You can check your processor architecture using several methods. You can use the built in services in the OS such as the command line or you can consult the processor manufacturer spec sheet for more details.
Beginners often ask what is my processor architecture for several reasons. Firstly, it determines which Windows version you can install i.e 32 bit 0r 64 bit and secondly it determines how much RAM can you have in your system.
Generally, the architecture of your processor is either x86 (32bit) for an older computer or x64 (64bit) for a more recent computer. However, the architecture your PC is currently running is determined by both the processor and the operating system installed.
x86 (32-bit) vs x64 (64-bit) Architecture
The higher the bit of the CPU, the more memory it can address.
Therefore, one of the primary differences between a 32 bit and a 64 bit processor is that the former can only handle 2^32 or 4,294,967,296 bytes of RAM (~4.0 GB of RAM), the latter can handle 2^64 or 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 bytes of RAM (~18,446,744,073 GB of RAM)!
In other words, if you have a processor with a 32 bit architecture, you would only be able to install about 4.3 GB of RAM Theoretically (~3.5 GB Typically Usable). If you install any more than this, the extra RAM will go to waste.
In addition to that, depending upon the type of architecture, you will need to install the relevant software. A 32-bit software CAN work on a 64 bit architecture, but a 64 bit program CANNOT work on a 32 bit architecture.
In other words, 64 bit archtiecture is backward compatible but the 32 bit architecture is not forward compatible.
Also Read: Where is Motherboard in Device Manager?
Operating System vs Processor Architecture
People often confuse operating system architecture with that of CPU.
Most of the CPU made after 2003-2004 actually conform to the 64 bit architecture. However, if you have a 32 bit Windows installed on your PC, then your system will conform to 32-bit.
Here it would not matter if you have a 64 bit CPU, the operating system itself will be the bottleneck.
In any case, below we will check how to check what is your processor and operating system architecture.
How to Check What is My Processor Architecture?
There are many ways to figure what your CPU and OS architecture within the operating system itself.
- Using System Detail in Windows
- Using Settings in Windows
- Using Command Prompt
1. Using System Details
One of the easiest ways to check your processor architecture is to head over to the System Option.
To do this on Windows,
- Click the start button and type ‘control panel‘ then click enter to search. This will open the control panel which is used to view and change system settings.
- Once on the control panel look for System and Security which has a shield as an icon attached to it. Click on it.
- Under the System and Security tab, you will see many options such as Security and maintenance, windows firewall, System. The one we are interested in is the System Option.
- Click on this and this should open a window with a plethora of information regarding your system.
Here you can see a lot of information regarding the architecture. You can see here the following:
- This system is using an x64-based processor – therefore the CPU itself is 64 bit
- The operating system also conforms to 64 bit
- You can see that the RAM amount detected is 16 GB.
Had the operating system been a 32-bit OS, it would have shown as such. In that case, the detected amount would have been 16 GB while the usable would would have been 4 GB instead of 15.9 GB as seen above.
On older Windows OS and depending upon how your PC is customized, you can also “Right Click” on “My Computer” or “This PC” icon on desktop, then go to “Properties” to visit the same window.
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2. Using Settings on Windows 10
Another very simple method, if you are on Windows 10 is to use the Settings option in the start menu:
Basically, go to the start menu. Next you will see a Window open with a bunch of icons. Selecting the “Settings” button with the laptop icon.
Once in settings, located the “About” tab at the bottom of the left-hand side menu.
This tab should have information similar to the System Option we saw above regarding your processor architecture, OS architecture, detected RAM and usable RAM.
3. Using Command Prompt
Some people may prefer a more interesting method of checking their processor architecture. This is how you use the command line to check your processor architecture.
- First, click the Windows button on your computer to access the start menu.
- On the search bar type cmd to access the command prompt.
- Right-click on the command prompt and choose Run as administrator.
- This will open the command prompt application.
- On command prompt type set processor then press enter.
This will display several lines of code talking about the details of your processor.
What you are basically interested is the line that reads PROCESSOR_ARCHITECTURE, as you can see below.
In my case, it reads as PROCESSOR_ARCHITECTURE=AMD64. Which points to the fact the CPU in fact conforms to the 64 bit architecture.
AMD64 When My Actual CPU is Intel?
People often get confused as to why their Processor Architecture is AMD64 when their actual CPU is from Intel.
Basically, “AMD64” does not mean that you are using an AMD CPU. It basically means that the architecture of your CPU was first marketed by an AMD CPU – AMD Athlon 64 3200+ to be exact.
This is similar to the classification of the x86 CPU for 32 bit architecture based on the Intel 8086 processor.
How to Check What is Your CPU Architecture on a Computer Without OS installed?
It is possible to check the architecture of a processor for a computer with no operating system installed.
- Using the Manufacturer’s Specsheet
- Using a Bootable USB
1. Using the Manufacturer’s Specsheet
The easiest way to check the CPU architecture if you do not have the OS installed is to head over the Manufacturer’s specsheet online.
However, you will need to know the model number of your CPU in order to look it up.
2. Using a Bootable USB / CD
If you have a bootable drive or a CD with the Windows installation files. Then you can access the command prompt in the installation menu.
During the Windows Setup, you can press Shift+F10 to open a command prompt any time.
Once the command prompt opens, you can use the same details as mentioned in method 3 above i.e type set processor and look for the %PROCESSOR_ARCHITECTURE% field.
This article has excellent information regarding how to open command prompt during Windows Installation.
If you are on an older computer, sometimes it becomes important to know how to check what is my processor architecture.
Whether you are installing an operating system, a new software, or RAM sticks on your motherboard, knowing what the computer architecture is crucial.
After all, the last thing you would want is to purchase extra RAM sticks only to find out that the processor or the OS does not support it!
In most cases, the operating system is the culprit. In other words, most CPUs from 2003-2004 onward conform to the 64 bit architecture. However, if you have a 32 bit OS installed, then your entire system will conform to 32 bit due to the OS bottleneck.