Should I Spend More on a CPU or a GPU?
'your CPU & GPU are the beating heart of your system'
When it comes to spending priorities for your new creative content machine, this might well be the biggest decision to make. (Apart from what colour to set your backlit RGB mouse and keyboard to obviously)
Why is it an important issue to consider?
Well quite simply your CPU and GPU are the beating heart of your computer, both working in tandem to allow you to maximise your creative workflow. Like an effective heart both parts are needed for the majority of creative content creation.
This is why it's not the best idea to simply buy a machine because of its shiny big screen (we’ve been there), when its inner workings might not be up to more than word processing and web browsing. The basic formula still stands: The more demanding the workload the more powerful the machine required.
And so the most important factor in picking a new computer or computer parts is knowing what type of work you need it to do.
The software you use, be that 3D CAD or Adobe cc products all have differences in there needs. The main categories being: CPU intensive or GPU intensive workloads.
However in recent years these distinctions have become quite blurred. Software that was exclusively CPU intensive (e.g 3D rendering and video encoding) now has the ability and often increased advantage of using GPUs as well.
'it's always going to be easier to upgrade or swap out a GPU'
I return to our question, where should you spend more of your money?
Well presuming your software needs are not drastically niche, my simple answer is that it's always going to be easier to upgrade or swap out a GPU (your graphics card) than a CPU. Providing you have an adequate power supply and space in your case, a GPU upgrade can be as simple as changing a battery (a very expensive battery with a few cables, integrated memory and a cooling unit).
Contrastingly your CPU is reliant on its specific Motherboard platform (e.g X99 X299, X399, etc) an appropriate cooling system and possibly even RAM requirements (as with AMD Ryzen).
The logical decision with a new system for general creative content use, is to first get the highest spec CPU required for your work and then, the closest relevant GPU.
This ensures you get the best value in the long term. It makes an easier upgrade path for more GPU power should your workflow (or 4k gaming) require it.
Another sticky issue with graphics cards is the ‘Pro’ vs ‘Gaming’ cards debate, but we'll save that gem for another time.