How Much Does a CPU Affect Your FPS When Playing a Game?

Funny enough your CPU can affect how much FPS when you’re playing a game, even if you have the latest graphics card installed on your pc.

CPUs can affect the amount of FPS you get in a game, however certain games have a higher CPU demand than others. Games with a lot of physics require your CPU to work more in order to process movements and collisions. In these types of games, FPS is highly influenced by the CPU.

You should also know which types of games and what games you play require a lot of CPU usage in order to increase your performance when playing.

How Much Does a CPU Affect FPS Performance in a Game?

The performance and FPS increase from your CPU strongly depend on what type of games you’re playing. Certain games require a bigger demand from the CPU than others. What you need to know is that the CPU takes care of the physics and organization in your game.

Your graphics card can create something in the world that looks amazing, but if there are no properties inside of it, then there is no point in it being there. Even something as simple as your character walking on grass is controlled by the CPU, and if you have many characters walking on the grass, interacting with other objects, and interacting with other characters. This will put a lot of strain on your CPU and if your CPU can’t keep up with what’s going on, your FPS will drop.

Playing an open-world game such as GTA V will require you to have a more powerful CPU if you want the best performance from the game. This is because a game like GTA has a lot of AI, and physics going on inside of the game. When you shoot your gun, your CPU has to process how fast it goes, where it hits, and what happens to the object that has been hit. The same thing happens when your vehicle collides with an object, and the more objects you collide into the more your CPU has to process.

This is why your game might have an FPS spike when in a high speed car chase, or when multiple cars and people are being blown up by that one guy in your multiplayer lobby. It’s not your graphics cards fault for the performance decrease in these situations, it’s actually your CPUs fault.

On the other hand multiplayer shooter games such as CS:GO or Valorant is strongly dependant on the GPU to improve your FPS in-game. This is because the map and other CPU-intensive tasks are already pre-loaded into the game, which is the reason why you have a loading screen before every match. When in these types of games your CPU had already preloaded the walls, floors, and most of the physics before your game even starts.

So now, all your CPU has to do is calculate where the other players are in real-time, what happens when a gun is shot, and the player takes damage.

Here is an in-depth post I’ve written on how your CPU processes these actions when gaming.

How Does a GPU Affect FPS Performance?

A GPU is as important if not more important to your game’s performance. The main goal of a GPU is to generate all the visuals you see on screen. This includes the position of objects, colors, textures, lighting, and even shaders. The better the game looks the more a powerful GPU will affect the performance.

Stand alone GPU (RTX 3070)

Another thing to keep in mind is that your GPU or graphics card makes these beautiful images and models by generating tens of thousands of polygons. The more powerful your GPU is the more polygons it can generate and the faster it can generate them too. This is you are able to get more FPS when you turn your graphical settings down. Your GPU will have to generate fewer polygons, thus making the images faster.

How Do a GPU and CPU Work Together?

Although a good graphics card can make your game have stunning visuals and your CPU is what makes objects function in a game. They have to work together to make the game run smoothly.

For example, if you were to see a puddle of water in your game, the way it looks and the way the light reflects off of it might look amazing, but if you decided to walk over the puddle, the water will begin to splash making the game more realistic. The reason why this works is that the GPU and CPU are working together.

The GPU is making the water and reflections in the game, while the CPU is giving the water properties to splash and move when another object interacts with it.

In order to make these work together think of how you learned that a GPU makes images by creating a bunch of polygons. Now, in order to make the images function, the CPU moves the polygons in a certain way depending on how they act.

However, you should also know that you will not benefit from having an extremely powerful GPU and not so powerful CPU, the same vice versa. This is because the less powerful part will bottleneck the other. Even in extremely demanding GPU-intensive games, if you have a low-end CPU, it will stop your GPU from performing at 100% efficiency. The reason for this is that the GPU can generate so many graphics, but if your CPU can’t make those graphics do anything, it will cause your FPS to drop.

The same rule applies for having a really good CPU and not so good GPU. Your game will be able to perform tasks very well, but if your visuals keep up it will just ruin the games experience.

handshake showing how CPU and GPU can work together to improve performance and Increase FPS

Minecraft is a game that shows this very well. If you were to run or fly straight for a long time you might see that, well you are still moving forward and you can see mobs generating in the distance, you won’t be able to see the blocks under you. This will lead you to walking over solid air because as the physics are there from your CPU the graphics haven’t been generated yet.

Also, at first, you might not experience any performance issues, but you might see an FPS spike when the blocks finally catch up to your position.

Keep in mind that you can also get a CPU that has integrated graphics, which is essentially a CPU with a GPU inside of it.

Here is an article I’ve written that goes into more detail on how integrated graphics works.

What Are CPU Based Games and Best GPU Based Games?

Now that you know how your FPS is affected by your CPU you should know what games are CPU heavy in order to know what to upgrade next.

  • GTA V
  • Minecraft
  • Civilization
  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Far Cry
GameGPU HeavyCPU Heavy
Assassin’s CreedNoYes
Far CryNoYes
Call of DutyYesNo

These are lists of games you might play or want to play in the future. You should use these lists to influence your decision, whether you want to spend more money on a graphics card or CPU for the best FPS benefit.

You should also keep in mind that each game will benefit from both a better graphics card and CPU, but every game is different and will lean on one or the other for better performance and higher FPS.

This article is part of a series click here to get the full guide on how your can increase your CPU performance.

Lucas Coulson

I first got into building my own computer when I was around 12 or 13. The first computer I had ever built didn't work. So I kept researching to figure what I did wrong. I really enjoyed researching, learning, and building computers, so I decided to turn it into an online business, and here I am.

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