Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Windows 7 64 bit on Acer Aspire 4710

I was using Windows 7 32 bit candidate release since Microsoft distributed it for free. But because of all the attractions of 64 bit computing, I decided to give Windows 7 64 Bit a try.

My Machine Configuration:

Though my laptop is pretty old (almost 2 years), but its having a decent configuration to run a 64 bit operating system.
  • Core 2 Duo 1.7 Ghz Processor (This is bare minimum required for 64 bit OS)
  • 4 GB RAM (Though max 4GB is supported but Aspire 4710 detects only 3 GB)
  • 160 GB HDD 5400 RPM
 

Installation:

I installed Windows 7 64 bit in dual boot configuration. The setup went fine and was able to see both old 32 bit and new 64 bit Windows 7 in dual boot menu at startup. Though the bad part about Windows 7 dual boot was the dual boot menu, I was seeing both operating systems labeled as "Windows 7" so it was hard to figure out which one was 64 bit and which is 32. But from my past experience I know that the latest installed OS always comes on top in dual boot menu, so the confusion ended soon.

Post-Installation:

As usual the good part after installation is that, I was able to see a crisp win 7 style display with sound, all of this without any efforts toward driver installation. The good part I felt about Win7 64 bit is clean support for 32 bit apps. Win7 64 bit maintains a separate programs folder called "Program Files (x86)" for 32 bit programs. So I was able to port my favorite editors and other applications those are missing 64 bit flavors to this OS.
But but but everything was not like a fairy tale and issues were there, here is the list:
  1. Flash Player : One of the nasty things I heard about 64 bit OS is flash player issues. So I launched internet explorer and hit youtube.com. Thanks to IE 64 bit team to embed 64 bit flash player in the browser.
  2. Video Quality (Flash): I am covering video quality here with flash, because normal video seems OK, but flash ones are screwed up on full screen. Not sure what was the issue, its because I was missing native win7 64 bit drivers.
  3. RAM: Only 3 GB of RAM is available still on 64 bit OS, its Acer's fault the manual says the laptop supports max 4 GB, but it actually doesn't.
  4. Recording Devices: Windows 7 has detected my inbuilt microphone but the device was not functional.
  5. WebCam: Win7 detected my cam successfully, but was failing on unknown error when trying to start. I was using skype to test it.
  6. Acer Win7 Drivers: Unfortunately Acer doesn't gives drivers for this aspire model. So I tried Vista Ultimate x64 drivers instead. I downloaded the drivers for audio and webcam. Audio drivers made the inbuilt and linein microphone work, but webcam didn't work. Here is the link to Acer Driver Download Site, one can give a try for there Acer model.
  7. OS Performance: I was expecting a superb performance from a fresh installed OS. But 64 bit was slow compared to the boot time and login time to my win7 32 bit installation (with hell lot of apps installed). I don't know what it was trying to do with my HDD, the light keeps on blinking :)

Conclusion:

After trying 64 bit for a couple of days, I moved back to Win 7 32 bit. Here are my driving factors

  • My Acer Laptop needs drivers to play nice with Win7 64 bit. As acer stopped supporting this model after Vista, so bad news for me.
  • I can't see a better performance, the boot and login times are much higher to that of a Win 7 32 bit OS. That really disappointed me. 
  • I am too much on skype video/voice chat, my webcam didn't worked even with Vista x64 drivers. So this was another major reason to quit.
  • WIFI seems to work in a shady way, it doesn't detects the networks sometimes.
Though the nice thing about Win7 64 bit is backward compatibility with 32 bit apps, but unfortunately thats not enough.
 

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