CPU and GPU Bottleneck – How to deal with it?

Muhammad Bilal
Muhammad Bilal
CPU and GPU Bottleneck

Experiencing a drop-down in FPS can be painful for competitive gamers, especially for those who are into First-person shooters. It happens quite frequently, and at that moment, all you care about is getting out of that situation-because everything seems a bit glitchy and haywire when it comes to reduction in the FPS. What’s the reason behind it apart from the downgraded internet connection? In technical terms, it’s called “Bottleneck.” The term is self-explanatory since it indicates the existence of the bottle’s neck, which is too thin to let anything pass through easily. The same concept is applied to the CPU and GPU, hence bringing in the most talked-about concept of CPU and GPU bottleneck.

Let’s deep dive into the article to know in-depth about the bottleneck and how to address the issue most rationally and professionally.

What does bottleneck stand for, and why are such restrictions imposed?

In digital terms, the bottleneck stands for the restricted transfer of data due to the low processing power of either of the components (GPU or CPU). In simpler terms, it means that the return data from the device is infinitesimal compared to the data sent to it. Let’s say you passed on 100,000 instructions in one second to the CPU, and it’s only able to process and send back 10% of it. This is what bottlenecking is: restricting data to follow decently.

You don’t usually experience bottlenecks with Wi-Fi as it has a different concept of hopping, but usually, a bottleneck occurs in two components: GPU and CPU.

What is a GPU bottleneck?

Before you continue with this session of the article, let me warn you that the terms here are a bit interchangeable. In truth, a GPU bottleneck doesn’t mean that your GPU is not powerful enough, but it’s the opposite. Let’s say you pair up RTX 3060 GPU with Intel Core i5-6600. What do you think will happen? A lot of people would say that the system will work all fine, but sorry to bring in to your kind notice that sooner or later, you will be experiencing what we call in technical terms “GPU bottleneck.”

How? Well, to put everything into perspective, your GPU will be functioning a lot faster due to extra CUDA cores and tensor cores inside it. What do you expect from an RTX lineage GPU? And pairing that GPU with any low-level entry CPU is pure headassery. The Intel Core i5-6600 is not suitable for any RTX GPU because it lags behind in performance and will not be able to process data frequently, leading to the ultimate “GPU bottleneck.”  This means that the processor’s return data has been compromised, and then you experience a drop in FPS.

What is a CPU bottleneck?

It’s similar to what we discussed in the GPU bottleneck session, but let’s take an example here as well. Assume that you paired up AMD Ryzen 9 (any threadripper) with GTX 1060 6GB. Although GTX 1060 6GB is a wonderful card for budget gamers, it lacks power and systematic calculations. Your GPU will not be able to sustain the high speeds pushed in by that AMD threadripper. This is what we call a CPU bottleneck, where your CPU is way ahead in sending data, but your GPU is unable to process it at that speed, leading to lags and a drop in FPS.

How can games increase the bottleneck issue?

It’s not always about whether your GPU or CPU is extremely slow, but there are some games that can lead to bottlenecks even if you have high-end components. This brings us to the most graphically demanding games (GPU dependent) and most CPU dependent games. They both work in conjunction, which means if an XYZ game relies more on your GPU, then you might experience some sort of bottleneck related to CPU. Why? Since the game relies heavily on your GPU, then it’s a known fact that your GPU will be processing data way too frequently for your CPU to cover. At times, your CPU fails, and there you go, drop in FPS.

So, a lot of factors go inside when you build a PC, and the type of games you will be playing plays a major role in determining whether your system is bottleneck-proof or not.

How to eliminate or minimize the issue of a bottleneck?

For your ease, download the MSI afterburner. It’s software that monitors the CPU and GPU usage. Once downloaded, simply turn on the monitoring options. This will ensure that the data will be stickied on the top left corner of the screen whenever you are running a game.  From there, you can monitor the CPU and GPU usage. If the GPU usage stays above 90%, then the game is GPU dependent and might end up as a GPU bottleneck (if CPU usage remains low) and vice versa for the CPU.

To fix the GPU bottleneck issue, make sure you close all the background processes and set the priority of the game to “High.” In case you come across a CPU bottleneck, push the in-game GPU settings to High or Ultra; this will make sure that your GPU usage stays high.

Last but not least, you can overclock all of your components. This is the best route as it levels all the components’ processing power to an extent.


In my opinion, both the bottlenecks are severe and can lead to drastic drops in FPS, but to tackle this issue, you need to have an informed stance. That’s only possible if you research extensively about which computer parts to root for. Well, just make sure that you don’t end up bottlenecking any of your components, and keep reading about the new arrivals in both software and hardware realms.


Hey, I’m Muhammad Bilal. I’m a tech fanatic (also read: Gamer), who loves scrutinizing fine details. I aim to strive hard in my respective fields (as a writer and software programmer). Before pursuing my majors in a university (right now in A-levels), I want to spend time exploring and reviewing the latest technology.

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