What Does x86 Mean? (x86 Vs x64 Comparison)

If you have spent even a moderate amount of time near computers, you might have come across the terms “x86” and “X64”. In this article, we’re reviewing the difference between both and which is better for computer performance.

If you aren’t well-versed in computer science, trying to find a reasonably easy-to-understand definition is also quite tricky. Truth is, understanding all this isn’t that difficult, you just need a short lesson. This article could be this lesson for you!

Let’s make it clear from the beginning: Programs initially built around 32-bit architectures will work on 64-bit operating systems just fine. Trying to run a 64-bit program on a 32-bit system, on the other hand, will result in failure.

What Does x86 Processor Mean?

The term x86 refers to a certain kind of architecture used in 16-bit processors. The latest processors in this family, like the 80186 and the 80286 (that were released well over 30 years ago), were based on 32-bit architecture.

“x86” was used to define this family of processors because all their names’ ended with the number 86. Over the years, “x86” has become synonymous with “32-bit” definition in the market.

In layman’s terms, “32-bit” refers to the amount of memory the hardware running on and can directly access. Since computers can only process bits (0 or 1), the maximum value a register can hold in a 32-bit system is 2³²-1 = 4294967295.

Actually, That is quite a lot! But it pales in comparison to what a 64-bit register can hold in an x64 system.

What Does x86_64 Mean in Linux?

Does x86 mean 32 bit? This is the short answer, Yes! Unlike the confusing “x86” definition, “x64” architecture simply means 64-bit and the number 2 is so large. Typing it in its own numbers entirety would be ridiculously long and complicated.

But does this mean that having more bits is better? The answer to that is: it depends. You have to bear in mind that x86 and x64 are completely different instruction sets, meaning that the machines running on these architectures need to be programmed differently.

However, x64 systems have been developed with backward compatibility in mind. Initially referred to as “x86_64”, these processors could handle 64-bit programs and used a compatibility mode when running programs intended for a 32-bit system.

The exact same systems and processor architectures are being used in cloud hosting servers. After all, the server is a computer with more resources to handle hosting websites and traffic on the internet.

x86 Vs x64 Comparison:

Programs initially built around 32-bit architectures will work on 64-bit operating systems just fine. Trying to run a 64-bit program on a 32-bit system, on the other hand, will result in failure.

The most demanding programs on the market today, like movie editing software or the latest video games require a 64-bit operating system as they need all the memory the system can provide to run at their fullest capacity.

Truth is, however, not all programs require the benefits provided by an x64 architecture. If you are running a 64-bit operating system, chances are that most of the applications that you use daily do not even need that much processing power.

This is why if you aren’t using your computer to run resource-intensive programs, then having a 64-bit system isn’t all that necessary. And it will be so wise to install a 32x operating system instead.


To recap, “x86” and “x64” mean 32-bit and 64-bit respectively. While 64-bit compatible systems are generally more powerful since the programs running on them have access to much more memory, installing a 64-bit operating system isn’t all that important.

Unless however, you are an avid gamer or intend to use your computer for editing and rendering movies, You absolutely must invest in a 64-bit system. This will give the optimal power your software need to run smoothly and powerfully.

In the battle of x86 Vs x64, there is no winner. Everything depends on the user’s requirements and what he needs his computer to do. Let me know in the comments below shall you’ve got any questions or inquiries. We would definitely love to help!

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