I've been going through the forums here the last few days just absorbing some of the information here and one thing I've been seeing a lot of and not fully understanding are references to the CPU "bottlenecking". This is usually mentioned when someone wants to upgrade their GPU to something insane but have a lower end CPU; something like upgrading to a HIS Iceq Boost 7950 with a Core 2 Duo (extreme, I know).
Would anyone be kind enough to explain or point me in the right direction to find reliable information?
Bottlenecking simply means that a specific part (or item, assembly, etc depending on usage) is currently handling everything it can and regardless of what else is thrown at it - it can't do any more.
On a computer there can be CPU, GPU, ram, data bus (moves data between ram, cpu, gpu), network, hard drive, and more different types of bottlenecks depending on hardware and what's being done.
When talking CPU/GPU bottlenecks it typically means that they are heavily unbalanced and one is much better than the other... to make an example you *could* have a first generation atom CPU and a 7950 GPU and get 40 fps (at whatever settings), in this situation the CPU would be the bottleneck because it is running at 100% and upgrading to a 7970/7990 probably wouldn't increase the framerate more than 5%. On the other hand, if you upgraded the CPU (assuming you could just drop in a new i5/i7) the framerate could double or more.