How to Tell If a Game is CPU or GPU Intensive [Know at Once]

Written By Farhan Max

Games, like Spider-Man Remastered or God of War Ragnarök, either demand a high processor or high graphics card power to run on PC.

Before buying and installing a game, it’s important to know what intensive a game is. Otherwise, the game won’t run, the PC may crash, and most importantly, time and money both will be

In this article, I will explain how you can effortlessly tell if a game is GPU or CPU-intensive.

So, tag along.

How to Know If a Game is CPU or GPU Intensive

To find whether a game is GPU or CPU-intensive, check the game’s system requirements first. If you see any graphics card-related info in the specification, the game is GPU-intensive. In case you don’t find any GPU info, the game is CPU-intensive.

Go and check the specifications on the game’s or creator’s website. The specification section on the website always provides both the minimum and maximum requirements of a game.

Playing the games, you can also tell which intensive game it is. When you play a game, open the Task Manager or other monitoring applications like MSI afterburner, CPU-Z, HWMonitor, etc., you have on your PC.

From there, you can monitor the CPU & GPU temp and also know whether your GPU is working properly.

Check both CPU and GPU usage from there. If the game uses more GPU than CPU, the game is GPU exquisite. The game will be more CPU demandable if it uses the processor more.

If the GPU usage is low, go and read our other article to find out why your GPU usage is so low.

However, there is another way you can know. It generally depends on how good your gaming instinct is.

While playing the game, if you see detailed textures, well-designed graphics, and elegant shaders, the game relies more on the GPU & is a graphics-intensive game.

The game will be CPU demanding if you see the game places more emphasis on its AI, realistic evaluation, and complex mechanisms.

Check our latest guide if you often get confused about which one to upgrade first between a CPU and a GPU.

What Makes a Game CPU or GPU Intensive?

In the game, if there are a lot of AI & calculations running, it will make the game more CPU intensive than GPU. If more pictures change while you play the game and have stunning light effects and rendering, that will make the game more graphics intensive.

The fact is, the task of a CPU and a GPU is different. Mainly, the processor handles the game logic, physics, AI, and calculations.

On the other hand, the graphics manage the pictures, shadow & light effects and address the small details of the game. So gamers can play any high graphics game without any frame drop.

To learn more, read Does the CPU affect FPS?

However, you will need a high graphics card, cooling fans, and a minimum of 5th or 7th Gen processor to run any high graphics game like Elder Ring or The Last of Us. These games depend on both CPU and GPU.

You won’t be able to get a good gaming experience if any of them is lower.

Is Gaming More GPU Or CPU Intensive?

is-gaming-more-gpu-or-cpu-intensiveA vast majority of the latest games are GPU-demandable. Because most modern games now run on 2D and 3D graphics and have mapping textures, rendering polygons, and more. The faster your graphics card works, the gameplay will be better and smoother.

There is a valid reason why I am saying this.

The CPU manages AI and game features. Such as determining whether two objects are in contact. Although they have to do numerous calculations, it is pretty straightforward for the latest processors to keep up with them.

On the contrary, the GPU is necessary for rendering textures, and shaders at high resolutions. Even if the CPU is also capable of rendering those things.

As the days go by, the graphics and textures in the games keep improving, and the games almost always rely more on the video card.

This explains why so many other games can be played on computers with average and subpar CPUs, but perform better on computers with dedicated video cards.

However, there still are games that require more CPU power than others. In a few cases, you can even tweak the game settings to make a game favor the CPU over the GPU.

But if you ask, between GPU Vs. CPU: which one is more important for gaming, I will say GPU.

What are the Most GPU Intensive Games?

Until 2022, the most graphics-intensive games are Elden Ring, Dying light 2 Stay Human, Spider-Man Remastered, God of War Ragnarök, Halo Infinite, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Far Cry 6, Uncharted: The Legacy of Thieves Collection, Hitman 3, and so on.

These video games are designed for the game geeks in such a way that they can take advantage of the most cutting-edge new graphic technology and enjoy breathtaking gaming experiences.

I will provide some high GPU-intensive game minimums and recommended specifications. Let’s check those out.

Here are the top five high graphics requirement games:

1. Spider-Man Remastered

Hardware componentsMinimum RequirementsRecommended Specification
ProcessorIntel i3-4160 or AMD equivalentIntel i5-4670 or AMD equivalent
GraphicsNvidia GTX 950 / AMD RX 470Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6 GB) / AMD RX 580
Storage75 GB75 GB

As you can see, an Intel i5-4670 processor and a GTX 1060 GPU are required to play Sony’s best PlayStation game, Spider-Man Remastered, at solid frame rates on PC.

If you want to play the game at 4K, you must need an Nvidia 30 or 40-series video card.

2. Elden Ring

Hardware componentsMinimum RequirementsRecommended Specification
ProcessorIntel Core i5-8400 or AMD Ryzen 3 3300XIntel Core i7 8700K or AMD Ryzen 5 3600X
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (3 GB) or AMD Radeon RX 580 (4 GB)Nvidia GeForce 1070 (8 GB) or AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 (8 GB)
Storage60 GB60 GB

From the minimum requirements, you can see that using Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 580, you will be able to run and play the game quite easily.

But to play the game in 4K resolution and 60 fps, you will need Nvidia GeForce 1070 or AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 graphics on your PC.

3. Dying light 2 Stay Human

Hardware componentsMinimum RequirementsRecommended Specification
ProcessorAMD Ryzen 3 2300X or Intel Core i3-9100Intel Core i5-8600K or AMD Ryzen 5 3600X
GraphicsAMD Radeon RX 560 (4 GB) or Nvidia GTX 1050 TiNVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 (6 GB) or AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 (8 GB)
Storage60 GB60 GB

Because of its ray tracing, Dying Light 2 has become the most sought after game in 2022. If you want to play this game at 60 FPS/1080p, an RTX 2060 is recommended. However, it can also run on GTX 1050.

Nevertheless, with 2060, you should not expect to play the game on ultra 4K settings. If you want to experience the full ray tracing and keep it turned on, your PC will require an RTX 3080 graphics card.

4. God of War Ragnarök

Hardware componentsMinimum RequirementsRecommended Specification
ProcessorIntel i5-2500k (4 core 3.3 GHz) or AMD Ryzen 3 1200 (4 core 3.1 GHz)Intel Core i7 4770k (quad-coreor3.5GHz) or AMD Ryzen 7 2700 (Octa-core 3.2GHz)
GraphicsNVIDIA GTX 960 (4 GB) or AMD: R9 290X (4 GB)Nvidia GTX 1070 (8 GB) or AMD RX 5600XT (6 GB)
Storage70 GB70 GB

An Nvidia GTX 1070 or AMD RX 5600XT is enough to play the game with the similar performance as the PS5.

To enjoy the game in 4K resolution with 60 fps, you will need a Ryzen 3950X or core-i9 9900K processor. In addition, you must have an Nvidia RTX 3080.

5. Uncharted: The Legacy of Thieves Collection

Hardware componentsMinimum RequirementsRecommended Specification
ProcessorIntel i5-4430 or AMD Ryzen 3 1200Intel i7-4770 or AMD Ryzen 1500X
GraphicsNvidia GTX 960 or AMD R9 290XNvidia GTX 1060 or AMD RX 570
Storage126 GB126 GB

The Uncharted Legacy of Thieves Collection considers the first game ever where Intel 3rd Gen series processor isn’t enough to run the game on PC. You must have either a 5th Gen or 7th Gen processor on your computer.

This game is also demanding in terms of GPU. With the Nvidia GTX 1060 or AMD RX 570, you can enjoy the gameplay in 1080p resolution. But if you want to play in ultra 4K settings, you will require AMD RX 6800 XT or Nvidia RTX 3080.

If you are looking for some of the CPU-intensive games, play Rainbow Six Siege, Total War: Warhammer 2, Red Dead Redemption 2, Ready Or Not, Fortnite, Valorant, etc. These games use the CPU more than the GPU.

Furthermore, check out our in-depth guide on how to optimize the GPU for the best gaming performance.


How can I see CPU usage in games?

To see the CPU usage in games, install the MSI afterburner application on your PC first. Launch the app > Select the gear icon to open settings > Monitoring tab > Go to Active hardware monitoring graphs > Locate CPU usage > check the Show in the on-screen display box.

How do you tell if a game is CPU-bound or GPU-bound?

When you play any game, monitor the CPU and the GPU usage. If the GPU load is higher than the CPU load, the game is GPU bounded. Vice-versa, if the CPU load is more than the GPU, the game is CPU bounded.

Do games rely on CPU or GPU?

Yes, games rely on both CPU and GPU. However, to play some modern games such as Spider-Man, the elder ring requires higher graphics support than the CPU.

Final Thought

The games you want to play may or may not run on your computer because of your low processor and graphics card. That’s why, before installing any game, check the specifications very carefully to see whether the game will support the PC component you have.

I hope you can now easily detect which games are GPU-intensive and which ones are CPU-intensive.

Comment below if you have any questions. I will gladly answer all your questions. Peace out!

About The Author
Farhan Max is a tech geek with a particular interest in computer hardware. He's been fascinated by gaming since childhood and is now completing his undergraduate studies while researching and testing the latest tech innovations. Alongside his love for all things geeky, Farhan is also a skilled photographer.

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