If all else is up to date, what is the slowest processor you need?

I"ve been running an x6800 core2 duo OC'd to 3.4ghz now for nearly 5 years. My graphic cards are xfire 5850s. I feel the urge to upgrade the computer with sandy bridge but I think all my games are still playing decent for now.

My question is, I know the graphic cards do most of the heavy lifting, but say, for a game like crysis 2 coming out next year, how decent of a processor do you feel is necessary to play at the 2500x1600 with near highest settings, assuming everything else is up to date in terms of tech?

In general, how cpu dependent are most games? What's the slowest/oldest you can get by with and still have a decent gaming experience?

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More about date slowest processor need
  1. If you don't see lag, you're all good. :) A fast dual-core can run most FPSs, but you'd get destroyed by something like FSX. If you don't play RTSs, FSX, Dragon Age, or want to run software PhysX on Mafia 2, a dual-core over 3GHZ should be fine. I'd wouldn't build a new PC without quadcore, though. Technology is advancing, after all, and you can get Phenom II quads dirt cheap now, and i5s are not much more.
  2. I think that your inner urge is right especially with those 2 beefy HD 5850's crossfired.
    If I had those graphics cards I would have no qualms about jumping on getting a Sandy Bridge i7-2600k,a new mobo and some new RAM.
  3. I do play dragon age and RTS and I ahve played Mafia 2...probably without physX...I don't remember, but the games really didn't give me a problem. It's certain things Civ V, when i go 16 civs and 28 city states...the game slows to a crawl. I'm guessing that kind of processing goes to the CPU.

    Part of me wants to jump to sandy bridge...another part of me is're kind of ok now...why don't you wait until ivy bridge. It's not like things are unplayable right now...also...there's not too many great games on the horizon short of crysis II and Assassins' Creed Brotherhood (jury is out on KOTR and DC universe)

    BUt then, tom's had a great article with comparing a 2007 machine to a recent one. Argh...wait or not to wait? I've already specced out a silverstone ft02 and ssd memory on newegg...just need to pull the trigger.

    But then, if it's not really it worth fixing? I do admit, my 3dmark11 basic user edition gives me an embarassingly low score.
  4. Five years is a lot of time.Recent games are beginning to utilize multi-core CPUs properly.I think you'll need to upgrade very soon as dual core CPUs are not powerful enough for Crossfired 5850s, especially with the recene games.
  5. If you have the money why not upgrade. It wold be a worthwhile investment. Though there seems to be a lot of new hardware coming out...even I am having a hard time deciding on whether to upgrade or to wait and see.
  6. You said your self " if it's not really it worth fixing" its always going to go down in price so upgrade when you need to. At your very high resolution the load is mainly on the GPUs so your machine is not as unbalanced as it first looks (but still is a bit).
  7. At the highest resolutuion, 2560x1600, the processor plays the least impact in the performance equation, ~5% at best...; you have 'enough' cpu, upgrading it to even a quad or 6 core Extreme Edition to see a net gain from 50 fps to 51 fps would be quite the expensive and frustrating learning experience...
  8. mdd1963 kind of hit it on the spot. Money isn't really the problem. It's been long enough that if I stupidly decided to splurge on it, I won' t lose too much sleep. However, burning money is still burning money.

    Would my cpu be bottlenecking the 5850s, or would that not be an issue? I don't need silky smooth framerates, just decent. I suck at fps anyway and dont' like playing them online. RTS never seems to be demanding enough to stress the machines out.

    So CPU is really only 5 % of the gaming experience? I know it's low, but I never htought it'd be that low. I guess to be fair, I'd be upgrading to ssds as well. That'd probably have a higher impact than cpus, huh? Now i'm thinking maybe I should just upgrade to SSDs, and try to last another year until ivybridge.
  9. Best answer
    That Intel Core 2 Dual Extreme Edition Q6800 Processor has served you quite well over the past 4 to 5 years and for it's use it has aged well

    However as you can see in this chart there are already CPU's that outperform it quite a bit.In a way it seems ridiculous to use $500 to $600 of modern graphics cards only a year old with a 4 to 5 year old CPU.However your CPU still performs adequately.Obviously many of us have heard that some of the upcoming Sandy Bridge CPU's will outperform even the $999 6 core i7-980X

    and using your $500 to $600 year old graphics cards on say the new i7-2600K
    would be a great match.

    One has to also consider whether if you wait for Ivy Bridge another year that your
    graphics cards will be considered old by then too although still good.

    To say that computer games are graphics card bound is not quite true as there are many titles that are CPU dependent.One example is Microsoft Flight Simulator X which is about 75% dependent upon the power of the CPU and only about 25% dependent upon the GPU.Many other flight sim titles also are CPU dependent .
    There are in fact many newer title games optimized for quad core CPU's.
    Here is a list that user Dougx1317 put up.Obviously as they are optimized for quad core CPU's they certainly have gain from more CPU performance.

    It is however up to you to decide whether to jump on a new Sandy Bridge CPU and use your beefy graphics cards with it or whether to wait until the Ivy Bridge CPU's come out say in 2012 or so.If you wait you may decide to get newer graphics cards.

    One thing though is that the Sandy Bridge CPU's will be inexpensive though.
    Anyway good luck on your choices.
  10. Best answer selected by Debeucci.
  11. Great answer! Thanks for the great input!
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