How To Check if Your PC is GPU or CPU Limited

The gaming performance of any PC is determined by its processor (CPU), graphics chip (GPU), and Random Access Memory (RAM). Comparing your current hardware configuration with its recommended configuration can be a real headache as most benchmarking tests will provide general performance values that don't necessarily match the recommendations for the selected game. If your PC meets the minimum hardware requirements for a game, but you are still experiencing performance issues, you will need to check your processor and graphics chip to determine which component is stalling your computer. This article will teach you how to test if your computer is GPU or CPU limited.

How To Test Your PC Hardware

We are going to test the number of FPS (frames per seconds) you can achieve in a graphics intensive game at different display resolutions screen resolution.

Top-notch configuration can run triple A games at a maximum of 60 FPS. The closer you are to this number, the better it is. You can use a program like FRAPS to measure the frame rate of your games.

Adjust the display resolution (maximum) and check how the game behaves. Please note that display resolution is expressed in pixels (width x height) and it has nothing to do with the level of details that can be achieved in the game. You can adjust the maximum display resolution by going to the Graphics options/settings via an in-game menu.

Play for a few minutes and then to record the number of FPS achieved. Repeat the operation at different display resolutions.

Analyzing the Results

If you notice a significant improvement in terms of frame rate when running the game at a lower display resolution, then it is most likely that the performance of your computer is being limited by your graphics card (GPU limited).

If you didn't notice any significant improvement in the FPS even after lowering the display resolution to minimum, then your processor is faulty (CPU limited). No doubt it is too old or too cheap to run the game.

If the game is slightly better at a lower display resolution, then it could also mean that both of the components are faulty. You're both GPU and CPU limited.
Photo: Unsplash

Ask a question
CCM is a leading international tech website. Our content is written in collaboration with IT experts, under the direction of Jean-François Pillou, founder of CCM reaches more than 50 million unique visitors per month and is available in 11 languages.
This document, titled « How To Check if Your PC is GPU or CPU Limited », is available under the Creative Commons license. Any copy, reuse, or modification of the content should be sufficiently credited to CCM (