In the lab: Will Smith Experiments with 64-bit Vista

Nathan Edwards

Listeners of the No BS podcast know that I’ve spent the last two months experimenting with 64-bit Vista on a system with more than 2GB of memory. That’s right, I took my trusty XP/Vista x86 dual boot and borked the entire thing by adding a couple gigs of memory and installing an OS that’s still facing some serious growing pains.

The first problem was stability—the machine crashed at the drop of a hat and Windows rapidly became corrupted. After reinstalling Windows for the nth time, I finally installed components one at a time and was able to determine that my Creative X-Fi card was the culprit. With the X-Fi removed, and onboard sound enabled, everything was much better, or so I thought.

Next up was suspend. While the suspend functionality in 32-bit Vista works flawlessly, I experienced crashes when suspending and resuming in 64-bit mode. I first theorized that the problem was due to my memory configuration. I’d populated all four banks on my motherboard to reach 4GB of RAM, which can cause stability problems. To counter that, I popped two 2GB Patriot DIMMs from the Lab into the test machine—to no avail. The machine still frequently crashes on suspend and resume operations.

What’s the upshot? After at least 10 complete reinstalls of Vista, a switch to onboard sound, a new motherboard or two, and the sacrifice of several chickens, I still can’t suspend or sync my iPod (one of the many incompatible operations I’ve tried). I’m giving up, at least for now. While performance felt moderately better than with 32-bit Vista, especially on apps that can use more than 2GB of memory, the benchmarks didn’t show it, and frankly 64-bit isn’t worth the hassle.

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