When it comes to the most important and impactful hardware for gaming, CPU and GPU are the top options that come to mind. But there’s a fierce war on “CPU vs GPU for gaming?”
So, really, which one of these affects the gaming performance more? That you’ll find out in a moment. For instance, this guide thoroughly explains the difference between CPU and GPU and which component helps more in gaming.
With that said, let’s get started.
What is the Core Difference Between CPU and GPU?
Here I explain both CPU and GPU in detail to help you identify the difference between the two.
What is the CPU?
CPU is the central processing unit of a computer, also known as the processor. The major function of the processor, as the name shows, is to process data and perform operations. In simple words, all the different calculations made for performing various operations are handled by the CPU.
The processor, in fact, is the most important part of a computer and hence also known as the brain or heart of the computer. When it comes to gaming, a powerful CPU is equally important and impactful to smoothly perform the intricate in-game calculations.
Now, where is the CPU located on the computer?
Well, you’ll find it on the motherboard separate from the GPU and mostly under a heat sink. The processor performs operations by billions of transistors yet is a tiny chip.
Summary: CPU, processor, or central processing unit is the most important part of a computer and is responsible for processing the input data and converting it into information.
What is the GPU?
GPU, on the other hand, is the graphics processor also known as the graphics card. It is a specialized chip that accelerates the creation of visuals including videos, audio, and animations, etc.
The GPU serves up to perform the graphics calculations and frees up the load of the CPU for higher overall performance. Now, does every computer have a GPU?
Yes, every computer does. The reason is, a GPU is crucial for the display. There are, however, two main types of GPU:
Integrated GPU: The integrated GPU is basically a built-in card or chip attached to the motherboard. Most of the computers have an integrated GPU for proper display even when you don’t have a dedicated graphics card.
While an integrated display may be able to support a high-resolution display, it cannot offer a smooth gaming experience, especially when running AAA titles.
Dedicated GPU: As the name shows, the dedicated GPU is the dedicated graphics card. Regarding the design, you’ll usually see it in a tiny motherboard form factor, more of a circuit.
Compared to the standard integrated GPUs, a dedicated GPU is more powerful and offers a better gaming experience. Also, you can have both integrated and dedicated GPUs on your computer or laptop at a time.
Summary: A graphics card or GPU is the graphics chip used to improve visuals. The two mains types of GPUs are integrated and dedicated GPU.
What Sets CPU and GPU Apart?
As you’ve seen, it won’t be wrong to say that CPU and GPU are entirely different hardware parts. Both are designed for their own functions. The CPU processes the data while the GPU improves and renders the visuals. What’s the same, however, is that both perform calculations for the operations.
For easy understanding, see it this way:
The CPU or processor performs all the tasks and operations on your computer. It manages basic arithmetic, logic, controlling, and input/output (I/O) operations according to the instructions of the programs.
The GPU, on the other hand, is designed to quickly render images and video. Furthermore, it also performs some non-graphical operations like machine learning and scientific computation.
Got the picture, right?
Now, with the detailed information of what the GPU and CPU serve for, let’s jump into the main query.
CPU vs GPU for Gaming?
From an overall perspective, the GPU is more important and impactful for gaming. “Why?” Because regardless of how powerful CPU you have, the games won’t run smoothly as long as you don’t install a powerful GPU as well.
However, it doesn’t mean the CPU serves no purpose, it’s equally important but the reason we’ve put GPU more impactful for gaming is that it’s designed that way. The CPU, on the other hand, is responsible for the fastest processing of data (either for an in-game operation or a general one).
The ideal way to go, after all, is pairing up a powerful CPU with a compatible GPU to make the most out of your computer during gaming.
Do Games Depend on GPU or CPU?
Games depend on both GPU and CPU. Speaking of the power-hungry AAA titles like Destiny 2, neither having a powerful GPU with a mediocre CPU can offer smooth gaming nor a powerful CPU with no GPU.
In simple words, smooth gaming requires a combination of both powerful CPU and GPU. But when it comes to how much the CPU and GPU impact gaming, well, it depends on the game you’re playing.
If a game gives a more simultaneous performance with a powerful CPU and no GPU compared to a powerful GPU with a mediocre CPU, the case could be entirely different with the other games.
For instance, Minecraft highly depends on the processor compared to the GPU. So, higher processor power is what ensures smooth gaming in Minecraft.
On the other hand, the Shadow of the Tomb Raider is an example of games that require the GPU more.
Here we discuss the CPU-intensive games in detail:
Which Games Depend on CPU More?
Image credit: Venturebeat.com
Following are some examples of the games that very much depend on the CPU for smooth FPS:
- Far Cry 5
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Total War Warhammer 2
- Rainbow Six Siege
With that said, it’s time for GPU-intensive games:
Which Games Depend on GPU More?
Image credit: Gamestyle.net
Following are some examples of the games that very much depend on the GPU for smooth FPS:
- 8 Kingdom Come: Deliverance
- Forza Horizon 4
- Crysis 3
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider
- Grand Theft Auto V
With that said, note that the games can be CPU-intensive and GPU-intensive at the same time as they may require a powerful CPU for smooth processing operations as well as a powerful GPU for smooth graphics.
Things to Consider When Upgrading Your GPU and CPU
If you want to make the most out of your computer when gaming, read on before upgrading your GPU and CPU:
The Factors to Consider When Upgrading Your CPU
Following are the main factors to consider when upgrading your CPU:
First thing’s first, you need to make sure the CPU you want to purchase is actually compatible with your motherboard. For this, you will have to go for a CPU with the same chipset and socket. Also, if you’re willing to upgrade the motherboard as well, know that the Ram up-gradation will also be required.
You can only install a processor on your PC that your power supply can power up. Otherwise, what’s the use? So, make sure your PSU has enough power to run the CPU you’re considering for purchase.
After all, what’s the use of an upgrade that doesn’t bring a better performance? So, be sure that you’re getting better performance. Our recommendation, however, is to go for a top-tier CPU to make your rig future-proof as well as to avoid time-to-time upgrades.
You’re going to invest in a CPU as long as you can afford it. Also, it’s important to make sure the CPU you go for is what you’re paying. So, it’s recommended to go for the best price value on the market to make the most of your bucks.
If you want to lower the chances of unreliable purchases, make sure the product is listed by a trusted seller and has got lots of good reviews. Also, going through the official customer reviews will give you an idea of what to expect from the CPU.
The Factors to Consider When Upgrading Your GPU
Following are the main factors to consider when upgrading your GPU:
The specifications like height, length, etc are often different for the graphics cards on the market. Although the latest motherboards and computer cases are designed to fit in almost every GPU on the market, the case could be different for your PC case.
So, make sure the GPU you go for is compatible with your computer body.
If you have a high-resolution monitor or are willing to switch to one shortly, make sure the GPU you go for supports that resolution effectively. Otherwise, it could cause you problems down the road.
If your monitor has a higher refresh rate of 74Hz, 120Hz, or more, be sure that your GPU supports gaming on that.
If the new GPU cannot offer a better FPS when running games, what’s the use in the first place? So, it’s recommended to go for the maximum performance regarding your needs.
Value for money: Due to the shortage of silicon around the globe (which has affected the production of chips used in GPUs), the GPUs currently available are mostly overpriced. So, our recommendation is to hunt for the best price value available.
Determining Your Hardware Requirements for Gaming
Of course, no one wants to overspend on something that he is not sure will benefit him. The same is with investing in a better GPU or CPU. So, I wanted to create a dedicated section regarding how to determine your hardware requirements.
Firstly, if you’re a hardcore gamer who wants to efficiently run every AAA title as soon as it gets released, a top-tier CPU paired up with the highest-end GPU is a necessity for you.
However, since it will cost you thousands of bucks, a cost-effective way around could be to go for a budget CPU and GPU that still make a great fit for high-end gaming.
On the other hand, if you’re into indie games, or have a certain old-school game that you enjoy, only you best know your hardware needs. However, a mid-budget PC with mediocre CPU and GPU works well for many indie games that aren’t that power-hungry.
If you have a list of certain games you love playing (or want to play), search for the system requirements of each title, and you’ll get an idea of what you need.
To sum it up:
- CPU is the central processing unit of your computer and manages basic arithmetic, logic, controlling, and input/output (I/O) operations
- GPU is the graphics processing unit in a computer and designed to quickly render images and video
- Both powerful CPU and GPU are essential for smooth gaming (especially for AAA titles)
- While some games rely on CPU more, the other ones may be more dependent on the GPU
- Overall, GPU is a more critical hardware part for gaming
With that said, I hope this guide was beneficial for you in determining whether GPU matters more in gaming or CPU. If it did, why don’t you share it with your friends and because a cause of spreading information? Until next time, cheers!
FAQs on CPU vs GPU for Gaming
Here I answer the most searched queries on CPU vs GPU for gaming and which one matters more:
Is CPU or GPU more important for gaming?
Both CPU and GPU are important for gaming but GPU affects FPS more significantly (especially if it’s a AAA title that you’re playing). However, it also depends upon the type of game you run. Some of them rely on the GPU more while others depend more on the CPU.
Is CPU or GPU more important for AAA titles?
The AAA titles are generally graphics-intensive and massively depend on the GPU compared to the CPU. So, a GPU is more important for AAA titles and only a top-tier GPU can promise smooth running of the demanding AAA games.
Should I spend more on CPU or GPU?
If you’re into gaming and love running the AAA titles, it’s recommended to spend more on the GPU since it will be significantly affecting the FPS. However, make sure to pair it up with a powerful CPU for the lowest bottleneck.
How much should I spend on the graphics card?
It’s good to spend over $200-300 on a graphics card as it massively improves your gaming experience. However, make sure to go for the best price value to get the most out of your money.
Do I need a graphics card to play Minecraft?
Minecraft is a CPU-intensive game and thankfully, it doesn’t require a powerful GPU to run. In fact, you can still enjoy the standard game even if you don’t have a dedicated GPU.