Every task on your computer, from a calculator to graphics-intensive games, is processed by the CPU. Although intense graphics computations mostly rely on a GPU, the CPU also perform a reasonable amount of task to run these games. Therefore, it is only common for the CPU to affect Frames Per Second (FPS).
There are a lot of aspects when it comes to the CPU and it affecting the FPS. It mainly depends on other components such as the RAM speed and the graphics card.
This article provides a detailed guide on how the CPU affects your in-game FPS.
What Does GPU Do When Gaming?
Before we jump into what CPU does that affects the FPS, let us discuss the GPU first.
The GPU on your system generates all the object’s visuals when you run a game. Not only this, the GPU handles physics, hit-boxes, shaders, positions of objects, lighting effects, textures, reflection, visual effects, and a lot more for the object it creates.
A better-performing GPU means it can create numerous objects, handle its polygons, create physics, and perform all the tasks mentioned above with ease. And therefore, you will see a major performance improvement when upgrading a GPU.
The type of GPU you have also vastly affect the FPS you get in games. If your computer runs on an integrated GPU, it may perform as efficiently as the dedicated one.
What Does CPU Do When Gaming?
Now you might think, if the GPU handles all these tasks, what does the CPU do that affect the FPS. Well, the CPU handles the movement of these graphical objects.
Each object is made of edges and vertices. When an object moves, the CPU changes the vertices’ locations. And hence you see the object move on your screen. Besides this, the CPU also processes in-game logic, which means it handles “If this, then that” logic inside the game.
For example, if you press the W key, your character in the game moves forward. Furthermore, if you enter a certain region in your game world, a cutscene will start. The CPU handles all these kinds of logic.
When the CPU processes this game logic, it sends the data to the GPU to produce the desired object along with its positions, physics, lighting, textures, reflection, and a lot more.
This is why both the CPU and the GPU play a crucial role in your game’s FPS. The CPU handles the logical side of a game, whereas the GPU handles the graphics portion. Therefore, your CPU and GPU should perform equally for your game to achieve the desired framerates.
Does CPU Affect FPS?
Now back to the real question, does CPU affect FPS? Since the CPU processes all logic in your game, the processing power of a CPU does affect FPS. And upgrading to a modern CPU may give you a slight performance boost in games.
Besides this, the answer to the question also depends on the games you play. Games like ARMA 3, GTA 5 Online, Far Cry 5, Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 2020, etc., are heavily dependent on the CPU. So, even if you use a high-end GPU, you will not get many frames unless you have a better-performing CPU. In this case, the CPU highly affects FPS.
Some games, however, rely on the GPU’s processing power. If that’s the case, you can get reasonable FPS with a lower-performing CPU.
Does Upgrading CPU Improve FPS?
However, there are a lot of factors that determine whether a CPU upgrade improves performance. The bottleneck is one major factor determining whether upgrading the CPU affects FPS.
A bottleneck occurs when some component performs much faster than others. This results in the faster processing parts waiting for the slower performing parts.
In terms of GPU, if you have a newer generation CPU and an older, or slower performing GPU, it will suffer from a GPU bottleneck. This means that the CPU will have to wait for the GPU to complete its process before it can send more data. When this happens, your CPU will not perform efficiently as it is supposed to.
When your PC suffers from a GPU bottleneck, you will constantly see CPU usage rise and lower after a certain interval. This means that the CPU is waiting for the GPU to complete its tasks. And talking about the GPU, it will constantly be using its full resources when you’re gaming.
If your computer suffers from a GPU bottleneck, upgrading the CPU will not affect FPS.
Alternately, if you use an RTX 3090 (Newer Gen GPU) combined with Intel i3 6th gen (Older Gen CPU), the computer suffers from a CPU bottleneck. Meaning that the CPU will perform tasks slower compared to the GPU. And hence, the GPU will have a lot of idle time, making all that power useless.
When the PC suffers from a CPU bottleneck, your GPU usage will increase and decrease in the interval, which means that the GPU is waiting on the CPU. Here, you will also notice that the CPU usage is constantly high.
So, if you face a CPU bottleneck, upgrading your CPU to a newer version will give you a boost in FPS. To keep up with your GPU, your CPU needs to be faster for better frames.
So summing it up, the CPU affects your in-game FPS and a newer generation CPU will give you a better performance in games than an older one. However, there are a lot of things to consider before upgrading a CPU for a boost in FPS.
If your computer suffers from a GPU bottleneck, upgrading to the latest CPU will not have any effect on FPS. However, if the PC has some severe CPU bottleneck, upgrading the CPU will improve your in-game FPS.