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Cpu bottlenecking for games - how little, or how big?

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February 8, 2012 12:54:05 PM

My pc's served me well, the past few years i've had it.
Though, most new-generation games are making it struggle for breath, so I am looking for a good setup.
I understand cpu and hard drive doesn't matter much when it comes to frame rates for 3d gaming.
But the question is, how much so? I suppose there isn't much need of getting more than 8 gigs of ram,
so I'm set for the rams too, but what of the CPU?

I'll try dumbing this seemingly broad question down to two parts.
1. Would I be bottlenecking the GPU's capability if I had a high end graphic cards and a medium range
cpu like the i2500?
2. If I put on a med~high range graphics card like the 560 on my current pc with a Core2Quad q6600
(p5k motherboard, 4g ram, two be precise), would that be bottlenecking?

I've such a shallow knowledge about these things, I just can't even start to guess the answer to these...
please help me out!
a c 203 à CPUs
February 8, 2012 1:06:38 PM

burger1113 said:
I understand cpu and hard drive doesn't matter much when it comes to frame rates for 3d gaming.
If your CPU is bottlenecking game performance - you would think the CPU does matter when it comes to frame rates in 3D gaming. And that would be true.
It might not be AS important as the good graphics card but it should not hold back the graphics cards top performance.

Is your C2Q 6600 OC'd?
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a c 203 à CPUs
February 8, 2012 1:14:23 PM

Besides having a C2Q 6600, 4GB RAM and a P5k ... what graphics card are you using now?

From THG's Best Gaming CPUs For The Money: January 2012 article
Gaming CPU Hierarchy Chart
Your C2Q 6600 is in tier 4. The article suggests moving up 3 tiers is about right. And that would suggest that a Core i5-2500/2500K Sandy Bridge is a good option for a CPU upgrade.
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February 8, 2012 3:37:05 PM

burger1113 said:
1. Would I be bottlenecking the GPU's capability if I had a high end graphic cards and a medium range
cpu like the i2500?
2. If I put on a med~high range graphics card like the 560 on my current pc with a Core2Quad q6600
(p5k motherboard, 4g ram, two be precise), would that be bottlenecking?


Firstly, there seems to be a common misconception about CPU bottlenecks. What and by how much a CPU is bottlenecking a video card depends entirely on the game you're playing and how its distributing its workload. Skyrim, for instance, looks pretty CPU-bottlenecked basically no matter what hardware you're running, no matter how well balanced your system is. Battlefield 3, on the other hand, [at least in single player as that's what they always benchmark] is so GPU-heavy it almost doesn't even matter how good your processor is.

Next: the i5 2500 is technically "midrange" in price, but its not going to artificially handicap a video card in any reasonable scenario. Something like 4x SLI or 4x Crossfire might be pushing it, but if you're going to spend $2000 on video cards you wouldn't want a $200 processor anyway.

As for your Q6600 + GTX 560: there might be a bottleneck in some specific scenarios but depending on what you're upgrading from and your willingness to part with some money, its possibly still very worth it. A game like Skyrim (a pretty extreme example anyway) might not benefit as much, but more typical games may. Your Core 2 Quad isn't exactly ancient anyway, it still holds its own compared to much of AMD's lineup these days.
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February 9, 2012 12:05:50 AM

@oxiide Wow thanks for such an elaborate answer!
I was aware of how games differ in amount of cpu usage,
but i sure had no idea skyrim was so cpu intensive.
Thank u!
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February 9, 2012 8:01:33 PM

Skyrim is a CPU hog as is BF3 64-man Multiplayer servers. I have a C2Q Q8300 (same place on the hierarchy) and it rarely bottlenecks me in games. But then again, I'm not using an HD 7970 or anything like that.
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February 9, 2012 9:02:26 PM

The Q6600 is still sufficient for gaming unless you're itching to upgrade.
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February 10, 2012 3:57:59 AM

IMO, getting a extreme CPU with a mid-ranged GPU is more logical than the opposite. CPUs are more complicated to upgrade, you gotta find the right mobo, maybe upgrade the RAM if you're running a DDR2 system, and get the right heat sink to cool it.
For a GPU, you find a good one and you're done. PCI-e slots have a lot of bandwidth so they get upgraded every 5 years or so.
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February 16, 2012 10:58:37 PM

Best answer selected by burger1113.
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