Processor and graphics card: 1080p, 1440p and 2160p

The processor and graphics card are two key components in building a PC for gaming. It’s rife that we need to prioritize the graphics card at all costs and that the processor should be in the background, an approach that certainly does He’s not wrong, but it is often misinterpretedand ultimately gives form to completely unbalanced configurations that find a significant bottleneck in the processor.

We have already talked about the bottlenecks caused by different components in a PC: Processor, graphics card, RAM memory and storage unitAt that time, we also saw this article that evaluated which processors can be considered the recommended minimum for different graphics cards. Today, however, I want to look at this problem from a more direct and simple perspective: link the screen resolution to the choice of processor and graphics card to avoid bottlenecks.

This will be the absolute basis of this article, though before entering the full analysis what we need and why we need itIn order to play optimally in 1080p, 1440p and 2160p, we will clearly and precisely review What are the differences? when playing with any of these resolutions and What minimums should we not ignore? Never when choosing the processor and graphics card. This gives us an essential starting point to understand the second half of the guide.

With that said, we started. As usual, If you have any doubts, feel free to leave it in the comments and we will be happy to help you solve it.


Processor and graphics card in 1080p, 1440p and 2160p: general terms

When playing back with a resolution of 1080p, the graphics card must process as a whole 2,073,600 pixels. In contrast to this, the number of pixels increases at 1440p 3,686,400 pixelsIn 2160p the number increases to 8,294,400 pixels. The difference between 1080p and 2160p is therefore four times as many pixels.

It doesn’t take an expert to understand this when it comes to this move four times as many pixels We’re going to need a much more powerful graphics card and that component will load a lot more in a higher resolution. This simple explanation also helps us understand why there is such a large increase in requirements at the hardware level as we move from 1080p to 2160p. It is important to note that the graphics quality settings also affect this. The higher the graphics quality, the more weight the graphics card has to carry.

The graphics card is one Take all of the effects generated by multiplying the number of pixels by four. It has to deal with more complicated duty cycles, takes longer and is therefore less dependent on other components like the processor. On the contrary, if we move at a resolution of 1440p, the workload assumed by the graphics card is reduced, and in 1080p it is even lighter, which means that it can complete its work cycles in less time, and that is more demanding with the data that the processor has to deliver.

As we expected, the processor Provides important data for the graphics card to work. At 1080p, a high-end or midrange graphics card such as the RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3080 runs very loosely, completing their duty cycles in no time and requiring the processor to be able to keep up with their pace with it they can develop their full potential. The situation softens at 1440p and changes completely at 2160p due to the enormous workload represented by these more than 8 million pixels.

We can give an example that focuses on real life and serves as a perfectly accurate analogy. Imagine a job, two farmers work The first one makes the dough and passes it on to the second, who uses it to build a wall. The first worker is the processor and the second is the graphics card. To build wall “A”, the second worker uses very light stones that weigh almost nothingSo he is able to set them at high speed and needs his partner to feed him at a good speed. Use “B” to lift the wall very heavy stones, it goes slowerand your partner doesn’t have to make dough that fast.

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If the person making the dough does not keep up and does not work quickly to lift wall “A”, the colleague is “braked” and cannot work with full machine, while wall “B” has most of the weight of the The work is on whoever is building this wall. Well the Wall «A» reflects what is happening in between processor and graphics 1080p, and the Wall «B» What happens between the two components in the resolution? 2160p.

We explicitly quoted in the previous paragraph a bottleneck A situation that occurs when one component is unable to operate at the speed required by other components and therefore prevents it from reaching its full potential. It is impossible to avoid bottlenecks in building a pc, but the most important thing is reduce them to such an extent that their effects are minimal.

When can I tell that I have a serious bottleneck at the processor and graphics card level? It is difficult to pinpoint as not all games have the same dependency on both components, nor do they have the same optimization, but we can generally tell this whenever the games are used 95% to 99% of the GPU You won’t have a serious bottleneck, but you will find yourself in a perfectly normal situation.

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Why don’t you need the same thing to play 1080p, 1440p and 2160p?

It can be easily deduced from everything we saw in the previous section. However, it is important to do a thorough analysis to avoid misinterpretation and misunderstanding. Of course, to play 1440p or 2160p we need a more powerful graphics card than 1080p because we are working with a much larger number of pixels, However, this does not mean that the processor has finished the import. There are always some minimum requirements that we shouldn’t lower.

Currently, most games work fine with processors that have four cores and eight threads, an IPC on par with the Intel Core 4000 and working frequencies of at least 3.6 GHz. However, this does not mean that this is the optimal level that we should, on the contrary, seek. It is the minimum level from which we should not descend.

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If we use a processor like the Core i7-4790 that meets the minimum we mentioned to play in 1080p with an RTX 3080, we have a major bottleneck. As we can see in the attached graph, the performance will be good in current games, we won’t have fluidity issues, but With a Ryzen 5 3600 or better, the RTX 3080 could really deliver its full performance at this resolution. The processor puts a strain on the RTX 3080’s performance at this level.

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Now let’s look at the test results in 1440p, we see how the bottleneck marked by the processor is reduced even though it is is still serious. Only when reaching 2160p said bottleneck disappears completelyand it’s no longer a burden for the RTX 3080, which has to work with a large number of pixels and lets the poor Core i7 4790 “breathe” (images courtesy of Tom’s Hardware).

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Does that mean? You can end a bottleneck by increasing the resolution? Well Yes, I’ve told you in previous articles, and in this one we can see it very clearly in these three diagrams. At 1080p, the RTX 3080 is so overloaded that the Core i7-4790 can’t keep up, and at 2160p, the RTX 3080 has to process so many pixels that the Core i7-4790 assumes that it doesn’t need to be so forced.

The conclusions we can draw from this article are very simple. Combine a processor with a lower IPC and performance that we cannot consider “top of the range” with a high-end graphics card Not a bad idea as long as we go playing in 2160p and that we hit the minimum that we said at the processor level. On the other hand, combining a high-end graphics card and processor of this type to play in 1080p is not a good idea, and playing in 1440p is not a good idea if we want to use a monitor with a high refresh rate.

I am sure this article helped you resolve many doubts. If you’re wondering which processor is the minimum recommended in order to take advantage of a graphics card as powerful as AMD’s RTX 3080 or the closest RX 6800 XT, the answer is very simple: we should not a Ryzen 5 3600 or a Core i5 10400 if we want to play in 1080p or 1440p. If we want to play in 2160p, both are feasible with processors with a lower IPC, as we have already seen.

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