Question CPU vs GPU For Low Settings/High Frame Gaming

Oct 13, 2019
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I upgraded my SLI680/3570k setup with a 2060 Super a few days ago and I’m seeing basically no improvement. I play mostly competitive first person shooters so I always play with everything on low with no AA etc at 1080p in order to get the highest frames possible and clearest rather than prettiest picture possible.

I’m getting higher frames with the new GPU and greater GPU load at higher graphics settings but that reduces rather than raises my overall frame rate obviously.

It’s looking like I’m going to have to upgrade my whole system as the CPU seems to be the problem rather than the old GPUs so I’m looking to get a 9900KF and a new mobo and ram (the best CPU upgrade I can do without upgrading anything else is a 3770k and I doubt it will make a huge difference).

So my question is, for someone who games on low settings and wants a baseline of 100fps and preferably higher, is a top of the line CPU paired with an average GPU sufficient/ideal even?

Given that with all settings on low, games seem to more likely to draw on the CPU than GPU, do I even need a good GPU?

Black ops 4 for example is getting 100-160 FPS with max CPU usage and 1-10% GPU usage. The GPU seems to be almost unnecessary at low settings. Insurgency Sandstorm and BFV are maxing out the CPU and the GPU is at around 40% usage, both getting around 75 frames on average.

Obviously the CPU is bottlenecking the GPU but if my old i5 is capable of taking the lion’s share of the load in brand new games and in the case of Black Ops 4, often the entire load, it seems that on low settings, a good CPU would be the most important part of the system and a decent but not high end GPU would be sufficient.

TLDR: All discussions on CPU vs GPU seem to be based on normal use where users just want the highest quality settings at 60 FPS so having a decent CPU and a great GPU seems to be what’s suggested but for low settings with high frames being the goal, is it actually the other way around?
 
Hm....

I believe you need a good GPU still for high framerate gaming, even though the load is on the CPU. The GPU still has to fill in those pixels. Even more so if you want 'guaranteed' framerates.

To satisfy yourself, try gaming with the integrated graphics you have and see how well it performs.
 
Oct 13, 2019
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Hm....

I believe you need a good GPU still for high framerate gaming, even though the load is on the CPU. The GPU still has to fill in those pixels. Even more so if you want 'guaranteed' framerates.

To satisfy yourself, try gaming with the integrated graphics you have and see how well it performs.
Thanks, I’ll try that.
 
Oct 13, 2019
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Within reason the cpu determines the best FPS you can achieve. The gpu determines at what resolution and game settings you can achieve that FPS at.
Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. It seems that the CPU determines how well the core game functions and the GPU determines the “frills”.

At 1080p, low settings, is a 2060 Super likely to bottleneck a 9900KF? Also, is the KF the better option or the K version?

Lastly, would I be better off just getting a 9400F for now and replacing the whole box in three years or so? I can get a 9400F mobo and RAM and air cooler bundle for AUD$500 compared to AUD$1236 for a full 9900KF setup with mobo, RAM and water cooling. My system is now 8-9 years old. Are the components even going to last much longer?
 
Oct 13, 2019
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Cpus don't bottleneck gpus. The gpu limitations are resolution and graphics eye candy; the higher it is, the more horsepower you will need.
K: unlocked. Allows for cpu OC.
F: no integrated gpu. A discreet gpu is required.
KF: unlocked and no igpu.


By replacing the whole box, you mean selling off the PC?
Cpus have longer 'shelf lives' than gpus, so the 9400 would be relevant for longer than the 2060 Super would. Quad cores became outdated only recently.
My CPU seems to be bottlenecking my GPU at the moment. CPU load is at 100%, GPU at around 40% depending on the game. From what I’ve read, that’s a CPU bottleneck. Is that not the case?

The CPU seems to be the limiting factor at the moment. From what I understand, if I had a more powerful CPU, with the 2060 Super I would be getting more frames (on all low settings at 1080p with no AA specifically). I can load the GPU up with more “work” by maxing out the in-game graphics settings which maxes out its usage at 100% but that just lowers the overall frame rate. Essentially, I upgraded because I thought a more powerful GPU would give me more frames at low settings but that’s not happening. I’m getting higher frames than I would have with my old SLI680 setup with ultra settings but that’s not what I’m looking for.

Did you mean GPUs don’t bottleneck CPUs because it seems like if either is a lot more highly spec’d than the other, it can bottleneck whatever the underpowered hardware is.

The KF seems slightly better for overclocking. I was just wondering what the general consensus was on that. See this article for more:

https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-9900kf-vs-9900k-overclock-comparison,6038.html

Yes, by that I mean keeping the case, drives and 2060, getting the cheapest current CPU/mono that I can (9400) and then selling everything in a few years vs buying a 9900KF now and using this build a lot longer, most likely replacing just the GPU in a few years as the 9900KF will presumably be good for much longer than the 9400.
 
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Cpus don't bottleneck gpus. The gpu limitations are resolution and graphics eye candy; the higher it is, the more horsepower you will need.
K: unlocked. Allows for cpu OC.
F: no integrated gpu. A discreet gpu is required.
KF: unlocked and no igpu.


By replacing the whole box, you mean selling off the PC?
Cpus have longer 'shelf lives' than gpus, so the 9400 would be relevant for longer than the 2060 Super would. Quad cores became outdated only recently.
This is an old debate since gaming on PC started, and yes your are wrong, the cpu can hold down a gpu now it is the question if you get the desired fps or not, if not change CPU if yes then increase visual quality until the cpu is not the limiting factor anymore.
 
Oct 13, 2019
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This is an old debate since gaming on PC started, and yes your are wrong, the cpu can hold down a gpu now it is the question if you get the desired fps or not, if not change CPU if yes then increase visual quality until the cpu is not the limiting factor anymore.
Ahh damnit, I did it again!
Both of you, forget I said anything, it's not what I meant.
Sorry.
No worries! Thanks for the reply anyway.
 
Oct 13, 2019
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Hm....

I believe you need a good GPU still for high framerate gaming, even though the load is on the CPU. The GPU still has to fill in those pixels. Even more so if you want 'guaranteed' framerates.

To satisfy yourself, try gaming with the integrated graphics you have and see how well it performs.
So I tried running Black Ops 4 on the integrated graphics and it was hitting 100-160 FPS. At least in that game on low settings, it’s not utilising the GPU at all. Looks like essentially, for low settings, high refresh rates the CPU is the main piece of hardware to prioritise.
 
That's pretty much the case for high refresh rates. The thing with the information and opinions given here is there is a sense of balance.

As a basic analogy, the CPU draws out the frame, and the GPU fills it in. There's a limit to how many frames a second a CPU can draw, and there's a limit to how quickly a GPU can fill in the available frames. (I think of it like a three-legged race.)
 
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Oct 13, 2019
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That's pretty much the case for high refresh rates. The thing with the information and opinions given here is there is a sense of balance.

As a basic analogy, the CPU draws out the frame, and the GPU fills it in. There's a limit to how many frames a second a CPU can draw, and there's a limit to how quickly a GPU can fill in the available frames. (I think of it like a three-legged race.)
Thanks, now whenever I’m gaming I’m going to be thinking about three-legged CPU/GPU races, haha.

I think the best move for now is getting a 9900KF and replacing the 2060 in a few years with another low tier card. However, am I likely to see much benefit from the hyperthreading on the 3770k if I went that route instead?I’m kind of hesitant to buy a secondhand CPU, especially so long after it was initially released and I figure if I’m going to go to the trouble of replacing the CPU, replacing the motherboard as well isn’t too much more messing around but if it would save me the cost of the new high end CPU and mobo and get me another couple of years out of my setup it might be worth it.
 
Multithreaded applications (games or otherwise) will depend on their coding to take advantage of them.

Increasingly the old i5s (4c/4t) are showing signs of being insufficient for some modern AAA titles, so a 6-core seems to be the minimum recommended core count for a CPU. A 4c/8t CPU would certainly help a bit if wanting to stick to the current motherboard. Hardware Unboxed (on Youtube) do a fairly extensive range of testing which might have some comparisons relevant.

A new CPU/motherboard/RAM combo will likely last longer, if chosen wisely.
 

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