If you have a gaming pc and you are one of those enthusiastic users who usually measure performance in games, you have probably noticed that there are many occasions in which your GPU is not working at 100% of its capabilities and, therefore, it is not giving you the maximum performance that could in games. Why does this happen?
There are many occasions, and it depends on the game, where despite having all the settings optimized for some reason, the GPU is not giving you its full potential, and where the performance in the game is not bad, but it could be. better. The first thing we recommend is to remove any type of synchronization of the monitor with the graphics card, be it V-SYNC, FreeSync or G-SYNC, all in any of their modalities. We do this to determine the specific problem and not have an FPS rate limit blocked by these technologies and thus be able to appreciate the increases in framerate, but above all, it will allow us to observe the behavior of the CPU and GPU without any limit and thus understand the problems.
Why is the GPU not used to its fullest in all games?
There are many factors besides your graphics card that affect gaming performance: processor, RAM, storage, temperature, the graphics API used by the game, and of course its optimization. For this reason, if you want to find out why the GPU is not working at 100% in some games, you should start investigating first for the rest of the components, as well as of course making sure that you have the latest version of the graphics drivers and obviously the latest version of the operating system as well as the graphics APIs.
If you have a monitoring tool like the one we have shown you above (it is Riva Tuner via MSI Afterburner) you will be able to see, in addition to the FPS and the GPU load, the temperatures and the load of the processor. This will help us understand the problem, because if the GPU load is not at 100%, but the CPU is, then you already have the answer: your processor is bottlenecking. In this example, the causes would have to be determined, since it may be that another process is in the background consuming resources, or else, it is the game that takes the processor to the limit.
In other words, a monitoring tool can show you the total load of all CPU cores (in our example it is only 27%), but you should check if this is the case for each individual core.
For example, on a CPU with 8 cores you could have two of them at 100% and the rest almost idle; the total would be 25% usage, so apparently the processor wouldn’t be an issue, but this would be a result of the game only supporting CPU processing on two cores and they are maxed out, but this doesn’t mean just that. And the fact that two or more cores are loaded without rendering all of them can also mean that the game’s graphics engine does not parallelize or is not well designed from a software point of view.
This must be clear, since a game does not represent all or a large part of them. When a CPU is bottlenecked, its load is very high in one or several cores, regardless of what game we are playing (always talking about “well” optimized games) and we explain ourselves.
There are titles that in terms of requirements are very affordable for any computer and, on the other hand, the CPU is always under a high load on one or more cores. This is not a bottleneck, it’s a bad optimization, such as CS:GO or the most recent WarZone, which had a high processor usage issue due to a bug in a patch.
The problems of poor software optimization
In this case it would be the fault of a poor multithread optimization of the game and you couldn’t do much except upgrade your processor to one that had a higher performance per core, but little else. Hopefully you could lower the graphic load, which at the same time will boost the FPS that the GPU is capable of producing, it will lower the requirements of processor calls from RAM and graphics, as well as the SSD.
RAM performance may also be causing the GPU to not perform at 100% in some games, especially if they have high requirements. You can check this by lowering some graphics settings in the game, especially those related to focal length and texture quality, and see if relaxing them in addition to getting more FPS increases the load on the GPU.
If so, check that you have the RAM running at its correct speed and not at base, and make sure you are using it in dual or quad channel mode (depending on your system). To check it you can use both Aida64 What CPU-Zfor instance.
Another possible problem with RAM (games are becoming more dependent on it due to importing and exporting textures to it from the SSD) is its stability. That the configuration is correct does not imply that the memory is physically correct. We recommend passing specific stress tests such as Runmemtest Pro or Karhu RAMTest and checking after 400% of passes that neither they nor the BMI logically fail.
SSD issues limiting the GPU to 100%
There is a problem that is little talked about and affects more and more users: the performance of PCIe SSDs. We have gone from just 500 MB/s with technology well above those speeds to reaching the technical limit of those speeds with the new PCIe 4.0 solid state drives and soon 5.0.
What happens to them? Well, there are two key factors, where one of them is more controlled than the other: the temperature and the collapse of the cache or controller. The first is the one that should be in optimal ranges, either because of the motherboard’s own heatsink or because we buy a specific heatsink for it.
But as a general rule, an SSD always has to be at 50% of its capacity and below 70º C if we want its maximum performance. We have already explained this in other articles, so instead of doing it again, we will simply say that it is inexorable and is linked to the NAND Flash technology itself, there is no palliative and it must be fulfilled.
The second handicap is the cache or the SSD controller. Keep in mind that almost all manufacturers leave to Windows and its AHCI drivers the control and management of the inputs and outputs that this component has with the rest of the PC, as well as the management and control of the PCIe.
This means that there are situations where the data is not accessed and read in the correct cycles due to a series of cyclic redundancy errors that the controller algorithm itself and Windows TRIM should resolve, but do not. This creates a time delay that in some cases results in excessive use of the SSD itself, but in most cases what it produces are high random times that reduce the performance of reading, writing and IOPS, especially the last two.
TRIM management and gaming performance
It has always been said that defragmenting an SSD is not necessary and that it damages its useful life, and this is not true at all. The algorithm of TRIM management in certain controllers and with the generic Windows drivers it does not work as it should and what defragmenting really does is force TRIM to work, solving the performance problems of the SSD and having an impact on a correct processor management for it and the system RAM , lowering its use from 100% to optimal levels, which could be 98% in the case of a bottleneck or 2x% in the case of being left over in this section, everything will be the object of the team we have in hand.
There is a command that helps optimize the TRIM and that could be the solution to the performance of the SSD and therefore that of the CPU or GPU and that it is worth trying. It may not fix the problems, or it may. In any case, it must be executed from Windows PowerShell as administrators:
Optimize-Volume -DriveLetter C -ReTrim -Verbose
Once you finish optimizing the TRIM we can close PowerShell and check if we have better performance and a CPU or GPU below 100%. We hope that with these tips and tricks