Computer-savvy enthusiasts might be well-informed of the differences between central processing units and graphics processing units, but those of us that are new to PC components may be less acquainted. The central processing unit (CPU) of a computer is tasked with basic computing problems to meet most processing needs. A graphics processing unit (GPU) is tasked with intense graphics processing. Whether you’re building your first rig or upgrading chipsets, it’s important that you understand the differences between your GPU and CPU. In this article, we explore the role of GPU vs. CPU in terms of gaming to help you achieve the ultimate gaming setup.
A CPU is often referred to as the “brain” of a computer because it is arguably the most important part of any device. This component interprets and executes most of the commands sent from other computer hardware or software. All sorts of devices have processors, including desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, and much more. CPUs are generally attached directly to a CPU socket on the motherboard. Because it interprets and executes so many commands, the CPU of a computer can get warm and must be cooled by a fan or water. The measurement of how many commands a CPU can process is what’s known as clock speed and demonstrated in gigahertz (GHz). Processors feature a wide range of core capacities. Dual-core processors can process twice as much information as single-core processors, but not all games are equipped to take advantage of anything more than one or two CPU cores. CPU performance is also instrumental in the overall gaming experience, especially when it comes to frame rates and latencies.
A GPU is designed to complement a computer’s CPU, but it can be especially valuable in gaming and photo or video editing. While a CPU needs to be versatile and capable of handling all sorts of tasks, the GPU is only made to handle image processing. All those tiny calculations in graphics are sent to the GPU instead of the CPU, and a GPU handles a wide range of data all at once. These programmable logic chips are designed with a Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) architecture to perform parallel operations. These specialized processors are also used in decoding, financial modeling, scientific research, and more. A sophisticated GPU will result in higher resolution and smoother gameplay.
Determining the differences between CPUs and GPUs is as easy as checking the specifications. Central processing units have faster clock speeds while graphics processing units have more cores. Suffice it to say, a CPU can process singular tasks in good time, but a GPU can handle multiple tasks when time is not an issue. Furthermore, GPUs have their own video random access memory (VRAM), leaving the RAM in your system untouched. Though it was primarily used for 3D game rendering, the GPU has earned a reputation for accelerating computational workloads. Many of the latest operating systems have helped GPU-accelerated computing become a mainstream movement.