Bottleneck Calculator – Check Performance of Your PC Build

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The bottleneck calculator describes the resource which is the limiting factor on your system. This calculator simply tells you at what point in your development cycle you are (all other things being equal) likely to hit that bottleneck. It’s very simple and breaks down into two parts:

  1. You run some code – this measures how long it takes for you to go from a “cold” start (ie, not in a bottleneck) to doing some useful work.
  2. You run your code over and over again – this measures how long it takes before the resource under examination becomes the limiting factor.

In most cases, you will want to use the right-hand graph. This presents the results of Part (2) but with a different axis so that you can see the effect more clearly.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t intended to be an “insight tool” – it won’t tell you anything you didn’t already know. It will, however, help guide your investigations if you are unsure what is causing problems.

What is a Bottleneck?

The bottleneck is the term used in computer science to refer to a resource that, while not always the bottleneck, has issues that keep it from running at full capacity for some time.

For example, if you have an application that requires one core of your CPU but all four are running 100% constantly then there is a bottleneck on the core.

The core here is the bottleneck because it can’t go above its capacity of 100% even though other cores in your CPU aren’t working at all.

Bottlenecks are very common in a personal computer. If a PC has a slow video card, then every application that uses the video card will run slowly.

By any chance your PC has a slow hard drive, then every application that accesses the hard drive will run slowly. If any PC doesn’t have enough memory (RAM), then some applications may not load and everything will seem to run slower than it should.

Platform Processor Graphics Card Bottleneck Percentage Cause of Bottleneck
Intel I5-8600 K NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 12.12 % GPU
Intel I5-8600 K NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 14.3 % GPU
Intel I5-8600 K NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 0.24 % N/A
Intel I5-8600 K NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 2.89 % N/A
Intel I5-8600 K NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 19.14 % CPU
Intel I7-8700 K NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 97.8 % GPU
Intel I7-8700 K NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 100% GPU
Intel I7-8700 K NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 19.39 % GPU
Intel I7-8700 K NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 7.44 % N/A
Intel I7-8700 K NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 0.94 % N/A

CPU Bottleneck

A CPU bottleneck occurs when your central processing unit (the part of the computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program) can’t keep up with the demands of your software applications.

The CPU is one of the most important components in your computer, so if it becomes overloaded, you’ll notice significant performance problems.

Multiple things could cause this bottleneck, but generally speaking, the more cores you have on your CPU, the faster your computer will run.

GPU Bottleneck

A GPU bottleneck occurs when your graphics processing unit (the part of the computer that is in charge of drawing graphics on screen) can’t keep up with the demands of your software applications.

GPUs are typically less important than CPUs when it comes to game performance, but it’s still an important part of your computer hardware.

Multiple things could cause this bottleneck, but generally speaking, the higher your GPU specs (megapixels, VRAM, bandwidth), the faster your games will run.

HDD Bottleneck

Typically hard drive bottlenecks aren’t too much of an issue these days because hard drives have become extremely fast for sequential operations (moving and reading/writing data), and most hard drive bottlenecks occur when you’re trying to access files that aren’t contiguous on the platter.

Random read/write performance is slow, so if you’re constantly loading tiny bits of data from random locations on your hard disk then you might experience a slowdown.

RAM Bottleneck

RAM bottlenecks are very easy to solve because RAM is cheap, so you can always upgrade your computer with more. The only time a lack of memory will cause a slowdown is if your system doesn’t have enough total memory for all the processes you’re running at the same time.

Is Bottlenecking Good For PCs?

Bottlenecking is usually good because even if the main part of the computer has enough power, it still needs something to process what it’s trying to display on your screen.

For example, even if you have a very strong processor, but a weak graphics card, you can not play high-end video games.

Bottlenecking is when you are trying to squeeze the maximum performance out of one component by matching it with another that isn’t quite up to snuff.

Like if I didn’t have a big enough graphics card for my new monitor, I might try to make do with the old one to make sure the new one delivers its full potential.

Bottlenecking is common in certain types of video games, where you want to have the best frame rate, but it’s also possible with PCs if you are trying to maximize what your hardware can deliver at any particular time.

Sometimes gamers overclock their processors so that they can get the maximum possible performance out of their video cards, but the bottlenecking can also occur when your processor isn’t quite fast enough to handle what you are trying to do.

For the most part, bottlenecking is good because it ensures that your computer will always have a method of displaying what you need to even if one part isn’t as powerful as another.

The only time bottlenecking is bad for a computer is when there’s too much stress being put on a particular hardware part.

This can be seen in old computers which have much weaker graphics cards and processors than the ones we use today.

If there’s too much stress on a computer, then it can lead to system failure and that means that one component has failed to send information another component sends it and therefore stops working altogether.

Working of a Bottleneck Calculator

Bottleneck Calculator is software used to detect the components of our PC that are running at their maximum capabilities. It also tells us which of those parts needs to be upgraded to maximize system performance.

Bottlenecks result due to the conflict between different components like processors and graphics cards or processors and RAM.

To know which part is not running at its maximum, we need to run this software. This software also tells us the CPUs cores which are not utilized properly if any one of them is under-utilized or misconfigured.

After downloading and installing the Bottleneck calculator on a PC, it asks for a system information check. System information comprises things like Processor, Central Processing Unit (CPU) speed, RAM (Random Access Memory) speed, etc.

All these details are required to analyze the system’s performance. After that, it will display some graphs on the screen for CPU usage and disk usage which shows the percentage of CPU utilized by an application running at that time.

It also shows graphically how the device is utilizing the CPU and what performance level it’s at. It also shows graphically which devices are using more resources than expected.

Bottleneck calculator sends out a request to the web service called WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation) which collects information from our PC and then displays it on our computer screen as graphs. The requested data includes:

  • Processor(s) name, speed, and manufacturer
  • The amount of memory (RAM) on the system
  • Details about each type of disk drive installed in the system
  • Sensor information from any hardware monitoring devices installed in the system.

After this data is collected by Bottleneck calculator it then sends it to Microsoft’s free online analysis service called “Watson”. This data is analyzed by Watson and the results are returned to us. They include:

  • A list of potential system bottleneck causes
  • A list of possible fixes for each cause.

Types of Bottlenecks

Bottlenecking is the idea that there are specific components in a computer that limit the performance of the entire system, and therefore bottlenecking is occurring when one part can not keep up with another part.

Bottonlneching occurs in almost all modern computers because almost every computer consists of multiple components, programs, and processes. There are two types of bottlenecks, which are as follows:

Software Bottlenecking

Software bottlenecking is when insufficient software causes more stress for the hardware than it can handle, and that’s why this type of bottleneck is less common than the hardware one because most computers are already built for the standard programs that are used, which are Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, etc.

There are much more applications for customer use but they all require a different type of configuration and therefore this makes hardware bottlenecks much more common in modern-day computers.

Hardware bottlenecking

Hardware Bottlenecking is the most common because almost every computer consists of multiple components.

The system that is most commonly bottlenecked is the graphics card because it has to process complex algorithms for you to see anything on your screen.

Other hardware parts can also be bottlenecked, but because there are so many types of computers and so many different companies making each part, it’s hard to tell which parts are more susceptible to bottlenecking, and therefore we can not say which ones are more common.

Concluding Remarks

When it comes to purchasing a new computer, several things need to be considered. While the performance is most important, price should not be ignored either.

The Bottleneck Calculator helps users find the best possible balance between speed and cost per dollar by providing an estimate on how much that computer’s components are holding it back.

It also offers suggestions on how one might upgrade their machine to improve performance without breaking the bank.

This allows users to upgrade individual parts at a fraction of the cost because it eliminates the guesswork associated with choosing which part is holding things up. It also provides a good target for those who want their computer faster, so they know how much performance improvement will be received from each upgrade as well as an approximate time frame.

That’s it. I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.


How do you calculate bottlenecks in PCs?

Bottlenecking can occur in two ways: local and global. Locally, bottlenecking means that only a specific component is holding the system back, for example, if you have an old graphics card but a new CPU, you might not be able to play demanding games well because the GPU isn’t fast enough.

Globally, bottlenecking means that the entire system is being held back by a component, for example, if you have an old CPU but a new graphics card, then even though your games will run faster with the better GPU, they’ll still suffer from slowdowns because of your weak processor.

Is the bottleneck calculator accurate?

Yes, especially if the bottleneck is in the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and not in the CPU (Central Processing Unit). However, the algorithm will still give accurate bottleneck results even when it is in the CPU or anywhere else.

It is more accurate when running a single application because if there are 2 applications with equal consumption of both the CPU and GPU, they will be correctly labeled as 50% each.

But it is difficult to test with multiple applications because if an application has a consumption of 100% on the GPU, there is no way you can run another application at the same time.

That means you cannot know for sure if the next application would have been correctly labeled as also 100% on the GPU.

I am bottlenecked by my graphics card, why does that mean?

The bottleneck algorithm cannot detect if you are bottlenecked by your CPU or not because at any moment there might be no tasks for it to work with (idle). But if your CPU has a consumption of 0%, the bottleneck is likely in your graphics card.

What is the average bottleneck percentage?

The average bottleneck percentage is 30%. This means that more than a third of your time will be spent waiting.

For example, if you have 2 hours of work, this means you have 1 hour and 30 minutes of waiting. In some cases, the number can go up as high as 80%, which is 4 hours on a 5-hour job.

The bottleneck percentage is one of the fundamental metrics used to describe the workflow. It’s not the only one, but it’s an important figure to know.

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