PC BottleNeck Calculator

Is 5% CPU bottleneck good?

PC enthusiasts have been searching for and repairing GPU and CPU bottlenecks in their systems for decades. The explanation is straightforward: A bottleneck may prevent you from accessing additional PC performance.

For this reason, it’s critical to comprehend what a bottleneck is, where to look for one, and how to stay clear of them going forward.


A PC bottleneck: what is it?

When one component in your computer restricts the performance of another, it creates a bottleneck. Although the idea is straightforward, bottlenecks in actual PCs are intricate and multi-layered. Every PC has bottlenecks occasionally, usually in one or more of its components.

The primary worry for PC gamers is the potential bottleneck between the CPU and GPU. A bottleneck arises when one of these two parts is impeding the other’s ability to create the final image that you see on screen.

To make things simple, let’s say that the CPU and GPU have 1/120th of a second each to do their responsibilities. That translates to 60 frames per second, or one frame every 1/60th of a second. You have a CPU bottleneck if your GPU can process data at that rate but your CPU cannot. Similar to this, you have a GPU bottleneck if your CPU is delivering instructions at a fast rate but your GPU is having trouble rendering the frame in time.

We can see this in practice with our own standards. With an RTX 3090, we were able to capture nearly equal results in Forza Horizon 4 at 4K, with only a 1.2% difference in average frame rate between the 10-core Intel Core i9-10900K and the 16-core Core i9-12900K. But these processors exhibit a far more noticeable 15.6% difference in average frame rate at 1080p.

Here’s an illustration of a GPU bottleneck. Any processing power will always be constrained by the GPU as at 4K the graphics card is operating at maximum speed. Because the processors are no longer constrained by the GPU, they exhibit greater disparities when the resolution is reduced to 1080p, which also lessens the strain on the graphics card.

This explains why, even with $800 CPUs like the Core i9-12900KS, results from our processor reviews are displayed in 1080p. In a similar vein, this is the reason we combine inexpensive GPUs like the RTX 3050 with high-end CPUs like the Ryzen 9 5950X. All of this is done to try to prevent bottlenecks.


How can you identify a PC bottleneck?

It’s simple to locate a bottleneck on your PC. To determine whether your system has a bottleneck, all you have to do is keep an eye on your CPU and GPU use. To save a comprehensive track of your CPU and GPU usage, I suggest downloading MSI Afterburner, which is also helpful for GPU overclocking. However, you can just as easily keep an eye on these metrics while gaming with programs like Nvidia’s GeForce Experience overlay.

There is a CPU bottleneck if your CPU consumption is significantly higher than your GPU usage, and vice versa. Usage that is 50% or less is regarded as low, 50% to 70% as typical, and 70% and higher as high. Don’t interpret these as evidence of a bottleneck, as they are merely rough estimates. For instance, you might have a small CPU bottleneck if you see 60% GPU utilization and 80% CPU utilization in a game, but you shouldn’t be concerned.

Install MSI Afterburner after downloading it to keep track of your usage. After you open it, take these actions:

  1. Select Settings by clicking.
  2. Go to the Monitoring tab.
  3. Choose CPU and GPU use from the Active hardware monitoring graphs. If you’d like, you can add more metrics to your log file.
  4. Check the Log history to file box under Hardware monitoring history logging properties.
  5. (Details optional) Set hotkeys to begin and stop logging and to delete your history under Global Monitor Hotkeys.
  6. Press Apply.

After setting up MSI Afterburner, start playing some of your favorite games. To delete the log’s history, right-click on the monitor, choose Clear history, and then choose Log history to file. As an alternative, if you configured hotkeys in the preceding stage, you can accomplish this using them.

After around thirty minutes of gameplay, access your log file. It is located in C:/Program Files (x86)/MSI Afterburner/HardwareMonitoring.hml by default. You must choose which of the several logs that Afterburner saves in this file to examine.

It’s best to repeat this procedure with multiple games so that you can emphasize your components in different ways. You have a bottleneck if you observe a significant disparity in consumption, such as 90% CPU utilization and 50% GPU utilization.

Using one of the many bottleneck calculators available online is not something I advise. These calculators are not helpful to identifying a bottleneck with your particular hardware configuration, nor do they reflect real-world performance. Checking oneself is the greatest approach to learn the answer.


How to prevent and resolve PC bottlenecks

Upgrading your hardware is the most effective technique to relieve a PC bottleneck. If your current CPU is an Intel Core i7-4770K and your graphics card is up to date, you might consider upgrading to one of the top gaming processors. In a similar vein, you should upgrade to one of the top graphics cards if your contemporary CPU has a lot of cores but your visual card is outdated.

However, since resources are limited, there are a few things you may do to mitigate the effects of a bottleneck. To get more performance out of a weaker component, you can try overclocking it. To alleviate a GPU bottleneck, you can either adjust your in-game settings or lower your resolution.

Ascertain that your hardware is balanced to prevent a bottleneck. This should be quite evident with today’s CPUs and GPUs. A CPU bottleneck will occur, for example, if you combine an RTX 3080 with a Core i3-8100. Avoiding large gaps when combining a high-end, modern component with a low-end, multigenerational component is the aim of bottlenecks.

Not every bottleneck warrants alarm, though. For example, playing at 4K will always result in a GPU slowdown, but that’s only because 4K is incredibly taxing on current graphics cards. A PC bottleneck only becomes an issue when a component’s performance is significantly below what it should be.


Avoid obsessing over bottlenecks

It’s unsettling to consider limiting your hardware with a bottleneck, but you shouldn’t focus on it too much. There will be multiple bottlenecks in a PC, even with the newest and priciest hardware. When you’re preparing to upgrade your PC, it’s crucial to investigate bottlenecks to prevent overspending on a component that your machine can’t fully utilize.

Here, I’ve concentrated on the CPU/GPU dynamic in gaming PCs because that’s where bottlenecks are most obvious. You could occasionally notice them elsewhere on your computer. A high-core processor may become slow when using memory-intensive software, such as Adobe Premiere Pro, if it has insufficient RAM.

The best course of action is to just be aware of bottlenecks. If you’re satisfied with your PC’s performance, you shouldn’t look for them, but they can aid in making upgrading decisions.

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