Skip to main content

Do The Meltdown and Spectre Patches Affect PC Gaming Performance? 10 CPUs Tested

Test Setup

Our methodology for this story is fairly simple in practice. First, we performed a round of benchmarks on our Windows 10-based systems. Then, we applied the relevant patch and repeated the tests. Although the Variant 2 operating system patch we're using was deactivated via Windows, it should represent worst-case performance for now. We did not use a BIOS with Spectre mitigations because none are currently available (they were pulled). We'll follow up with more comparative testing as firmware updates arrive.

We tested each processor at its stock settings, including representatives from the Core i3, Ryzen 3, Core i5, Ryzen 5, Core i7, Ryzen 7, and Pentium line-ups. Naturally, overclocked systems will fare better. And as always, we disable Enhanced Multi-Core Turbo on our test systems.

In order to avoid variance from GPU Boost as our GeForce GTX 1080 heats up, we use multiple runs from each benchmark in quick succession. We select the median value from the last recordings, so, in many cases, the patched/unpatched results could land higher or lower than each other due to the tight variances you'll see today.

MORE: CPU Security Flaw: All You Need To Know About Spectre

MORE: Best Gaming CPUs

MORE: Intel & AMD Processor Hierarchy

Paul Alcorn

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.