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 probably 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 Microsoft’s world, Ryzen is Windows 10 only—though 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 “High Performance” preset.
Why? The high-performance plan—found in the Power Options section of the Windows Control Panel—ensures “that the SenseMI Pure Power and Precision Boost technologies have the ability to respond to varying workloads as quickly as 1ms,” AMD says. “The default ‘Balanced’ permits the operating system to request which P-State (or clock speed) to use, which typically trends to a 30ms response time. Selecting ‘High Performance’ hands over control from the OS to the processor completely, allowing fine-grain control and maximum performance of the processor.”
The rub: You don’t need to do this for Intel chips, and when your PC’s set to High Performance it uses a lot more power than when it’s in a Balanced state, as core clock speeds don’t plunge when idle. Help is on the way, however. “By the first week of April, AMD intends to provide an update for AMD Ryzen processors that optimizes the power policy parameters of the Balanced plan to favor performance more consistent with the typical usage models of a desktop PC,” AMD’s Rob Hallock wrote in a recent post.
7. Disable Windows’ High Precision Event Timer
Here’s another obscure tip that can improve gaming performance, though we haven’t tested it ourselves on a Ryzen processor yet. It’s been a go-to tip for possibly increasing performance on Intel processors for years, though.
“Make sure the system has Windows High Precision Event Timer (HPET) disabled,” AMD told PCWorld. “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.”
Plot twist! AMD’s Ryzen Master overclocking tool relies on HPET for accurate chip measurements. So if you plan on going this route, consider using the overclocking tools baked into your motherboard BIOS to overclock Ryzen, rather than AMD’s software.
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.
In his recent post, however, AMD’s Rob Hallock walked back the recommendation to disable SMT. “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. Clean-install Windows, tweak your CPU clock and memory speeds, enable the High Performance power plan, maybe even disable the Windows High Precision Event Timer—though not if you’re using Ryzen Master—and 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.