Solved! Which matters more when it comes to gaming performance: the CPU or the graphics card?

dekw04

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Oct 6, 2017
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Hi everyone.

I have a hypothetical question to ask:

When it comes to a computer's gaming performance with newer AAA titles which matters more: The computer's CPU or it's graphics card?

For example, regarding AAA gaming, if your computer had an underpowered CPU but somehow had a high-end graphics card, would the underpowered CPU not matter that much?

Alternatively, if your computer had a high-end CPU but somehow had an underpowered graphics card, would the underpowered graphics card not matter that much?

Thank you.
 

keith12

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Aug 8, 2008
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The simple answer is the GPU. It will give the grunt to drive the graphical goodness in game. With that said the CPU is almost as important. A good CPU with ample resources will drive more FPS from the GPU, rather than a slower CPU, with less cores and threads which may bottleneck a high end GPU. I use the term bottleneck loosely though.

Yes, a low end CPU can certainly hold back a high end GPU (bottleneck), and equally so a high end CPU can be 'too much' cpu for a mid-range GPU and be a wast of money. The objective will always be to have a good balance. A CPU that can drive any high end GPU is the preference.

More cores/threads help now bigtime, specially for AAA gaming. SO any 6 core +/6 thread + CPU will be a good bet. From Ryzen a 1600/x/2600/x/2700/x and Intel from I5 8400 + Up to 8700k/9700k is suitable to drive any high end GPU.

Of course, for 1080p 60hz gaming you don't need anything more than a GTX1060/RX580. And go up a level in GPU for resolution. So for 1440p GTX1070/ti/1080 or Vega 56/64, and for 4k 1080ti/2080/ti to get best results and be balanced with a good CPU to drive max FPS.


 

keith12

Distinguished
Aug 8, 2008
126
0
18,710
33
The simple answer is the GPU. It will give the grunt to drive the graphical goodness in game. With that said the CPU is almost as important. A good CPU with ample resources will drive more FPS from the GPU, rather than a slower CPU, with less cores and threads which may bottleneck a high end GPU. I use the term bottleneck loosely though.

Yes, a low end CPU can certainly hold back a high end GPU (bottleneck), and equally so a high end CPU can be 'too much' cpu for a mid-range GPU and be a wast of money. The objective will always be to have a good balance. A CPU that can drive any high end GPU is the preference.

More cores/threads help now bigtime, specially for AAA gaming. SO any 6 core +/6 thread + CPU will be a good bet. From Ryzen a 1600/x/2600/x/2700/x and Intel from I5 8400 + Up to 8700k/9700k is suitable to drive any high end GPU.

Of course, for 1080p 60hz gaming you don't need anything more than a GTX1060/RX580. And go up a level in GPU for resolution. So for 1440p GTX1070/ti/1080 or Vega 56/64, and for 4k 1080ti/2080/ti to get best results and be balanced with a good CPU to drive max FPS.


 

velocityg4

Distinguished
A pretty easy method is to go by costs of new parts. Although not always true. A current model CPU which is 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of a current GPU will usually make for a good balance in games. At least for general 1920x1080 gaming, assuming there isn't some extreme cost force in the market like GPU mining spiking GPU prices. Specific goals like high frame rates at low detail will increase CPU demands relative to GPU demands or 4K at high detail will increase GPU demands relative to CPU demands.
 
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