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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  • Holliday75 - Thursday, December 3, 2020 - link

    As usage for modern users changes I wonder how this could be better tested/visualized.

    I am not looking at a 5900x to run any advanced tools. I am looking to game, run mutiple browsers with a few dozen tabs open, stream, download, run Plex (transcoding), security tools, VPN, and the million other applications a normal user would have running at any given point in time. While no two users will have the same workload at any given time, how could we quantify SMT versus no SMT for the average user?

    In the not to distance future we could be seeing the average PC running 32 cores. I am talking your run of the mill office machine from Dell that costs $800. Or will we? Is there a point where it does not matter anymore?
  • realbabilu - Thursday, December 3, 2020 - link

    Simple. At average user 4 core 8gen u series have more core than the generation before. It has more strength, but it's rarely got 100 percent cpu utilized for those normal you doing.
    To get 8 threads or 4 cores work 100 percent need killer applications that programmed by man know how to extract every juice of it processor, know how to program multithread, or using optimized math kernel.library / optimized compiler switch like FEM, Render, math applied science.
    Other than those app, maybe you could expense it to gpu for gaming.
  • schujj07 - Thursday, December 3, 2020 - link

    Or you just have multiple tabs open. I regularly hit 100% usage on my work i5-6400 with 4c/4t having 10-12 tabs open. It gets quite annoying as on a normal day I might need up to double that open at any given time. That means that 20 tabs would peg a 4c/8t CPU pretty easily.
  • evilpaul666 - Friday, December 4, 2020 - link

    You need an ad blocker unless those tabs are all very busy doing something. I mean, it sounds like they're mining Monero for somebody else, I mean what they're *supposed* to be doing for you.
  • schujj07 - Friday, December 4, 2020 - link

    I use an ad blocker and nothing is being mined. However, ads are an example of things that will destroy your performance in web browsing quite quickly and suck up a lot of CPU cycles. While right now 4c/8t is enough for an office machine, it will not be long before 6c/12t is the standard.
  • marrakech - Tuesday, December 15, 2020 - link

    15 cores are the futureeeeee
  • Hulk - Thursday, December 3, 2020 - link

    Wouldn't high SMT performance be an indication of bad software design rather than bad core design?
    While SMT performance is changing in these tests the core is not. Only the software is changing. It seems as though an Intel CPU in this comparison would have provided additional insights to these questions.
  • BillyONeal - Thursday, December 3, 2020 - link

    The situations that create high SMT performance are generally outside the software in question's control. For example, a program might have 1 thread that's doing all divides and another that's doing all multiplies. The thread that only has multiplies or divisions aren't poorly designed, they just aren't using units on the chip that don't help their respective workloads.

    There are also cache effects. If you have 2 threads working on data bigger than the CPU's caches while one is waiting for that data to come back from memory the other can make unrelated progress and vice versa, but the data being big isn't necessarily an indicator of poor software design. Some problem domains just have big data sets there's no way around.
  • WaltC - Thursday, December 3, 2020 - link

    Exactly. Some software is written to utilize a lot of threads simultaneously, some is not. Running software that does not make use of a lot of simultaneous threads tells us really nothing much about SMT CPU hardware, imo, other than "this software doesn't support it very well."
  • Elstar - Thursday, December 3, 2020 - link

    SMT24? Ha. Try SMT128:

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