecessors by a wide margin. 64-bit processors are also much safer than their 32-bit cousins.
Because of this distinction, developers must create two versions of their apps and software, one for 32-bit and one for 64-bit. This is also true for Windows. However, with the release of Windows 11, things began to change.
Is Windows 11 compatible with 32-bit processors?
Microsoft has stated unequivocally that a 64-bit processor is one of the minimum requirements for running Windows 11. This also means that if you already have Windows 11, you can be confident that you have an x64-bit processor.
What are the advantages of 64-bit operating systems over 32-bit operating systems?
Because 32-bit processors predate faster 64-bit counterparts, they are slower and less secure. A 64-bit processor can access physical memory far more frequently than a 32-bit processor – over four billion times! Of course, the version of the operating system you’re using should also be able to take advantage of that, which is why there are 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows.
Most games and applications that run on 64-bit architecture are faster than those that run on 32-bit architecture. The memory advantages provided by a 64-bit CPU are simply too significant to not affect performance, and when running a 64-bit OS, the processor’s capabilities are further compounded.
Is it possible to install a 64-bit version of Windows on a 32-bit CPU?
No, a 64-bit version of Windows cannot run on a 32-bit CPU. On a 32-bit CPU, only a 32-bit version of Windows can be installed. Backward compatibility is possible, and you can run a 32-bit version of Windows on a 64-bit CPU.
Is it possible to upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit Windows?
Yes, you can upgrade from a 32-bit version of Windows to a 64-bit version, but only if you have a 64-bit processor. The only way to do so is to do a clean installation of a 64-bit version of Windows.