To Zen or not to Zen? Kernel differences if any?

I’m running a ‘new’ home built Ryzen 3700X (8-core) with Wraithe cooler fan , 32 gig ram, 3060 RTX-16-gig video card. I have the Standard 6.4.11-arch 2.1 kernel installed running on this system. Would the Zen version of this kernel do more for me than the standard Core/linux , Core/linux -headers? I see under extra/Linux and extra/Linux headers the Zen 6.4.11zen 2-1. With this installed will I see anything different in Processor performance? Should I have used this instead in my installation of EndeavourOS? Maybe someone could explain to me if anything is to be gained or not gained and what the differences may be. I’m ignorant when it comes to this and would like a definitive response if improvements in performance are to be had.


Why not install all three? Mainline, LTS and Zen.

Some applications, mostly games, may have slightly better performance with Zen kernel. For some, it may be the other way around, with LTS having better performance. For most, you’re unlikely to notice any difference.

Try it out, if you do not notice any improvement in performance, stick to LTS.

I use LTS 99% of the time. Sometimes I experiment with Zen, but for the most part, I don’t notice any difference.


I think I’ll stay with mainline core for now. . . .I was thinking that maybe Zen offered performance enhancements because of the 8-cores in my processor (i.e. multitaking ) different working environments. I assume that’s what an 8-core cpu does. . . .what do I know? My old system (AM3) used a 8350 8-core processor but nothing seemed to matter with it. I was maybe thinking that processors were getting better at what they can and cannot do. The 65 watt power consumption of this new Ryzen processor is much better than the 125watt consumption of the old one.

Rich :wink:


There’s no way to know unless you try. :man_shrugging:

It is very much dependent on specific applications and specific hardware. Luckily, it’s trivially simple to switch kernels.

I used the zen kernel for a while. And I like it.The CFS config changes and the 1000 Hz clock are nice from my point of view.

But the zen kernel follows the latest stable kernel release. There is no zen kernel for LTS. This is why I switched to the linux-tkg kernel some time ago. It applies the zen patches and it does it also for LTS kernel. This is 6.1.47-273.1-tkg-cfs right now.

Well, if there is one thing TKG does well, it’s their branding!
:frog: :frog: :frog:

I sometimes use their Wine and Proton builds, good stuff.

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There is this test comparing the Archlinux’ supported kernels:

I must have missed this article. . . .this is one of the places I frequently go to for the latest benchmarks and information about what’s coming around the corner for Linux and computers. The post summary indicated very little difference between baseline and Zen CPU kernels (overall mean averages) of all performance and software tests. Maybe I’ll give Zen a shot just for the heck of it. I would assume Zen kernel would be specifically taylored for Ryzen processors and not so much to older AMD model CPU’s like the AM3 variety, this by itself might be of some enhancement.

Rich :wink:

The name of the kernel being “Zen” has nothing to do with AMD processors. In fact the Zen kernel predates AMD’s Zen family of processors by years.

Zen Kernel — Result of a collaborative effort of kernel hackers to provide the best Linux kernel possible for everyday systems. Some more details can be found on (which provides kernel binaries based on Zen for Debian).

Thanks for the info. . . .As I said earlier I’m no expert on the subject of kernels . . . just wanted to know what the general conscientious was on performance vs the main kernel and if anything advantageous was to expected and was it cpu specific. . . .

Rich :wink: I’m still learning. . . . .

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All those benchmarks are pointless. The only benchmark that matters is the one you perform. It’s quite possible that you get completely different results with your testing.

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Yeah, you’re right. . . it’s all machine independent , processor, ram, gpu, storage etc.etc. etc. the cpu is only one factor in the whole equation. It’s the combination of all hardware working together. The cpu is central to everything else that’s the only difference.

Rich :wink:

From my point of view, overall performance is not the reason to pick the zen kernel. There is nothing in the zen kernel which makes it use less CPU cycles on tasks. Nothing which makes it faster than mainline kernel.

The main driver, from my point of view, to use the zen kernel is the better responsiveness. It tweaks some of the CFS parameters so that you can have a better experience with interactivity of your system. And these CFS tweaks actually cost CPU cycles. The zen kernel treats throughput resp. performance for responsiveness.

The zen kernel is provided as binary package for debian system. This is called the liquorix kernel. And for this kernel the webpage says:

Zen Interactive Tuning: Tunes the kernel for responsiveness at the cost of throughput and power usage.