How to Reduce CPU Usage While Gaming?

The question of how to reduce CPU usage while gaming is a common one, and the answer may surprise you. But before we can delve into that, let’s first discuss what the problem actually is.

The issue: gamers often find themselves frustrated because their computers cannot keep up with all of the graphics and sound effects that they want to play at once. This leads to laggy gameplay and an experience that can put players off from playing altogether. The solution? Well, it turns out there are many different things you can do to help solve this dilemma such as playing games on low settings or using an emulator instead of a PC game if possible (depending on your system). However, each player has their own unique computer setup so what works for someone else won’t work for them.

As a gamer, you know that the better your CPU performs, the smoother your gameplay will be.

The Solution:

You can reduce CPU usage while gaming by adjusting settings on your PC or laptop to run things at lower graphics levels and/or turning off some of the features you don’t need.

This blog post will show you how to adjust both Windows 10 and macOS settings so that they are optimized for gaming. It also includes tips on what to do if you want to play games without any lag or stuttering! Remember, it’s never too late to improve performance.

Check out this comprehensive guide below:

Lowering Graphics Settings

The number one thing you can do to improve your CPU performance while gaming is to turn down your graphics settings. For example, reducing all options in a game from high to low or disabling the anti-aliasing feature will reduce the amount of GPU processing power needed by a large degree. Keep in mind that turning up your graphics options again later does NOT undo the effects of lowering them before—you must manually reverse each action.

how to reduce CPU Usage while gaming

Close Irrelevant Applications

The second step that may need to be taken when trying to reduce a computer’s CPU usage while playing a game is to close any other applications which could be using resources, such as streaming programs and web browsers, during gameplay. If you are not running these programs while playing but start them once the game has started, it takes time for the computer to load up those programs once again and switch over from the game to the other program with a very noticeable FPS dip as it does so.

closing irrelevant applications

Updating Games Frequently

Another thing you can do is make sure your game has updated patches, assuming having updated patches will not cause problems later on (this depends on each game).

Outdated game data can still be running in memory even after closing out of the game, causing major issues which may force you to restart your PC or even crash during gameplay if they are severe enough. Simply updating any games which have received updates since their release should fix this issue for many games.

update games to reduce cpu usage

Closing Background Applications

Next, you should ensure that background applications are closed before playing a game—ones such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Steam/Uplay/Origin, web browsers, etc. All of these applications are constantly checking for new data and updating things in the background without any input from you, which can cause your CPU to work harder than it needs to while gaming. Closing all but one application at a time until the game is finished will help improve performance if this is an issue for you.

closing applications

Ensure Fine Working PSU and Cooling

Finally, ensure that your computer’s power supply (PSU) and cooling systems such as fans and heatsinks are working properly—buffering programs or high demand applications may use more resources than usual simply because they cannot keep up with the temperature inside of the system unit! If your components were to overheat, you would not be able to play games well and also might risk damaging them permanently via overheating and/or making your system crash.

computer power supply

Some additional things to reduce CPU usage while gaming:

Cutting High Demand Graphics Options

If your computer is overheating, cutting back on high-demand graphics options may help with CPU usage while gaming. This will reduce the temperature inside of your system unit and allow it to run more efficiently as well as play games better (assuming such an action does not make the game unplayable).

Buying a new CPU heatsink

Buying a new CPU heatsink for your computer or upgrading your existing CPU cooling fans may help with CPU usage while gaming if overheating occurs regularly due to higher-end games or playing those same games for long periods of time consecutively. A good aftermarket heatsink that offers great cooling performance at a reasonable price is Cooler Master’s Hyper 212.

You might also love reading about What is a Good CPU temp for Gaming?

Buying a New Power Supply

Buying a new PSU for your computer or upgrading your existing cooling fans may help with CPU usage while gaming if overheating occurs regularly due to higher-end games or playing those same games for long periods of time consecutively. A good high wattage PSU that offers great power efficiency and silent operation is Corsair’s RM series.

Utilizing the Benchmark Feature

Utilize the benchmark feature of each game you play, which can be found in the options menu usually under performance testing (or similar wording). This will tell you how many frames per second (FPS) you are currently getting and what kind of hardware is needed in order to reach certain frame rate targets such as 60 FPS at a specific resolution. Most benchmarking also give average minimum and maximum frame rates as well, which can help you to notice any unusual frame rate jumps during gameplay.

Turning down Monitor’s Resolution

Turning down the resolution on your monitor (if you play at 720p) or using a lower resolution in-game (if possible) will allow the GPU to render fewer pixels and therefore work less while gaming. This can have a big impact on FPS for those games which do not have good SLI/Crossfire scaling unless two cards are used together—those with only one card may see as much as a 20% FPS boost as a result of changing this setting alone. If playing at 1080p, consider downsampling instead if your computer has enough VRAM and processing power because rendering below native resolution can also reduce CPU usage while gaming if post-processing effects are applied.

Playing games in windowed

Playing games in windowed mode instead of the full screen may also help with CPU usage while gaming if this feature is available—this will reduce the number of pixels that need to be rendered by the GPU and may allow for higher framerates along with lower temperatures. If you play many older games, consider using DOSBox or similar software in order to run them through your computer’s command prompt so that they start up in windowed mode. This can be done by adding “-full” (without quotes) to the shortcut settings for each game so that it reads something like “C:\DOS\MAME\mame64.exe” -nomouse -fullscreen 1 -l C:\games\blaster.exe”

Disabling Unused Hardware from Device Manager

If your computer has a dual or quad-core CPU but is currently using just one of these cores while gaming, consider disabling the other(s) from your system’s BIOS settings if possible. This will definitely help with CPU usage while gaming provided you have enough processing power to play games on only one core. If your desktop does not support this feature, you can get around it by overclocking your single-core very heavily and then underclocking any dual/quad-core CPUs which you might own. -Disable any unused hardware from within Windows Device Manager (enter “device manager” into the start menu search box, then open up each category and right-click on every component which isn’t being utilized gaming in order to disable them.

Setting to Performance Mode

If your computer is a laptop, setting it to performance mode from within the BIOS can help with CPU usage while gaming if overheating occurs regularly due to higher-end games or playing those same games for long periods of time consecutively. Some laptops also have a “switchable graphics” feature which allows you to switch between an integrated graphics chip and a more powerful dedicated GPU in order to save battery power when not using demanding applications. If this feature is available, it may be worth switching over to integrated graphics whenever possible because less heat will be generated as a result since the GPU will not attempt to render as many pixels. -Scan for malware on your computer with Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware Free via Windows’ built-in anti-virus if you are getting slow frame rates while gaming—especially if the computer has been slowing down over time.

Updating Sound Drivers

Make sure that your sound drivers are up to date in order to benefit from any performance improvements which may have been made since they were released. You can also try overclocking (not advised unless you know what you’re doing) your sound card in order to get better performance while gaming.

Enabling SLI/Crossfire

If you use dual or multiple graphics cards, make sure that SLI/Crossfire is enabled for the game(s) which you play most often because this will reduce CPU usage while gaming by enabling the GPUs to work together instead of independently. To do this, go into your NVIDIA control panel if using a GeForce card ) or AMD Catalyst Control Center (if using an ATI card), select the game on the list of applications, click “Manage 3D Settings”, and finally enable SLI/Crossfire for the selected program if it’s available.

Updating Steam Library

If you play games on Steam, consider editing your library so that games are not launched through their respective launchers by removing them from Steam as .exe files (right-click -> delete) or moving them to another folder outside of where steam keeps its game data in order to reduce CPU usage while gaming which might otherwise be caused by any background processes associated with these launchers. -You may also want to try overclocking your GPU (not advised unless you know what you’re doing).

Overclocking is like running a vehicle at higher RPMs (revolutions per minute) by increasing its engine’s power output, which can cause more wear on the engine and reduce the lifespan of your components. I do not recommend overclocking unless you have previous experience or are willing to learn from tutorials because otherwise, you will only damage your computer.

Disabling Bluetooth

In some laptops, disabling Bluetooth may also help with CPU usage while gaming because most laptops can still use Wi-Fi even when Bluetooth is disabled in order to access the internet if a LAN cable isn’t available for wired connections. -Disabling any unnecessary browser addons while browsing the web has been known to slightly improve page loading speeds and reduce CPU load during heavily multitasking moments—which might benefit games that require intensive resources such as games like Arma 3.

Virtual Memory Page File

If you run Virtual Memory (an emulation of a hard drive within RAM), make sure that your page file is located on another physical hard drive in order to reduce the stress placed on the traditional system hard drive which houses all of your games and other data, permitting for smoother gameplay when necessary.

Use GameBooster from Steam

You can also download GameBooster from Steam or Windows’ app store in order to disable unnecessary background programs while gaming, but I recommend just following the suggestions above instead because this program hasn’t been updated since 2014 and may actually cause more problems than it solves due to outdated optimization tips and tricks. -Make sure that you have enough free space on your primary HDD so that nonessential files aren’t being written/deleted constantly, reducing the amount of time required to load games and applications.

Upgrading Windows to Reduce CPU Usage

If you have a laptop that uses an SSD instead of a traditional HDD for storage, consider upgrading to Windows 10 due to its improved file indexing algorithms reduce boot times by making it so that your computer can find what it’s looking for faster.

You might also be interested in reading that WHY DOES CHROME USE SO MUCH CPU?


I hope you found this blog post helpful. We’ve discussed the importance of understanding how to reduce your CPU usage while gaming, as well as what can happen if you don’t take steps to do so. Hopefully, these tips will help keep your computer running smoothly and efficiently for years to come.

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Yasir Jamal
By Yasir Jamal

Hi Folks, meet Yasir Jamal here. As a blogger for more than five years, I have written more than a million words, and my motive is to help people get the correct information. As a review blogger, I offer unbiased reviews of products and also share helpful tips on DIY projects. So please stick with me and learn something new every day! is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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