Question 100% CPU usage while gaming

Feb 14, 2019
I've seen a lot of posts saying that it's ok to be running 100% CPU while gaming but I have a hard time wrapping my head thinking its really ok.

I haven't really had too many issues except small stutters every blue moon but every game I play (even tested older games like borderlands 2) runs my gpu and cpu 100%

I recently played the Division 2 Beta and it was sticking and stuttering like I was using far below minimum specs.

I do use some additional programs in the background like but this issue was still existing before i had this downloaded and when its disabled.

Asus 1440P 165hz monitor
Nvidia GTX 1080 (updated drivers)
Intel i5 7600k 4.9ghz
16gb 2666mhz Corsair Vengeance RAM
Asus z270-ar
Windows 10 on dedicated m.2 ssd
Games all on separate SSD from operating system


Older gen i5. That's 4 threads. It's pretty much a given that brand new AAA games are going to be 6+ thread optimized, there's simply too huge an amount of data on screen to be shoved through 2-3 threads anymore. Sims, esports, simpler graphics no worries, Division 2 or even GTA V, Battlefield 5, big thread count. So expect very high cpu usage to max for those kinds of games on an i5.

Fps. That's also on the cpu, the gpu deals with resolution and detail settings mostly. With a 1080 pushing 1440p@165HZ there's enough gpu power to get high+ in a majority of games and still get high fps. Which means the cpu is pre-rendering and processing its little heart out, since the gpu isn't capping it or forcing lower.

Setting an in-game fps cap, putting details as high as possible (other than grass detail or viewing distance), enabling v-sync or anything else that might put a dent on the gpu output will benefit the cpu.

Other than that, you are basically out-gaming the ability of that older i5. If software fixes don't work, only a hardware fix will, as in either move to an i7 or change platforms to a higher core cpu, CoffeeLake i5/i7 or Ryzen 2600+
Feb 14, 2019
Thanks for your responses!

I have tried frame capping Rainbow six.. Even at a 30fps cap it still was pushing 100%
I think you guys are right about needing a higher core i7. Was thinking of just going i7-8700k since reading the 9th gen isn't really worth it but if its worth going to 9th gen for my setup ill do it.
Yes, 100% CPU load in any games shows CPU is limiting your performance. I would shut off any unnecessary tasks while gaming. It's true that 4-Core CPUs with no HT are showing their age and limitations in modern AAA titles when paired with high-end GPUs at high quality settings.
Mar 12, 2019
hi, i'm also having the same issue, my specs are as below :

MB : Asus Strix ROG B360 -H Gaming
CPU : i5 9400F
GPU : RTX 2070 EVGA Black edition
RAM : Hyper X fury 8GB *2
PSU : 650W Antec gold.
SSD : 3 SSD 1. Kingston 250GB SATA 2. Anaconda 256GB SSD SATA 3. APACER 6gbs SATA3 960GB
HDD : 1TB Seagate 7200 RPM.

i install my games on the Acer 6gbs 960GB

i've turned off all the shadow and lighting to low, anti aliasing to 2X, water quality to medium, playing Division 2 now.

i'm still getting 90-100% on or 6 cores but muy GPU is only running at about 50-55%.

also have seen people with i5-8400 + RTX 2070 to run the game at about 60-70% CPU load and 70-80% GPU on youtube.

every game i play have the same problem, Anthem is abit better where cpu = gpu aprox 5-10% up and down from each other, but after a few days cpu started becoming higher than gpu.

is it really bottlenecking ? i only just swapped my MB CPU GPU RAM SSD about a week ago ....
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Games still rely on the primary core no matter how many cores. The only single core cpu to be doing ok is 9700k with it's stronger IPC work. All others are showing obvious signs of struggle in certain games and high frame rates. 8600k/9600k if you search high cpu usages you'll come across many of those posts.

Going back to the primary core, i believe it's best to have two working threads helping it. A lot of people say true cores beat threads, im not so sure about that in this sense regarding core 0. This core handles more than the rest, not just games but Windows + background applications as well and if this core reaches too high usage it can affect the rest.
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Did you just swap mobo as is, or did you do a full clean install of windows. Have you downloaded the latest motherboard chipset drivers and bios from the motherboard website?

You can't rely on what others are getting in their game. They could have DLSS and RT on, as well as a 4k DSR and be punishing the gpu, which lowers cpu usage. There's other settings such as pre-rendered frames in nvidia global settings, default is 3 if you change to 1 it helps cpu etc.

Clock for clock, there's really no difference between HT and single core usage, at anything less than @ 70-80% usage. At that point, bandwidth in core becomes a limiting factor, slowing down throughput. Good example is the i3-6100, beats up on a i5-6400 all day in almost every game, running tied with the i5-6500. Throw a production workload at it and the 2c/4t i3 tanked, getting spanked by even the dog of an i5-6400. HT is a decent replacement for cores at light loads, but under heavy usage consider it 1.5x not 2x the thread capacity. You end up with an i3 with 3core ability vrs i5 4core ability.
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I don't mean 2c/4t cpus will out performing 4/6/8 cores because of HT, not at this level. I do realise games are utilising more cores but the primary core is still significant.

I haven't seen a benchmark yet where cpu usage is monitored. There are % lows, that is close i suppose but I've seen an analysis by Nexus and other sites and they couldn't really explain the fps drops specifically, but i have a good idea. That's because cpu is tanking and cant pre-render any more frames, fighting priority amongst other cpu tasks.

Benchmarks I've seen rarely show real world thick in the action especially in games today because it's unreliable, but that's what real world is all about. I mean not the in-game benchmarks where most results come from as there is usually not much cpu physics going on be it npc or multiplayer.

People look at these benchmarks and compare fps and build PC's based on this information and advice by others, only to come back with these usage problems.

Its 8700k, 9900k, maybe 9700k or go Ryzen. The i5s can't handle these situations.


Oh yes. For all intents and purposes, quad thread cpus are dead for modern gaming purposes, if you own one, I'm sorry, it's suffer or upgrade but I'd not now recommend buying one new. 6 core minimum or alternatively quad with HT, which basically equals 6 cores under heavy usage.

Devs are finally catching up and getting around to what AMD knew 6 years ago when FX was released, you get more more work done with more cores at even slow speeds, than few cores at high speeds. Umm can we say Xeon? And with thr sheer amount of detail and processes and pre-rendering needed for new games, long code strings on minimal cores at high speeds just ain't cutting it. 2x short strings will go through a cpu faster on 2 cores than 1 long string on 1 core. Even with the 2 core cpu at half the speed of the 1 core.

Andrei N

Feb 22, 2016
The video clearly shows an issue, now you need to check if it's performance bottleneck or hardware issue.
I'd say that your problem is a performance bottleneck.
If you are using recording software this issue becomes even more visible.
Now if you want to troubleshoot properly start with the same game as in the video posted above.
  1. install an fps counter
  2. Put all video settings to minimum, leave it at native resolution.
  3. Start cranking up the quality one setting at a time.
  4. When you find the setting that causes the issue, turn everything back to minimal and leave only the setting on.
  5. Check with other players if they have the same issue on that setting.
Now if at step 1 you encounter the issue, then you might be having a hardware issue, considering your build it could be a power issue, an ssd issue, or a memory issue.
For a performance bottleneck

One thing to note, that stutter is normal if you are playing on maxed settings. Benchmarks are mostly done in ideal environments with absolutely no other programs running in the background except for the fps counter.

Now onto CPU and GPU usage, the 100% reading is normal.( You might need to install dedicated software in order to check the exact usage: CPU-Z and GPU-Z.)
This is because the Windows readings are usually on the expected load, not on the actual computation load.

Also please check that you have the GPU seated in the high performance slot (first one)and not in some other PCI-e slot.