GPUs were once the primary choice for most graphic-intensive tasks such as gaming or video editing. However, CPUs have caught up in recent years and can now handle these tasks just as well, if not better. So what happens when a CPU is better than a GPU or GPU vs CPU?
One possibility is that the GPU will be used less frequently or even discontinued in favor of CPUs. This could mean big changes for the computer industry, as GPUs have been a staple component of computers for many years. It could also lead to more powerful CPUs and more efficient software design.
Only time will tell how this situation plays out. For now, it remains an interesting topic to explore.
Why is My Game Using CPU Instead of GPU?
Whether you’re playing a brand-new game or trying to eke out a few more frames in an old favorite, one of the first things any PC gamer does is head into the graphics settings and start messing with things until they look good.
But if you leave everything on “auto,” your games might not be using your fancy new graphics card at all. Here’s how to check, and how to make sure they’re using your GPU.
The quick answer is that you want to open up whatever game or application you’re having trouble with and look for settings related to the “renderer” or “graphics API.” On Windows, DirectX 12 is typically the fastest option, while on MacOS and Linux OpenGL is usually best (Vulkan is also available on MacOS but doesn’t perform as well as OpenGL in most cases).
You can also sometimes improve performance by switching from “fullscreen” to “windowed fullscreen” or “borderless windowed” mode in your game settings
Tech Terms: CPU vs GPU
The main difference between a CPU and a GPU is that CPUs are designed for general-purpose computing, while GPUs are designed for highly parallel computations. A key difference between the two types of processors is that a CPU typically has a few cores (2, 4, 6, or 8) while a GPU can have hundreds or even thousands of cores.
This difference in core count makes GPUs well suited for certain types of workloads, such as machine learning and other data-intensive applications, while CPUs are better suited for other workloads, such as general-purpose computing and gaming.
Can I Force Games to Use GPU Instead of CPU?
Yes, On a computer that has a dual-core processor and an integrated graphics processor, you can copy video files to the hard disk and then play them back without any problems. However, if you try to play a high-definition video file, you may notice that the playback is not as smooth as it should be.
The reason for this is that the integrated graphics processor is not as powerful as a standalone graphics card. As a result, it cannot decode the video file fast enough to play it back smoothly.
Rule Out Hardware Issues
check your system’s specs to make sure that your games are actually running on the right hardware. For instance, some games will run on integrated graphics but will have significantly better performance if you have a dedicated GPU.
Other games may require a certain type of graphics card in order to run at all. Check the game’s system requirements before you try to play it.
If your games are trying to use the wrong hardware, you can usually change that in the game’s settings. In some cases, you may need to change it in your computer’s BIOS as well.
Install Any Updates
One of the most common causes of this problem is outdated drivers. Your graphics card constantly communicates with your CPU, and if your drivers are outdated, it can lead to your games using your CPU rather than your GPU.
To update your drivers, you’ll need to know what graphics card you have. You can do this by going to Settings > System > Display. Under “Advanced display settings,” you’ll see “Graphics settings.” This will tell you what graphics card you have.
Once you know what card you have, head to the website of the company that made it (NVIDIA or AMD) and download the latest drivers for your specific model.
Check Your Game for Patch Notes and Known Bugs
The vast majority of games released these days are well made and well tested. But occasionally, a game will come out with a bug that prevents it from using your graphics card properly.
These bugs are usually fixed quickly by the development team, but in the meantime, you’re stuck with a game that runs slowly or doesn’t look as good as it should.
If you’re having this issue, the first thing you should do is check the game’s website or support forum for patch notes or known bugs. Oftentimes, the development team will be aware of the problem and working on a fix. If there is a fix available, apply it and see if it solves the problem. If not, move on to the next solution.
Check In Performance/Tuning Software
If you think that a game is using your CPU rather than your GPU, the first thing you should do is check in your performance/tuning software. This will give you an indication of which component is being used more heavily.
There are many different performance/tuning software packages available, but some of the most popular ones are GPU-Z and MSI Afterburner.
Once you have determined that the CPU is indeed being used more heavily than the GPU, there are a few things you can try in order to fix the problem.
Windows Power Saving Options
The majority of computers nowadays are made to automatically conserve power by reducing performance when the system isn’t being used for an extended period of time. While power-saving options are great for saving battery life on laptops and reducing overall electricity consumption
They can also cause issues with certain types of software, especially games. Games often require more processing power than other types of software, and as a result, may run slower or have other issues when power-saving options are enabled.
Luckily, it’s easy to disable power-saving options on Windows 10 by following the steps below:
- Click on the Start Menu and search for “Edit power plan”.
- Select “High performance” from the list of available power plans.
- Click “Change plan settings” and then “Change advanced power settings“.
- Expand each of the sections under “Processor power management” and set the “Minimum processor state” to 100% for both plugged in and on battery.
- Expand the “Intel(R) Graphics Settings” section and set the “Power savings mode” to “Performance mode” for both plugged in and on battery.
- Click “OK” to save your changes.
Integrated GPUs and Dedicated GPUs
Several things can cause a game to run using the CPU rather than the GPU. One common issue is that the game may not be optimized for your specific hardware, which can cause performance issues. Another possibility is that your graphics drivers are outdated or not compatible with the game.
To fix this, you can try updating your drivers or reverting to an older version. Finally, if you’re using an integrated GPU instead of a dedicated GPU, you may need to enable certain settings in order for the game to run properly.
Task Manager Isn’t Always Accurate
If you’re trying to figure out why a particular game is running slowly, make sure to check the Task Manager. Under the Processes tab, you can see how much of your CPU and RAM are being used.
However, keep in mind that the Task Manager isn’t always accurate. Sometimes, it will show that a game is using more resources than it actually is. In general, you should pay more attention to your FPS rather than the Task Manager.
Lower Your Frame Rate and Graphics Settings
One of the most common ways to increase your FPS is to decrease your in-game graphics. In general, the lower your setting, the more FPS you gain. This is because your GPU spends less time processing the game’s images.
To lower your graphics settings, open your game’s options menu and find the “graphics” or “video” settings. Here, you can lower the game’s resolution, turn off antialiasing and shadows, and disable any other features that tax your GPU.
Some games have built-in “FPS counters” that show how many frames per second you are getting. If your game doesn’t have one, you can download a third-party FPS counter like MSI Afterburner, Fraps, or Dxtory.
Make a CPU Upgrade or Overclock
One way to try and fix the issue of a game using 100% CPU rather than GPU is to make a CPU upgrade or overclock if your budget allows. This could potentially help as the game would have more resources to work with and wouldn’t be maxing out your current CPU.
If you do choose to go down this route, then it’s important to do your research first and make sure that your CPU will be compatible with your motherboard and that you are comfortable making any changes. Remember, if you are going to overclock then there is always the risk of damaging your hardware, so proceed with caution.
The Nuclear Option: Reinstall Windows
This is the big one. If you’re having issues with games using your CPU rather than your GPU, it’s a good bet that there’s something wrong with your Windows installation. The only surefire way to fix this is to completely reinstall Windows.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to format your hard drive and start from scratch (although that would be the most thorough option). You can do a “repair install,” which will keep your files and programs intact while replacing all of the system files that could be causing the issue.
Here’s how to do a repair install of Windows 10:
- Go to https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10 and download the Media Creation Tool.
- Run the tool, and select “Create installation media for another PC.”
- Choose “ISO file” and save the file to a convenient location.
- Burn the ISO file to a USB drive or DVD using Rufus (https://rufus.ie/) or any other ISO burning tool.
- Boot from the USB drive or DVD, and select “Repair your computer” when prompted.
- Select “Troubleshoot,” then “Advanced options,” then “Command Prompt.”
- In the Command Prompt window, type in CD C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep and press Enter.
- Type in Sysprep /generalize /oobe /shutdown /unattend:C:\Windows\Systems32\Sysprep\Unattend.xml and press Enter.
This will open up Sysprep with some settings already configured—make sure not to change anything except for what’s specified in step 9 below! 9Change the setting in Unattend.xml to match the location of your unattend file
(for example, C:\Sysprep\Unattend), then save and close Unattend..xml., then close Sysprep..10Reboot your computer, and you should be all set!
If you’re having issues with your games using 100% CPU rather than GPU, there are a few things that you can do to try and fix the issue. You can lower your graphics settings, make a CPU upgrade or overclock if your budget allows, or reinstall Windows.
The Nuclear Option: Reinstall Windows is the most drastic measure that you can take, but it may be necessary if other methods don’t work.
However, before taking any of these measures it’s important to do some research and make sure that you understand what you’re doing. There’s always the risk of damaging your hardware when making changes like this, so proceed with caution. With a little bit of trial and error, hopefully you’ll be able to find a solution that works for you!
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