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What's the difference between a 32- and 64-bit client?

One of the most frequently asked questions around here these days is what exactly the difference is between a 32- and 64-bit client of World of Warcraft. Blizzard, which has been hinting at a 64-bit WoW client for some time now, has finally announced that such a client exists and can be downloaded for testing on the PTR. This is great news for people with computers that have large amounts of RAM and hefty processors, as well as great news for general improvements to WoW's structure itself.

In order to use a 64-bit client of WoW, you need to have a 64-bit operating system on your computer. The main difference between 32- and 64-bit operating systems (usually Windows) is that one deals with information in a more efficient way. Information in a 32-bit operating system is dealt with in pieces of information that are 32 bits wide, while 64-bit operating systems deal with information that is 64 bits wide -- double the alternative. With this larger bit structure comes better efficiency and the ability to use or "see" more RAM in your computer. 32-bit systems can only use 4 gigabytes of RAM and your 32-bit WoW client can only use 2 gigabytes, whereas the amount a 64-bit system can use is almost unlimited.

While we don't fully know exactly what improvements to the game will come with the 64-bit client, we can assume that more efficient processing power and the ability to stack more RAM for WoW to use might give some players a big frame rate boost and better performance. Lifehacker has an old article about how to tell if you have a 32- or 64-bit operation system.

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