64-BIT PC GAMES

win64The move to 64-bit Windows has make the PC the top choice for gaming today. Here at Hardcore Games we have used Windows XP x64, Vista x64, Windows 7x 64, Windows 8 x64 and now Windows 10 x64. We immediately adopted 64-bit Windows XP for computer chess which is incredibly demanding on CPU performance in addition to demanding staggering amounts of memory.

For years, video games made do with a 32-bit CPU. All the work is done with the GPU which has to do vast amounts of number crunching too.  Graphics card memory is shadowed in main memory on a PC. so once VRAM exceeded 512MB there is not as much room available or the game engine.

Today better quality games have forced developers to use more memory than a 32-bit CPU can handle. A 64-bit CPU can use 18EB of address space. So with video cards shipping with 4GB and more memory on them, the need for 64-bit addressing is obvious.

In 2013, Call of Duty: Ghosts finally required 64-bit Windows. Then Battlefield 4 was the next AAA game to require 64-bit Windows followed by Wolfenstein: The New Order then Watch Dogs. The flood of 64- bit games has grown exponentially.

Windows Vista and above all ship with 64-bit versions which enthusiasts can use to be able to play the latest titles. We wholeheartedly recommend using the 64-bit version of Windows as the better memory management is ideal for both 32-bit and next generation 64-bit games.

FASTER PERFORMANCE

Existing 32-bit games run better with 64-bit Windows. This is due to the 64-bit versions DirectX can allocate as much resources as the game wants. Many games have faster frame rates with 64-bit WIndows. Windows uses the same technique as when the move from 16-bit to 32-bit happened back in the 1990s with a process called windows on windows.

We tried the unsupported 64-bit version of Rage and to our surprise and relief the framerate went from < 30fps to a solid 60fps with our GTX 260 SLI  Rage also runs great once we upgraded to the GTX 660 Ti which has more than double the shader cores as well as more VRAM. Many 32-bit games seem to do better with additional VRAM. The EVGA GTX 260 has more VRAM than 32-bit Windows can leverage which is why Rage runs so much better..

Crysis exhibits a solid 50% speedup with the 64-bit engine. Clearly we are spinning our wheels with 32-bit Windows.

See our page on game performance for more information on game options. Most games have options to reduce the load for older machines however a better graphics card is a better choice.

CATEGORY 64-BIT

WINDOWS VERSION MAX RAM
Windows XP Professional x64 and above 128GB
Windows 7 Professional x64 and above 192GB
Windows 8.1 Professional x64 and above 512GB
Windows 10 Professional x64 and above 2TB

WordPress can search by category for 64-bit games.

There are about 17,625 games in the Steam catalog as of September 10, 2017.

More than 98% of Windows 10 users are all using the 64-bit version. The chart shows the maximum possible RAM for Windows. Windows 10 can recognize up to 2TB of RAM and it has en even larger total address space.

CRAM IT WITH RAM

Generally every CPU over the last 10 years has been x64 capable. Over the last 5 years most machines came with at least 4GB of memory. Most recently, 8GB is becoming more common and now Ashes of the Singularity actually is recommending 16GB. Given the demands of modern games, we now recommend 32GB to have a comfortable cushion. With available 16GB DIMMs some enthusiasts are now installing 64GB or even 128GB.

RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER

Rise of the Tomb Raider does not even run well with 8GB of memory which the biggest reason to install at least 16GB of memory for 64-bit gaming. Recent machines are now shipping with 16GB and even 32GB of memory to handle the growing demands for memory.

rotr+crash

Rise of the Tomb Raider also needs vast amounts of VRAM. Its advisable to have an 8GB video card. More and more games are using growing amounts of VRAM.

STEAM

Steam stats in late 2015 showed that more than 85% of machines still had 12288MB or less system RAM. Most have video cards with under 1024MB VRAM. About 35% now have 1920×1080 or higher resolution panels.

We adopted our PA238QR in 2011 which was ahead of the curve with HDTV, BD and gaming all converging. After 5 years the EVGA GTX 660 Ti has managed to remain viable with games into 2017. With 12GB of memory installed, windows runs very well.


SSD OR HARD DISK

Many modern games are now over 80GB in size. Samsung now has 4TB SSD products for under $1500 so enthusiasts are slowly starting to abandon hard disks. UEFI systems can easily boot the new higher capacity  hardware. The lower cost M.2 slots seen on Z170 systems now reach 2048MB. NVMe is the new extension to UEFI for booting SSD.

PCI Express x4 cards are another option with more room on them for additional flash memory chips. We expect that PCI Express cards will grow rapidly in popularity as prices decline and capacity grows. PCI Express 3.0 x4 slots have over 3.5 GB/s of bandwidth which can deliver near main memory bandwidth for extremely fast boot up.

BACKGROUND ON WHY 64-BIT IS FASTER

Back with Windows XP, programmers with machines equipped with 2048MB of memory were not able to allocate larger chunks of memory. It is hard to even allocate 64MB with 32-bit Windows, many times the call is returned NULL which means it failed..  The problem is that the memory in 32-bit systems becomes fragmented from loading and unloading programs.

DX12 requires games to handle their own memory management. This is why modern games are invariably 64-bit so that they can use easy programming techniques without worry. The benefit is vastly lower CPU overheard which reduces power consumption.

Windows 10 version 1703 introduces shader model 6  for new game engine designs. Version 1709 bumps it up to shader model 6.1

typedef enum D3D_SHADER_MODEL { 
  D3D_SHADER_MODEL_5_1  = 0x51,
  D3D_SHADER_MODEL_6_0  = 0x60,
  D3D_SHADER_MODEL_6_1  = 0x61
} D3D_SHADER_MODEL;

So given video cards may have some limitations developers have ask DX12 what is available. Our GTX 660 Ti has the NVIDIA Kepler architecture which was deigned to handle DX11 titles. DX12 considers this to be feature level 11.

typedef struct D3D12_FEATURE_DATA_SHADER_MODEL {
  D3D_SHADER_MODEL HighestShaderModel;
} D3D12_FEATURE_DATA_SHADER_MODEL;

Which is what GPU-Z etc uses to figure out the feature level. Any question as to why everyone uses the 64-bit version of Windows 10?

typedef struct D3D12_RANGE_UINT64 {
  UINT64 Begin;
  UINT64 End;
} D3D12_RANGE_UINT64;

DX12 is designed for 64-bit processors using 64-bit Windows.