The recently disclosed Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities are serious and there’s no good excuse for not applying all available software updates to help minimize the risk of malware stealing your personal data from your phone, tablet, or PC. But improved security comes at a cost: because the updates change the way an operating system interacts with a processor in some situations, it can slow down performance.
The impact on performance varies from not much to quite a bit depending on the hardware and software you’re using and the type of tasks you’re trying to complete.
Now Microsoft has provided some more details about the performance impact of its Windows security updates. For the most part if you’ve got a computer released in 2016 or later, Microsoft says you probably won’t see much difference in performance after applying the update. But if you have an older machine, then you probably will see a noticeable slowdown.
The company says Windows 10 PCs with Intel Skylake, Kaby Lake, or newer processors do show performance slow-downs in the single digits… but since we’re talking about milliseconds, most people won’t actually notice a perceptible change.
But if you’ve got Window 7, 8, or 10 running on a computer with an Intel Haswell or older processor, Microsoft says you’ll probably notice that your computer feels slower sometimes.
The biggest impact Microsoft has measured so far is in Windows Server installations running tasks that require reading and writing a lot of data.
Interestingly Microsoft hasn’t said anything about the performance impact on computers with AMD processors. Then again, the company just halted the rollout of security updates to some AMD-powered machines because it was resulting in users being unable to boot their PCs. So I guess that’s a pretty big performance hit.