32-bit vs. 64-bit When Selecting a Stable Sound Card for a PC
Many home users are in a quandary about whether to buy and install the 32-bit version or 64-bit version of Windows Vista and Windows 7. It is beyond the scope of this article to argue for one choice or the other. But once you have weighed the consequences of both and decide which to install, you need to choose a sound card that is stable under the operating system.
The key to sound card stability in either a 32-bit or 64-bit environment is the drivers available for the sound card you choose. Many 32-bit drivers will not work in a 64-bit environment but it is certain that 64-bit drivers won’t work in a 32-bit environment. A further problem occurs when a user decides to switch from 32-bit to 64-bit or vice versa. You must take care that the drivers you need are available or will be available if you decide to switch.
The first home 64-bit version of Windows was released for Windows XP but the hardware manufacturers didn’t really take this version of XP seriously. With the release of Vista, many hardware manufacturers, including sound card makers, were certain that few home users would opt for the 64-bit version and only provided 64-bit drivers as an afterthought. These drivers received very little support and probably contributed to the unpopularity of Windows Vista 64-bit.
With the release of Windows 7, both hardware manufacturers and home users are taking the 64-bit version of the operating much more seriously than previous versions of Windows. Support for 64-bit versions of drivers for sound cards is consistent with excellent updates and downloads available from the sound card manufacturers such as Creative Labs Sound Blaster and Turtle Beach’s line of home sound cards.
To ensure a stable sound card experience with Windows Vista and Windows 7, visit the sound card manufacturer’s websites and look to see what downloads, drivers, bugs, etc. are associated with the sound card you intend to buy. Often, it is possible to get a sense of the stability of a sound card by visiting the manufacturer’s website and seeing what’s available. For example, if it looks like 64-bit support is lacking for the sound card you intend to buy, you might want to consider another card or even another manufacturer.