A GPU bottleneck happens when a CPU delivers information at a rate faster than the GPU can process. In this situation, the GPU 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 i9-9980XE processor and a NVIDIA GeForce 730A GPU would not be able to support a game that demands high FPS because a weak GPU needs more time to handle the tasks causing the CPU to become idle until it gets the next data frame resulting in micro stuttering and a drop in the FPS. A few examples of GPU dependent games include The Witcher, Final Fantasy, Crysis, Borderlands, Rise of Tomb Raider, or Just Cause.
How to detect and fix a GPU bottleneck
The easiest way to detect a GPU bottleneck is to install a software like MSI Afterburner to log the CPU and GPU usage. If the GPU is continuously at 100% and the CPU is not (e.g. under 90%), then it is a GPU bottleneck. Alternatively, an online bottleneck calculator can compare the GPU and the CPU to assess the risk of experiencing bottlenecks, the weaker component among the two, and a better GPU choice which might be more compatible with the user’s CPU. A GPU bottleneck may be resolved by reducing the resolution and graphics settings, or by replacing the GPU with a better match to the CPU.« Back to Definition Index