Hyperthreading For Gaming – Read Before Activating

When purchasing a processor especially Intel, you’ve probably noticed that they come with threads, usually double the number of cores it has. Have you ever wondered what these threads actually do and if it’s any benefit for gaming? Well, in this post, we’re going to go over exactly what hyperthreading does to the CPU, and how its effects influence any gaming scenario you’re in.

Gaming usually is a graphically intensive task, that is why many passionate gamers opt for a beast graphics card. But the processor actually influences the performance of the game you’re playing, and a slower processor can actually bottleneck your graphics card resulting in less performance. This is why understanding how a CPU works is extremely important when you’re building a PC.

Answer: Many gamers will often do as much as possible to increase the frame rate without spending money, usually by overclocking. Hyperthreading is also known to increase performance for your PC, even up to 30%, but this performance usually doesn’t translate well into gaming performance. This is mostly due to games mainly utilizing one core, therefore single-core performance is more important.

What Does Hyperthreading Do?

i9 9900k for gaming

Hyperthreading is a method of SMT or Simultaneous multithreading, and this technique is heavily used to increase the core efficiency by kind of splitting the core up into two threads, this is why it looks like you have double the amount of cores. Hyperthreading allows a single core to execute two different sets of instructions simultaneously so if you have a 6 core processor, you essentially have 12 threads.

Hyperthreading is known to increase the performance of many tasks, usually, tasks that are multithreaded, this means they benefit from more cores. An example of such a task would be streaming and even video editing. Splitting the core into two threads increases the efficiency of each core, and in some scenarios, it’s measured to be at least 30%. But the performance gains are usually heavily application dependent, so you won’t always see an improvement in performance.

Going on task manager, it has the illusion of having double the amount of cores, but this doesn’t actually translate into double the performance, hyperthreading just increases the efficiency of each core, this is because it exploits the time where the CPU would be otherwise idle to execute another set of instructions. The effects of hyperthreading include more performance but usually a hotter CPU.

Threads Vs Cores – What’s The Difference?

When hyperthreading is active, it essentially creates two virtual cores from one core; these cores are purely logical and don’t exist physically. Cores, on the other hand, are actually located on the chip of the processor and it contains billions of transitions and its own ALU to execute instructions. So the system gives the illusion of having more cores, it’s purely virtual.

From a performance perspective, you’ll always want more cores than threads, this is because cores will obviously get more work done and significantly increase the performance in most tasks. Threads on the other hand only take advantage of CPU stalls to process another set of instructions to make the physical core more efficient, this makes the computer think there are more cores on the CPU.

Virtual cores only exist because physical cores do, it has nothing to do with downloading more cores or creating more cores. So virtual cores/threads or the appearance of more cores occur when a core is processing two different tasks simultaneously. But does this extra performance translate into more FPS is what we’re going to find out now.

Does Hyperthreading Give More FPS?

intel 60%

Due to the cores being slightly more efficient, in some games you may actually experience a slight increase in performance, this mostly depends on whether the game is new or not. Back in the day, processors mainly used to be single-core, so games were coded to only leverage one core, but newer games are implementing methods of using more than one core which will hopefully increase performance.

Generally, we’d recommend keeping hyperthreading on if you have the option to, this is because you’ll experience performance gains in most applications. But with gaming, you may even experience a performance loss depending on what processors are being run on the thread. The obvious downside to hyperthreading is the temperature increase, this is only a problem if you have poor cooling.

But if you really want more performance for gaming, then you will want to look for single-core performance, this is because a lot of games even till this day are coded for single-core performance. Intel apparently stated that 60% of games to this day are single-core coded, so in this case, hyperthreading may not make a difference. You’ll have more success by overclocking your CPU’s single-core performance for more FPS.

Overclocking Vs Hyperthreading For FPS?

For gaming, focusing on your processor’s hyperthreading capabilities may not increase your FPS by any meaningful number, in this case, you’ll want to focus more on overclocking. You’ll have more success overclocking your CPU if you have adequate cooling, and the skill to do so, just make sure you achieve a stable overclock.

The good thing about Intel processors is that they come with high core clock speeds natively, and they have the ability to overclock if your processor comes with a ‘K’ denoted at the end. If you’ve purchased a ‘K’ processor for example, the I9 12900K, then you should be looking to overclock to get the most out of this chip, this can result in massive FPS gains as it allows your graphics card to work harder.

Some gamers have even noticed a drop in FPS in some games when hyperthreading is enabled, this is the last thing a gamer wants, especially if they’re playing a competitive game. But hopefully in the future games will start shifting into using more cores so Ryzen CPUs which are usually SMT enabled can be used to their full potential when gaming.

Conclusion

The verdict is that hyperthreading in most scenarios won’t make a difference, sometimes you may notice an FPS increase, sometimes you may notice an FPS decrease. So on average, we can say hyperthreading makes almost no difference when it comes to gaming, this is because games are still single-core based.

Once games shift to using multiple cores, only then will hyperthreading be beneficial, but for now, if you’re looking for more FPS, overclocking realistically is your only option. Intel processors signified with a K at the end means they’re unlocked and ready to overclock, we recommend doing this as the right overclock won’t cause any harm to the processor, and you’ll often notice massive FPS gains.