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Can Your CPU Affect FPS? The Honest TRUTH

intel CPU 8700k box

When I was looking to buy my first CPU I also wondered how much the CPU really impacted my FPS. There are multiple parts in a build, but is the CPU really a major deciding factor of FPS?

Can CPU affect FPS? The capability of your CPU will impact your FPS, however, the larger impact on FPS is made by your GPU.

There needs to be a balance between your CPU and GPU so there isn’t a bottleneck. Although a CPU won’t make as large of an impact, having a good CPU is still very important.

Can CPU Affect FPS?

CPUs can affect FPS although their impact is not as large as that of your GPU. Some developers may optimize their games to rely more on the CPU but even still a good GPU can help you much more.

The duty of a CPU while gaming is to take the information passed on from both the game and the player, then communicate that to the GPU.

The CPU is the all-knowing part that has to describe what the game looks like to the GPU so the GPU can draw it up for the player in-game.

Then once the GPU knows what to show the player, the GPU will work on the much heavier process of drawing the world the CPU is describing.

That’s why a better GPU can impact performance, since this process is so heavy having a more powerful tool to handle it can speed up the process it must go through and provide better performance or FPS.

This is not to say you can get an overly underpowered CPU and an insanely overpowered GPU, if you do this you will create a bottleneck that will still leave you with bad performance.

Having a decent CPU combined with a GPU of good quality can provide a good balance that will give you high FPS for 1080p gaming.

After all, both of these components rely on each other. The CPU must complete its task first then it will pass it on to the GPU.

If you have a CPU that lacks power and slowly processes its tasks then passes that to a GPU that is highly capable of completing these tasks quickly you won’t get the most out of your GPU.

The same goes for the other way around, a good CPU that processes quickly then passes it to a slow GPU that can’t keep up will create a bottleneck that won’t allow for your CPU to maximize its potential.

Therefore, when buying a CPU and GPU always make sure you maintain the balance so you can fully achieve the potential of every component to get the best FPS and overall experience.

Can CPU Temperature Affect FPS?

CPU temperature can affect FPS if your CPU is running at very high temperatures and needs to be throttled to reduce the temps.

This is an automatic process that occurs so your CPU doesn’t sustain damage and neither does your motherboard if your CPU heats up to dangerous temperatures.

It can also prevent the very unfortunate situation of your CPU catching fire and causing much more damage than just a toasty CPU.

If you haven’t yet built your computer, then I recommend getting a better CPU fan than the stock one your are given with your CPU. This can help you keep your temps cooler and get ahead of some heating issues.

A normal range for gaming is somewhere between 65 to 80 degrees Celsius, anything higher than 80 degrees Celsius will likely begin to get throttled.

If you find yourself in this situation it is good practice to do the following:

  1. Reapply your thermal paste on your CPU. We will include a very good guide on how to do this below.
  2. Upgrade your current CPU fan to a more powerful one. Especially if you are still using the stock fan that came with your CPU, I would recommend upgrading to a more powerful Noctua fan.
  3. Clean the dust out of your case. Shut off your PC and get all the dust out of the fans, and generally all-around your case. This should help with airflow and make cooling easier for your fans.

Here is the video I promised on how to easily remove and apply new thermal paste:

What’s An Example of a Budget Balance of GPU and CPU?

Considering I’m sure many people are trying to save money where they can, here is an example of how you can put in practice the information above.

Starting with the CPU, you can go for an i3-10100 which is a reasonably priced CPU with 4 cores and 8 threads. The base clock speed on this is also great at 3.6 GHz with a boost of up to 4.3 GHz!

Overall it is a great 1080p processor for a surprisingly cheap price you can check out here on Amazon.

For the GPU we have an Nvidia RTX 2060, which is a pretty powerful processor that is capable of running above 60 frames on 1080p at very high-quality settings.

This is a great benchmark for this graphics card that also used more budget friendly-parts of a slightly older generation to show what a budget build with this graphics card can achieve.

This graphics card is most likely going to be the most expensive part of your build, but if there is any place to invest your money to get great frames the GPU is a great choice.

To check out this fantastic graphics card as well as see the latest pricing click on this link to Amazon.

How Many FPS Do You Need?

This is a question you must ask yourself when starting any PC build as it can greatly dictate the cost. Of course, the obvious answer is “as many as I can get!” but considering that would lead to a $3000 PC let’s scale it back.

Typically, I would say the answer is whatever your monitor is going to be. If you want to also maximize your monitor’s ability then you should make sure you can achieve the max refresh rate your monitor supports.

That can be anywhere from 60 – 240hz and beyond. If you intend at gaming at around 144hz, 1080p then make sure you research the right parts to achieve that so you can have smooth, performance without screen tearing.

You want to be able to maximize your performance, but if your FPS is too high you can experience screen tearing. Although, this is easily fixed in most games by simply turning on V-sync so it isn’t a big issue.

How To Not Overspend On a CPU

Once you begin to notice that the price is going up substantially but the performance isn’t you should probably stop scaling up your CPU.

Spending an additional $200 when price shopping your CPU to get an extra 10 frames isn’t worth it unless you have an abundance of cash to throw around.

Even then, if you could reinvest that into a better graphics card you could potentially see much better performance increases. Just make sure that you don’t bottleneck your system in the process.

Also, if you are trying to max out performance in your budget build the king of budget CPUs is AMD. They have a reasonable performance to price ratio and have been getting increasingly better over the years.

They still might not achieve as many FPS in games as the Intel CPUs, but they do have much better productivity app scores, and their FPS in games is gradually improving.

Will Upgrading Your CPU Increase FPS?

Typically yes, if you upgrade your CPU to a more powerful, newer model it should also improve the performance and FPS.

However, how much it increases your FPS entirely depends on your current CPU and which CPU you’re planning on upgrading to.

If you have a 7th generation Intel that was part of the less powerful, more budget lineup but upgrade to a 10700k 10th generation Intel you are likely to see a pretty big leap in FPS.

On the flip side if you already have a newer CPU and are hopping to the latest generation, it depends entirely on which model you get but you aren’t as likely to see a huge increase in FPS.

One last thing I will also mention is the cost per frame. Let’s say you spend $400 on a brand new CPU, is it worth it for 10 or less more frames?

That would be $40 for every frame you add, for some people you may say yes for others that may be a no. I know that for me personally, I often have to ask myself this to refrain from buying a new CPU every year.

In Summary: Does Your CPU Affect FPS?

Yes, your CPU does affect your FPS in games in more ways than one.

Having a weak CPU is the obvious factor that affects how high your FPS can get, but if you have a bottleneck that can also be impactful.

Not to mention, if there are any heating issues in your build that would lead to throttling that can especially impact FPS.

If you did have this you would know either by feel or by checking your temps in MSI Afterburner. Also, if the problem was severe most modern-day CPUs should have a fail-safe that shuts down your whole PC.


I've been a PC gamer and builder for around 3 years now but my love for gaming spans many years all the way back to the Nintendo 64! Getting into PC gaming there was a lot of information that was hard to understand so I made it my mission to make PC gaming easy!

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