Benchmarks - Is PowerTOP Tuning Worthwhile For Modern AMD Linux Laptops?
Written by Michael Larabel in AMD on 14 February 2022 at 08:15 AM EST. 17 Comments
AMD --
While PowerTOP was immensely helpful when the Intel open-source project started out in 2007 for reporting untuned kernel parameters and noting what's keeping the CPU from reaching its deeper sleep states, over the past decade Linux has greatly improved when it comes to power management and better behavior out-of-the-box. PowerTOP continues to see occasional commits and new releases, but there's less talk about it these days than going back a number of years when it was a must-have for x86_64 laptops. In any case I was curious to see if following its tips still provided any meaningful difference on a modern AMD Ryzen powered laptop.

This quick round of testing was with a Lenovo ThinkPad T14s Gen2 featuring a AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 5850U.


Testing happened out-of-the-box and then after running PowerTOP as root and setting all the "bad" defaults to "good".

Before/after various benchmarks were run on this Ryzen-powered ThinkPad laptop while also monitoring the power consumption on battery and various thermals too.

Long story short, the overall battery power consumption changed on the Lenovo ThinkPad T14s Gen2 AMD Ryzen 7 PRO powered laptop when PowerTOP-tuned.

There were some minor improvements to the CPU temperature operating temperature.

Given no measurable CPU power savings difference for this Zen 3 powered laptop, there also wasn't any measurable difference in the performance of tested workloads from browser benchmarks to other common laptop real-world tests.

This largely jives with what I've seen on other laptops in recent times of outside of some niche cases, PowerTOP on modern Linux distributions generally doesn't yield a dramatic difference with modern hardware, thanks to ongoing Linux improvements and more sane defaults by Linux distributions and power management behavior with open-source software generally being less buggy in recent years.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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