What Should Your GPU Utilization Be? Is 100% Usage Normal?

Written By Steven Arends

Graphics Cards are built to be utilized at 100%, indicating your GPU is well-optimized. And such high usage is acceptable for most high-use cases.

But it’s suspicious when GPU exceeds 70% usage without a game load or GPU-based workload, as lite usage & gaming should keep GPU utilization around 40%.

Therefore, GPU utilization varies over the use case and workload, which is also affected by malware and unnecessary background programs.what-should-your-gpu-utilization-be

Let’s discuss the ideal GPU utilization rate in different circumstances.

What is GPU Utilization? Is it Different From CPU Utilization?

GPU utilization refers to the total VRAM percentage used by the system and its programs altogether, which seems identical to RAM & CPU usage. But GPU usage percentage is dissimilar to CPU & RAM usage percentage for some reason.gpu-utilization

In fact, CPU & RAM utilization of 100% creates system lags and hiccups. But 100% use of a GPU is considered optimized and potential state.

Because GPU is devoted to handling graphics-based tasks only. And CPU has to take care of the whole system along with the GPU section, which affects the logical system commands queue.

Furthermore, 100% of CPU usage with 90% of GPU usage is inefficient, broadly known as CPU Bottleneck.

However, continuous utilization of 100% without a proper workload is unacceptable, as every program or game doesn’t require high GPU usage. You should be suspicious if this type of event occurs.

To know which programs & use cases are responsible for high GPU Usage, continue to the following section.

What is the Ideal GPU Utilization Based on Use Cases?

Each program or game has a mixture of requirements over CPU & GPU, resulting program being GPU-heavy or CPU Heavy or both. Logical task implementations and immense calculation-based programs rely on the CPU.

On the other hand, Programs or Games with high graphical adoption and resolution compel on GPU with little impact on the CPU, causing high GPU usage.

But exceptions may occur because of malware attacks or unwanted spyware running in the system background.

Again, some games and software like 3D rendering and video editing need both GPU & CPU support simultaneously.

Here are the use cases & examples that utilize GPU differently:

Regular Usage Limit of GPU

Day-to-day usage varies over user preferences. I’ll justify GPU usage regarding internet browsing, file browsing, typing, publishing, and video streaming as regular tasks.usage-limit-of-gpu

For instance, tasks like file browsing, transferring, typing, and any non-UI heavy works aren’t the concern of GPU. So, GPU usage should stay low near 2%, considering these tasks as the idle mode of the graphics unit.

Eventually, moderate UI-based or graphics-based tasks like internet browsing, Video Streaming, and BluRay video Watching, except hefty resolution 4K Videos, can increase GPU usage up to 40-50%. Plus, GPU will remain at an idle temperature with a low usage percentage.

Ideal Usage While Gaming

The GPU utilization directly depends on the game. In my experience, games with an intensive Open World and charming nature graphics, burn the GPU most. Whenever I begin to play Shadow of Tomb Rider & AC Valhalla, my RTX 2060 GPU goes rogue by spinning its fan loudly.

Thus, graphically enhanced games can efficiently utilize the graphics unit up to 100% if there is no CPU or GPU bottleneck.

Besides, Assassin’s Creed: Origins and GTA V are CPU-heavy games, which will leave the GPU headroom by utilizing it around 70% with my i5 10400 CPU. Such games have more logical processes, and physX calculations impose a workload on the CPU rather than using GPU.ideal-usage-while-gaming

Eventually, tad-old games like FarCry 3, and GS-CO usually demand less GPU Power to perform decently, utilizing 40-50% of my RTX 2060 process.

So, you see how GPU utilization varies over the game, depending on the spec requirement of the individual games & settings.

High GPU Usage When Rendering 3D Models

3D works diligently rely on GPU, resulting in massive utilization of GPU. Animations, Modelings, VFX, Simulation, and Game making require a large amount of VRAM of the highest tier graphics cards like Quadro & Radeon Pro.high-gpu-usage-when-rendering-3d

Architectures, 3D modelers, VFX artists, and Animators can not perform their tasks without a powerful GPU, as they run GPU-heavy software like Blender, Autodesk MAYA, iClone, Lumion, Auto-CAD, etc.

Some software requires a hefty portion of GPU power & VRAM to execute preferred tasks. Also, some require both higher caliber CPU and highest tier GPU. Such requirements create demand for Workstation PCs.

GPU Utilization Range on High-Res Video Editing

Since video resolution priority is increasing rapidly because of higher resolution displays, 4K video editing became a necessity. As a result, video editing software like Premiar pro, and DaVinci Resolve demand indefinite GPU usage.

However, video editing doesn’t max out GPU utilization constantly. While editing lots of clips together, it moderately pressurizes the GPU resulting in approximately 50% utilization.

But rendering a 4K video demands a significant percentage of VRAM of GPU, resulting in 100% utilization.

Can Malware affect GPU Utilization?

An idle PC can not utilize a GPU of more than 5-10% if any background app isn’t hitting hard silently. Except for that, if Graphics usage stays at a higher percentage, your system may be affected by viruses or malware.

Unauthorized and cracked software often carries sideloaded programs to infect the system. Some include hidden mining software that continuously uses your GPU to earn from it. Most of such malware hides under obvious program names, using your GPU for their profit through mining.

Always check the permissions a program is seeking, and avoid cracked software to keep your system clean.

Pro Tip: Install new software into Windows Sandbox to check if the program has any sideloaded programs or malware.

Can 100% GPU Utilization Gradually Damage GPU?

The lifespan of electronics solely depends on temperature control. Frankly speaking, I’ve chosen an odd-looking casing exclusively to get better airflow for longevity. Plus, it amplifies performance.100-gpu-use

So, you can realize how significant the airflow is to preserving your GPU from heating damage. A 100% of GPU utilization can not harm or damage your unit, as long as you have an adequate cooling system.

Although GPU thermal paste doesn’t need a replacement for 5 –10 years, you should pay attention to such cases if you notice unusual GPU Overheating.

As a result, High GPU utilization can not damage your Graphics unit gradually or immediately, if a good enough cooling system is present.

Alterly, iGPU AKA APU users need to emphasize CPU cooling intensively, as iGPU is integrated into the processor.

How to Optimize GPU Usage?

The first thing you must consider is the CPU bottleneck, which limits GPU potentiality. Further, you must stop unwanted background programs and remember to scan & tranquilize malware if your system is infected.

Plus, allowing proper GPU airflow can improve performance, optimizing GPU utilization also. Some more steps are useful for GPU usage optimization.

Here are the tips and tweaks to optimize GPU utilization:

  • Choose a matching Processor according to your GPU to avoid the Bottleneck issue.
  • Disable Start-up programs, keeping necessary ones.
  • Scan Malware with Anti-malware software, and eliminate it if found.
  • Fix faulty graphics driver.
  • Close Background Apps are no longer in need.
  • Ensure explicit Airflow through the PC interior.
  • Install Water-Cooling if possible.

There are other suggestions to recommend depending on certain circumstances you may find in frequently asked questions.


What is normal GPU temp while gaming?

A temperature under 85℃ is said to be safe, but it can rise to 100℃ on heavy loads, which are also safe.

Is low GPU utilization OK in idle mode?

Yes, your GPU utilization can drop down to 1-2%, and it’s absolutely OK.

Can airflow and position improve GPU utilization?

Better airflow quality can enhance performance, as well as GPU temperature with usage percentage.

Does OverClocking keep GPU Usage High?

No, overclocking may increase performance, but don’t keep GPU utilization high for no reason.

Final Verdict

Modern Technology significantly emphasizes efficiency without losing potentiality. So, your graphics unit and operating system have been built with such a target, offering better performance with efficiency.

Therefore a high GPU utilization without a workload is indeed inefficient, but proper utilization is reasonable for GPU even if it’s 100%.

Leave your opinion in the comment box to let us know whether you find this article useful.

About The Author
Steven Arends is a computer science graduate and tech enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in the field. He has a vast collection of computer hardware and loves exploring the latest advancements. As a contributing author to 10Scopes, Steven shares his expertise to make the world of technology more accessible and easier to understand for all readers.

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