Does a CPU (Processor) matter for 4k gaming?

Does a CPU (Processor) matter for 4k gaming?

4K gaming is becoming more and more easily manageable as time is passing compared to 4-5 years earlier. Now you can easily play a game at 4K from just an $800 PC. But most of the gamers/PC builders always advise buying a mid-range CPU and buy a high-end GPU for getting good performance (4K) on a budget. But is it really true? Let’s discuss it in this post

Does a CPU matter for 4k gaming? The power of the CPU does matter for 4K gaming. When games are played at lower resolution likes 720P, 1080P, then games put more load on the CPU while when they are run at higher resolution, 4K, 8K they become more GPU resource hungry.

For example, if a CPU gives 50-60fps in 2K resolution with an average kind of GPU, After upgrading the GPU that same CPU can run games at 4K. So, at higher settings, games become more GPU-demanding than CPU.

When you play games at a lower resolution or in low settings, games are goona use CPU more and as you keep on increasing the in-game resolution or other settings, then they will consume GPU resources more. So, a good CPU is necessary for a good gaming experience.

Games earlier are specifically made for single CPU cores, there was not any concept for the graphics card. But now after decades, we are saying that games do better with higher GPU rather than CPU, it is weird, right? But this is true.

But it is not the case that your CPU doesn’t matter for 4K gaming at all. Of course, it matters. I am just saying it when you play games at higher resolution or settings, increase the refresh rate, resolution, games draw more resource from the GPU than the CPU.

If you haven’t understood, don’t worry, I have some cool study to show what happens we play games at 4K, how it impacts the CPU?

I have chosen a very popular CPU and GPU pair, i.e AMD Ryzen 5 3600 and NVIDIA RTX 3090 graphics card. As the 3600 is one of the favorite budget GPUs for many years and 3090 is the current most powerful GPU, so let’s see how installing a budget CPU with an extremely powerful GPU works at 4K gaming.

How A Budget CPU Does In 4K Gaming?

PC specs used in this benchmark:

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600.
  • GPU: Nvidia RTX 3090.
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4.
GamesResolutionPerformance (FPS)
Red Dead Redemption 21080P135
Horizon zero dawn1080P120
Resident Evil 31080P205
Battlefield V1080P210
Assassin’s creed Valhalla1080P133
System is overclocked while doing this benchmark

I have used a mid-range (budget CPU) in this build with a massive GPU i.e. 3090. But, I am getting more than 60 fps in 4K in almost every game. This happens because I am using a monster GPU and at higher resolution, the CPU doesn’t matter much.

But, if I choose an entry-level CPU, less powerful than this, I might face bottlenecking because of too weak CPU, hardware imbalance, so have to choose GPU in that case.

So after this, I hope you realized that In 4K, the GPU power matters more than the CPU. So, if your CPU can give 60 fps in 1080P gaming, with the same specs it can also give 40-50 fps in 4K if your GPU is powerful enough.

Now, this doesn’t you shouldn’t give importance to the CPU. If you choose a very cheap, entry-level CPU with one of the most powerful GPUs like 3090, you are definitely gonna face bottlenecking.

So, I always suggest getting at least a mid-range CPU like Ryzen 5 5600X with monster GPUs like 3090.

CPU power is indeed more important for work loading and processing regardless 4K gaming.

Processors like i9-10900k are very faster, helps in 4K video loads just very fast. But, when it comes to run games at higher resolution, GPU is more important.

Does An Expensive CPU Matter For 4k Gaming?

It is not necessary to have a super-duper expensive CPU for 4K gaming if you have a good GPU (graphics card). Although, buyers have to spend the minimum (around $200) for CPUs like Ryzen 3600 for 4K gaming, Below that, with a high-end GPU like 3080 which is perfect for 4K gaming in price, more likely user have face bottlenecking.

For gaming in high-resolution, a powerful graphics card is necessary with a medium-range CPU. Otherwise, if you are using APUs or budget GPUs, then you have to use good CPUs to play games in low resolution like 1080P, 720P.

The latest 3090 graphic cards can supports upto 8K and they costs the same as the previous generation GPUs.

Gaming performance relies on the processing power of graphics. You don’t need to spend on the octa-core CPU for the 4K game, just get a decent one.

Note that I have only talked about gaming, as it needs only one core. But if you love multitasking, this theory doesn’t apply to you. You have to buy a good CPU.

Do CPU Cores And Threads Matter For High-End (4k) Gaming?

A few years earlier, games only required only a single core. But, now, the big games need more than one core to properly run. However, Today also single is pretty important and the biggest factor for gaming. 

For 4K gaming, cores and threads do matter, however, the single-core performance is more important than it. If the single-core performance of a CPU with 4 Cores is much higher than a 6 Core CPU performance, then games do well in the 4 core CPU. However, now games also use multiple cores so it is good to have at least 4 cores for 4K gaming.

So, cores and threads matter for gaming, but single-core performance is more important specifically for high-end gaming.


I have discussed the importance of CPU in 4K gaming, what if you use a basic CPU with a monster GPU, things like that.

I hope after reading this post, you conception is clear about this topic. If you do have any question, doubt, feel free to ask me in the comments. See you in the next post, be techy:)

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