How to Tell if Your Computer is Bottlenecking

Showing a bottleneck

Experiencing an FPS drop while playing your favorite game can be frustrating. Especially if you have a high-end graphics card like a 3080 ti.

If that’s the case your computer might be experiencing a bottleneck.

A bottleneck happens when a part in your computer is holding back the performance potential of another part. For example, an older CPU will slow down a high-end graphics card because the CPU can’t keep up causing the graphics card to slow down, so the CPU can catch up.

There are many different reasons that your computer can be bottlenecking and many different ways to prevent this from happening, which will be explained shortly in this article.

What is a Bottleneck?

A bottleneck happens when you see a performance drop on your computer while you are playing a game or running a program and you know you should be getting a higher performance.

If you look online you can see the performance levels for all the parts of your PC and if they are showing a higher performance level than you are getting then it most likely means that your computer is being bottlenecked.

By monitoring the CPU and GPU loads you can determine what component is bottlenecking your computer.

How to Prevent Your Computer From Bottlenecking

The most common reason for a computer to bottleneck is from the performance difference in hardware.

You might think that buying the latest and best-performing graphics card will make your slow pc run like it’s new again, but that is just not the case.

Showing all the computer parts that could be causing bottleneck

Even though doing that will increase the performance of your computer a little bit, you will not be using that graphics card to its full potential.

Instead, you should use the money you would’ve spent on that high-end graphics card, to make an all-around upgrade to your pc. Doing this will allow you to get the best performance upgrade for your computer and keep it up to date as well.

Another reason for computer bottleneck isn’t a hardware issue, but a gaming issue. Your computer can be bottlenecking depending on what games you play.

Every game is built differently and because of this certain games will be more CPU heavy, while other games will be more GPU heavy. Depending on what games you play or what games you’re looking to play should determine what type of pc you want to build and what parts you should spend more money on.

Games that have lower graphics but higher FPS are more CPU-based games. Thus, making it easier for your CPU to bottleneck your GPU.

If you are looking to play more CPU-intensive games, then you should spend more of your budget on a higher-end CPU.

On the other hand, if the games you want to play are more graphically intensive, your graphics card is more likely to bottleneck your CPU and you should put more of your budget towards a higher-end graphics card.

You should still keep in mind that a CPU can bottleneck your graphics card even on a GPU-demanding game, and vice versa. Therefore, having a good balance between all your computer parts will prevent any bottleneck from happening down the road.

Checking to see if the GPU is bottleneck the CPU

Any part of your pc can cause your pc to bottleneck, but CPU and GPU bottlenecks are the most common and that’s why it’s very important to have a good balance between hardware performance when building your pc.

If you want to learn more about how GPU and CPUs work together to improve performance when playing a game, and what games cause these parts to bottleneck. I wrote an article on that here. This article also talks about what games are CPU heavy and what games are GPU heavy.

How to Check if my Graphics Card is Bottlenecking my CPU

There are many ways to check if your graphics card could be bottlenecking your computer, but I will be choosing a method anyone can do and the way I check my graphics card usage to test performance.

The programming we will be using is called GPU-Z. GPU-Z is a program that is used to troubleshoot and test the performance of your graphics card. It provides you with all the information you need to see if your graphics card is what’s bottlenecking your pc.

After installing GPU-Z, it should look something like this.

Next, you need to head over to the sensors tab, that way you can monitor your GPU usage while you are playing a game.

You should then open the game you want to test your graphics card on and start playing. While you’re in your game you should frequently check your GPU load which is found on GPU-Z Right here.

If your GPUs load is constantly at around 90% usage then your GPU is bottlenecking your CPU. If it’s anything under that then your GPU is good and is not causing your computer to bottleneck.

How to Check if my CPU is Bottlenecking my Graphics Card

Checking your CPU usage is a bit easier than checking your GPU usage.

First, you need to click on the windows button located on the left side of your windows taskbar.

Next, type in resource and open the resource monitor.

From this point, you can open up your favorite game and start playing.

If the game you are playing is making your CPU usage stay between 90%-99%, then your CPU is bottlenecking your computer and you should consider fixing it, I will show you how to do that in the end.

What other Computer Parts can be Bottlenecking Your Computer?

When talking about your pc bottlenecking most people assume it’s because of either their CPU or GPU, but it can actually be because of another part inside your pc.

anything inside your computer can cause it to bottleneck so, you should also check to make sure all your computer parts are performing well and up to today’s standards when gaming.

If you are playing a lot of modern AAA games, then your computer should be running with 16GB of RAM, or else you might experience some bottlenecking.

6GB of RAM is slowly becoming the new standard when building a pc and is essential to have if you are playing heavy games and don’t wanna risk bottlenecking your pc.

You can also experience bottlenecking from your monitor. This can happen when your computer is running at a high FPS on a low refresh rate monitor.

Showing a monitor that could be bottlenecking your gaming experience

When you experience bottlenecking from your monitor you may experience what is called screen tearing.

Screen tearing happens when your monitor screen can’t keep up to the frame rate which your computer is producing. Creating a tear on the screen.

The reason for this is that the monitor is refreshing multiple frames at once when it should be a refreshing one.

To learn more about screen tearing and how monitor refresh rate affects the performance of your computer click here.

How to Fix Computer Bottlenecking

If you’ve already built your pc and experienced bottlenecking, there is still a possibility to fix this issue, so that you can get the best gaming experience with the parts you already have.

The most common way to fix computer bottlenecking is to overclock the part that is underperforming. Overclocking will allow your computer to not only fix bottlenecking but boost your computer’s all-around performance.

If your graphics card is the part in your pc that is causing the bottleneck you can check out my guide here. However, if your pc is bottlenecking because of another part, then there are many different videos and articles you can watch on the internet to overclocking that specific part.

Can it be Good for Your Computer to Bottleneck?

Funny enough. It can actually be a good thing for your computer to bottleneck. If your graphics card is the thing bottlenecking, that can be good because you get the most of what you paid for with your graphics card.

However, if your CPU is the one bottlenecking you should try to fix that.

If you are experiencing a monitor bottleneck, this really isn’t a big deal if you can deal with the screen tearing.

Conclusion

Experiencing a computer bottleneck can make it hard to play your favorite games, but this can be easily avoided. It is best to build an all-around good reliable pc, instead of spending all of your budgets on a specific part. If done correctly you can get the best performance for what you paid for and experience less bottleneck.

You should also keep in mind that every game is built differently. That means certain parts will work harder and have more useful depending on what games you are playing. This is why it is very important to know what you are doing with your pc before you build it, so you know where to spend more money when building.

Even if you’ve already built your pc there are many ways to fix bottlenecking from happening in your games, just make sure to troubleshoot your pc to determine which parts are actually causing the bottleneck.

Finally, remember, any working component on your computer can be causing your pc to bottleneck and it’s best to keep your parts clean and updated to prevent this from happening.

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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