High CPU Usage but Low GPU usage: 10 Ways to Fix it

Discover tested troubleshooting solutions by our experts

by Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Troubleshooting Expert
Aleksandar's main passion is technology. With a solid writing background, he is determined to bring the bleeding edge to the common user. With a keen eye, he always... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • The high CPU and low GPU usage discrepancy can be caused by outdated graphics drivers.
  • Other common causes include third-party background applications, faulty hardware, and outdated game files.
  • If you wonder how to use more GPU than CPU, one of the best solutions is to disable all unnecessary background services.
High CPU usage and low GPU
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The bottlenecking is nothing strange in the current era. We have cryptocurrency-mining GPUs that need a nuclear reactor to supply on, and CPUs need some catching up to do.

But bottlenecking isn’t always the reason for the strange usage discrepancy between CPU and GPU. High CPU usage and low GPU usage might occur for various reasons.

This will, of course, lead to FPS drops, CPU overheating, and all kinds of issues. In order to help you resolve it, we put everything we can think of in the list below.

Why is my CPU high and GPU low?

Your GPU is probably being underutilized for one of the following reasons: you are making use of the integrated graphics on your computer, there is a problem with the graphics driver, you are experiencing a bottleneck caused by your CPU, or the game you are playing isn’t optimized.

As our readers reported facing the high CPU and low GPU situation in Warzone, FiveM, Fortnite, and CyberPunk, we found out that if you don’t have the latest version of the game installed, it can cause such discrepancies.

Moreover, you can check out our guide on how to reduce CPU usage while gaming if updating the game doesn’t do the trick.

The issue is present on all versions and users reported high CPU in Windows 11 as well. To fix it, you just need to disable all background applications that aren’t essential.

It’s important to pay attention to high CPU temperature because it will damage your hardware if not addressed properly.

How do I fix high CPU and low GPU usage?

In this article

1. Check GPU drivers

These symptoms usually mean that your CPU is bottlenecking your GPU, which is quite common if you have powerful graphics and an outdated CPU.

However, there are so many variables that, even though highly likely, we can’t say with certainty bottlenecking is the reason for high CPU and low GPU occurrence.

  1. Right-click the Start icon then select Device Manager.device-manager-w10 amd driver install problems
  2. Click on Display adapters in order to expand it, then right-click the graphics adapter and select Uninstall device.uninstall-device-graphics-card windows 11 keeps restarting

After you’ve removed a current driver, navigate to the Nvidia/AMD website. Under the download section, find an appropriate driver fitting your GPU model and system architecture.

Ensure your system performs smoothly and avoids all GPU driver errors by using a complete driver update assistant, namely Outbyte Driver Updater, that will do the job for you. Here's how to safely update your drivers:
  1. Download and install the Outbyte Driver Updater app.
  2. Launch the software and wait for the app to detect all incompatible drivers.
  3. Now, it will show you a list of all faulty drivers to select the ones to Update or Ignore.
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  4. Click on Update & Apply Selected to download and install the newest versions.
  5. Restart your PC to ensure the applied changes.


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2. Tweak in-game setting

The likes of Overwatch, Battlefield 5, Black Ops 4, and PUBG are dominating the list. The funny thing is that affected users haven’t experienced strange CPU/GPU behavior on other titles, some even more demanding.

This means that something concerning that exact game is causing issues. And, in this case, we would suggest disabling all CPU-depending graphical features and enabling GPU ones. Moreover, you should refer to our dedicated guide on how to lower CPU usage in games.

Some even say that most games should be run on high or ultra graphics settings to avoid CPU burden. We can advise you to disable VSync and Antialiasing.

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Also, increasing the resolution, and the details plus enabling Future Frame Rendering should make GPU work more instead of the CPU doing the majority of the work.

Some games will work much smoother on the DX12 option, so switch to it if possible.  This might or might not affect FPS, but it’s worth a try.

3. Patch the affected games

This step is the continuation of the previous one. Some games, like Overwatch, suddenly started exhibiting this kind of behavior even though players have more than enough processing power to run it.

Seemingly, issues started suddenly in the third quartal of 2018 and we can blame the graphics-improving patch for that.

This might or might not be the case for other games, but whether it’s a Battle.net, Origin, or Steam game, make sure it’s up to date.

Some issues got patched and the majority of players are enjoying seamless gameplay without a CPU throttling a GPU.

4. Disable third-party apps active in the background

1. In the Windows Search bar, type msconfig and click on the first result to open System Configuration.

msconfig-w10 vertical lines on monitor

2. Navigate to the Services tab.

3. Check the Hide all Microsoft services box, then click Disable all to disable all active third-party services.

hide-disable vertical lines on monitor

4. Now, select the Startup tab and go to Task Manager.

startup-open file explorer crashes when i right click

5. Click any startup program you think might be interfering then select Disable. We recommend that you disable all of them which are not essential.

disable-process high cpu low gpu

6. Exit Task Manager, click OK in the System Configuration window, and restart your PC.

When you’re experiencing high CPU usage but low GPU usage, it is a good idea to get rid of unused background apps. They can free up a lot of CPU memory, so that your PC will run better.

You can remove unwanted processes via Task Manager. Simply filter the active processes by CPU usage and end those which take up a lot of resources and you have no use for.

5. Disable all power-preserving modes

  1. Press Windows then type edit power plan and click the first result.edit-powerplan  high cpu low gpu
  2. Select the Power Options window.power-options high cpu low gpu
  3. Select the High Performance plan which will use up your PC’s resources in order to render the best performance.high-performance  high cpu low gpu

Power-preserving modes are a big no-no if your CPU is falling behind the GPU in terms of processing power. Especially if you’re an avid gamer dealing with demanding AAA titles.

This means that both system and motherboard settings regarding less power consumption should be disabled.

6. Enable XMP in BIOS/UEFI

Enabling XMP or Extreme Memory Profile in BIOS will, at least slightly, improve RAM performance.

We know that RAM isn’t in a direct connection with the high CPU/low GPU issues but it has its part in it.

Bottlenecking is a common problem, as all parts (mainly CPU) of configuration don’t function well together.

This option allows for the faster-than-standard speeds of RAM and possibly will improve the overall PC performance a little bit.

If your PC doesn’t have a strong configuration, you can use software to improve its performance.

Whether that will be enough to overcome the CPU bottleneck or not, we can say with certainty.

7. Use 4 cores if possible and try overclocking

To optimize the game for the general public, developers have to deal with thousands of different configurations. Some GPU-CPU combos, regardless of how capable, just won’t work as intended.

This might be the case here. If you’re running a multi-thread CPU, double-check the in-game settings and try switching to 4-thread option if available. For example, Battlefield 5 might do better on a 4-thread option.

In addition, if you can take more from your CPU by upping the clock speeds, we highly suggest doing it.

Just keep in mind that this requires some general knowledge about overclocking and software to keep track about temperatures, voltage, and performance.

The manufacturer speeds are usually much lower than the CPU is capable of meeting. Firstly, inform about your CPU online and then move to overclock.

This should, in the right circumstances, be quite a boost and a possible resolution for the problem at hand.

8. Reinstall the game

If none of the previous steps helped you with that one game that refuses to work as intended, consider reinstalling it. This process allows you to enjoy some of the best PC games without errors.

Removing everything and starting from scratch can be a painful and lengthy experience. Especially if you need to wait for hours for a game to download again.

However, PC games, like any other piece of software out there, can get broken. Configuration files can get corrupt (if you’ve made some hardware changes) or a bad update can break the game for you.

That’s why reinstallation isn’t such a bad idea after all. Just make sure you’ve backed up your saves and reinstall the game. After that, reboot your PC and give it another try.

Use several process managers to ensure that the CPU is indeed hitting high rates while GPU is almost idle.

9. Reinstall Windows

The system might be at fault as well, so that’s another thing you can do to reduce high CPU usage. If you’re running Windows 7, consider disabling Windows Update, as its service is known for skyrocketing CPU usage.

Most recent titles require Windows 10 in order to work and, all annoyances aside, this system proved to be the best for gaming.

Therefore, consider upgrading to Windows 10 or, if you’re already running Windows 10 on a 64-bit architecture, try reinstalling it and running the game again.

This will take some time but it helped some users normalize CPU/GPU performance. An efficient solution you should try in this case is to reinstall Windows 10.

10. Replace or add some fresh hardware

And finally, we came through with this Captain Obvious suggestion. But sometimes, your CPU is just not enough. Combining an older CPU with a GTX 1070 won’t do you any good.

The CPU will always try to keep up with the top-notch graphics processor. And it will fail every time. That’s why minimum requirements might be misleading and often are.

For the majority of games where users reported high CPU and low GPU usage or high GPU and low FPS, a powerful gaming processor is a must. Basically, if you want top performance, buy a top CPU. As simple as that.

Add some RAM along with the new CPU and the bottlenecking will be a thing of the past. Alternatively, clean and optimize your current memory in order to avoid purchasing additional ones.

Don’t forget to share an alternative approach in the comments section below. It might help other readers in need, and sharing is caring.

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