I did some testing today, unfortunately I did not think to provide screenshots.
I used MSI Afterburner to chart GPU % USAGE.
I used Task Manager to monitor CPU % USAGE.
The following is what I considered 'low settings', set for intended maximum performance.
1600 x 900, with the lowest settings across every graphics settings.
So what did I find?
My GPU % Usage was hovering at 35%. Completely underutilized.
My CPU % Usage was spread across all cores/thread. 7/8 threads were about 30-50%, but the main working thread was maxing out between 95-100%. Despite being at 100% usage, it didn't seem to present any performance issues or stuttering however. Anyway, completely overstressed.
So what changes did I settle on?
AA – Ultra
PP – High
Efffects – High
Foliage – Very Low
View Distance -Very Low
My GPU % USAGE after : 80-95%
My CPU % USAGE after : 70-90%
I fiddled with these settings for over 2 hours to reach these.
I settled on settings that alleviated much stress off of my CPU usage, while simultaneously NOT maxing out my GPU usage.
Conclusion. Do your own optimization and don't assume the lowest settings are giving you the best performance. It is true what they say, that lowering the graphics settings is just putting more work on your CPU.
P.S. I noticed that the 'Screen Scaling' setting would send GPU usage through the roof. Setting it to 120 can easily add 30% GPU usage over the default 100 setting.