I just bought a 5770 and general happy with the outcome, but it made me think about my current CPU. Right now I have had the E6400 for over 3 years and have it OC'd to 3.2ghz, and so far its done me well. (Also have 4 gigs of ram incase theres a question)
My question is if I was to upgrade my mobo and get an I5/I7 would I really see much of a difference ( Dawn of war 2, Metro 2033, C&C 4) etc..
I am unsure about how many cores or how CPU heavy each of those games are. They are fairly new though, so it is likely they can take advantage of multiple cores. Rather than upgrade my whole system though, I would just get a quad 775 chip.
BUT you are happy with your current setup. Great. So why spend $200+ if you are happy with what you have? I can't see the performance gain being worth $200+ without a video card upgrade in the works anyway.
It is true a quad core would help in some games, and so would a newer I3/I5/I7, but how much it would help will vary between game and what resolution your playing at. Personally if your happy with the performance you have now, save the money for something else and wait until you need more performance.
No doubt - it is definitely bottle necking it. I've seen a 3,500 point jump in 3dMark06 going from an E6850 and the 5770 to an AMD 965BE quad and the 5770. I agree with enzo, though - don't bother with the i5/i7 as you'll see a nice little bump if you can get to a Q9550 or Q9650 and it would cost far less than a new MB, processor and the DDR3 memory you'd need, plus save you a reinstall of windows. It also highly depends on what resolution you're trying to run at as you didn't mention that.
You should not be using the term "bottlenecking". 3d mark is an artificial benchmark. Of course the score would jump by such a large amount. As loneninja says it depends on the game and resolution. In most games, higher resolutions are more GPU dependent (someone correct me if I am wrong because I am not 100% sure on that). So that being said, not having a quad could be a bottleneck in some games that can make use of 3+ cores. In others, it will make no difference. In the future though, it will make all the difference so if you plan to keep the computer and not upgrade again for a long time (2-4 years), get the quad.
Personally (and this is only what I would do in your situation), I would stick with my current system until I don't like the performance anymore. For me, that would be a year or two. I would then sell the components and build an entirely new system. Depending on the budget for the new build, I might keep the 5770.
Actually I have a situation with my friend and I. We both have radeon 3870s. I have an Athlon IIx4 OC to 3.25GHz with 2GB of memory and he has an E6300 OC to 3.2GHz with 4GB of memory. We generally perform about the same in most games. He can play Crysis a touch better because of more memory. I can play Dragon Age better because of the additional 2 cores (DA is notorious for taking advantage of multiple cores). There is little to no difference with other games we've tried (haven't tried GTA4 or FSX though). So I guess basically your CPU is holding you back a bit in some current games, but not many. It will hold you back in future games for sure though. And by future, I am referring to the more intense releases. The next version of Modern Warfare will likely not be too intense for example.
I only used that as an example - I should have expanded on things a bit more. I used that only as a reference because most people can relate to it. Yes, it totally depends on the game and the resolution you want to run at. However, the OP's question was simply is his processor bottlenecking his video card. In simple terms, yes, it is. Metro will use multiple cores - the others, not so much (at least not that I'm aware of, but I could be wrong - wouldn't be the first time). He could get much better FPS in most games, but not all as you stated.
But I COMPLETELY agree with you on not worrying about it unless there's some game that just isn't cutting it anymore. If you're happy with your system and you're not noticing any slowdowns or stuttering, then don't worry about it. Yes, a processor upgrade to a quad-core would help in most games, but not all. Is it kind of silly to spend $200-$290 on a 9550/9650 - probably. But, that's still a cheaper option than an i750, a good 1156 motherboard and new DDR3 memory, not to mention he wouldn't have to reinstall Windows. And, in 90% of the games out there, the jump to quad-core and to Penryn (from Conroe) would allow him to really push the 5770.
In terms of synethic benchmarks, it is a bottleneck.
But in terms of actual gaming performance, there is no bottleneck.
In Tomshardware' building a balanced PC part 1, it showed that a 45nm wolfdale Pentium2Dual E6300 @ 2.8GHz didn't really bottleneck a 4890 (equal to a 5830) in games except the poorly coded GTA4 which requires a quadcore to run properly.
The 45nm P2D E6300 is faster clock per clock than your 65nm C2D E6400, but since you OCed your CPU my guess is the performance is about the same or yours might be slightly better.
You're not really bottle-necking now, but if you overclock your E6400 Core2Duo a bit more, you should have absolutely no problems with the 5770.
Thanks for all the responses. I will be sticking to my current setup for awhile based on the info above.
I would say good call on staying with this setup for a little while longer, if it isn't broke, why try to fix it?
The term bottleneck always gets thrown around too loosely.
A Bottleneck would mean that your original post would have not had the word "happy" in it.
A bottleneck is an AMD 3200+ trying to run a 5870.
Would your 5770 benefit a little more from an i5 750? yes, but not that much to warrant spending a bunch of $$$, if you are happy with what you have, keep to it until it's broke or does not do the job.
An e2160 at 3.0 GHz (nice OC Btw) will probably be close to bottlenecking a 4850, but it is probably OK with those games. As long as you are getting performance that is acceptable to you, you should be fine. Also- the higher the resolution, the more stress is shifted to the GPU from the CPU. You are probably much more CPU limited than the OP and more in need of an upgrade.
Yeah. You'll be a bit CPU bottlenecked with that CPU in alot of things. The 4850 isn't a super powerful GPU anymore, compared to the high end now, but its still much "higher end" than the CPU. You'll probably see some improvements with a better CPU.