What Are CPU and GPU Bottlenecks and Why Every System Has One!

The biggest fear of gamers and PC builders is bottlenecking their system with a component and ruining their otherwise 500FPS+ experience.

Jokes aside, bottlenecks can become a pretty big issue if you have inadequately planned when building a PC and have used components that will significantly degrade each other’s performance when assembled.

At the same time, bottlenecks have become the scarecrows of PC building while in reality, it is a completely normal phenomenon that is very much natural.

Hear us out…

CPU vs GPU Bottleneck

In most cases, if you are researching this topic you are interested in what is a CPU bottleneck, how to fix a CPU bottleneck, and of course what is a GPU bottleneck, and how to fix that issue as well.

A CPU bottleneck means that the CPU you are using in your system is limiting your GPU since the data it can process is significantly lower than the GPU. This can happen if you are using a very old CPU with a very powerful new-gen GPU.

A GPU bottleneck is then the opposite of what was described above. In this case, the GPU is significantly slower than the CPU therefore it cannot process all of the information and frames the CPU is pushing out.

The easiest way to “fix” the bottleneck is by upgrading the component that is lacking. Obviously, this is not exactly a fix, so another thing you can do is overclock the CPU or the GPU depending on the bottleneck.

You need to be careful though because overclocking often leads to increased CPU and GPU temperatures which means you need to have decent airflow and good CPU and GPU coolers. You will also be required to stress test your components to make sure they are stable under the new voltage.

This process will alleviate some of the bottleneck but it will not completely solve your issue!

Every System Has a Bottleneck!

Although this topic is often discussed something crucial seems to be misunderstood about building a PC – every system has a bottleneck and bottlenecks depend on many more factors than CPU & GPU speeds.

If there was no bottleneck for your system then your fps would skyrocket to infinity!

Different games run differently depending on what they use more, so for example a CPU-bound game like CS:GO will run at 500 FPS with a mediocre GPU but a very strong CPU.

The same idea applies outside of games where different applications make use of hardware differently, therefore, resulting in completely different experiences.

Every workload and every combination of hardware has different bottlenecks!

Not only that but even your operating systems can be a bottleneck. For example on the same hardware if you would install Linux you would notice faster file transfer speeds although nothing changed in the build.

Your onboard network port can be bottlenecking you by not fully utilizing your internet speed, or your thermals can bottleneck your PC since your components will lower their speeds to stay in spec.

In reality, bottlenecks are everywhere and they also shift around depending on what you are currently doing with your PC.

What Is the Solution?

Instead of racking your brain over questions like “will my CPU bottleneck my GPU” or “can a GPU bottleneck a CPU” you should instead focus on researching what parts would balance each other well or choose BASED ON YOUR SPECIFIC USE CASE.

Overall, the safest route is to have a well-balanced PC that would excel in most scenarios, but if the only thing you ever do on your PC is playing CS:GO then is investing all of your money into a CPU really a bottleneck?

Of course not! If you expect high CPU usage then prioritizing that component makes sense!

What we are trying to say is that there is no definite answer to this question, and it really all depends.

If you are not sure what exactly you will be doing with your machine then balancing out your parts is the way to go. If on the other hand, you are 100% sure that the PC will be used for a specific task, then you should invest in optimizing the machine for that task.

In the end, we are all bottlenecked by something, so make use of what you have to the maximum!

About The Author

Chris Bulgac

Chris is a passionate gamer, streamer and PC tech enthusiast. The PC peripheral market has a special place in his heart, as there are few enthusiast-grade products that he has not tried, and even fewer products he has not researched already. Overall, Chris is a BIG nerd and he is absolutely proud of it!

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