Is anyone aware of a CPU to graphics pairing guide? Tom's charts are all based on the same high end cpu, so its not much help in determining a good cpu to complement a graphics card.
To rephrase this in a more specific way: whats a reasonable AMD CPU to pair up with a 7950GT? Not necessarily the absolute best but one that balances out the card performance? I am currently at a X2 4600+...
The CPU's impact in reduced the higher resolution you go. At 1600x1200 with 4xAA, the influence of the CPU is minimal.
In addition - at lower resolutions - slower CPUs will often bottleneck game performance, but over 100 fps. So it's not a real-world bottleneck when an e6800 gets 210 fps and an Athlon 3800+ gets 110 fps, when you consider that an LCD monitor is pretty much limited to 60 Hz (60 fps).
Here's a little test I did with an Athlon X2 3800+ with an 8800 GTX vs an e6600 with an 8800 GTS.
At low resolutions the e6600 got much higher framerates, but at high resolutions the videocard was the bottleneck, not the CPU, and the slower CPU won: