Speed and efficiency are among the most sought-after features of any PC, no matter what you use it for.
That’s why PC manufacturers and software developers are always looking for innovations to achieve these two goals.
Hyperthreading is an Intel technology designed to give PCs a boost in performance using a clever trick.
However, the CPUs that support this technology come with a higher price than non-HT CPUs.
You may want to know if the increase in efficiency and performance is worth the price.
Is Hyperthreading Worth It? (Pros, Cons)
Pros Of Hyperthreading
1. Improved Performance
The biggest advantage of hyperthreading, which is pretty much its main goal, is that you can increase the core size and boost the CPU’s performance.
If your computer is dual-core, hyperthreading will trick programs to think the CPU is quad-core.
That means your CPU-intensive programs and applications will run faster because it reduces execution time.
This improved performance means you can run multiple demanding programs at the same time without burdening your CPU.
The best programs that can benefit from hyperthreading include video editing, 3D rendering, and encoding applications.
2. Resolving Cache Misses
A cache miss occurs when the CPU, a system, or an application tries to retrieve the data it needs from its cache, but the data isn’t there.
That’s the result of data being scattered across different parts of memory.
In that case, the CPU turns to RAM to access that data.
Since accessing RAM takes a long time, the CPU core is idle while the RAM retrieves the data.
In this case, hyperthreading allows the CPU to continue working while one core waits for the data to be retrieved and the second core executes the task.
3. Reduces Idle Time
A common issue while running applications is that some parts of the CPU, called execution units, remain idle.
That’s especially the case when instructions have to execute one after another and can’t be executed in parallel with each other.
Another case of idling happens when the CPU is waiting for the main memory to source data for a specific operation.
In this case, you can’t do any operation until you have all the data required.
Until that time, CPU units remain idle.
Hyperthreading can increase the number of resources so that each task can be done independently.
This way, you can reduce CPU idle time and multitask more efficiently.
4. Resolves Branch Mispredictions
A branch predictor is a circuit that predicts the direction of a branch before it goes in a certain direction.
The main purpose of a branch predictor is to improve performance by speeding up the execution.
However, if the branch predictor doesn’t predict the code path correctly, the core has to start all over again.
With hyperthreading, the second thread takes care of execution by using the resources, and the first thread waits for the core to resolve misprediction.
5. Facilitates Switching Between Threads
This benefit also makes multitasking possible and more efficient.
A thread is a virtual code or component that divides a physical CPU core into several virtual cores.
Every program on the computer creates threads when you open them to run more smoothly by assigning each thread a specific task.
Hyperthreading not only creates more threads within the CPU, but it also makes them more efficient.
It does so by easily switching resources between threads.
For example, it can bring a program, like a video game, to the front and run several other programs in the background.
Cons Of Hyperthreading
1. It’s Software and Hardware Dependent
As mentioned above, hyperthreading boosts core and CPU performance by maximizing their efficiency.
However, this improvement in performance is noticeable for apps that use more than two cores.
In addition, some applications are designed to benefit from hyperthreading technology while others aren’t.
That means you can only experience a performance boost when using these applications, not others.
For example, it’s not good for serial apps, which require one task to finish until they can perform the second task.
The only tasks that can benefit from hyperthreading are those that work in parallel with others by assigning each task to a different thread.
Another problem with hyperthreading is that not every CPU supports this feature.
Since hyperthreading is a hardware-related feature, you need to ensure the CPU you purchase supports this technology.
Although it’s been around for quite a while, not all CPUs have this feature, and those that do may not fully embrace it.
2. It Increases CPU Temperature
Some people believe that hyperthreading can reduce your CPU temps because it can make programs run faster.
However, the opposite is true because more threads will be involved in hyperthreading.
If you want to make sure hyperthreading is worth the increased performance, run your system in BIOS and check how much temperature it generates compared to when it’s disabled.
Then, you should decide if you can reduce the added temperature by using a better thermal paste.
If not, you may want to disable the feature.
3. It Can’t Solve The Insufficient Core Problem
Hyperthreading technology is a way of making your existing cores more efficient by creating more threads inside the same core.
It can’t be equal to having a higher number of physical cores.
Some programs require physical cores, not virtual ones, so this added efficiency won’t do them any good.
Even the CPUs are also core-dependent, so when the total computing power isn’t present, threads can’t help much.
The Final Verdict
Intel originally introduced the hyperthreading technology to respond to a CPU limitation: CPU only uses 50 to 70% of its processing power during normal use.
By hyperthreading, you’ll have two equal cores and more threads to run simultaneously.
When hyperthreading is active, the Windows scheduler assigns less CPU-intensive processes to the otherwise unused parts of the core and the more CPU-intensive programs to the already used cores.
This process means that hyperthreading isn’t generally harmful and can be beneficial to your resources.
With all the performance boost that comes with hyperthreading, and regarding the few disadvantages of this technology, it seems fair to say hyperthreading is worth the cost.
However, it all depends on the applications that you run.
If a program doesn’t support hyperthreading, you won’t see any significant increase in performance.
It mainly suits applications and operations that schedule multiple tasks to be executed so that the processor doesn’t have any idle cores.
Some applications may see a significant boost while others don’t.
The developer may have specified that the program isn’t suitable for hyperthreading.
If they don’t, you need to test and see how well it performs in the presence and absence of hyperthreading.
Another thing you need to consider is the higher power consumption that comes with hyperthreading.
It increases power consumption because the core has to keep all its areas turned on, even on standby.
If power consumption is important to you, and you mainly use applications that don’t support hyperthreading, you may need to disable it.
When Do You Need Hyperthreading?
Suppose you want to get a new PC and have two choices of CPU.
One comes with hyperthreading ability, and one is without.
The first thing to look at is the number of cores: a non-hyperthreaded CPU with four cores is better than a hyperthreaded CPU with two cores.
The physical and actual CPU cores are always better than virtual ones.
That’s because a virtual core’s performance is lower than a physical one.
But if both CPUs have the same number of cores, look at the programs you’ll be using.
If you primarily work with mainstream applications like word processing and web browsing, you won’t benefit from hyperthreading.
These programs aren’t CPU-intensive, and even a dual-core processor can handle them.
However, professional, CPU-intensive, and thread-heavy applications can see significant boosts in performance with HT.
Finally, check the price and make sure the boost is worth the price tag.
How To Tell If My CPU Allows Hyper-Threading?
Hyperthreading is a feature that applies to your hardware, not software.
That means your Windows version doesn’t have anything to do with the ability to perform hyperthreading.
More precisely, your CPU should be designed in a way that it accepts hyperthreading.
If the CPU allows it, hyperthreading is turned on by default.
There’s a simple way to make sure if hyperthreading is enabled on your system or not.
Here’s how to do it:
Make sure you’re logged into Windows with your account.
Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete simultaneously to open the “Task Manager” window.
Click on the last option, “Start Task Manager.”
Click on the “Performance” tab to see your CPU and memory usage.
Here, you’ll see performance graphs for your CPU, one for each core.
If your CPU is dual-core, there should be two performance graphs.
If hyperthreading is turned on, there should be double the number of your cores.
For a dual-core CPU with hyperthreading on, there should be four performance graphs.
What CPUs Can Use Hyperthreading?
Hyperthreading is a technology trademarked by Intel.
It stands to reason that only Intel CPUs support this technology.
Some of the Intel processors that support hyperthreading include:
- The Nehalem microarchitecture (Core i7)
- The Itanium 9300
- The Itanium 9500 (Poulson)
- The Xeon 5500
However, hyperthreading has come a long way and has become an essential feature in computing technologies.
That means we should expect other players in the industry to introduce this capability.
AMD CPUs don’t support “Hyperthreading”, the trademark technology found in Intel CPUs.
However, they do have a similar technology under a different name: Clustered Multithreading.
It’s present in Ryzen CPUs and follows a different architecture from Intel’s hyperthreading technology.
AMD uses a cluster-based design instead of the block-based architecture because it better suits the higher number of cores that are typical with AMD processors.
Hyperthreading For Gaming
One of the main applications of hyperthreading is in gaming programs where gamers try to get the most out of their rigs.
However, there are lots of debates over whether hyperthreading can improve your gaming performance or not.
If you have an Intel processor with a small number of cores, like i3 or i5, you can benefit from hyperthreading in gaming.
That’s because most demanding games require two or four cores, and you may experience lags while playing these games due to the small number of cores.
Hyperthreading gives you more cores to run background applications and the game at the same time.
This improved performance particularly comes in handy when you stream games because you can play, record, and upload your games simultaneously without experiencing any lag.
However, this boost in performance isn’t that noticeable in i7 processors as they have a higher number of cores and are already fast without needing hyperthreading.
As for VR games, hyperthreading may not make a big difference because they need high-performance CPUs and GPUs.
The massive processing power that VR games require can’t be gained with virtual cores, and you’ll need actual physical cores.
Hyperthreading Vs. Multithreading
Both hyperthreading and multithreading are attempts to increase performance, but they involve different methods.
Here’s the main difference:
Hyperthreading involves turning a single core into two cores by making the computer treat a physical core like two virtual cores.
In other words, hyperthreading improves speed and performance by allowing several threads to run on a single core, increasing the amount of work the CPU can handle.
By dividing the CPU into threads and assigning each thread a specific task, hyperthreading reduces the workload on the CPU.
In fact, hyperthreading doesn’t increase the speed of the CPU.
It increases the number of tasks it can do at a given time, increasing its performance.
Multithreading, on the other hand, doesn’t turn a core into two.
It divides a program, or a process, into several sub-processes.
Each sub-process, assigned with a specific task, is called a thread.
In other words, each task is divided into multiple threads.
The main difference between these two technologies is that hyperthreading divides a single processor into two separate ones.
However, multithreading creates multiple threads inside each process.
Another difference is that hyperthreading is hardware-related while multithreading is software-related.
The former treats the CPU core as two while the latter divides an application or program into different threads.
How To Disable Hyperthreading
If you use applications that don’t support hyperthreading, you may need to disable it because it affects these programs’ performance, especially with large programs such as database server processes.
However, most experts advise against disabling HT because you may put your computer at risk.
In addition, even if a program doesn’t support hyperthreading, it means it’s optimized for two threads.
With a quad-core CPU, the other two threads will be free to do other background tasks, which doesn’t affect the program’s performance.
However, if you want to be 100% sure, you can compare your program’s performance with and without hyperthreading, you then decide to disable it.
Before you start disabling the hyperthreading process, you need to know that although it’s a straightforward process, it involves running your computer in BIOS.
You need to have the technical know-how to handle this mode safely.
There are general steps to disable hyperthreading, but you may need to take specific steps depending on your CPU model.
You can find the proper way to disable hyperthreading on the support page of your CPU manufacturer’s website.
Here’s how to do it:
To enter BIOS, turn off your computer and turn it back on.
While the system is booting up, you need to press a certain key, which depends on the model and make of your computer.
For example, you may need to press F1, F2, F10, Delete, or ESC.
Once you get into BIOS, look for the “Processor” option on the main menu or configuration tab.
When you open the “Processor” menu, click on “Properties.”
You should see a dialog box that prompts you to turn hyperthreading off.
After disabling the feature, click on the “Exit” menu and choose “Exit Saving Changes.”
Depending on the model of your PC, you may find the option under different menus.
In addition, the “Disable” or “Turn off” option for hyperthreading may not be available in the menu mentioned above.
In such cases, it’s better to search online and look for workarounds that work for your specific model of PC.
Note: As mentioned earlier, if your CPU supports hyperthreading, it comes with the feature turned on by default. However, if you’re sure it’s not turned on, you can enable it through the same process outlined above.