Phenom II x6 1055T OC to 3.3Ghz
G.Skill CL7-8GB OC to 2100Mhz
I'm noticing performance drops on newer titles, mainly due to VRAM rather than CPU capping. My CPU still has 100-200Mhz of room to OC. So I'm looking to upgrade GPU before upgrading CPU (and probably Mobo) in a year or so.
I am interested in the PhysX of the GTX670. With my CPU the PhysX ability of the GTX670 should free up some strain on my CPU in certain titles (Batman for example). Is this worth an extra $20? And is it worth forgoing some additional performance/OC potential of the HD7970?
A GTX670 or 7970 is a nice jump from a 5870, which is already a very good card. But, it is only a few tiers higher, and you might risk disappointment if you don't see a big improvement.
As a rule, the graphics card trumps the cpu as far as generating FPS is concerned. But your X6 is not known as a great gaming card. To help clarify your options, run these two tests:
a) Run your games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics configuration.
If your FPS stays the same, you are likely cpu limited.
b) Limit your cpu, either by reducing the OC, or, in windows power management, limit the maximum cpu% to something like 50%.
This will simulate what a lack of cpu power will do.
Go to control panel/power options/change plan settings/change advanced power settings/processor power management/maximum processor state/
set to 50% and see how you do.
If your FPS drops significantly, it is an indicator that your cpu is the limiting factor, and a cpu upgrade is in order.
It is possible that both tests are positive, indicating that you have a well balanced system, and both cpu and gpu need to be upgraded to get better gaming FPS.
If you determine that the cpu is holding you back, the Intel 3570K is as good as it gets, and will still be good when Haswell arrives next year. Haswell is supposed to be 10% better for a similar price.
If, on the other hand, a graphics update is in order, anything stronger than a GTX670 seems less and less worthwhile. It might be better to wait for the end of the year when "son of kepler" or the amd 8xxx series might show up.