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Upgrade CPU or GPU?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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February 1, 2013 8:33:34 PM

Currently I am running an AMD Phenom(tm) II X4 955 Cpu, and a GTX 560 SE edition. I have a budget of 400$ so I can get a 3770k with a motherboard or possibly a GTX 670/Radeon HD 7970. If I do upgrade my Gpu will my cpu bottleneck it?

More about : upgrade cpu gpu

a c 105 U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
February 1, 2013 8:49:45 PM

monitor size/resolution. operating system and games you play?
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February 1, 2013 8:51:09 PM

21.5" 1920X1080,
Win 7
I usually play games like Arma 2, BF3, Chivalry, and Skryim
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February 1, 2013 8:59:36 PM

if you live near a microcenter the 3770k is 230$ with 50$ off any motherboard. So you could get that and a x79 sabertooth for 300$
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February 1, 2013 9:04:02 PM

If you could link me the Ad that would be wonderful, because I do live near one
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a c 105 U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
February 1, 2013 9:04:23 PM

you're kind of up the creek either way but the video card is the weakest link.

arma/skyrim like big video cards more than even bf3......... yes, no matter what the 955 will bottleneck but I think the video card is the best bet. without it all your games will suffer more.

try not to spend all 400 and save for the platform upgrade later.
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a b U Graphics card
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February 1, 2013 9:19:45 PM

If you can overclock your phenom you should be fine but a decent overclock will be needed
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a c 133 U Graphics card
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February 1, 2013 10:38:59 PM

I feel with a mid line card you would be fine. Your GTX660/Ti and 7850/70 however the higher end cards may prove to be a bottleneck on your CPU. So its up to you really if you want to make the leap CPU wise you would need a new motherboard and CPU. Otherwise a new video card would just plug in play.
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February 1, 2013 10:52:18 PM

I think even if you do a healthy OC you are going to be pushing the limits of a HD 7970/ GTX 670. You will need a CPU/mobo upgrade anyway so I'd start there and then save up a little dough for a GPU. Like ndslite said micro center has the 3770k for $230 or the 3570K for $190 and tons of good mobo sales.
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a c 263 U Graphics card
a c 316 à CPUs
February 1, 2013 10:54:48 PM

A perennial question.

Here is my stock answer:
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 are playing BF3 multiplayer, then you are likely to have a cpu problem.
In single player, thgraphics is more important.

If you upgrade the cpu, make it a 3570K which is cheaper, $190 at microcenter:
http://www.microcenter.com/product/388577/Core_i5_3570K...

You will want a Z77 based motherboard which will be <$100. Most any will do barring a need for extra features.

If you upgrade the graphics card, make it a jump of several tiers, or you may be disappointed. Perhaps to a GTX660

If you must do one or the other, I suggest the cpu/motherboard first. I see the 3570K as a 4 year cpu.

Graphics cards are easier to change out as technology gets better.
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a c 133 U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
February 1, 2013 11:37:09 PM

He doesn't have the card yet so that test wouldn't be as helpful given your methodology. I do like it though.
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a c 263 U Graphics card
a c 316 à CPUs
February 1, 2013 11:42:18 PM

bigshootr8 said:
He doesn't have the card yet so that test wouldn't be as helpful given your methodology. I do like it though.

The test should be done with his current card, the GTX560SE.
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a c 133 U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
February 2, 2013 12:00:40 AM

To see if his current card is bottlenecked and how much room he has? I'm guessing that is where you are going with it.
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a c 263 U Graphics card
a c 316 à CPUs
February 2, 2013 1:23:43 AM

bigshootr8 said:
To see if his current card is bottlenecked and how much room he has? I'm guessing that is where you are going with it.


Exactly. If you reduce the resolution and eye candy, you should be able to drive your games to higher fps if the cpu is capable.

Conversely, if you limit the cpu and it does not change the fps, then the cpu is not the limiter.
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