It really depends on a number of things; the specific game, what settings it is being run on and the resolution being used. In general though I would say an i3 at 3.8ghz isn't a reason to avoid a card like the HD6950 at 1080p or above.
oh woops of course, i run at 1600x900 no higher. ilysaml, I kind of doubt I need a quad-core because my core i3 @ 3.8ghz works its magic on every game I play. Not to mention I'm on a budget haha. I'm preparing for BF3 and Skyrim.
Yeah, for 1600x900 an HD6950 is of very question necessity no matter the processor. With a dual core an HD6870 is the definitely the most you should consider and even that is overkill IMO. I'd say an HD6850 or GTX 460 is about right for your situation.
An HD6950 is a waste on your resolution. I would only get it if you plan on upgrading the monitor. As for the HD7000 series some rumors say early December for the mid-range models others say early 2012 for the whole series.
I have a similar situation. Core i3, and probably getting a Radeon 6950 1GB soon. I want to play at 1080p though, and also plan on upgrading next year to either i5 or i7 Sandy/Ivy bridge, depending on the price/performance ratio.
I've been told there shouldn't be a big, noticeable bottleneck, specially if you OC, so you'll be fine, and if you got the 6870 at the end, you can simply forget about any issues like these
@shrkbay: interesting, new HDs coming out soon? Did you see any details about their price or performance?
Supposedly the mid-range cards of the series might be out in early December(though I wouldn't count on it.) They will likely be similar in performance to the HD6950/70 with better power efficiency. Price is entirely unknown but I wouldn't count on them being a particularly superior value for the money than current cards at launch.