What Is GPU Bottleneck?

Experiencing a bottleneck, be it from the GPU or the CPU, is not a fun experience. When these bottlenecks happen you’re going to get a lower frame rate or might experience stuttering and that’s just simply not a good way to play video games.

Before going further, we have to stop for a moment and make sure you know that if you’re experiencing stuttering or a low frame rate, that it might not be a bottlenecking issue.

Related:Experiencing Stuttering In Games? Here’s The Fix

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What Is A GPU Bottleneck?


In the computer world, bottlenecking means that another component is performing a lot better than another causing it to have to slow down in order to maintain balance. Besides a GPU bottleneck, there is also a CPU bottleneck so let’s see what are the differences between these two and how do they vary depending on the game you’re playing.

As you might already know, there are games that are much more reliant on the CPU than the GPU. These are your usual simulation games like Cities: Skylines or Civilization series. Because they need to do a lot of simulation (as the genre name suggests) they have to ask the CPU to process all the data in order to function properly.

Then again, there are games the are taxing the GPU a lot more. These would usually be visually impressive AAA games like the Witcher 3 or Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. As the GPU is specifically designed to work on visual data in order to improve the look of the game, the strain on it will be more pronounced when dealing with graphically demanding games.

Both these types of bottlenecks happen when there is a noticeable power disbalance of your components.

A strong GPU with an outdated CPU will be able to produce as many frames as the game allows but due to the need to wait for the CPU to finish up its work, the GPU won’t be able to send all those frames to the display.

Likewise, if you pair a strong CPU with an entry-level GPU then the CPU will have to wait until the GPU produces the frames it’s supposed to and in essence, this is exactly what a GPU bottleneck is.

How To Solve Either Of These Bottlenecks

GPU stronger than CPU

Let’s start with the CPU bottleneck as the answer here is much more straight forward.

There are several things that you can do with the simplest one being lowering the CPU-intensive parameters in the game’s settings menu. Although those are largely dependent on the game you’re playing we can still give you examples. Settings that might create a CPU bottleneck are stuff like draw distance, population density, vegetation, and similar.

Another simple solution is to turn off any unnecessary background processes as they might be the ones choking the CPU. There is also a ‘hacky’ way to bring back the balance and that is to increase the screen resolution and essentially create more work for the GPU.

Other than overclocking the CPU or RAM, there aren’t many more effective solutions to the CPU bottlenecking.

When we talk about GPU bottlenecking, we run into more of an issue. There is only one solution and it likely isn’t going to be a popular one. Essentially the only thing you can do to lower the load on your graphics card is to lower the graphical settings in the game’s options.

There is a bright side, however – a GPU bottleneck won’t cause stuttering as a CPU bottleneck might. There is a downside and that is that the frame rate will be noticeably lower.

The best way to prevent any sort of bottlenecking is to carefully choose your components and make sure that they are compatible. We suggest using this neat tool to help you calculate which component will create how much bottleneck.

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Aleksandar Cosic
Aleksandar Cosic

Alex is a Computer Science student and a former game designer. That has enabled him to develop skills in critical thinking and fair analysis. As a CS student, Aleksandar has very in-depth technical knowledge about computers, and he also likes to stay current with new technologies.