What Is Bottlenecking My PC & How Do I Fix It? – MakeUseOf

You might not be getting the most out of your PC hardware, especially if one component is vastly more powerful than the rest.
Bottlenecking. A term everyone in the customizable computer realm seems to be using, but that doesn't quite make sense to the wider public. What does it mean? How does it affect me? How can I fix it if it's a problem? This article will give you a good understanding of this term and explain some examples before telling you how to fix your PC bottlenecking problem.
In terms of customizable PCs, bottlenecking refers to a component that limits things like processing power or graphical performance. This is due to differences in the maximum capabilities of two components, where the max capacity of one part might exceed the other, causing a bottlenecking effect in which performance is throttled.
You can visualize this like there is a lot of water trying to escape a bottle. If the water is unable to escape the bottle because the bottleneck is too thin, it won't be serving its purpose. However, if the bottleneck is quite thick in width, water will be able to escape quickly, which is exactly what you're after. This metaphor is comparable to the parts in a computer, where if one part can't 'flow' quickly to another, you'll get this bottlenecking effect.
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A PC bottleneck isn't necessarily caused by the brand, age, or quality of parts, but their performance in relation to other parts. This is not just something that can happen in bespoke high-end systems, either. It can happen in lower-budget devices if careful planning is not undertaken.
One of the most common bottlenecks you'll see is in PC gaming and concerns your CPU (central processing unit).
The CPU is responsible for a whole load of important calculating operations and sends rendering instructions to the graphics processing unit (GPU). Often, the CPU is too weak to keep up with a powerful graphics card on poorly planned devices, heavily restricting the number of frames per second.
You could use 100% of your GPU if your CPU were more powerful, but it spends time idling because of this particular bottleneck situation.
Related: How to Build a Gaming PC That Plays the Latest Games
Another, more desirable type of bottleneck works in reverse. If you've got a super-powerful CPU but a lesser GPU, basically, you'll be processing the entire game faster than your GPU can render it. However, while this does sound bad, this actually means that your computer will be rendering 100% of the frames it can possibly do, which is exactly what you want when gaming.
A final example could be one concerning storage. If you're on an older device but have upgraded the CPU, GPU, or RAM, generally speaking, you'll probably have a hard disk drive (HDD). As a result, you could experience longer load times or shuttering as your program tries to pull information from this HDD. We'll suggest a bunch of fixes for this and other issues below.
The simplest solution to bottlenecking, whatever you might be looking for in a customizable PC, is to ensure that you select a balanced assembly of components. Whatever hardware you choose, planning everything thoroughly will prevent hardware bottlenecking and deliver optimized performance across the board. Instead of buying wildly overpowered individual parts, you will be far better off buying balanced pieces of kit that fit together. Otherwise, your system will lag.
Websites like PCPartPicker are amazing for planning out a build, as they enable you to hypothetically slot in bits and pieces and see what works together and what doesn't. Using sites like this, you can create a system that will always perform, regardless of what programs you run or which games you play. It's also important to remember that you can always upgrade bits and bobs later and that you should optimize now before upgrading things later.
As we've explored, bottlenecking is something that can drastically impact your computer's performance, but that can be fixed with some cool websites and proper planning. By making sure all parts work together in unison, and one doesn't outperform the other, you'll have a device that can meet your needs no matter what they are—from processing images and playing high-end games through to just having a generally pleasant experience while using your PC.
Believe it or not, you can build your own gaming PC that plays the latest games. This guide will show you how.
Elliott Gooding is a skilled Digital Marketer, aspiring teacher to-be, music industry businessperson, and human of the humanities. Though he’s charted an oddball course through the job and education worlds, it’s left him with a wide berth of experiences across many different digital realms. With many years of study under his belt, his writing is welcoming yet precise, effective yet fun to read, and sure to engage you.
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