Is Hyperthreading Worth It? (Pros, Cons)

Atif Liaqat | Last Updated On February 20th, 2022

In theory, hyperthreading seems like a great way to boost the speed of your computer. This is because nowadays, PC users are always looking for an edge in terms of enhancing their setups.

However, hyperthreading is only beneficial for certain tasks. When it comes to image editing, power consumption, and multitasking, hyperthreaded CPUs perform worse than single-threaded CPUs. On the other hand, hyperthreaded CPUs perform the same or better when it comes to video encoding and gaming. As such, hyperthreading improves your CPU’s performance and speed on a case-by-case basis.

Hyperthreading is a function that comes explicitly with hyperthreaded CPUs. So, you may be wondering if buying a hyperthreaded CPU is worth the price or is hyperthreading worth it.

In this in-depth guide, we’ll discuss what hyperthreading is and if it’s worth the investment.

Let’s jump in.

What Is Hyperthreading?

Before you can understand if hyperthreading is worth it, you need to become familiar with how a CPU works. A central processing unit decodes information and performs mathematical algorithms.

When you open up an application on your PC, the code for that program is transferred from the hard drive and stored in the random access memory (RAM). Then, the code is sent to the CPU, and the CPU reads the instructions from the RAM to perform the task.

Each Intel CPU comes with a specified amount of cores. Most modern-day CPUs have 4, 6, or 8 cores. As data is sent from the RAM to the processor, it’s separated and transferred to different cores.

You can compare a CPU core to a single track at a train station. The programs you launch are essentially freight on a train moving through the track. The freights, or program instructions, go down the tracks in succession.

When you hyperthread your cores, you essentially create two tracks instead of one. Instead of the program instructions and data travelling on a single track, it will be separated into two tracks.

As such, hyperthreading allows you to load multiple programs at once and speeds up the time in which it travels.

In summary, each hyperthreaded core becomes two processors instead of one. The goal of hyperthreading is to increase the number of independent instructions the CPU can handle.

This allows for more efficient multitasking and improved speed as you’re running thread-heavy applications.

Now that you understand what hyperthreading is let’s talk about its pros and cons.

Hyperthreading Pros

1. Better Performance

The most significant benefit of hyperthreading your CPU is boosting the CPU’s performance. If your computer is quad-core, hyperthreading will trick your programs to think your CPU is 8-core. In turn, your CPU-intensive programs and applications will run faster because of reduced execution time.

The best applications that benefit from hyperthreading include 3D rendering, video editing, and encoding applications. This is because the application needs to scale perfectly with the extra threads.

2. Reduces Idle Time

An issue that occurs while running applications is that some of the CPU’s parts, called execution units, remain idle.

This is especially problematic when program instructions have to execute one after another and can’t be executed simultaneously.

Idling also occurs when your CPU waits for the main memory to source data for a certain operation.

If this occurs, you can’t perform any operation until you have all the required data. And until then, the CPU remains idle.

Hyperthreading allows you to increase the number of resources to perform each task independently. This reduces the idle time of your CPU and offers the ability to multitask.

3. Resolving Cache Misses

A cache miss occurs when your CPU, application, or system goes to retrieve the data it needs from the cache, but the data isn’t there.

This happens when data is scattered across different parts of memory. So, the CPU turns to your RAM to access the data.

However, accessing RAM takes a long time, and the CPU core is idle while the RAM finds the data.

Hyperthreading allows your CPU to continue working because one core waits for the data while the other core executes the next task.

4. Resolving Branch Mispredictions

Branch predictors are circuits that predict the direction of a branch before it moves in a specific direction.

The primary goal of branch predictors is to improve performance by speeding up the execution. If the branch predictor is unable to predict the code path accurately, the core has to start over once again.

Hyperthreading allows the second thread to take care of executing the resources while the first thread waits for the core to resolve misprediction.

5. Facilitates Switching Between Threads

A CPU thread is a virtual code that divides a CPU core into several virtual codes. Every application on your computer creates threads. The threads allow the programs to run smoother by assigning each thread with a specific task.

As such, hyperthreading makes multitasking possible and more efficient. It achieves this by switching resources between threads.

For instance, hyperthreading can bring a program, like video editing software, to the front and run several other programs in the background.

Hyperthreading Cons

1. Software and Hardware Dependent

The primary problem with hyperthreading is that it can only improve the performance in programs that use more than two cores. For this reason, some applications are designed to benefit from hyperthreading while others aren’t.

Another issue with hyperthreading is that not every CPU supports this feature. Hyperthreading is specifically a hardware-related feature, so you’ll need a hyperthreaded CPU to use this technology.

2. Increases CPU Temperature

Hyperthreading also increases your CPU temperatures because your CPU will be working harder to execute tasks faster. In theory, a hyperthreaded CPU offering 30% more performance enhancement should be 30% hotter.

It’s important to monitor your CPU’s temperature if you choose to hyperthread your CPU. If your CPU has a safe temperature while hyperthreading, you shouldn’t worry about overheating your CPU.

If your CPU reaches extreme temperature levels while hyperthreading, it’s recommended to turn off hyperthreading.

3. Doesn’t Solve Insufficient Core Problem

Hyperthreading makes your existing CPU cores more efficient by creating more threads inside the same core.

It isn’t equal to actually having a higher number of physical cores.

Some computer applications require physical cores, not virtual cores, so this added efficiency won’t offer any benefits.

Verdict: Is Hyperthreading Worth It?

If you’re looking to get a new CPU and are wondering if hyperthreading is worth it, it depends.

Remember, physical cores are always better than virtual cores. So, a non-hyperthreaded CPU with 4 cores offers better performance than a hyperthreaded CPU with 2 cores.

However, if both CPUs have the same number of cores, you’ll need to think about the programs you’ll be running.

Hyperthreading isn’t needed if you usually work in mainstream programs like web browsing and word processing.

Alternatively, professional and CPU-intensive programs can see performance boosts with a hyperthreaded CPU.

So, check to see if the programs you run require thread-heavy work.

If you’re a gamer, we recommend prioritizing more physical cores in your next build rather than hyperthreaded cores. This is because most games are single-core optimized. So, you should invest in a 6 or 8 physical core CPU. However, quad-cores with hyperthreading can provide a nice boost as you’re gaming.

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