Should I upgrade only my GPU or CPU as well?
I'd like to upgrade both my GPU and CPU. I'm running a GTX 260 and an Intel core 2 duo, as well I've been using my Samsung 46"LCD for my monitor, it gives me a familiar console feel. As of now I'd only have the budget to upgrade my GPU, I've been waiting the new GTX 600 series so the GTX 560 TI I've got my eye on will drop in price just a bit. Question is will I see an immediate bottle necking from my CPU if I run Skyrim and other games on max settings through my LCD? On that note while running through such a large monitor would the GTX 560 ti make any difference if it was a 1.2 or a 2 gig? Next year I'm looking at an i7. Let me know if the GPU alone would be a waste of time. I'm jealous the game looks better on console then my machine.
the game shouldn't look better on console than your machine. turning graphics to medium low and you will have what the consoles have.
you cpu will be a huge bottleneck for a 560ti but if you will get a cpu latter you can spring for the card now and have it be more powerful than the 260. Also just get an i5 if you are looking to game, the i7 doesn't offer anything more.
First off the Nvidia is still over a few months away. They are saying the 680 might be the first out. But don't quote me on that. As far as the price drop don't know. The 560 ti is a good GPU and it will bottle neck with your core duo.
The i7 is a monster and you will get about 40% out of it. It is more for hyperthreading. the i5 2500k is the to get for the gaming. The extra Vram is if you are using resolution over 1920 x 1200 and/or more than one monitor. But for the fucture the way games are coming along maybe get it.
I hope this helps you a little and I wish you good luck.
I was so exactly in your shoes a month ago (Skyrim on: e8400 @ 3.8 ghz, GTX 260 core 216, 8 gb RAM, 55" Samsung TV) and after trying different things, I eventually just went for a completely new computer. I gave my 260 to a friend that doesn't mind lower detail and he's been happy playing Skyrim and BF3 ever since (he also has a console gaming past). But I can't deal with the lower detail settings, and on that hardware, Skyrim was crashing repeatedly on medium-high. My new setup has allowed max settings and the HD texture packs with a min of 65 fps outdoors.
I would suggest: buy a GTX 460 or 560 (not TI, DM186 is right, it's overkill) from a site like Amazon with a great return policy. It will improve your framerate some (~25%). You'll have 30 days to try it and decide if it improves the detail enough to be worth the $$. If you want to return it, you only lose the cost of return shipping. I did exactly that... I tried a 560 ti, decided it wasnt enough improvement, so I upgraded completely.
If you can stand lower detail, I think a 460 would hold you over until Nvidia releases their new line...and at that point you can build a new Ivy Bridge setup as well. But if you're picky like me, then it's time for a new pc.
Also, if you do decide to build a new computer, the guys above me are right about the i5 being the same as i7 in games. I use the hyperthreading capability... if I didn't, I would've gone i5-2500K and a GTX570 or 580.