I'm thinking it's time to upgrade my old XFX 4870 1GB, but I don't want to over-kill my current system (e.g. introducing a CPU bottleneck) or have to fork out for a totally new rig to get the most out of a modern GPU.
I play a lot of games, but do nothing else CPU demanding (no need for an i7 really). I usually play 1920 x 1080, single 22" monitor. Games like Fallout 3 NV and L4D2 I play maxed out and good performance, but games like BF2BC2 and ME2 I have to play medium/high settings. I understand these are where my GPU lets me down.
I was looking to buy either a 6850 / 6870, as I've heard good things, but I'm not clear if these cards will be held back by the CPU. I've read a number of threads and conflicting OPINIONS generally cloud the information. For example:
Does anyone know how I can find out if the 965 OC and say, a 6950, are a good match? Perhaps some comparison charts which might reveal bottlenecks?.. I found the two threads below very useful, showing a tier system to distinguish CPU / GPU's from each other, but how should one aim to pair them up most efficiently???
You can see that it's pretty game-dependent. For example, Starcraft II is CPU-dependent, so the better CPUs do better. But most games the CPU doesn't make much difference--in some virtually no difference (e.g. Dirt 3), and in others only about 20% between the best CPU (2500k) and the worst (athlon II or Llano). Remember, that was with a 7970, and you're talking about several tiers down from that. Conclusion: you'll be fine, just get the best GPU you can afford right now. As for that, I really like the 6870 and 7850 at the moment for value; they're about $100 apart in price. A non-reference of either card is a good OCer too (the 7850 can be a HUGE overclocker--there was just an article I read where they had pushed the core from 860 MHz to 1200 MHz and the memory like 30%).