High CPU usage and low GPU usage bothering you? Try these 10 fixes

Aleksandar Ognjanovic
by 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 spots the next big thing surrounding... Read more
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  • Sometimes you must learn the high CPU usage and low GPU usage fix for PC.
  • Your gaming and editing activities will be affected if the system uses more GPU than CPU.
  • Prevent more CPU usage in your PC than GPU by using our tested solutions.
  • Learn how to apply our solutions and leave us a comment with your experience.
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The bottlenecking is nothing strange in the current era. We have a cryptocurrency-mining GPUs which need a nuclear reactor to supply on and CPUs need some catching up to do.

AMD does that with Ryzen series (affordable but powerful) and we hope Intel will follow in the same fashion.

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.

These fixes should improve your CPU and GPU for gaming and for editing too if you have a passion for that. Follow the steps and hope for the best.


How can I deal with the high CPU/ low GPU usage?

  1. Check GPU drivers
  2. Tweak in-game setting
  3. Patch affected games
  4. Disable third-party apps working in the background
  5. Disable all power-preserving modes in BIOS/UEFI
  6. Enable XMP in BIOS/UEFI
  7. Use 4 cores if possible and try overclocking
  8. Reinstall the game
  9. Reinstall Windows
  10. Replace/add some hardware

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usually mean that your CPU is bottlenecking your GPU, which is quite common if you have powerful graphics and an outdated CPU.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

Making sure you’re meeting game system requirements is the first step.

If that’s indeed the case, let’s start by removing the current set of drivers for the graphics card and installing the latest version manually.

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.

You can perform a good and fast driver management if you try out a reliable third-party software. This way, you will not have to manually search for the latest graphic card drivers.

Use professional software that will improve your computer’s performance. It is based on a simple, fast and secure technology for your graphic card.

To make sure that everything goes smoothly and avoid any kind of GPU driver errors, be sure to use a complete driver update assistant that will solve your problems with just a couple of clicks, and we strongly recommend DriverFix. Follow these easy steps to safely update your drivers:

  1. Download and install DriverFix.
  2. Launch the software.
  3. Wait for DriverFix to detect all your faulty drivers.
  4. The application will now show you all the drivers that have issues, and you just need to select the ones you’d liked fixed.
  5. Wait for the app to download and install the newest drivers.
  6. Restart your PC for the changes to take effect.
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2. Tweak in-game setting

Now, let’s slightly move to the game which exhibits this kind of behavior. The games we run into are largely recently introduced or their recent versions are causing high CPU/low GPU process usage.

The likes of Overwatch, Battlefield 5, Black Ops 4, or 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.

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

Also, increasing resolution, details, and enabling Future Frame Rendering should make GPU work more instead of CPU doing a 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 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 open System Configuration.System Configuration
  2. Under the Services tab, check the Hide all Microsoft services box.Fix high CPU usage and low GPU usage
  3. Click Disable all to disable all active third-party services.
  4. Now, select the Startup tab and go to Task Manager.High CPU usage and low GPU usage issues
  5. Prevent all programs from starting with the system and confirm changes.
  6. Restart your PC.

We might’ve been focused on the game optimization (or lack of it) as a primary reason for the high CPU and low GPU usage, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

There’s an abundance of third-party apps working in the background (some even game related, like FRAPS or TeamSpeak) which can take a lot of CPU.

With that in mind, we suggest disabling all background processes and sticking with only Microsoft services while gaming. This will eliminate a possible negative effect and reduce CPU usage.

This stands for game clients  (Steam, Origin, Battle.net) and antivirus solutions as well, so close them before starting the game and disable real-time protection.


5. Disable all power-preserving modes in BIOS/UEFI

  1. Right-click on the Battery icon in the notification area and open Power options.battery power options
  2. Select High Performance.
  3. Confirm changes.

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.

So, reboot your PC into the UEFI Firmware settings menu and disable everything even remotely connected to power preservation.

Once you’ve done that, navigate to Power options and enable a High-Performance mode within the Windows UI.


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 to do 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 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 breaks 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.

Make sure to use several process managers to make sure 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 run 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 GTX 1070 won’t do you any good.

This is because 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 the high CPU and low GPU usage, a powerful gaming processor is a must. Basically, if you want top performance, buy top CPU. As simple as that.

Add some RAM along with the new CPU and the bottlenecking will be a thing of the past.


We have gathered these solutions to optimize how your computer uses its CPU and GPU. Hopefully, we provided you with enough troubleshooting material to deal with this issue.

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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