How is a GPU dependent on (or "bottlenecked" by) the CPU?

I made another thread not long ago related to this, but this is kind of a variation of my original question... so here it goes.

I currently have an old dual core CPU, an AMD Athlon II X2 220. I plan on upgrading to an i3-2120 (along with a new motherboard of course) sometime in the next few months. I'm upgrading my computer piece by piece and I've been holding out on changing the Mobo/CPU because that would necessitate a new OS. So before I reach that last part I wanted (ideally) to get a nice graphics card that will run on both this old CPU, and on my future one.

I remember hearing that a slow CPU can bottleneck a powerful GPU, and that in the worst case scenario you can get bad stuttering or skips during game-play. I checked your very helpful guide,,3107.html And I imagine I could afford something in the 200$ range (now the money I saved by getting the cheap case comes into play! lol) But yeah, I can't see any indication on what type of CPU requirements there are for these cards. How is that gauged?

I didn't want to get an SLI/Crossfire because it sounds intimidating and confusing, but that might be a good option... Getting 1 card that runs well on an old dual-core, then eventually doubling it when I'm ready to fully utilize the i3? Would that work?
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  1. Not sure I'd worry about it. Get the card you want now. The reason I say this is that you'll be upgrading everything else anyways. Even IF you have things as bad as stuttering, etc, you won't have to put up with it for long.

    You shouldn't have stuttering btw. What should happen is if you see the benchmarks for X card and you see 50FPS avg on your favorite game, when you try it because of your slower CPU you should see only 20FPS. You won't get close to that 50FPS mark until you get a faster CPU that can deliver more information to your GPU.
  2. well that intel processor isnt bad for gaming although more and more games are going to quad core.. at least the newer ones.. yea just makesure that the mother board has pci exspress 2.0 and at the very least a 8x slot perferably a 16x slot .. if your not sure look it up .. also id say the new intel build would be nice and that amd processor will bottle neck .. you might want to consider a previous generation or go with a 6850 or 6870 as far as graphics .. but be aware that amd is going to release new gpu hardware in the near future so it might be a good idea to wait it out .. personally i have 2 6870s in crossfire .. an im running a 1090t black edition... and i have to say it seems like even my processor limits my crossfire rigg.. i have mine currently clocked at 4.7ghz and im getting p7470 on 3dmark vantage with the free default bench test..
  3. I think the i5 are only worth it if I plan on overclocking or going into more than 2 graphic cards, and I'm not even convinced I'm going to go for more than 1. I like to game, but not that high-end stuff. I don't have one of those bleeding edge 2560 x 1600 screens, just a simple little 1080p.

    What I'll probably do is get the i3, use it to the best of my abilities, then by 2013 maybe get one of the Ivy Bridges that will have come out. That's why I like the LGA 1155 boards, I would be able to work with current and next generation processors (from what I understand of it anyway).

    I could probably get an AM3+ quad core or something and push my current mobo a little further along, but I'm not so sure about AMD anymore, there's all these rumors going about ever since the Bulldozer story.
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