Gaming Performance (Discrete GPU)

For our gaming tests, we are using our AMD Ryzen 9 5950X paired with an NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti graphics card. Our standard test suite consists of 12 titles, tested at four configurations:

  • Stage 1: Actual Gaming (1080p Maximum Quality, or equivalent)
  • Stage 2: All About Pixels (‘4K Minimum’ Quality)
  • Stage 3: Medium Low (‘1440p Minimum’)
  • Stage 4: Lowest Lows (720p Minimum or lower)

The final three settings are a set of CPU-limited gaming, and help find the limit of where we move from CPU limited to GPU limited. Some users baulk at this testing finding it irrelevant, however these configurations have been widely requested over the years. The contraire to this testing is the first setting, at 1080p Maximum: this being requested given that 1080p is the most popular gaming resolution, and Maximum Quality because this graphics card should be able to handle almost everything at that resolution at very playable framerates.

All the details for our gaming tests can be found in our #CPUOverload article.

Stage 1: Actual Gaming
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, SMT On vs SMT Off
AnandTech Settings Average
Chernobylite 1080p Max 100% -
Civilization 6 1080p Max 103% -
Deus Ex: MD 1080p Max 99% 100%
Final Fantasy 14 1080p Max 102% -
Final Fantasy 15 8K Standard 100% 99%
World of Tanks 1080p Max 100% 102%
World of Tanks 4K Max 103% 102%
Borderlands 3 1080p Max 101% 103%
F1 2019 1080p Ultra 103% 106%
Far Cry 5 1080p Ultra 104% 104%
GTA V 1080p Max 99% 100%
RDR 2 1080p Max 100% 100%
Strange Brigate 1080p Ultra 101% 101%

In real-world gaming situations, there’s very little to pick between having SMT enabled or disabled. Almost universally it is either beneficial or a smidgen better to have it enabled, with F1 2019, Civilization 6, and Far Cry 5 seemingly the best recipients. I’ve also added in the Stage 3 result from World of Tanks, just because that benchmark doesn’t really have a proper settings menu.

Stage 2: All About Pixels
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, SMT On vs SMT Off
AnandTech Settings Average
Chernobylite 4K Low 99% -
Civilization 6 4K Min 105% -
Deus Ex: MD 4K Min 98% 100%
Final Fantasy 14 4K Min 102% -
Final Fantasy 15 4K Standard 100% 100%
Borderlands 3 4K Very Low 101% 104%
F1 2019 4K Ultra Low 100% 100%
Far Cry 5 4K Low 101% 100%
GTA V 4K Low 100% 101%
RDR 2 8K Min 100% 100%
Strange Brigate 4K Low 100% 100%

With our high resolution settings with minimal quality, there is only one outlier in Civilization 6 on the average frame rates, which seem to be a bit higher when SMT is enabled.

Stage 3: Medium Low
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, SMT On vs SMT Off
AnandTech Settings Average
Chernobylite 1440p Low 100% -
Civilization 6 1440p Min 105% -
Deus Ex: MD 1440p Min 97% 96%
Final Fantasy 14 1440p Min 102% -
Final Fantasy 15 1080p Standard 101% 105%
World of Tanks 1080p Standard 101% 101%
Borderlands 3 1440p Very Low 103% 105%
F1 2019 1440p Ultra Low 99% 99%
Far Cry 5 1440p Low 99% 99%
GTA V 1440p Low 100% 99%
RDR 2 1440p Low 100% 100%
Strange Brigate 1440p Low 100% 100%

At the more medium settings, we’re starting to see some more variation (Borderlands gets a few percent from SMT). We’re starting to see Deus Ex:MD drop off a bit with SMT enabled.

Stage 4: Lowest Lows
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, SMT On vs SMT Off
AnandTech Settings Average
Chernobylite 360p Low 106% -
Civilization 6 480p Min 102% -
Deus Ex: MD 600p Min 91% 91%
Final Fantasy 14 768p Min 102% -
Final Fantasy 15 720p Standard 99% 102%
World of Tanks 768p Min 101% 100%
Borderlands 3 360p Very Low 108% 110%
F1 2019 768p Ultra Low 102% 105%
Far Cry 5 720p Low 100% 101%
GTA V 720p Low 99% 98%
RDR 2 384p Low 100% 103%
Strange Brigate 720p Low 95% 95%

This is perhaps our most varied set of results, with Deus Ex:MD showing an almost 10% drop with SMT enabled. DEMD is usually considered a CPU title, but so is Chernobylite, which sees a 6% gain. Borderlands is +8-10% with SMT enabled, which is more of a modern game. However, I doubt anyone is playing at these resolutions.

Overall Gaming Performance

If we take full averages from all the data points, then we’re seeing a rough +1% gain in performance in the more complex scenarios across the board.

Resolution Average Comparison
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, SMT On vs SMT Off
AnandTech Setting aka Average
Stage 1 1080p Max Actual Gaming 101% 101%
Stage 2 4K+ Min All About Pixels 101% 101%
Stage 3 1440p Min Medium Lows 101% 101%
Stage 4 < 768p Min Lowest Lows 100% 101%

In reality, any loss or gain is highly dependent on the title in question, and can swing from one side of the line to the other. It’s clear that Deus Ex prefers SMT off, and F1 2019 or Borderlands prefers SMT on, but we are talking fine margins here.

CPU Performance Power Consumption, Temperature
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  • warpuck - Friday, December 25, 2020 - link

    With a R 5 1600 it makes about 5-6% difference in usable clock speed. (200-250 Mhz) and also with temperature. With a R 7 3800X it is not as noticeable.
    If you reduce the background operations while gaming with either CPU.
    I don't know about recent game releases but older ones only use 2-4 cores (threads) so clocking the R 5 1600 @ 3750 (SMT on) Mhz vs 3975 Mhz (SMT off) does make a difference on frame rates
  • whatthe123 - Saturday, December 5, 2020 - link

    it doesn't make much of a difference unless you go way past the TDP and have exotic cooling.

    these CPUs are already boosting close to their limits at stock settings to maintain high gaming performance.
  • 29a - Saturday, December 5, 2020 - link

    There is a lot of different scenarios that would be interesting to see. I would like to see some testing with a dual core chip 2c/4t.
  • Netmsm - Thursday, December 3, 2020 - link

    good point
  • Wilco1 - Friday, December 4, 2020 - link

    I think that 5% area cost for SMT is marketing. If you only count the logic that is essential for SMT, then it might be 5%. However many resources need to be increased or doubled. Even if that helps single-threaded performance, it still adds a lot of area that you wouldn't need without SMT.

    Graviton 2 proves that 2 small non-SMT cores will beat one big SMT core on multithreaded workloads using a fraction of the silicon and power.
  • peevee - Monday, December 7, 2020 - link

    Except they are not faster, but whatever.
  • RickITA - Thursday, December 3, 2020 - link

    Several compute applications do not need hyper-threading. A couple of official references:
    1. Wolfram Mathematica: "Mathematica’s Parallel Computing suite does not necessarily benefit from hyper-threading, although certain kernel functionality will take advantage of it when it provides a speedup." [source:]. Indeed Mathematica automatically set-up a number of threads equal to the number of physical cores of the CPU.
    2. Intel MKV library. "Hyper-Threading Technology (HT Technology) is especially effective when each thread is performing different types of operations and when there are under-utilized resources on the processor. Intel MKL fits neither of these criteria as the threaded portions of the library execute at high efficiencies using most of the available resources and perform identical operations on each thread. You may obtain higher performance when using Intel MKL without HT Technology enabled." [source:].

    BTW Ian: Wolfram Mathematica has a benchmark mode [source:], please consider to add it to your test suite. Or something with Matlab.
  • realbabilu - Thursday, December 3, 2020 - link

    Apparently intel mkl and Matlab that uses intel mkl only allowing AMD uses non AVX2 library only. Only Linux with fake cpu preloaded library could go around this.
  • RickITA - Thursday, December 3, 2020 - link

    Not a matlab user, but this is no longer true since version 2020a. Source:
  • leexgx - Saturday, December 5, 2020 - link

    The "if not Intel genuine cpu" disabled all optimisations (this rubbish has been going on for years only 2020 or 2019 where they are actually fixing there code to detect if AVX is available, even BTRFS had this problem it wouldn't use hardware acceleration if it wasn't on an intel CPU, again lazy coding )

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