Are you currently experiencing a drop in FPS (frame per second) while playing your favorite game?
This issue can be frustrating, especially if you don’t know what caused this issue. Such performance-related problems are relatively common in modern computers because of all the heavy programs they need to run. In many cases, this issue is caused by a CPU bottleneck.
If you are struggling with this problem, this guide will walk you through how to fix CPU bottleneck, along with the most common causes of this issue and how to identify it.
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What Exactly Does CPU Bottleneck Mean?
A bottleneck refers to a situation that hinders a process from progressing. When you add CPU to this term, it basically means that your CPU is preventing other components of your computer from being efficient. For example, if your CPU can’t handle or render the amount of data being transferred to it at an ideal rate, components such as your RAM or graphics card will become ineffective.
Because of this, you will notice that some parts of your computer are competing for their data to be processed by your CPU, which can cause some issues such as programs crashing or FPS drops. This opens up more problems that can contribute to the CPU bottleneck and be more challenging to fix.
Common Causes Of CPU Bottleneck
When your CPU is overheating, it will inhibit itself from using its maximum power so that it won’t get damaged, resulting in a lowered performance. This can lead to a CPU bottleneck, especially when gaming.
The main reasons why your CPU is overheating are incompetent CPU cooler, insufficient cooling, bad thermal paste, among others. Make sure to keep your computer cool to avoid this issue.
Virus or Malware Infection
A virus or malware infection can cause high CPU usage by running a malicious program in the background. In the worst cases, 100% CPU usage on an idle computer can happen.
This can harm your computer's performance even when doing regular tasks. Using heavy programs such as games or video editing apps can damage your CPU because of the high usage, causing a CPU bottleneck or, worse, ultimately damaging it.
Windows, especially Windows 10, is notorious for the frequent updates that can sometimes decrease a computer’s overall performance rather than boost it. This is why a Windows update can cause a CPU bottleneck since it may result in a much higher CPU usage.
Bugs On Your Graphics Drivers
Sometimes, bugs on your graphics drivers for your video card can result in high CPU usage, causing CPU bottlenecks when you play your games. Be sure to check reviews or reports before updating to a new driver because it may harm your CPU.
Game Related Issue
In some cases, there’s nothing wrong with your computer, and the CPU bottleneck is caused by a game-related issue or a bug in the game. This can cause high CPU usage. Unfortunately, there’s nothing much you can do but wait for a new patch issued by the developer. Otherwise, you may need to live with the problem or upgrade your CPU to play CPU-intensive games.
CPU Intensive Graphics Settings
Many games’ graphics settings are CPU intensive, resulting in high CPU usage, especially if your processor is a bit old. While each game has different settings, unfortunately, there’s no universal way for users to know which one will require more CPU power or not.
Games that are downloaded using torrent or any other non-trusted source can sometimes have a built-in cryptocurrency or malicious program in them. These programs start when you open the game and can drain the power of your CPU.
Identifying CPU Bottleneck
Mediocre Gaming Performance
One of the most apparent signs of a CPU bottleneck is mediocre gaming performance on a computer with good graphic cards. For example, you bought an EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Ultra to play Fortnite, but instead of playing with impressive graphics, you’re playing with dull animations.
CPU Usage Higher Than GPU
Nowadays, most games allow you to monitor your CPU and GPU usage on the settings, and it is recommended to turn this on. Whenever you see that your CPU is running at 100% all the time while your GPU sits at under 80%, it’s a telltale sign that your computer is experiencing a CPU bottleneck.
More Than 10-20% Resolution
If you think that you may be experiencing a CPU bottleneck but aren’t seeing any signs, you can try using an online bottleneck calculator. You just need to put in your computer specs, and it will automatically tell you the percentage of your CPU bottleneck on different resolutions. If your result is more than 10-20%, then you have a CPU bottleneck.
How To Fix CPU Bottleneck (Common Solutions)
If you are building a gaming computer, the CPU bottleneck problem is easier to prevent than solve when it happens. That’s why you have to consider what games you play before you make a purchase. Otherwise, you can do the methods below to fix a CPU bottleneck.
Increase The Game’s Resolution
If you want to learn how to fix a bottlenecking CPU, you must know that putting more load on your GPU can help improve the problem. To do this, simply increase the game’s resolution and graphics. This will equalize the amount of work both components do at the same time.
Stop Unnecessary Background Processes
If you are experiencing a CPU bottleneck, another thing you can do is stop unnecessary background processes. This will allow you to have more CPU power that you can use for the game and prevent any future bottlenecks. First, however, ensure that you know which processes are safe to terminate. Here’s how:
- 1Press and hold Ctrl + Shift + Esc key to open Task Manager.
- 2On the processes tab, under the Background Processes, select processes that you want to terminate and press End Task.
Overclock your CPU
Another CPU bottleneck fix is forcing your CPU to work harder by overclocking it. However, keep in mind that overclocking your CPU can permanently damage it and should only be done with caution.
Overclock your RAM
Your RAM and CPU work closely together, and the performance of your RAM can affect your CPU. For example, you can overclock your RAM so your CPU will get data faster, allowing it to be more efficient and exert lesser power. This increases gaming performance.
Lower CPU dependent settings
You can easily free up some of your CPU resources and fix CPU bottlenecks by lowering your CPU-dependent settings in the game, such as settings related to AI, distance, object position, visibility distance, etc. However, don’t reduce graphic settings as this will not affect the CPU.
Can CPU Bottleneck Damage Your PC?
While this issue can seem detrimental to your computer, a bottleneck isn’t harmful. Yes, it does force your CPU (and sometimes GPU) to work at 100%, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
However, you might need to worry about the thermals on your CPU and GPU. High temperatures have an impact on your CPU and GPU, but it’s only minor.
These components are made to last for a long time and become obsolete before they die from continued use.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Is a 5% bottleneck bad?
If your CPU bottleneck is at 5%, it is still within the average rate and may not affect your gameplay. Also, it isn’t that important and could be ignored. Remember, the bottleneck will always be different depending on the game you play.
Is a 10% bottleneck bad?
A 10% bottleneck can be alarming and may be directly affecting your gaming experience. If you have used a calculator and got a 10% result, try the recommended fixes above to solve your bottleneck problem.
Is a 12% bottleneck bad?
A 10-20% bottleneck result can mean that your computer is experiencing some CPU bottleneck issue, reflecting on your gaming experience. So be sure to fix it immediately before it ruins your game.
What is a high bottleneck percentage?
A 20% or more bottleneck percentage can be considered high. However, do note that bottlenecks will depend on the game you’re playing and its resolution, so the percentage will depend on that.
Are bottleneck calculators accurate?
Bottleneck calculators are convenient to use and allow you to check whether the hardware you have or want to use is a good match for all the other parts of your computer. However, they are not always accurate, and further research is recommended.
Learning how to fix a CPU bottleneck can help achieve optimal performance of your computer. If you are experiencing this issue, try our fixes below, and if none can solve your problem, you might need to upgrade your CPU.
The best way to prevent this problem is to research before buying your components to ensure that everything works properly together.
Andrew White is the founder of TechGearoid, a leading technology review & information website that is designed to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to their IT purchases. As a specialist tech writer (nerd) with over 10 years of experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern technology & the newest market innovations. When he isn’t providing value for his readers, he’s usually drinking coffee or at the beach. Andrew lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and family.