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Does my CPU bottleneck my GPU

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November 14, 2011 2:46:41 PM

Ok so I am not very good with these things, but I got a pretty old processor and fairly new GPU. I tried skyrim today and it lagged pretty bad. My processor is intel core 2 duo 3,1GHz and GPU is nvidia geforce GTX 460 with core clock speed of 405MHz. shaders 810MHz, Memory 1800MHz.

So is my CPU limiting me?

More about : cpu bottleneck gpu

November 14, 2011 2:55:46 PM

Certainly. Here are my two systems, you can see the difference in configuration:

(old system, now secondary for friends to LAN on)
Intel Core 2 Duo@3.4GHz; 3GB DDR2 memory; 512MB 9800GT video card

(new(er) system, can run Skyrim at maximum settings without lag)
AMD Phenom II 945@3.4GHz; 4GB DDR2 memory; 1GB GTX 460 video card

As you can see, my GTX 460 is paired up with an overcloced AMD quad core. My CPU is *still* the bottleneck, as a newer turbo quad or i5/i7/FX would do wonders for my overall performance.

How much memory do you have? If it's less than 3GB, that's your bottleneck. My Core 2 Duo can run Skyrim just fine, albeit not at *maxium* settings but most are at medium and a few are set to high. Though, my CPU is also 300MHz faster than yours, I doubt it is the reason you are unable to run Skyrim.

Turn your draw distances down and turn physics down, this will help with CPU. If you have 2GB of memory or less, that will be your bottleneck and you will need an upgrade ASAP

However CPU's are so incredibly cheap, you should be able to get an old Core 2 Quad for next to nothing, and when overclocked it will perform well enough to run Skyrim at higher settings
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November 14, 2011 3:01:53 PM

The C2D at 3.1 and the GTX460 are a pretty good match, however, Skyrim wants a faster cpu, so in this case the cpu IS the bottleneck, but the cpu is NOT bottlenecking the gpu. It just happens to be a game that is cpu limited before it's gpu limited, as most MMO's are.

Cherokee, your cpu certainly is NOT bottlenecking your GTX460. THAT is a fact. In fact I think you would be just fine with a second GTX460.

However, a faster cpu would help you in a game like Skyrim which is cpu limited before it's gpu limited.

Samppaa, you could seriously benefit from a system upgrade though. Maybe a faster cpu and a second GTX460, while you can still get one, now would be the time to buy. 2-GTX460 are about as fast or faster than a GTX570.

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November 14, 2011 3:03:21 PM

Exactly what CPU and motherboard?
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November 14, 2011 3:08:59 PM

And what resolution
November 14, 2011 3:18:21 PM

I just went through this with my Core Duo. It simply cannot handle the speed of the GPU nor can your motherboard (most likely).

I recently got a 560 TI OC and my core duo was completely hosing the card down. Plus my mobo was only PCI and not PCIe which limits the amount of information.

I would suggest going to Microcenter if one is close to you.

I got my i5 2006k a ASUS mobo for 150 and 8 gigs of Vegnance ram for $400 and its a world of difference.
November 14, 2011 3:28:22 PM

I think I order i5 2500k and 8gb ram, will it run fine then?
November 14, 2011 5:07:55 PM

geekapproved said:

Cherokee, your cpu certainly is NOT bottlenecking your GTX460. THAT is a fact. In fact I think you would be just fine with a second GTX460.



Oh I'm fine with a single GTX 460. In fact Skyrim runs at medium settings on my other PC (Core2Duo@3.4/9800GT512MB) - two video cards certainly aren't needed for a game like that

You really think My Phenom II 945 has more headroom than the GTX 460? I figured it was the other way around but maybe I'm just underestimating my Phenom ^_^

I think everyone is expecting the same poorly optimized experience as Oblivion, but instead the game is running virtually as well as Fallout 3/NV ran
November 14, 2011 8:19:12 PM

geekapproved said:
The C2D at 3.1 and the GTX460 are a pretty good match, however, Skyrim wants a faster cpu, so in this case the cpu IS the bottleneck, but the cpu is NOT bottlenecking the gpu. It just happens to be a game that is cpu limited before it's gpu limited, as most MMO's are.

Cherokee, your cpu certainly is NOT bottlenecking your GTX460. THAT is a fact. In fact I think you would be just fine with a second GTX460.

However, a faster cpu would help you in a game like Skyrim which is cpu limited before it's gpu limited.

Samppaa, you could seriously benefit from a system upgrade though. Maybe a faster cpu and a second GTX460, while you can still get one, now would be the time to buy. 2-GTX460 are about as fast or faster than a GTX570.

^this person is correct.
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November 14, 2011 8:55:05 PM

Gwart said:
I just went through this with my Core Duo. It simply cannot handle the speed of the GPU nor can your motherboard (most likely).

I recently got a 560 TI OC and my core duo was completely hosing the card down. Plus my mobo was only PCI and not PCIe which limits the amount of information.

I would suggest going to Microcenter if one is close to you.

I got my i5 2006k a ASUS mobo for 150 and 8 gigs of Vegnance ram for $400 and its a world of difference.



1) a 3.1ghz C2D certainly IS fast enough for a GTX460.

2) a GTX560ti is NOT a GTX460.

3) There is no such thing as a PCI 560ti. Any motherboard/gpu made in the last 5yrs (actually probably more like 10yrs) is PCI-E.
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