Operating System

When to Upgrade Your CPU: Factors to Consider

There is a situation when you have the best graphics cards but the other parts of your system sign that they are age-old. In this case, you may ask whether I should update my PC. Unsurprisingly, the answer is it depends. CPU update is not noticeable when the CPU upgrade does not have a superb performance effect as much as the GPU upgrade does. Besides gaming, you should consider that the CPU is the brain of your PC. To find out whether you need to update your CPU or not, you should know what you want from a CPU and whether your current CPU performs excellent performance while gaming.

This article is about When should you upgrade your CPU. To learn how, read the following content.

When Should You Upgrade Your CPU?

You should update your CPU if it is bottlenecking the GPU. To find this out, you should control CPU and GPU utilization while gaming. Also, if your PC has less than six cores, the CPU may be bottlenecking other components while gaming since games need six cores at least. But, there are some games work properly with four cores as well.

Note that there are more important factors and gaming should not be your only consideration. In case when you have CPU-intensive applications, it is worth to upgrading your CPU every two / three CPU generations. Also, if you have an old CPU and you want to improve your daily desktop experience, you need to update your CPU.

Besides that, ask yourself whether you want the latest technologies related to a CPU upgrade. For instance, you will need a modern motherboard and CPU combo to use the latest PCIe and DDR standard capabilities.

As a result, if you run a previous-gen Intel or AMD CPU with six cores or more, you will not notice a significant uplift in gaming performance. But, if you have a good graphics card and you are running a CPU that is a few generations old or has less than six cores, you will receive a noticeable boost in performance.


The brain of your computer is CPU which is the abbreviation of the word Central Processing Unit. The operating system sends the instructions to the CPU, and the CPU computes the instructions. However, some tasks will be delegated to other components.

Modern CPUs are multi-core. They can perform multiple operations simultaneously. CPUs run at a certain speed which is measured by megahertz or gigahertz. When the CPU needs a faster speed, its speed often boosts up to a higher speed.


What Is the Difference Between CPU vs GPU?

Since the CPU runs all the instructions that are given to it by operating systems and apps, it impacts every aspect of your desktop experience more than any other component. CPU upgrade should enrich all aspects of your desktop experience, not only gaming.

GPU stands for General Processing Unit. It only works on things like graphics render, and it requires a powerful processor for some specific things like animation and gaming software. However, it is less crucial for general-use applications.

To decide whether you need a CPU upgrade or GPU upgrade, you need to consider that for raising your in-game FPS, it is better to upgrade GPU, but for enriching your daily desktop and app performance, a CPU upgrade is the best.

Which Type of CPU Cores is Better for Gaming?

Games rely on the performance of single-core CPU. Single-core performance displays the fastness of computing the instructions by your individual CPU’s cores. Multi-core performance displays the fastness of operations that utilize multiple cores by your CPU.

This state has started to change a bit in recent years. Therefore, old games should not need more than 4 cores to run properly, but new games need 6 cores. Having more than 6 cores is too much for gaming purposes. However, if you do some heavy work, such as video editing, you need more core for the best experience.

Which CPU Speed is Better for Gaming?

Since gaming relies on a single-core performance of CPU than multi-core performance, the speed is more important than the core number. The clock speed of the CPU is measured with megahertz or gigahertz. This measures how many transistor cycles that are toggling your CPU can perform each second. The more cycles per second result the more calculation that can perform per second.

The overall CPU’s speed does not dwindle to its clock speed. Because the CPU’s design can influence the number of instructions that it can perform per second. Therefore, the number of instructions that a CPU can perform per clock is significant.

How Can I Check My CPU Performance?

To decide whether you need to upgrade your CPU or not, you need to know how to compare it with the performance of your current CPU. To do so, you need to run CPU benchmarks and CPU-intensive games, then compare the results to CPU benchmarks online.

But, sometimes you might want to know whether your CPU is stopping your system from working by bottlenecking the other components. Because if this is true, you will know that you need to upgrade your CPU without needing to compare it to other CPUs.

What Is Bottlenecking?

Bottlenecking happens when a component limits your computer’s performance, and the whole system will work well only by upgrading that component. CPU bottleneck happens when the CPU is acting like the bottle’s neck. It prevents the rest of your system’s power potential. For example, you may have a great graphics card, but your CPU is weak, in this case, your CPU might not be able to send data to the graphics card as fast as it should. When this situation occurs, you cannot use your graphics card to its full potential since the CPU restricts the performance of the graphics card artificially.

If a bottleneck occurs, you need to know that it is time for upgrading.

What Is Bottlenecking?

How Can I Test for a CPU Bottleneck?

To test for your CPU bottleneck, you need to know how much of your CPU is being used while you run games and apps and compare it with your GPU’s utilization.

If you want to check for a bottleneck, it is better to run games and apps that you use instead of running CPU benchmarks and stress tests. Because they often try to max out your CPU’s load, and they always show near to 100% CPU utilization.

 If you run your games or apps, you will get an accurate picture of your daily utilization. It also tells you whether it is bottlenecking your system. While you are playing the game, if it shows at, or below, 100% CPU utilization, and GPU is not close to its maxing out on utilization, then you will know that it is probably bottlenecking the rest of your system when you are playing games on your computer.

You can use a program called HWMonitor to check your CPU’s utilization. This app displays all utilization percentages of your CPU cores in a separate sub-section.

How Can I Test for a CPU Bottleneck?

Instead of the HWMonitor app, you can use Windows Task Manager if you do not have HWMonitor downloaded.

To do so, follow the steps below:

1.Hold Ctrl + Shift + Esc hotkey to open Task Manager.

2.Go to the Performance tab.

3.Choose CPU from the left side pane.

4.Now, you can see a graph on your right side pane. This graph shows your CPU’s utilisation percentage.

5.Right-click on the graph.

6.Select the Change graph to option. Then, choose Logical processors from the options that are shown to you. This action will bring you the utilisation of your CPU’s cores and threads.

How Can I Test for a CPU Bottleneck?

7.In this step, you need to boot some of the most CPU-intensive games you have. Then, look at the graphs while playing. The picture below is an example of a graph while playing a game.

How Can I Test for a CPU Bottleneck?

You should see if your CPU is bottlenecking the rest of your system. In that case, while your CPU utilisation is mixing out on most of its cores, you will notice that your GPU utilisation is not close to maxing out. You can find the GPU utilisation on the left side pane of the Performance tab in the Task Manager window.

Since most modern games use six cores, when you play games, if six or more cores are at max utilization, then you probably have a CPU bottleneck.

Last words

Upgrading your CPU will give you a noticeable performance while working with your PC. But, you should know the right time to update your CPU, else you will not receive a significant uplift in your PC and gaming performance. Here, you can find out when you need a CPU upgradation. Have you ever upgraded your CPU? When did you do that? Do you know any other ways to find out when to update the CPU? Share your ideas with us!

Kimia Sh

Kimia is an accomplished author and technology enthusiast with a keen interest in writing about Windows tips and tricks. Born and raised in Tehran, Iran, Kimia always had a fascination for technology and its ever-evolving capabilities. After completing her studies in Computer Science, Kimia started working in the software development industry, where she gained extensive experience and technical expertise. Her passion for writing about technology led her to create a blog focused on providing Windows users with useful tips and tricks. Kimia's blog quickly gained popularity, and she became known for her ability to communicate technical concepts in an accessible and easy-to-understand manner. Her articles are praised for their clarity and practicality, and she has developed a loyal following of readers who look to her for advice on getting the most out of their Windows systems. In addition to writing about technology, Kimia is also an accomplished software developer and has contributed to the development of numerous applications and software programs. Her technical expertise gives her a unique perspective on the challenges faced by Windows users, and she is always seeking out new ways to make their lives easier and more efficient. When she's not working on her blog or developing software, Kimia enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with her family and friends. She is also an avid traveler and loves to explore new cultures and cuisines. Overall, Kimia is a talented author and technology expert who is passionate about sharing her knowledge with others. Her dedication to providing practical, useful advice to Windows users has made her a respected figure in the industry, and she continues to inspire and educate others through her work on her blog and beyond.

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