5. Clean-install Windows
Many PC builders perform a clean Windows installation when they build a new PC, but if you don’t—do it! AMD told PCWorld that performance is slightly increased when using a clean version of Windows installed specifically on a Ryzen system, versus using a pre-existing Windows image created on an Intel-based machine. We haven’t tested it firsthand, however.
Semi-related, you want to run Windows 10 instead of Windows 7. While Windows 7 will certainly install and run on Ryzen chips, neither AMD nor Microsoft will support the older operating system with updates or drivers, meaning that all those crucial platform updates no doubt coming down the pipeline will never appear for Windows 7. In fact, Microsoft is actively blocking Ryzen systems running Windows 7 or 8 from receiving Windows updates. Ugh. AMD’s chips also support Linux.
6. Change Windows’ power plan
Here’s a weird one, but it can definitely improve performance by around five percent. AMD suggests changing Windows’ power plan from the default “Balanced” plan, which (duh) balances power and performance, to the specialized “AMD Ryzen Balanced” plan that was released in April. (If you don’t see it as an option in your Control Panel, you can download it directly here.)
The default Balanced power plan puts Windows in control of the chip’s “P-states” and core parking, which can slow Ryzen’s responses in some situations. AMD’s Ryzen Balanced power keeps all the physical cores awake and hands power management over to the chip itself, letting Ryzen’s arsenal of CPU tuning technologies work their magic. AMD’s plan works sort of like a hybrid of Windows 10’s Balanced and High Performance power plans, so expect to see your energy consumption fall somewhere between what you’d see using the native options.
It’s worthwhile though. Running the Ryzen Balanced plan, AMD said it saw a 21.6 percent improvement in performance for Crysis 3 and a 16.5 percent bump in Gears of War 4 compared to the native Windows Balanced option, though most tested games received bumps in the three to eight percent range.
7. Disable Windows’ High Precision Event Timer
Here’s another obscure tweak that can potentially improve gaming performance. It’s been a go-to tip for possibly increasing performance on Intel processors for years, too.
“Make sure the system has Windows High Precision Event Timer (HPET) disabled,” AMD told PCWorld during our initial Ryzen reviews. “HPET can often be disabled in the BIOS. Alternatively: From Windows, open an administrative command shell and type: bcdedit /deletevalue useplatformclock—this can improve performance by 5 to 8 percent.”
Ironically, AMD’s Ryzen Master overclocking utility required the use of HPET for the first several months after launch, meaning you couldn’t use it to overclock and disable HPET at the same time. That’s no longer the case, however. Have your cake and eat it too!
Don’t: Turn off simultaneous multithreading
AMD now doesn’t necessarily recommend turning off simultaneous multithreading to improve gaming performance, a tweak that the company suggested to reviewers during Ryzen 7’s testing process
This isn’t something many people would want to do anyway. Simultaneous multithreading, AMD’s equivalent to Intel’s Hyper-Threading, is a big part of what makes Ryzen so attractive. It lets your system utilize 16 threads rather than the eight physical cores alone. Tom’s Hardware and Gamers Nexus performed extensive testing with SMT both enabled and disabled (via the BIOS). Performance actually decreased slightly in a couple of scenarios, many games saw a very mild increase, and Total War: Warhammer and Ashes of the Singularity received major performance boosts.
AMD’s Rob Hallock walked back the recommendation to disable SMT in a blog post soon after launch, though. “Based on our characterization of game workloads, it is our expectation that gaming applications should generally see a neutral/positive benefit from SMT,” he wrote. The “remaining outliers” can be improved by developers implementing Ryzen optimizations, which fits into the “gaming will only get better” drum AMD’s been beating since Ryzen’s launch.
Our suggestion: Just overclock your processor and leave SMT enabled. Multithreading’s key to Ryzen’s powerful productivity and mixed workload performance.
Small boosts, big power up?
Overclocking aside, none of these tips provide major performance boosts individually. Add it all up, however, and you may see a significant performance increase in some games and applications, depending on your overall system setup.
While tinkering with your system’s SMT may be more hassle than it’s worth, most of the tips here are more of the “set it and forget it” variety. By clean-installing Windows, tweaking your CPU clock and memory speeds, enabling the Ryzen Balanced power plan, and maybe even disabling the Windows High Precision Event Timer, you can inject a significant amount of extra pep in your Ryzen PC’s step in the course of a single afternoon.
Just keep an eye out for those crucial BIOS updates. They’re still coming.