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Can an Athlon 64 run Windows 7 (or Windows 8)?

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l_cpu_amd_athlon_64I get a lot of people coming to this blog – usually from search-engines such as Google – asking that question. – So I l_cpu_amd_athlon_64_x2thought it deserved an article of its own.

There is good news and there is not-so-good news on this topic: -

I say “not-so-good” because it’s not “bad” news as such.

First the good news: All Athlon 64 CPUs should run both Windows 7 32-bit and Windows 7 64-bit without many if any problems.> Don’t stop reading: There is more…

BUT – yes there is a but – whether or not they actually will depends on the motherboard that the Athlon 64 is seated on: If it’s an old motherboard – and by “old” I’m talking about a board designed and built before 2007 – you might run into problems.

Why?: Because that “old” board may very well have an Athlon 64 on it; but it possibly won’t have hardware of a type suitable for running Windows 7. By all means – if you can take the frustration of having installed an operating system that doesn’t work properly with your existing hardware – give it a try; you might be lucky. – There is also a chance that you might not be so lucky.

Why will a board built before 2007 not run Windows 7?

The reason for this is because; before 2007, nearly everyone was using Windows XP. XP required hardware with lesser capability than its successor, Windows Vista. The problem was that, although the tech industry knew full well that Vista was coming, they knew very little about it, because Microsoft developed it in almost total secrecy. – So when Vista finally did arrive all the manufacturers (Other than Intel) suddenly discovered that the hardware they were producing and selling wouldn’t support Vista and was only fit to run XP. Microsoft, at the same time, threw a load of data at them and said “Build for this specification.”.

By 2008 almost all manufacturers were building hardware that was compatible with Windows Vista – which has the same hardware requirements as Windows 7 and Windows 8. Before 2007 there was no hardware, outside of Microsoft’s secret labs, that could run Vista. – So anything built before 2007, whether it includes an Athlon 64 or not, definitely will not run Windows 7 or 8. (I didn’t mention Vista this time because – well who the heck wants to run Vista anyway? – It’s a nightmare!)

Ok so you have a board built after 2007 with an Athlon 64 on it. It should almost definitely run Windows 7 or 8 then. Having said that though, is the Athlon 64 single-cored or dual-cored? Both will run Windows 7 and 8 but a single-cored Athlon 64 seems such a waste of good operating-system capabilities.

You see; Windows 7 and Windows 8, unlike XP, were both written with multi-core processors in mind. Yes XP works fine on any number of cores; but it doesn’t utilise them efficiently. (Vista just sucks anyway – so I fart in its general direction and ignore it for the rest of this article.) Windows 7 and 8 are written to utilise multi-core processors to maximum efficiency. If you only have a single-cored Athlon 64 running either operating system then you’re basically losing out and wasting a facet of the advanced o/s. – BUT these operating systems will run on a single-core; just not so efficiently. See this article for more.

If you have a dual-cored Athlon 64 on a board built after 2007 then you’re in clover with Windows 7 and/or 8 – 32 or 64-bit. Enjoy your computing.

(Added April 2014.) Since November 2013 when I accidentally killed my 3-cored Phenom-powered box, I’ve been running Windows 7 on 2 old HP boards with 5GB of DDR2 RAM on each; each with a dual-cored AMD Athlon 64. They run perfectly OK normally. I use them for medium-heavy to light computing; that is encoding video and audio to tweeting on social network Twitter. They do the jobs 90% satisfactorily overall. They always complete the tasks.

The Athlon 64 is an old processor and is not very advanced compared to todays’ standards. I have automatic defragmentation running on both machines, having installed Diskeeper software on both. I have Malwarebytes PRO running all the time on both, I scan once a week with freshly-updated Spybot Search & Destroy free, and I use AVG 2014 free antivirus. This level of security should be maintained on such aged processors.

The reason I’m doing as above is as a money-saving way to get back online and have a standby computer to take over the work of 2 if 1 fails. My systems are probably the minimum-standard for todays’ purposes and definitely the minimum standard that I would accept. I’ve scheduled a total hardware upgrade for 2017 if these boxes last that long. If they do they will be retired to Linux as NAS servers or something.

My Advice from this point would be use Athlons if and only if you have no other choice. Ensure good system security against malware and set a hardware upgrade date not too far in the future.

Lastly; just in case you want to know what I think of Windows XP, 7 and 8: -

  • Well Windows XP was awesome; but it’s starting to really show its age now.
  • Windows 7 is even more awesome, and I’ve loved it from the first beta.
  • Windows 8… Sad smile …sucky in too many ways. – I’m staying with Windows 7.

What do you think? Please comment on anything above if you like.

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About the Author - Shazzalive

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