The AMD Ryzen™ processor is a completely new and different platform from what gamers may be accustomed to, and established practices for configuring a system may prove incorrect or unreliable. We’ve assembled the following configuration steps to ensure users are extracting the best possible performance and reliability from their new PC.
Update Your Firmware
Ensure that you are using the latest UEFI ROM for your motherboard.
- The latest ROMs will support the Windows 10 tickless kernel for best application performance.
- Newer ROMs can improve the functionality/stability of your motherboard and its UEFI menu options.
AMD Ryzen™ processors have an appetite for faster system RAM, but it’s important to ensure that you have a solid setup before proceeding.
- The AMD Ryzen™ processor does not offer memory dividers for DDR4-3000 or DDR4-3400. Users shooting for higher memory clocks should aim for 3200 or 3500 MT/s.
- Memory vendors have also begun to validate 32GB (4x8GB) kits at 3200 MT/s rates for select motherboards.
- Ensure that you are programming your BIOS with the recommended timings (CAS/tRCD/tRP/tRAS/tRC/CMD) and voltages specified on the DRAM packaging.
- To ensure reliable POST, the AMD Ryzen™ processor may fall back to a DIMM’s JEDEC SPD “safe” timings in the event an overclock proves unreliable. Most DIMMs are programmed to boot at DDR4-2133 unless otherwise instructed by the BIOS, so be sure your desired overclock is in place before performance testing. Use CPU-Z in Windows to confirm.
- For speed grades greater than DDR4-2667, please refer to a motherboard vendor’s memory QVL list. Each motherboard vendor tests specific speeds, modules, and capacities for their motherboards, and can help you find a memory pairing that works well. It is important you stick to this list for the best and most reliable results.1
- We have internally observed good results from 2933, 3200, and 3500 MT/s rates with 16GB kits based on Samsung “B-die” memory chips. Potential kits include:
- Geil EVO X - GEX416GB3200C16DC [16-16-16-36 @ 1.35v]
- G.Skill Trident Z - F4-3200C16D-16GTZR [16-18-18-36 @ 1.35v]
- Corsair CMK16GX4M2B3200C16 VERSION 5.39 [16-18-18-36 @ 1.35v]
- Finally, as part of AMDs ongoing development of the new AM4 platform, AMD will increase support for overclocked memory configurations with higher memory multipliers. We intend to issue updates to motherboard partners in May that will enable them, on whatever products they choose, to support speeds higher than the current DDR4-3200 limit without refclk adjustments. AMD Ryzen™ processors already deliver great performance in prosumer, workstation, and gaming workloads, and this update will permit even more value and performance for enthusiasts who chose to run overclocked memory.
- AMD’s officially-supported DRAM configurations are below for your reference:
DDR4 Speed (MT/s) Memory Ranks DIMM Quantities 2667 Single 2 2400 Dual 2 2133 Single 4 1866 Dual 4
Mind Your Power Plan
Make sure the Windows® 10 High Performance power plan is being used (picture). The High Performance plan offers two key benefits:
- Core Parking OFF: Idle CPU cores are instantaneously available for thread scheduling. In contrast, the Balanced plan aggressively places idle CPU cores into low power states. This can cause additional latency when un-parking cores to accommodate varying loads.
- Fast frequency change: The AMD Ryzen™ processor can alter its voltage and frequency states in the 1ms intervals natively supported by the “Zen” architecture. In contrast, the Balanced plan may take longer for voltage and frequency changes due to software participation in power state changes.
In the near term, we recommend that games and other high-performance applications are complemented by the High Performance plan. 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.
The Observer Effect
Ensure there are no background CPU temperature or frequency monitoring tools when performance is essential. Real-time performance measurement tools can have an observer effect that impacts performance, especially if the monitoring resolution (>1 sample/sec) is increased.
Overclocking is a time-tested and beloved way to squeeze even more “free” performance out of a system. That’s why every AMD Ryzen™ processor is unlocked for overclocking.2
Consider the example of the AMD Ryzen™ 7 1700 processor. It has a base clock of 3.0GHz, a two-core boost clock of 3.7GHz, an all-cores boost clock of 3.1GHz, and a 2-core XFR clock of 3.75GHz. Many have reported all-core overclocks of around 3.9GHz, which is a full 25% higher than the default behavior of the CPU.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
To test the performance impact of all of these various changes, we threw together a brand new Windows 10-based system with the following specifications:
- AMD Ryzen™ 7 1800X (8C16T/3.6-4.0GHz)
- 16GB G.Skill (2x8) DDR4-3200
- Clocked to 2133MT/s: 15-15-15-35-1t
- Clocked to 2933MT/s: 14-14-14-30-1t
- ASUS Crosshair VI Hero (5704 BIOS)
- 1x AMD Radeon™ RX 480 GPU (Radeon Software 17.2.1)
- Windows 10 Anniversary Update (Build 14393.10)
Throughout this process we also discovered that F1™ 2016 generates a CPU topology map (hardware_settings_config.xml) when the game is installed. This file tells the game how many cores and threads the system’s processor supports. This settings file is stored in the Steam™ Cloud and appears to get resynced on any PC that installs F1™ 2016 from the same Steam account. Therefore: if a user had a 4-core processor without SMT, then reused that same game install on a new AMD Ryzen™ PC, the game would re-sync with the cloud and believe the new system is also the same old quad core CPU.
Only a fresh install of the game allowed for a new topology map that better interpreted the architecture of our AMD Ryzen™ processor. Score one for clean computing! But it wasn’t a complete victory. We also discovered that the new and better topology map still viewed Ryzen™ as a 16-core processor, rather than an 8-core processor with 16 threads. Even so, performance was noticeably improved with the updated topology map, and performance went up from there as we threw additional changes into the system.
As an ultimate maneuver, we asked the question: “Can we edit this file?” The answer is yes! As a final step, we configured F1™ 2016 to use 8 physical CPU cores, rather than the 16 it was detecting by default. Performance went up again! After all was said and done, we gained a whopping 35.53% from our baseline configuration showing how a series of little changes can add up to something big.
The picture tells the story clear as day: configuration matters.
Robert Hallock is a technical marketing guy for AMD's CPU division. His/her postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.
1. Overclocking memory will void any applicable AMD product warranty, even if such overclocking is enabled via AMD hardware and/or software. This may also void warranties offered by the system manufacturer or retailer or motherboard vendor. Users assume all risks and liabilities that may arise out of overclocking memory, including, without limitation, failure of or damage to RAM/hardware, reduced system performance and/or data loss, corruption or vulnerability. GD-112
2. AMD processors, including chipsets, CPUs, APUs and GPUs (collectively and individually "AMD processor"), are intended to be operated only within their associated specifications and factory settings. Operating your AMD processor outside of official AMD specifications or outside of factory settings, including but not limited to the conducting of overclocking using the Ryzen Master overclocking software, may damage your processor, affect the operation of your processor or the security features therein and/or lead to other problems, including but not limited to damage to your system components (including your motherboard and components thereon (e.g., memory)), system instabilities (e.g., data loss and corrupted images), reduction in system performance, shortened processor, system component and/or system life, and in extreme cases, total system failure. It is recommended that you save any important data before using the tool. AMD does not provide support or service for issues or damages related to use of an AMD processor outside of official AMD specifications or outside of factory settings. You may also not receive support or service from your board or system manufacturer. Please make sure you have saved all important data before using this overclocking software.