A CPU bottleneck happens when a GPU delivers information at a rate faster than the CPU can process. Here, the CPU holds back the rest of the performance of the computer system from reaching its full potential. For example, a computer fitted with an Intel Core i3-530 processor and a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti GPU would not be able to support a game that demands high FPS because a weak CPU needs more time to handle the tasks causing the GPU to become idle until it gets the next data frame resulting in micro stuttering and a drop in the FPS. A few examples of CPU dependent games include Civilization, Assassins Creed, or Far Cry.
How to detect and fix a CPU bottleneck
The easiest way to detect CPU or GPU bottlenecks is to use a program like MSI Afterburner to log the CPU and GPU usage. If the CPU is constantly pegged at 100%, but the GPU is consistently under 90% usage, then it is a CPU bottleneck. Alternatively, an online bottleneck calculator can be used to compare the GPU and the CPU to assess the risk of experiencing bottlenecks, the weaker component among the two, and a better CPU choice which is more compatible with the user’s GPU. A CPU bottleneck may be resolved by overclocking the CPU and/or RAM, stopping the background processes and other CPU intensive tasks, and/or increasing the resolution and graphics.« Back to Definition Index