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When should I upgrade GPUs vs. my CPU?

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#1
Hey guys. I'm trying to get a rough idea of when I should stopped upgrading my GPU vs. my current CPU. I have an OC'd Phenom II X4 955 (3.6 Ghz is the best I can get out of it) and my current card is a GTX 460 1GB. I only game at 1680x1050, like my monitor and don't want a larger one. With Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim coming out this fall I'd like to push the video settings as much as possible, so I was considering a new GPU. I know from Fallout 3 when I upgraded from my 8800 GTX to the GTX 460 1GB I was able to max the video settings, so it seems I had enough CPU headroom to keep from bottlenecking. No one has a crystal ball of course so it hard to say what Skyrim will demand.

Basically, just wondering when I'm going to hit the ceiling with the X4 955. I don't want to spend $300 for something like a GTX 570 only to discover my gaming performance isn't much better due to the CPU.
 
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brandonwh64

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#2
Upgrade CPU before video. that GTX 460 shouldn't have any issues playing games for a while
 

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#3
Depending on game, I think your wall is still quite a distance. Or you already hit a wall. For example, if you are playing Starcraft 2 your would have already hit the wall, but at the same time you can fit a GTX570 in and still not hit a wall if you are playing COD: (insert whatever version). Best bet is wait for Skyrim and benchmarks to judge.
 
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#5

brandonwh64

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#7
Either get a bulldozer or socket 2011.
 

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#8
Hiya Jeffredo!

If you were to upgrade anything a new CPU is in order. We basically have the same setup & I can max(high + AA is dependent on the game) most games with ease @ 1080p, look at AM3+ or do a total overhaul with a Sandy Bridge chip.
 

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#9
CPU/mobo/ram first. I have a fun story to go with it:

Some years ago a friend of mine wanted to upgrade his aging Pentium 4 system. He started with buying an x1950pro AGP card. Then he got the other stuff and realised his month old GPU wouldn't work there and sold it all for €100. But not to me. :cry:
 
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#10
With Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim coming out this fall I'd like to push the video settings as much as possible
So buy new hardware when the game comes out, not now. :rolleyes:
 
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#11
What I'm gathering is that I may get some benefit from a GTX 570, but not nearly what I should without a better CPU. I was afraid of that. :( Guess its time to start squirreling away money for more of an upgrade than I was planning (if I want to max that game). I most likely will wait until its release to see what I can do with my current setup.
 

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#12
You could get the gtx570 but IMO would only do that if you are planning a cpu upgrade within the next 6-8 months. Just remember you are going to be limited to your resolution but at least you know you would be able to game for a LONG time coming.
 
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#13
u say upgrade both of them at the same time. that would let you pair the best, while being able to make full use of them right from the scratch.
 
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#14
My vote is for the CPU first, given that your GPU is plenty for most of the games out there.

As others have said, the game type you play matters a lot. You've cited Skyrim as your target, but a bit more information would help. Skyrim has the possibility of pushing both GPU and CPU, given the tendencies of the developers to latch on to high end rendering and mathematically intensive designs. What we need to know is what you play now.

For example, your current rig could deal with heavily graphics driven games (Call of Duty) on moderate (cited resolution at high settings) settings; it would otherwise be extremely taxed by processor intensive games (flight sims, Supreme Commander 2, most RTS games). What do you prefer, and what do you play now?


Going in blind, I would recommend that you upgrade the CPU first. A decent 2500k would stomp pretty much anything else on the market (barring the insanely priced 2600k) in gaming performance. You would have to upgrade the RAM, Mobo, and CPU; in return you'll get an immense increase in (CPU intensive) performance, and some decent headroom for improvement in the near future.

If you're as crazy as I am, wait for the socket 2011 and Bulldozer. Both should be out in the first few months of 2012, which will give you time to save up. You'll have to deal with Skyrim at less than insane graphics for a couple of months, but a little bit of patience may be worth it in the end.
 

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#15
2600K + P67 + 4GB DDR3-1600mhz + GTX 460 = (LOVE IN AN ELEVATOR)
 
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#16
I went from a C2D E8400 to i5-2500K keeping the same GPU, an EVGA GTX 275 FTW OCed to 732/1552/1266 and the jump in performance was quite big in most of the games. The GTX 460 at stock clocks is on par with what I have plus DX11 and a little more Vram as I play at the same res as the OP. If it weren't for BF3 and DX11 I wouldn't consider any upgrade until the next gen 28nm GPUs. I see more and more games heavier on the CPU than on the GPU being most of them console ports so I would suggest an upgrade in the CPU department if it is planned now rather than in the video card.
 
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#17
Think I will go Sandy Bridge this time around. I've had two AMD processors (X2 6400+ and the current X4 955) and I'm kind of tired of waiting for AMD to match Intel in performance. Thanks for the input guys - seems to be a consensus on getting the new CPU/mobo/RAM first. I'll get an SLI board to give me the option of slipping another GTX 460 in.
 

brandonwh64

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#18
Look at the sandybridge thread in the OCing section of TPU. it will give you ideas on performance and OCing
 

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#19
Think I will go Sandy Bridge this time around. I've had two AMD processors (X2 6400+ and the current X4 955) and I'm kind of tired of waiting for AMD to match Intel in performance. Thanks for the input guys - seems to be a consensus on getting the new CPU/mobo/RAM first. I'll get an SLI board to give me the option of slipping another GTX 460 in.
All P67 boards support SLI and Xfire aslong as they have 2 PCIe slots
 
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#20
The guys are just right, if you need to upgrade, first get a good processor, your GTX 460 1GB is plenty enough for 1680*1050 resolution. :rockout:

Intel 2500k + Intel Z68 Motherboard (could be P67 and then i found better deals on Z68 :laugh:)+ 4GB RAM and GTX 460 1GB = Max Out everything.

And if you can overclock your processor and graphics card, it will be even better. :)
 

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#21

Pestilence

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#22

JrRacinFan

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#23
Thank you for the correction. Seems the low end boards are just that.. very low end. :laugh:
;) Didn't mean anything harsh about it just wanted to point it out. Also i wouldn't consider any of those board low end EXCEPT the Gigabyte board. Most mainstream gamers run single gpu anyways.
 
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#24
I'm a little late to this, but I don't see where the OP stated whether or not he's got an AM3+ board. If he does I don't see why going to SB is a good idea.
 

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#25
Unless a new board was purchased and/or outdated specs, the current board in OP's specs is AM3.