How CPU Performance Impacts FPS in Gaming

Last Updated: April 13, 2023By
Close up of Intel CPU on motherboard

In the world of gaming and multimedia, the term “Frames per Second” (FPS) plays a critical role in determining the overall experience. FPS refers to the number of individual images or frames displayed on the screen within one second.

A higher FPS rate typically results in smoother visuals, making the gaming or video-watching experience more immersive and enjoyable. One key component that can influence FPS is the Central Processing Unit (CPU), which serves as the brains of a computer system.

In this blog post, we will delve into the impact of CPU performance on FPS and explore how these two aspects are interconnected.

Deciphering the CPU and Its Impact on Gaming Performance

In this section, we’ll provide an overview of the CPU and explain how it impacts gaming performance. You’ll learn about the basic functions of a CPU, the key components that influence gaming performance, and the CPU’s role in delivering a smooth gaming experience.

Basic Functions of a CPU

The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is often referred to as the “brain” of a computer system, responsible for executing instructions and managing various tasks.

In gaming, the CPU plays a crucial role in handling the game’s logic, artificial intelligence, physics calculations, and input/output operations.

Essentially, the CPU ensures that your gaming experience runs smoothly by managing and allocating system resources efficiently.

CPU Components Vital to Gaming Performance

To understand how the CPU affects gaming performance, it’s important to know about the specific components that are critical to gaming.

Clock Speed

The clock speed of a CPU, measured in gigahertz (GHz), represents the number of cycles it can execute per second. A higher clock speed translates to faster processing of instructions, which can lead to better in-game performance.

Number of Cores and Threads

Modern CPUs come with multiple cores, each capable of executing tasks independently. A higher number of cores allows the CPU to handle more tasks simultaneously, improving multitasking and overall gaming performance.

Additionally, some CPUs support hyper-threading, which enables each core to handle multiple threads, further enhancing the processor’s capability to manage tasks concurrently.

Cache Size

The cache is a small, high-speed memory integrated into the CPU that stores frequently accessed data. A larger cache size can significantly reduce data retrieval times, leading to faster processing and improved gaming performance.

The CPU’s Influence on Gaming Experience

A powerful CPU can greatly impact the gaming experience by providing smoother gameplay, faster load times, and reduced stuttering or lag.

In some cases, a CPU with higher performance may also contribute to higher FPS, especially in games that rely heavily on the processor for complex calculations and operations.

CPU and GPU: The Dynamic Duo in Gaming Performance

In this section, we’ll explain the relationship between the CPU and GPU in gaming.

The Role of GPU in Rendering Graphics and Handling FPS

The Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) is a specialized hardware component designed for rendering images and handling complex graphical calculations.

In gaming, the GPU is primarily responsible for rendering the game’s visuals and ensuring smooth FPS. A powerful GPU can deliver higher FPS rates, better image quality, and more advanced visual effects, all of which contribute to a more immersive gaming experience.

The Collaboration Between CPU and GPU in Gaming

Both the CPU and GPU are essential for running modern games, with each component handling distinct tasks. The CPU manages the game’s logic, physics, and input/output operations, while the GPU focuses on rendering graphics and maintaining FPS.

In a well-balanced system, the CPU and GPU work in tandem to deliver optimal gaming performance. For example, the CPU processes game data and sends instructions to the GPU, which then renders the visuals and displays them on the screen.

The Concept of Bottlenecking

In a gaming system, a bottleneck occurs when one component limits the performance of another, preventing the system from reaching its full potential. There are two primary types of bottlenecks that can impact gaming performance:

CPU Bottleneck: A CPU bottleneck occurs when the processor is not powerful enough to keep up with the GPU, causing the GPU to wait for instructions and data from the CPU. This situation can lead to lower FPS rates and decreased performance, especially in games that demand high processing power.

GPU Bottleneck: Conversely, a GPU bottleneck happens when the graphics card is unable to render visuals as quickly as the CPU can provide the necessary data and instructions. In this case, the GPU becomes the limiting factor, resulting in lower FPS and compromised visual quality.

Factors Influencing FPS in Gaming

Close up of AMD CPU on motherboard

While the CPU is a critical component in determining FPS in gaming, there are other factors that can impact FPS as well. In this section, we’ll explore some of the other factors that can influence FPS.

In-Game Settings and Optimizations

The in-game settings have a significant impact on FPS. Adjusting the settings, such as resolution, texture quality, shadow quality, and anti-aliasing, can help improve or reduce FPS. 

Lowering these settings can increase FPS, while increasing them can lead to higher visual quality but may reduce FPS. It is essential to find a balance between visual quality and FPS to achieve the best gaming experience.

System Resources Allocation

The allocation of system resources, such as CPU and GPU usage, can influence FPS. Running multiple applications or background tasks can consume system resources, leaving fewer resources available for the game.

Closing unnecessary programs, optimizing system settings, and ensuring the game has priority access to resources can help improve FPS.

Other Hardware Components

In addition to the CPU, other hardware components can have an impact on gaming performance.


Random Access Memory (RAM) is an essential component that temporarily stores data required by the CPU and GPU. Insufficient RAM can lead to slower performance and lower FPS, as the system may need to use slower storage devices (such as the hard drive) to compensate for the lack of available memory.


The type and speed of the storage device can affect game load times and asset streaming. Solid State Drives (SSDs) offer faster read and write speeds than traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDDs), resulting in quicker load times and smoother gameplay.

Faster storage devices can also help maintain consistent FPS by ensuring that game assets are loaded quickly and efficiently.


The motherboard serves as the foundation for all the components in a computer system. A high-quality motherboard can offer better power delivery, improved system stability, and more efficient communication between components, providing a reliable base for the CPU, GPU, and other hardware to perform optimally.

While the motherboard’s direct impact on gaming performance and FPS might not be significant, it plays a crucial role in ensuring compatibility and supporting advanced features, such as overclocking and high-speed memory compatibility, which can contribute to an enhanced overall gaming experience.

The Impact of CPU on FPS: Scenarios and Examples

To better understand how the CPU impacts FPS, it’s helpful to look at specific scenarios and examples.

CPU-Limited Games

In some games, the CPU plays a more significant role in determining performance and FPS than the GPU. These games tend to involve complex simulations, such as real-time strategy games, large open-world games, or games with numerous AI-controlled characters.

In these scenarios, a powerful CPU can lead to higher FPS, as it can efficiently process the game’s logic and calculations, preventing potential bottlenecks that could limit the GPU’s performance.

Example: In a real-time strategy game like “Civilization VI,” the CPU handles a wide range of tasks, including AI decision-making, unit pathfinding, and turn-based calculations. A faster CPU can process these tasks more quickly, leading to smoother gameplay and higher FPS.

GPU-Limited Games

In contrast, some games rely heavily on the GPU for rendering high-quality visuals and complex graphical effects. These games may not require as much processing power from the CPU, and as a result, the GPU becomes the primary factor in determining FPS.

In these cases, upgrading the CPU may not result in a significant increase in FPS, as the GPU remains the limiting factor.

Example: A visually demanding game like “Crysis Remastered” requires a powerful GPU to render its high-resolution textures, realistic lighting, and detailed environments. In this scenario, a high-end GPU is more critical for achieving higher FPS than a faster CPU.

Balanced CPU and GPU Performance

In an ideal gaming setup, the CPU and GPU should complement each other to deliver optimal performance. If both components are well-matched in terms of their capabilities, neither will become a bottleneck, allowing for the best possible gaming experience and consistent FPS.

Example: A well-balanced system running a game like “Overwatch” can maintain high FPS while delivering excellent visual quality. Both the CPU and GPU are working efficiently together, ensuring that neither component is holding back the other.

Effects of Upgrading the CPU on FPS

Upgrading the CPU can lead to increased FPS in certain scenarios, particularly when the existing CPU is causing a bottleneck. In these cases, a more powerful processor can help alleviate the bottleneck, allowing the GPU to perform at its full potential and resulting in higher FPS.

Example: In a system with a high-end GPU and an older, slower CPU, upgrading to a faster processor can result in a significant increase in FPS, especially in CPU-intensive games. The upgraded CPU can more effectively process the game’s data and instructions, enabling the GPU to render visuals more quickly and deliver higher FPS.

Tips for Optimizing CPU Performance for Better FPS

Intel CPU on hand

If you’re looking to optimize your CPU performance to achieve better FPS in gaming, there are several steps you can take. In this section, we’ll provide some tips and strategies for optimizing CPU performance.

Choosing the Right CPU for Gaming

Selecting the appropriate CPU for your gaming setup is crucial for achieving the best performance and FPS. Consider factors such as the number of cores, clock speed, and compatibility with your motherboard when choosing a processor.

It’s essential to find a CPU that can efficiently handle the demands of your preferred games while also complementing your GPU to avoid bottlenecks.

Overclocking the CPU

Overclocking involves increasing the clock speed of your CPU beyond its factory settings, allowing it to process instructions more quickly. This can lead to improved gaming performance and higher FPS in some cases.

However, overclocking requires proper cooling solutions and can increase power consumption, so it’s crucial to research and understand the risks and benefits before attempting this process.

Monitoring CPU Temperatures and Ensuring Proper Cooling

Maintaining optimal CPU temperatures is essential for preventing thermal throttling, which can reduce performance and FPS. Invest in an efficient cooling solution, such as an air or liquid cooler, to keep your CPU running at a safe temperature.

Regularly monitor your CPU temperatures using software tools, and ensure that your system has adequate airflow to dissipate heat effectively.

Keeping the System Clean and Up-to-Date

Maintaining your computer system in good condition can help optimize CPU performance and improve FPS. Regularly clean your computer’s interior and cooling components to prevent dust buildup, which can lead to overheating and reduced performance.

Additionally, ensure that your system’s drivers, BIOS, and operating system are up-to-date to take advantage of performance improvements and bug fixes.


In summary, the CPU does have an impact on FPS, particularly in games that require significant processing power for complex simulations and calculations.

However, it’s essential to consider the interplay between the CPU and GPU, as well as other system components like RAM, storage, and the motherboard when aiming for optimal gaming performance and FPS.

To achieve the best gaming experience, it’s crucial to select a balanced combination of hardware components that complement each other, avoiding bottlenecks and maximizing system efficiency.

Additionally, optimizing your CPU performance through proper cooling, overclocking, and system maintenance can further enhance FPS and overall gaming performance.

Ultimately, understanding the relationship between the CPU and FPS, as well as other factors that influence gaming performance, can help you make informed decisions when building or upgrading your gaming system, ensuring a smooth and immersive gaming experience.