What to Upgrade First, CPU or GPU [Beginners Guide]

Can’t decide on whether to upgrade your CPU or GPU first. Don’t worry. We got you! CPU and GPU are equally crucial for your PC but determining which is more important is the hard part.

You know your computer is running old when games start freezing on your PC, applications work slower than usual, and your screen takes forever to boot. That is when your PC needs an upgrade, stat!

Our PCs are full of crucial components, and knowing which part to upgrade can be quite tricky, but no need to worry. We are here to help you get rid of this confusion.

Once you are done reading this article, you will know exactly how to upgrade PC parts, specifically whether you should update your GPU first or CPU.


CPU Vs. GPU: What are the Differences?

Anyone who uses a computer must know what a CPU and GPU are. However, we will dig a little deeper to break things down and make them easier for us to understand, and in case you don’t know them well, don’t worry. We have got you covered.

So first, what is a CPU. A CPU stands for Central Processing Unit. It is the brain of your computer and consists of millions of transistors. Your CPU controls other PC components and ensures they work together in harmony.

A GPU, on the other hand, stands for Graphics Processing Unit. Just like the CPU, it also consists of millions of transistors; its job is to improve your PC’s graphics. While the CPU controls all your major components, the GPU is limited to serving specific requirements.

So, to summarize all this in simpler words, the CPU is responsible for controlling everything on your PC and analyzing the overall performance, while the GPU’s sole job is to improve the graphics.

Now that we know what a CPU and GPU are, let’s move forward.

When Should You Upgrade the Processor?

If money seems to be the least of your problems, you can upgrade your processor whenever possible. However, suppose at the time you cannot afford to put a strain on your wallet. In that case, you need to ask yourself the following critical questions before making a conclusive decision.

The first question you need to ask yourself is whether your CPU is performing to its full potential. The second question is your CPU bottlenecking your GPU. And last but not least, does your PC require more cores to surpass its current performance.

When you ask yourself these questions, you will know whether your processor needs an upgrade or not.

Apart from this, just like we humans get sick and we show signs and symptoms, your computer will also show symptoms when it is time for an upgradation. These are:

  1. Sluggish performance.
  2. Inability to overclock.
  3. Failure to perform with modern software.

1. Sluggish Performance

Your PC normally should not take more than two minutes to turn on and off. If your PC has major issues, this time will be extended. If an SSD is installed on your PC, your computer will take about a minute to turn on and off.

Suppose your PC fails to turn on and off within the provided timeframe. In that case, we recommend opening up your PC and applying thermal paste. Once you do, check to see if your period for turning on and off has reduced.

If using thermal paste does nothing to aid your current situation, it is time to make some major changes.

2. Unable to Overclock

If you don’t know what overclocking is, it means resetting any component of your PC. To increase the base speed of your CPU, overclocking it can help. This will increase the overall clock speed of your PC’s processor.

3. Not performing with modern software.

Modern software requires a lot of power to operate optimally and smoothly. The new CPUs have special functions like less power consumption, automatic boost up for a certain period, and so on. If these features are lacking on your PC, upgrading should be your go-to.

CPU Bottleneck

If your PC faces compatibility issues, it will fail to provide the required performance. This is called CPU Bottleneck. Typically, a CPU bottlenecks when your processor is not up to date with the rest of your components. At this point, your PC requires more power, and your PC’s processor fails to supply it.

When is a Good Time to Upgrade Your GPU?

If you are extensively into gaming, YouTube, or establishing a professional workstation, you should upgrade your GPU. Another reason is an unfunctional GPU.

GPUs have a lifespan of about four years. After that, they fail to run at full capacity. When your GPU craves an upgrade, it will show the following symptoms:

1. Excessive CPU Heat

When your GPU fails to perform optimally, the CPU becomes dominant. The CPU stretches its potential, and excessive heat is produced. You should consider upgrading your GPU at this point.

2. Constant Frame Drop

Another symptom is a constant frame drop. If your CPU is providing peak performance, but your GPU fails to keep up, you will notice sudden frame skimming; if your GPU fails to keep up with the 60 FPS, your need to upgrade your GPU.

3. Longevity

As previously mentioned, the average life span of a GPU is 4 years. If your GPU is older, it will fail to keep up with the modern software and graphics and will put an excessive load on your CPU.

CPU or GPU: Which Component needs an Upgrade First?

Whether you upgrade your CPU or GPU depends on your budget and prerequisites.

Suppose you require high-end gaming with extraordinary graphics. In that case, upgrading your GPU should be your priority but if gaming and video rendering are the least of your concerns, then upgrading your CPU first is the better option.

Apart from that, having keen observations regarding your PC’s performance and paying close attention to the symptoms our PC portrays will also guide you towards what to upgrade first.

Final Thoughts

I have explained the importance of both CPU and GPU extensively. Now it is up to you to judge your PC’s performance and symptoms and your priorities when it comes to your PC and make a decision.

Hopefully, this article proved helpful to you!

Nick Miller

It's Nick Miller a 25 year old tech enthusiast and senior editor at Flexgate, i try to make tech simple for the everyday person. You will find review about tech, tools and Computer hardware here.

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