A gaming PC can be a complex system if you compare it to a console, this is because it requires more knowledge as you need to understand how each component works.
When you’re gaming and you notice your GPU is running at 100% usage, it can be frightening as it seems like your GPU is overworking itself.
The truth is, when your GPU is running at 100%, it means that your graphics card is running at its full potential which is what you want when you’re gaming; so no it’s not bad.
Why Is 100% Usage Good?
When your GPU is working at 100%, it doesn’t mean that the GPU is overworking and applying additional stress to itself, it means it’s working at optimal levels.
Suboptimal levels would mean the GPU is not running at 100%, and this is usually caused by a bottleneck by the CPU due to it being significantly weaker than the GPU.
Due to the CPU processing the frames sent by the graphics card, if the CPU is unable to process all the frames sent by the GPU, this means your GPU will then work less hard.
The goal when building a gaming PC is to have a balanced system to minimize bottlenecks as much as possible by building a balanced system.
This means pairing high end CPUs only with high end graphics cards so you get maximum performance out of your GPU, your goal isn’t to leave performance on the table.
There is actually a way to find out if your specific or future PC build has a bottleneck by using a bottleneck calculator.
When Is 100% GPU Usage A Bad Thing?
Let’s make it clear, 100% GPU usage is a great thing in the right scenarios, for example, when you’re gaming or video editing.
But if you’re casually browsing the internet, and your GPU is running at 100% usage, this is a sign there is something wrong with your computer.
Usually, this is a sign of malware using up your computer’s resources, and the most likely malware to use the GPU is a crypto miner trying to make money.
This is definitely unideal because it’s reducing your GPU’s lifespan, costing you money, and damaging your overall system.
The best way to fix this problem would be to completely wipe your computer, but you can install antimalware software to see if it can resolve the issue.
What Does Low GPU Usage Mean?
The main cause of low GPU usage is bottlenecks, and this is usually caused by some sort of limitation, it can either be hardware or software related.
The most common form of bottleneck is caused by the CPU when it’s significantly weaker than the GPU, the only ways to fix this issue is to purchase a faster CPU, or overclock.
When buying a CPU for gaming, you primarily want to focus on the single-core performance as core count has minimal effect on the FPS generated.
Another form of bottleneck is software related, and it usually differs game from game, but there’s one way you can reduce a bottleneck from in-game.
Increasing the resolution will actually reduce the CPU/GPU bottleneck as it takes stress off the CPU, and offloads it onto the GPU.
What Are Some GPU Intensive Tasks?
GPU intensive tasks means it will apply stress onto the graphics causing it to run at or close to 100% usage.
Gaming – Is the most common GPU intensive task especially triple-A games. Games such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Red Dead Redemption are extremely GPU intensive.
The reason why gaming is GPU intensive is because games consist of a lot of graphical assets such as textures, geometric data, and terrain data that all require GPU power.
Machine Learning – Is an extremely GPU intensive task because it requires a lot of parallel computation which the GPU is best at.
A GPU consists of thousands of cores which makes it exceptionally good at parallel computing, compared to a CPU with only 16 cores.
Video Editing – Is becoming more and more GPU intensive for video encoding, software such as Premiere Pro and DaVinci Resolve are more GPU intensive than CPU intensive.
This is because these types of software prioritize hardware-accelerated rendering which uses the discrete graphics card over the CPU.
Is 100% GPU Usage Bad For Lifespan?
When your graphics card is running at 100% usage, it will definitely run hotter, and if you didn’t know already, heat is a detrimental element to electronics.
But you must understand that graphics cards are made to withstand extreme temperatures, and it was probably made with the intention to handle itself at 100% usage.
So 100% usage will reduce the GPU lifespan, but it wont straight up damage it as your graphics card is quite durable, and it isn’t something you should worry about.
Ensure Temperatures Are Normal
Your graphics card has a recommended temperature range when operating, if your GPU runs hotter than it should, then that’s when issues can occur.
A GPU running excessively hot will definitely reduce the lifespan as the GPU is not rated to run at these temperatures.
Luckily, GPUs have safety precautions in place in an attempt to reduce the temperature, and that’s by thermal throttling the GPU.
When your GPU is thermal throttled, the clock speed will be significantly decreased which will then lower the performance, and cause the GPU to not run at 100%.
As long as you have sufficient airflow by your computer bringing in cool air, and exhausting the heat, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
Is 100% Usage For An Extended Period Of Time Bad?
If your graphics card is running at 100% usage for an extended period of time, as long as your GPU is sufficiently cooled, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
Some crypto mining GPUs that have been used extensively at 100% usage are still pretty viable if they’ve been taken care of.
But the problem is when individuals run their graphics card at 100% all the time and don’t clean any dust and debris that might build up, and don’t monitor temperatures.
As long as you clean your GPU regularly, monitor temperatures and fan speeds and use techniques such as undervolting, then your GPU can last a really long time.
In conclusion, you actually want your GPU to run at 100% when performing graphically intensive tasks such as gaming, machine learning, and video editing.
Just ensure that your graphics card is regularly cleaned, and the temperatures are acceptable for the model you are using.
The problem with a GPU running at 100% arises when your card is constantly exceeding acceptable temperatures which cause degradation to the components and performance.
Also, if your GPU is running at 100%, and you’re confident you’re not performing graphically intensive tasks, then this is a sign that you have some sort of malware.