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How to stop the meltdown and spectre patches from slowing down your pc

I was testing one of the overclocks i used to use that i knew was stable but when Prime95 reported errors immediately during testing i knew something was up. [EDIT: Nvm, its not the patches. Further testing indicated issues with this overclock. However it’s worth mentioning i had consistent Prime95-errors when the meltdown patches were disabled, and no Prime-95 errors when the meltdown patch were enabled (one BSOD though). New thermal paste was the fix, but it is interesting though. The patches slowed the processor down so much that it made an unstable overclock stable. lol].

I remembered the meltdown/spectre CPU-gimping-fixes and googled how to disable them: https://www.howtogeek.com/339559/how-to-stop-the-meltdown-and-spectre-patches-from-slowing-down-your-pc/ informed me that Windows has registry settings you can toggle to disable the Meltdown/Spectre safeties for the sake of max CPU FREEDOM at the cost of all security (good deal) (I think your webbrowsers are all sandboxed from this issue anyway [which javascript can be written to exploit]?) So as long as your not downloading any malicious software then no issue? idk… what’s the worst it could do, read your passwords/kernel memory? pfft I need max fps in pubg damnit), and i didn’t feel like reading https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4072698/windows-server-guidance-to-protect-against-the-speculative-execution so this well-known (it’s on guru3d.com) tool can do it in one click: https://www.grc.com/inspectre.htm (which changed “Performance: Poor” to “Performance: Good” for me). Btw if you have a new processor it should say “Performance: Good” without disabling these securities (but you still get a tiny performance hit because Intel knew about this issue since forever and never fixed it because max-CPU power is what ppl pay for amirite?). And lets be real here, did any of you install updated bioses to patch the Spectre flaw? No? then you were never protected 100% anyway.

So after disabling the Meltdown patch, and restarting computer, i re-ran Prime95 five different times (including after playing pubg) and had no errors so ya Meltdown protection can make your CPU cause Prime95 errors/unstable when overclocked. At least it did for me. Even if you don’t want to disable your Meltdown patch (and probably will never install a bios to protect against Spectre), if you are overclocked you may want to retest for errors with Prime95. Also, btw the first link says that Windows 10 runs the Meltdown/Spectre patches the best.

Now for me to turn my Vsync from off to fast (negating any benefits from all this) because i hate screen tearing ;p

How to stop the meltdown and spectre patches from slowing down your pc

In January of 2018 the cybersecurity world was rocked by news of the massive Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities in the Intel processor, but for most users the more tangible worry was that the software fix would slow down their computers by up to thirty percent.

Luckily, like many apocalyptic predictions, this preliminary figure turns out to have been somewhat exaggerated. If you own an affected computer (you probably do), chances are good that it has had a few points taken off its performance, but not enough to be noticeable.

What were Meltdown and Spectre again?

How to stop the meltdown and spectre patches from slowing down your pc

Though security researchers found them in 2017, the Meltdown and Spectre exploits only became public knowledge in early January of 2018. While more thorough technical explanations are available, here’s a one-sentence summary: Meltdown “melts” the processor’s barriers between application processes and system memory (which can contain some very important stuff), while Spectre can trick the processor into accessing places in the memory that were not intended to be accessed. If you use anything with a computer processing chip (mostly Intel, but some AMDs and ARMs as well), this exploit could work on your system.

Patches were rolled out almost immediately to fix (or, more accurately, “mitigate,” since there is no single fix) this issue, but new versions, especially those involving Spectre, keep on popping up. Since this affects so many different systems and is such a complex problem to pin down, work will likely continue for a while.

The damage: how much speed have we lost?

How to stop the meltdown and spectre patches from slowing down your pc

These patches have taken a toll on performance, but it varies wildly depending on your hardware and software setup. The average impact of the patches over time has, so far, not elicited many complaints, which is encouraging. It’s impossible to come up with an exact average across all systems, and official numbers aren’t really available, but hardware review sites really like running benchmarks, so we at least have that data.

Comparing reports from Microsoft, Phoronix, Tom’s Hardware, Tech Report, and Anandtech, the average impact since the patches began seems to have been quite small. The biggest slowdowns reported were from tests that were putting very heavy loads on older processors, and then only for specific tasks. Overall, testing average use cases rarely showed impacts above five percent.

More patches are being released all the time, though, so this isn’t a guarantee for the future. You can take comfort, though, in the fact that the initial patches, which are theoretically the most major, haven’t done much damage.

How to stop the meltdown and spectre patches from slowing down your pc

To get an idea of where your own computer stands, you can use the Gibson Research Inspectre tool to quickly check up on the general state of your computer. If it tells you that you’re patched against both Spectre and Meltdown and your computer is “Good,” that means your system is probably not a lot slower as a result of the patches. If it tells you you’re not protected, you should do something about that as soon as possible.

For the more technically curious, fire up your favorite benchmarking program, disable your Internet connection (no sense taking chances), and run benchmarks with the patches disabled and enabled. If you have interesting results, leave a comment!

Factors that affect performance loss

How to stop the meltdown and spectre patches from slowing down your pc

The patches affect different systems in different ways, depending on how those systems interact with the processors. Again, this is a moving target – new patches and updates are coming out all the time – but in general, these factors will affect your experience.

  • Use case: Some aspects of computer performance are hit harder than others. Applications that rely heavily on the processor, like virtualization or cryptocurrency mining, will obviously notice the biggest declines.
  • Processor model: Not all processors are affected the same way. A good general rule: the newer your processor, the less affected you’ll probably be, especially with Intel. Your mileage may vary with AMDs and ARMs.
  • Operating system: Not all operating systems are affected the same way. Windows 7 and 8 may be the worst hit (if Microsoft’s initial estimates hold true), while Windows 10 doesn’t see noticeable impacts. Mac has been tested less but also seems relatively unscathed, while Linux results vary quite a bit across distribution and kernel.
  • Which patch was used and when: Different companies put out different fixes at different times, and some of them caused greater performance declines than others. On May 22 nd , in fact, Intel announced that their newest patch might cause two to eight percent declines in some systems.

Conclusion: an ongoing threat

The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities have yet to be implicated in a major attack, but it has been found in plenty of existing malware. It might even be more common now than it was before it became public knowledge, as there are Spectre variants out there that haven’t even been discovered yet.

[UPDATE: 2018-02-01] #Spectre & #Meltdown: So far, the AV-TEST Institute discovered 139 samples which appear to be related to recently reported CPU vulnerabilities. #CVE-2017-5715 #CVE-2017-5753 #CVE-2017-5754

SHA256 Hashes: https://t.co/7tKScinC8Z pic.twitter.com/LxvHNqqYY4

Spectre-proof processors are in the works, but there’s no official release date on a hardware solution yet. For now, the name of the game is “whack-a-mole,” as new variants keep appearing and keep getting patched. The performance impact thus far has been very manageable, but that’s not to say that there might not be more serious issues in the future. In the meantime, install the software updates, practice good computer security, and maybe hold off on upgrading your hardware until those new chips come out, maybe in a year or two.

Andrew Braun is a lifelong tech enthusiast with a wide range of interests, including travel, economics, math, data analysis, fitness, and more. He is an advocate of cryptocurrencies and other decentralized technologies, and hopes to see new generations of innovation continue to outdo each other.

On linux add the following boot parameter: pti=off spectre_v2=off l1tf=off nospec_store_bypass_disable no_stf_barrier

I saw a measurable decrease in build times in Linux. ‘$ time make’ dropped nearly 10%.

Of course do not do this if you visit sketchy websites, install dodgy software, or open random attachment in email. That said, I can’t find any evidence that any mass attack has been based on these exploits. Have a feeling our machines are made slower to make cloud providers safer or sell more CPUs.

I think it should be explicitly called out that meltdown is exploitable via JS, I wouldn’t use ‘insecure’ mode for web browsing except on well known sites (e.g. docs.your-programming-language.org), and I would use an ad(malware)-blocker.

Compiled “mkvtoolnix” ( https://mkvtoolnix.download/ ) on Gentoo Linux twice, once without and then with the kernel options “pti=off spectre_v2=off l1tf=off nospec_store_bypass_disable no_stf_barrier”:

No kernel options:

With kernel options “pti=off spectre_v2=off l1tf=off nospec_store_bypass_disable no_stf_barrier”:

Kernel 4.14.101-gentoo, CPU Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-6200U CPU @ 2.30GHz, microcode version 0xc6, Lenovo X1 Carbon 4th gen, CPU governor P-states set to “powersave”.

Parallel compilation set to max 3 threads (” MAKEOPTS=”-j3″ “) but mkvtoolnix compilation seems to use most of the time max 2 threads.

gcc (Gentoo 8.2.0-r6 p1.7) 8.2.0

I guess that the 2nd rounds have higher runtimes than the 1st ones because the CPU got hotter. .

Yes, use the tool to get the actual patches.

> Protection from these two significant vulnerabilities requires updates to every system’s hardware–its BIOS which reloads updated processor firmware–and its operating system–to use the new processor features.

> This InSpectre utility was designed to clarify every system’s current situation so that appropriate measures can be taken to update the system’s hardware and software for maximum security and performance.

If this tool had the secret fix that didn’t impact performance in any way then wouldn’t it have been incorporated everywhere?

The cloud environment as a whole seems a lot more homogeneous, accessible, and easier to profit from than exploiting desktops.

Which? tests the real effect of accepting updates that tackle the latest computer exploits

How to stop the meltdown and spectre patches from slowing down your pc

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When the news of the Spectre and Meltdown exploits was first revealed at the start of 2018, companies such as Microsoft and Apple were quick to announce that the issues had already been patched, or that solutions were imminent.

While the wider public reveal proved shocking to the average computer user, the industry had known about the problem for a few months and had been quietly working on fixes in the background. However, there were concerns that these patches could cause performance issues in affected processors by up to 30%.

In our testing, we found that this wasn’t the case, and the effect on the laptops we tested in the lab was so minimal that it wouldn’t even be noticeable. That’s reassuring news for those who had been holding off updates for fear of them crippling their machine.

Read reviews of the latest Best Buy laptops.

What are the dangers of Spectre and Meltdown?

Uncovered in the summer of 2017, Spectre and Meltdown are the names given to two exploits, essentially vulnerabilities in a processor’s architecture that could in theory be used to access private data.

Meltdown predominantly affects Intel processors, and Spectre affects the vast majority of processors. While these vulnerabilities have mainly been exposed in a lab environment, they still pose very real threats, which is why it’s important to ensure that the holes are closed as soon as possible.

Meltdown allows hackers to access the memory of your computer, and with it data that should not be reached. In order to run as efficiently as possible, processors use a method known as ‘speculative execution’. In effect, this lets a processor anticipate what the next few instructions may be. It’s this specific process that can offer a backdoor to those with nefarious motives. Of the two, it’s the easiest to fix but also the easiest to exploit.

Spectre is a more advanced flaw. It’s a vulnerability that allows dangerous apps or programs to piggyback legitimate, safe software. The malicious program can then access information, even if the safe software has no vulnerability of its own. The potential spoils of Spectre are bigger than that of Meltdown, but it’s much harder to implement.

How to stop the meltdown and spectre patches from slowing down your pc

How we tested the patches’ hit on performance

In order to test the effect of the update patches on the laptops, we took a selection of models with various processors and tested them before applying the update, and then replicated the same test again after the laptop had been updated.

Using industry-standard benchmarking software to measure the performance of the laptop as it carried out various tasks, we were able to see how much of an impact the patch really had. In other words, would the average user notice a decrease in speed when using their laptop?

While there was some element of slowdown in most of the laptops we tested, it was minimal, topping out at a 4% dip in performance. Losing any speed isn’t ideal, but in real terms this sort of drop would be indistinguishable for daily users, and a far cry from the 30% that was being mentioned back in January.

It’s worth pointing out that the models tested (details below) have relatively modern processors, and performance hits may well vary for older machines.

Models tested and the impact

Microsoft Surface Book 2

How to stop the meltdown and spectre patches from slowing down your pc

Once the flagship device in Microsoft’s laptop fleet, we saw just a small reduction in performance once we’d applied the patch of just 3%, barely a drop in the ocean for this powerful machine. Most users will notice no difference at all.

Dell XPS 13

How to stop the meltdown and spectre patches from slowing down your pc

Another fast laptop, the Dell XPS 13 uses one of Intel’s latest, eighth-generation processors. However, even the latest chips aren’t infallible and need updating to tackle Meltdown and Spectre issues. Our tests detected just a 3% decrease in speed after the patches.

HP Stream 11

How to stop the meltdown and spectre patches from slowing down your pc

An entry-level laptop that costs under £200, powered by a modest N3060 processor, you wouldn’t want to lose any power with this already stripped-back machine. Once we’d applied the latest updates, we found that there was no detectable speed sacrifice on this device.

HP Pavilion X360

How to stop the meltdown and spectre patches from slowing down your pc

Coming in at under £500, the HP Pavilion is pitched as an everyday machine. It suffered the largest drop in speed in our test, after updating. However, at 4%, there’s no reason to panic.

What should I do to protect against Meltdown and Spectre?

The key to protecting your laptop, PC or tablet remains the same as it’s ever been: updates. If you haven’t accepted any updates onto your device since the beginning of the year, then it’s time to fix that, as you are currently susceptible to the Meltdown and Spectre exploits.

Updates for your device should happen automatically. It’s worth checking in your settings that you have Automatic Updates turned on, so that you will have any new fixes applied as soon as they appear. We would expect the fixes to be an ongoing process, with some degree of ironing out, so don’t assume it’s a case of one update and done.

Some people don’t like to have updates automatically installed, preferring to approve them first. If this is the case, vigilance is extremely important to ensure that you don’t miss an important one. It’s also worth checking your manufacturer’s website for any advice and the latest updates.

Aside from regular updates, it’s important to keep updated security software running on your computer at all times. Browse all of our antivirus Best Buys.

Microsoft is taking the surprise step of detailing how Spectre and Meltdown firmware updates may affect PC performance. The tech industry has been scrambling to issue updates to protect against the two CPU security flaws over the past week, and there have been many reports of potential performance issues. The good news is that for modern PCs running Windows 10, most consumers won’t notice a significant difference. If you’re on an older machine, particularly a Windows 7 or Windows 8 one, then there’s going to be some noticeable performance changes.

According to Microsoft, Intel Haswell processors and older will be impacted the most by a series of firmware updates designed to protect against the Spectre CPU security flaw. Intel has been working with PC makers to ready firmware updates, but it’s fair to say most machines do not have these installed just yet. These updates will impact PC performance, but the level of impact depends on what that PC is doing and how old it is. Microsoft warns that most benchmarks we’ve seen reported “do not include both OS and silicon updates.”

In a blog post from Windows chief Terry Myerson, Microsoft reveals that Windows 10 machines running Skylake, Kaby Lake, or newer processors have been benchmarked to show “single-digit slowdowns” and that the company doesn’t expect “most users to notice a change because these percentages are reflected in milliseconds.”

Windows 10 machines running older processors like Haswell “show more significant slowdowns, and we expect that some users will notice a decrease in system performance,” says Myerson. The same older Haswell machines running Windows 7 or Windows 8 will also experience slowdowns that Myerson says “most users” will notice.

Windows 7 and Windows 8 will be the worst hit simply because these older operating systems have features like kernel-level font rendering that will be impacted by the Spectre and Meltdown mitigations even further than Windows 10. Regardless, Microsoft says on Skylake or newer chips “Intel has refined the instructions used to disable branch speculation to be more specific to indirect branches, reducing the overall performance penalty of the Spectre mitigation.”

  • Windows 10 running on Skylake, Kaby Lake or newer CPU show benchmarks show “single-digit slowdowns”, but most users shouldn’t expect to see noticeable slowdowns
  • Windows 10 running on Haswell or older CPUs “show more significant slowdowns” and “some users will notice a decrease in system performance”
  • Windows 7 or Windows 8 running on Haswell or older CPUs means “most users will notice a decrease in system performance

Microsoft also warns that Windows Server running on any silicon, especially if the server task is I/O intensive, “shows a more significant performance impact when you enable the mitigations to isolate untrusted code within a Windows Server instance.” Microsoft is essentially warning server customers to make a tricky choice between security and performance. “This is why you want to be careful to evaluate the risk of untrusted code for each Windows Server instance and balance the security versus performance tradeoff for your environment,” says Myerson.

It’s unusual to see Microsoft telling IT admins not to patch server systems, but the Meltdown and Spectre issues are a very unusual occurrence. If a server is only running managed code and not open to browser attacks or other code on the system then admins might avoid the firmware updates, but that runs the obvious short-term risks and the potential for having to avoid other security firmware updates in the future.

Microsoft says firmware updates are only required to protect against what’s being described as Spectre variant 2. For Meltdown and Spectre variant 1, Microsoft has isolated kernel and user mode page tables and hardened Edge and Internet Explorer 11 to protect against JavaScript exploits. Windows updates for 41 editions of the operating system are now available, and Microsoft expects the four remaining supported editions will be patched soon.

“As you can tell, there is a lot to this topic of side-channel attack methods,” explains Myerson. “We’re also committed to being as transparent and factual as possible to help our customers make the best possible decisions for their devices and the systems that run organizations around the world. That’s why we’ve chosen to provide more context and information today and why we released updates and remediations as quickly as we could on January 3rd.”

Microsoft is understandably being transparent to avoid Windows users blaming the company for slowing their PCs down. Apple faced that exact issue with older iPhone battery slowdowns recently, and it’s something Microsoft is naturally trying to avoid. The real question now is whether Google, Apple, and others will provide similar guidance on potential performance issues for Android devices, Macs, and iPhones. Most companies have already issued software updates to protect browsers and operating systems, but there’s been little movement on the firmware updates to protect the chips themselves.

Apple has not responded to queries from The Verge about whether the company has supplied firmware updates for the A-series iPhone chips to protect against Spectre variant 2, or even if it’s required. Google’s Android situation will rely on many different phone makers, and it’s not clear how many will require firmware updates that could have potential performance impacts. Microsoft has set an example of transparency that the rest of the industry might just have to follow.

It’s not just Intel machines. Here’s everything you need to know about how to protect your PC, Mac, and mobile device against the chip-level security flaws that were disclosed this week.

How to stop the meltdown and spectre patches from slowing down your pc

Revelations that security flaws in chips powering PCs, laptops, servers, phones, and other devices have gone unnoticed for years have whipped bug fixers and security experts into a frenzy.

The flaws, which researchers have code-named Meltdown and Spectre, relate to how a CPU handles tasks that it thinks your PC will need to perform in the future, known as speculative execution. According to Google’s Project Zero security team, in a worst case scenario the flaws could be exploited to reap sensitive information from these commands-in-waiting.

How to stop the meltdown and spectre patches from slowing down your pc

The good news is that some patches have already rolled out, but the bad news is that because so many companies are involved—from chip manufacturers to PC makers to operating system companies—figuring out if your computer is fully protected isn’t straightforward. For now, there are a few separate courses of action to follow to fortify your device, depending on which operating system you have. Then there’s the additional step of updating web browsers and other program, which every computer user should do regardless of OS.

For Windows

Microsoft has released a cumulative security update that offers software-level protection against speculative execution, which should roll out automatically to systems running Windows 10. To be sure your computer is up to date, open the Start menu, click the gear icon to open Settings, and click on Windows Update. The patch numbers for the Microsoft fixes can be found here.

Microsoft notes that the mitigations can slow down your computer, most noticeably for systems running older Intel chips from 2015 and before.

How to stop the meltdown and spectre patches from slowing down your pc

While the protection this patch offers is a good first step, your Windows PC won’t be fully protected until a firmware update is applied as well. The availability of such an update depends on the company that manufactured your PC, as well as the chip manufacturer (Intel or AMD). Intel has released patches for most recent Core family of processors from the seventh and eigth generations. You can check Intel’s list (current as of Feb. 20) to determine if your processor has an update. If an update is available, check with your system manufacturer for information on how to install it.

AMD has rolled out its own fixes to manufacturers, but it has also downplayed the threat. AMD CTO Mark Papermaster originally said there is a “near zero risk to AMD users.” However, the company later acknowledged the Spectre bug does affect its chips.

Owners of Surface laptops and convertibles will get those updates applied automatically through Windows Update once they’re finished, according to Microsoft. If you own a system from a different company, you may need to check for firmware updates using a separate utility, like Lenovo Solution Center or Dell Update.

Another thing to note: Not all Windows PCs initially received the patches. That’s because the fixes can clash with certain antivirus software and cause serious errors. Microsoft is working to address the issue. More information can be found here.

Some older AMD processors are also incompatible with the Microsoft patch, and as a result, haven’t received the fix.

For Chrome OS

Google’s operating system, primarily found on inexpensive laptops, is protected against the vulnerability in version 64 and later.

For Android

The Android 2018-01-05 Security Patch Level is the first fix for speculative execution. Google’s Pixel phones will receive it automatically, while owners of other Android devices are at the mercy of their device manufacturers and wireless carriers, which decide when updates are rolled out.

For MacOS and iOS

To address the Meltdown vulnerability, Apple actually began rolling out patches via updates to iOS, macOS and tvOS starting in December. It released another patch on Jan. 8. Fortunately, the fixes resulted in “no measurable reduction in the performance of macOS and iOS,” the company said in a statement.

However, Apple is still developing future OS-based safeguards that will address the Spectre vulnerability.

Web Browser Fixes

While you’re waiting for Windows Update to finish working or your PC manufacturer to issue a firmware fix, you can still protect your online activity from exposure to the speculative execution vulnerability by fortifying your web browser.

Google Chrome users can enable Site Isolation, an experimental security feature in the Chrome web browser that provides protection against many different types of malware, including speculative execution. Meanwhile, Microsoft Edge and Mozilla Firefox have been updated to increase the time it takes to execute certain Java commands, which should mitigate the issue, according to a Mozilla blog post. Edge updates are rolled into a Microsoft security patch, while Firefox users can click on About Firefox in the Help menu to see their update status.

Apple has its own fix for the Safari browser that is included in the Jan. 8 patches. According to the company’s benchmark tests, the patch has little or no measurable impact on the browser’s performance, the company said.

UPDATE 1/8: Article updated with Intel and Apple security fixes for Spectre and Meltdown.

UPDATE 1/12: Article updated with new information from Intel, AMD and Microsoft.

UPDATE 2/21: Article updated with new information from Intel.

How to stop the meltdown and spectre patches from slowing down your pc

We’re finally hearing more concrete information about the real-world performance impact of the big Meltdown and Spectre patches, with Microsoft making some claims about a more serious slowdown for those using older Intel chips, and/or operating systems previous to Windows 10.

Remember that Intel’s initial line – following the original stories about the patches potentially slowing down PCs by up to an eye-watering 30% – was that the average PC user should not experience any ‘significant’ (i.e. noticeable) slowdown.

According to Microsoft, those using Windows 10 along with Skylake or newer Intel processors experience “single-digit slowdowns”, meaning less than 10%. Generally speaking, Terry Myerson’s (executive VP, Windows and Devices Group) blog post (spotted by the Verge) notes that most of these users won’t notice any difference because “these percentages are reflected in milliseconds”.

This is roughly in line with Intel’s latest estimate of the slowdown effect of Meltdown and Spectre, in which (as CNET reports) the chip giant specifies a 6% (or less) performance impact – albeit in a modern system running one of its latest (8th-gen) CPUs along with an SSD. A relatively best-case scenario PC, in other words.

Intel noted: “Based on our most recent PC benchmarking, we continue to expect that the performance impact should not be significant for average computer users.” And the firm further observed that only specific tasks would really be weighed down, and that wouldn’t include basic computing tasks like checking your email or using a word processor.

Sticky situation

But, back to Microsoft’s estimations, and this is where things get slightly stickier – those running Windows 10 with older Intel processors (Haswell, which is 4th-gen, or older) will experience more significant slowdowns, and “some users will notice a decrease in system performance”.

Finally, Microsoft observes that in the case of those running older CPUs (Haswell or previous) along with an older OS – i.e. Windows 7 or Windows 8 – it expects “most users to notice a decrease in system performance”.

There’s nothing concrete here in terms of actual figures, obviously, but nonetheless this seems a worrying statement, and far from Intel’s assertion that the average user won’t notice anything significant happening to their PC’s performance levels.

Of course, the more cynical out there might suggest that Microsoft is taking the opportunity to push Windows 10 to the fore once again as a ‘must-upgrade’ proposition. But there doesn’t seem to be any doubt that the older operating systems don’t cope as well with the patches.

Microsoft explains: “Older versions of Windows have a larger performance impact because Windows 7 and Windows 8 have more user-kernel transitions because of legacy design decisions, such as all font rendering taking place in the kernel.”

The company says that its full benchmarking data will be published in the coming weeks, which is good to hear. It’s further worth noting that Microsoft observes that when it comes to the performance hit, it’s patching Spectre which is troublesome. Meltdown (which is specific to Intel chips) mitigation doesn’t have any real performance impact.

Spectre of side-effects

Meanwhile, regardless of any direct impact that the Meltdown and Spectre patches may have on your PC, you may also experience other side-effects when it comes to online services or games patching up their systems.

For example, as the Guardian reports, the developers of online game Fortnite said they experienced a 30% spike in CPU usage when applying patches for the bugs, which led to general instability of game sessions and indeed login failures for some gamers.

These sort of things will be temporary problems, of course, but clearly they’re still unwanted bits of fallout from this whole security flaw nightmare.

If you’re worried about these vulnerabilities, don’t forget that we have a full guide on how to protect against the Meltdown and Spectre bugs.

  • Many of our best laptops run Windows 10

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel – ‘I Know What You Did Last Supper’ – was published by Hachette UK in 2013).

Should you be concerned about how much of a performance hit that your PC will take after applying the Spectre-Meltdown patch? It depends.

Video: Meltdown & Spectre take bite out of Apple

Meltdown-Spectre

  • Lawmakers: Why were flaws kept secret from industry?
  • ​Linux and Intel slowly hack their way to a Spectre patch
  • Dell and HP pull Intel’s buggy patch
  • Intel: Stop firmware patching until further notice
  • Linus Torvalds criticizes Intel’s ‘garbage’ patches
  • Apple backports Meltdown fix to older macOS versions
  • New updates bring fix for unbootable AMD PCs
  • Four things every Windows admin needs to do now
  • Oracle’s critical patch update offers fixes against CPU attacks

Intel made it clear that patching the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities would mean PCs taking a hit with regards to performance, but the company has now published data on just how much of a hit systems will experience.

Intel has published both data collected from both users and synthetic benchmarks and the bottom line is that users will experience a real-world performance hit of about between six and eight percent, with systems running 8th-generation processors seeing a smaller impact than those running 7th- or 6th-generation hardware.

Factors can swing the results, for example, 8th-generation systems running SSDs see a smaller impact, older systems with SSDs take a bigger hit, and some workloads, such as complex JavaScript operations, are more badly affected and could see as much as a 10 percent performance hit.

When it comes to synthetic benchmarking, we get a picture that’s a little more detailed. Again, the generalization that older systems will experience a bigger hit still holds true overall, but that different workloads can skew the results.

And there are a few of interesting takeaways from the benchmark data that Intel published:

  • The performance hit for the SYSMark 2014 SE Data/Finance Analysis test showed little in the way of a performance hit, which will be reassuring to business users.
  • Gamers should also breathe a sigh of relief, as the 3DMark Sky Diver test suggests that DX11 gaming performance is also largely unaffected.
  • The benchmark that showed the biggest performance hit was the SYSMark 2014 SE Responsiveness test, which showed a performance hits of as much 21 percent for workloads such as application launches, file launches, web browsing with multiple tabs, multi-tasking, file copying, photo manipulation, file encryption, and compression, and background application installation.

Intel benchmark results (click to enlarge)

2018-01-1116-17-22.jpg

Intel benchmark results (click to enlarge)

2018-01-1116-17-23.jpg

The results for the SYSMark 2014 SE Responsiveness test are particularly worrying, showing that, as I expected, the biggest effect that the Spectre/Meltdown patching will have is on web browsing and overall system responsiveness, and that means that many of us will feel that our computers are running more sluggishly after applying the patches.

A ray of hope in all this is that Intel says that it is “continuing to work with our partners in the industry to provide the best possible experience for our customers.” Intel also says that it will publish more data on performance in the future.

For a more detailed analysis of the Spectre/Meltdown bug, I suggest reading this fine piece by Rupert Goodwins: Spectre and Meltdown: Insecurity at the heart of modern CPU design.

Bottom line?

The bottom line is that yes, you should install the patches, because to not do so leaves your system wide open, and that yes, you will see a performance hit, with older systems generally being harder hit.

‎07-25-2018 04:50 AM – edited ‎07-25-2018 04:52 AM

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Windows updates comes with a new update, named:

HP Development Company, L.P. – System – 5/14/2018 12:00:00 AM – 7.0.2.1

Any clue what that is about?

Anybody tried it?

FYI, my temperorary solution (setting metered connetion and prevent updating over metered connection) is becomming annoying as I do not receive any windows defender updates anymore for 2 months now!

‎07-25-2018 05:39 AM

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this update is for the HP 3D Drive Guard so I imagine it won’t help.

But i can’t try as I do not have access to an affected laptop right now. And it is from 14 May so we might have already installed it.

‎07-25-2018 08:45 PM

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I solved disabling Meltdown and Spectre patch using registry tweak or InSpectre utility.

Microsoft is enabling any of these patchs in ours Amd Elitebooks and performance hit make laptops unusables

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‎07-26-2018 12:59 AM

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In your reddit thread you mention that you are in an intel i5 device.

Accourding to this thread those devices are not effected.

Someone also mentioned KB4284819, which is different from our problematic update package.

So it seems like a different bug.

Regardless, it could be a solution for us too.

What register tweak did you actually perform?

Is it the registery change mentioned under the title: “Manage Speculative Store Bypass and mitigations around Spectre Variant 2 and Meltdown” on the microsoft website

“I will turn on IBPB and test in my laptop, I only disable meltdown patch.”

On Reddit you say you disabled meltdown patch only and here you say Meltdown and Spectre patch?

You say that you used registry tweak or InSpectre utility?

What did you actually do?

With a search on the topic I end-up at a tutorial from how to geek:

They do not recommed to disable it.

Claim that perfermance impact is minimal on windows 10.

And this:
“The Meltdown fix doesn’t apply to AMD systems, but the Spectre fix does. We haven’t seen any performance benchmarks from AMD systems yet, so we don’t know how performance has changed.”

Which says that everything is good, but microcode is not detected. (on my smooth running laptop without KB4284835)

So I conclude that I do not have a problem with my AMD HP elitebook and spectre

I do not notice any slowdown from spectre patch, although I am protected.

one question remains:

What did you actually do? And did you notice any change?

‎07-26-2018 11:09 PM

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John, my laptop is same as yours(Elitebook 745 G2), only my apu is different, with an a8 7150b. And when I open my google chrome, or any kind of internet app my performance goes away, cpu is 100% all the time, youtube, facebook, only one tab? 100% cpu in kind of things. I don’t disable KB4284835, only disable meltdown patch with regedit, but I think is the same as disable in InSpectre utility. After I did this my performance back to normal. I will check this patch and disable that and check meltdown patch again.

‎07-27-2018 03:35 AM

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Sounds interesting! Thanks.

The next time I will update everything to check out if it is gone then I will give this a try.

Thanks for pointing it out to this thread!

Maybe some of the professionals in this thread can comment on this fix?

‎07-27-2018 05:08 AM

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Hi Dominik, hi all,

I’m also facing this issue with my Probook. (455 G2)

Did you open a ticket at HP and Microsoft and did you get an answer?

‎07-30-2018 05:13 PM

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It is 100% the Spectre mitigations in the most recent updates. Without a cooresponding microcode update for the processor, they just tank everything. InSpectre lists my 455’s as missing the microcode update.

I can install all cumulative updates including the lastest one for July, but only if I also disable all Spectre mitigation on the client using either the registry hack from leonard’s post or the InSpectre tool.

So, we’re stuck waiting on another round of BIOS updates from HP/AMD for our respective models looks like. In the meantime, I’m going to disable the mitigation on the AMD’s so at least the other updates included in the cumulative’s from the last couple months can be installed. Not a great compromise, but better than sitting at May 2018 forever.