PC Components

What Does a CPU Do for Gaming?

Gaming Setup

If you’re a hardcore gamer, you must know how crucial a strong GPU is. The graphics processing unit handles everything you visually experience on the screen, and that’s what a game is all about. However, it doesn’t mean that the CPU plays no part in gaming. Without a powerful CPU, your gaming experience will be far from ideal.

Quick Answer

The CPU is the brain of your computer. It directs and manages all the components to execute respective functions, including the GPU. If your CPU isn’t strong enough, it will have difficulty coordinating with the GPU resulting in choppier frame rates. All the processing happening behind the gaming screen is handled by the CPU.

There are a lot of different tasks performed by the CPU that help maximize gaming performance. So, it all depends upon the architecture of the CPU. In this article, you’ll learn everything about a CPU and what it does for gaming. 

Defining a CPU

Before we start talking about the contributions of the CPU in gaming, we first need to know what a CPU is. A CPU or central processing unit is arguably one of the most crucial components of a computer. It acts like the brain of a computer and tells every component what to do.

Two major aspects of a CPU directly determine its power or capability.

CPU Cores

The cores of a CPU are usually used to determine how many tasks it can handle simultaneously. A single core can perform one task at a time, so having multiple cores means the workload can be divided among the cores.

However, most games do not demand too many cores to work. Two or four cores are enough to run even the mightiest of titles. So, a CPU with six to eight cores will be ideal.

There are always some exceptions, and certain games are being developed to utilize ten or even more cores on a CPU. So, the more cores you have, the more powerful or speedy your CPU is.

Strength of Cores

It’s not all about the number of cores; the power of those cores is also important. The clock speed of these cores usually defines this strength. The higher speed the cores are clocked at, the better performance they are capable of delivering. 

It’s always better to have fewer high-performing cores than more underperforming ones if you’re only looking for gaming. The IPC or instructions per cycle also determine the overall strength of your CPU. 

It measures how many instructions your CPU can handle in a second. You always want to have a higher IPC.

Contribution of a CPU to Gaming

Now that we know everything about a CPU, let’s talk about what it does in the gaming department.

Directing the GPU

When you start playing a game, the GPU renders all the visuals and graphics on the screen. However, the CPU tells the GPU which information to display and at what time.

Without the CPU, the GPU will never know how to process the available information, even if it can run the game. That’s why the CPU is very crucial. If you’re playing a shooting game, the CPU will calculate your lives, ammo, and all information about the character. It will then pass the information to the GPU, which will display it on the screen.

Calculating Results 

Displaying the graphics is one thing, but a game is never a stagnant picture. All the characters are constantly moving, every stat is continuously changing, and all this number crunching lies on the shoulders of a CPU. It processes all the information, like how much damage a character has received or how much the player moves when you give a stroke to your mouse.

The CPU renders every bit of information before it gets to the GPU. It depends on how fast the CPU processes the data, which helps the GPU maintain a smooth frame rate. Some games have bots or computer-controlled players, also played by the CPU.

Choosing the Best CPU for Gaming

It’s so overwhelming that a small CPU can perform so many tasks. Currently, there are two major CPU manufacturers in the market: AMD and Intel.

You should consider Intel’s processors if you want a gaming CPU. They are better suited for gaming needs, and most gamers prefer Intel over AMD, although there’s not much difference.

AMD processors, on the other hand, are more suitable for animations and video editing due to their multi-threading capability. In any case, you should invest in a CPU that has at least four cores.

The Bottom Line

Although everyone thinks that only the GPU helps run games on a computer, it’s not exactly true. The CPU plays almost an equally important role in gaming as GPU. It all depends on how many cores your CPU possesses and how powerful they are. 

Your CPU processes all the gaming information behind the screen and directs the GPU on how to display the information in the form of graphics. It is also responsible for maintaining a smoother frame rate. This article has described all the CPU responsibilities in the gaming department. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Will a faster processor draw out more power?

Yes, the faster your processor is, the more power it will utilize. It will also depend on how demanding your game or task is and how much CPU power it requires. That’s why it is recommended to upgrade your cooling system if you’re buying a new processor. 

Can the CPU affect the FPS during gaming?

Yes, the strength of your CPU can affect your gaming FPS. The CPU processes all the information from your game before reaching the GPU, so it matters how quickly the CPU can process the data.

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