It is common knowledge that 100% CPU usage is almost always bad news; however, applying that same belief to the GPU can often lead to confusion. This is why gamers and streamers, when they see that their GPU is operating at 100%, often wonder if it’s normal and if it’ll lead to more issues down the line. However, GPUs are designed much differently compared to CPUs.

If your GPU is operating at maximum capacity, it simply means that you’re getting all the performance you paid for in terms of framerate and resolution. Far from being worried, you should actually sit back and relax knowing that there are no bottlenecks in your PC and it’s working at an optimal state. Let’s go into more depth on this subject…

Is 100% GPU Usage Bad On A PC While Gaming?

No, it is not bad if your GPU is hitting 100%. While you are gaming your GPU will routinely hit 95% to 100% GPU usage. This is because games will max out your GPU to give you the best possible performance and highest frame rate. If you cap your frame rate in a game you will find that your GPU won’t hit as high of a utilization level. Ultimately, you do not need to worry about 100% GPU usage.

3 Reasons for 100% GPU Usage

Before we look at ways to lower the GPU usage, let’s discuss three concrete reasons why it’s at 100% in the first place:

1. Graphically Demanding Game

If your GPU is operating at 100%, the most common reason is often the game you’re playing. Most AAA titles are graphically demanding and can bring even the most powerful GPU to its knees.

However, this isn’t only limited to story-driven and single-player games. FPS games like PUBG are often designed with the goal of high FPS in mind, so they push the GPU to its limits too.

2. V-Sync Disabled

If you haven’t installed a cap on the framerate, the GPU will operate at full capacity to deliver as many frames per second as possible. This isn’t just limited to disabling V-Sync, some games come with a frame cap built-in.

3. Background Processes

Another reason for the GPU operating at 100% is background processes. When you’re live streaming your game sessions, the GPU has to both display the game and also encode the stream at the same time. This, of course, puts a lot of computing load on it.

Besides this, more minor background processes can also sometimes bunch up to create a huge dent in performance: Windows 10 services, bloatware, and other redundant applications.

3 Steps to Lower GPU Usage

Now that you know the root causes behind the GPU operating at 100%, let’s discuss three steps to lower it:

1. Run an Antivirus Scan

If your GPU is running at 100% all the time, it’s possible that there’s malware in your PC. Of course, there are many types of them, but the worst in this context is cryptomining or ‘cryptojacking’ malware. Some examples of this are PowerGhost, Graboid, and Badshell. Just as the name suggests, they use the infected PC to mine digital currency.

In addition to removing viruses, always make sure to update the driver version of the GPU to the latest one so you’re not lagging behind with outdated software.

2. Optimize Game Settings

You always have the option to customize the game settings, and as a result of that, lower GPU usage accordingly. The best and most obvious way of achieving this is by enabling V-Sync and capping the framerate. 

Plus, you can also tweak the game settings to get more efficient performance out of the GPU: lower resolution or reduced special effects. The result of doing either of these things is less fluidity and visual awesomeness, however, it can also lower the load on the GPU, so it’s important to find balance for a fun gaming experience.

3. Use Process Explorer

The next step you can take is to use Windows Process Explorer and eliminate any unwanted apps running in the background and consuming resources. Of course, getting rid of malware should be a priority, but this is an important step too and can lower GPU load significantly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does 100% Usage Lead to Material Degradation Over Time?

One question many gamers have is if 100% usage can take a toll on the GPU. In other words, can it make it less efficient or even have critical issues and stop working down the line? The truth is, hardware manufacturers create the cooling design with this in mind. So, there’s really not much to worry about.

Just make sure that you have proper cooling and airflow in your PC cabinet, so at least the GPU doesn’t overheat. This is important for all of your components in general, like your CPU, RAM sticks, and SSD.

What if GPU Doesn’t Reach 100% Even While Gaming and Streaming?

If your GPU doesn’t reach 100% usage while you’re gaming or streaming and you haven’t enabled an FPS cap, that means you’re looking at a bottleneck in the system. The CPU or RAM might not be powerful enough to take advantage of your GPU to its fullest capacity.

This is a major issue and should be addressed immediately if you don’t want to leave any performance on the table. Try to run a system diagnostics test to determine which component might be holding back the GPU. If ignored, it would be like buying a 144Hz monitor but only running it at 60Hz!

Wrapping Up

All in all, it’s normal for GPU usage to be around 95% to 100% while gaming and streaming. It means that you’re using the component to the fullest extent and getting the best possible performance with the current PC configuration.

I hope this article cleared up all your worries regarding this query!

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