1. is it safe to assume that my CPU is bottlenecking my card and causing the low FPS?
2. i think i have my power supply correctly connected to the card, but if it weren't receiving enough power, could that cause low FPS, or would it more likely cause a different problem?
3. my processor is 2 years old -- is it normal for it to still be over $200? will i have to spend much more to get a better one?
4. would you recommend buying a new CPU? power supply? RAM? if so, do you have any suggestions re: brand/model, price range, integration with current rig?
i have made two investments recently: i purchased an ATI Radeon 7970HD GPU back in November, and bought a 23" 1080p monitor more recently. i'm much happier with the 7970 than i was with my old card, but soon after installing it i realized that my HDTV/monitor was incapable of displaying true 1080p without upscaling. so i went ahead and bought the monitor, but i'm thinking i might be in a similar situation, in that i got the monitor to keep up with the GPU and i might now have to upgrade something else to keep up with them both.
here's my issue: at 720p i'm able to run most games on their maximum settings at 50+ FPS. i don't particularly notice much of a difference between 50 and 60+ but i do notice, say, 35 or below. examples of games i can play on max without issue are: dishonored, bioshock infinite, diablo 3, deus ex human evolution, and others. certain other games, however, seem to be more graphically intensive, and as such i only get between 30-45 FPS depending on what's happening on the screen. the biggest example would be final fantasy XIV, which is the game i play the most; i'm able to render everything perfectly at the highest settings, and it's far from unplayable, but when i'm getting as low as 30 it's definitely noticeable. this is just about the lowest FPS i am willing to tolerate, but as long as it stayed above 30 increasing my FPS was not a big priority for me. then i learned recently that increasing the resolution, which *was* a big priority, takes more processing power, and could push my FPS even lower.
basically since i know the card is powerful enough to run almost everything well i want to know if it's likely that i'm getting bottlenecked by my processor, power supply, RAM, or something else, and if so, what steps / upgrades should i make.
Is this with or without AA on? Increasing your resolution will not effect your CPU, only your GPU, which should be more than sufficient for most games. Turn AA down or off for much better performance. It is not a power supply issue or else it would just turn off.
Make sure your graphics drivers are up to date. I have that same exact card. All I really play is WoW, but I can play 1080p on ultra in 40 man BG's and 25 man raids without any issues. D3 is less demanding than that by far. I never did get the time to play FFXIV when it was in beta. If there are settings for it, I would try turning down shadows for starters.