Can a dual core CPU limit the power of a high end GPU?

I have searched and read many different forums and threads on the subject- in vanity! I have heard so many people claim "Yes, GPU's are so powerful, even the best CPU's limit their power!" and the more common "CPU's never limit GPU's, and the bottleneck is almost ALWAYS the GPU."

For the longest time, I have wondered if my CPU (2.4ghz Core2Duo) was limiting the power of my Nvidia 8800 GT.

I scrapped my 8800GT and decided to go with two 4850's in CROSSFIRE.

I play at 1920x1080 resolution, and can NEVER crank the settings to max with that resolution and still get smooth fps (consistent 40+) on most newer games.

Some games, like Left4Dead, I can crank everything to max with AA and AF maxed- and it's always 60+.

But for the most part- if I run high settings I get 30ish frames, and in some newer titles have to lower settings just to get that.

My question is... is my e6600 2.4ghz CPU (which is OC'd to 3.0ghz) bottlenecking my Crossfire 4850's from full power?

Or are games just being made that CANNOT be played at adequate frame rates with even the best of hardware? This really seems to be the case. For many many years, I have upgraded to the best graphics cards- only to still have to play a lot of newer titles on medium settings because of the high resolution 1920x1080. I have completely scratched the idea of getting a higher res monitor (2560x1900) because I would have to play on LOW settings on most games.

This really pisses me off... because all I ever wanted was to play on max settings- regardless of what the game actually looks like. This never happens though. GR!!!
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  1. No. It will not bottle neck your GPU in GPU bound games. This becomes a different story for cr@ppy ports like GTAIV where a Quad helps. What games are you playing and what drivers? 2x 4850s should be enough for most games at 1900*1200.
  2. NO!
    3.0ghz is plenty for 2 4850 cf and your resolution is very high so there should be less of a bottleneck. If some of your games are cpu bound then you will be bottlenecked; such as Shadow703793 has said.
  3. The 8800GT is fine for 17 or 19 inch monitors but really you can't expect it to give past mediocre framerates at your 1920x1080 resolution. Sell your old 8800 GT, buy a GTX 275, and you'll feel like you got a new system.
  4. Well, that CPU at 3.0 GHz is a bit limiting for two 4850s in crossfire, but it just depends on the game. If you have the 512MB cards, then the unsmooth game play could be partially caused by lack of VRAM at those high settings rather than CPU speed. Upgrading to something like a Q9550 and overclocking it will help smooth out CPU bound games (especially those with lots of physics effects), but won't give you as big a boost in games that are more GPU bound.
  5. So if I were to build a new computer- a great gaming computer- what CPU should I get?

    My 2.6ghz Core2Duo seems to run everything perfectly fine, and honestly since it's easy to overclock, there doesnt seem to be ANY reason to buy anything else.

    I really don't care if my system boots up in 20 seconds of 15 seconds. The I7 doesn't look very apetizing, and my OC'd Core2Duo at 3Ghz seems to be perfectly fine. Plus it's one of the cheapest of modern CPU's.

    If there's no need to upgrade- there's not really any reason to spend HUNDREDS extra on an I7 cpu, MB, and ram when I could just spend $200 and get Core2Duo, a cheap MB, and ram.
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