If you like playing games in Full HD resolution with all the fancy graphical effects enabled, you obviously need to invest in a high-end graphics card. If you're looking at buying one of the current high-end cards, such as the AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition or the Nvidia GeForce GTX 680, it's worth taking a closer look at the rest of your computer. Will your PC be able to squeeze the most out of these expensive, powerhouse video cards, or do you have a bottleneck hiding somewhere? With a speedy Core i7 processor you obviously need not worry, but what if you have something like an Intel Core i3 or AMD A6? Hardware.Info examined just that scenario, so read on to find out.
To find out what type of processor you need to get the most out of high-end graphics cards, our testing crew did the impossible: we tested all possible combinations of two graphics cards, ten processors, and five benchmarks with two different settings. And 200 test results later, we actually have a pretty good answer to whether a particular configuration is sufficient for a high-end graphics card, or whether the processor will be a bottleneck.
We used the two most powerful single-GPU graphics cards for this test, the AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 680. The 10 processors we selected range from very low-end to top-of-the-line. From AMD we tested the AMD A6-5400K, AMD A10-5800K, AMD FX-6300 and AMD FX-8350. The Intel processors we used are the Intel Pentium G850, Intel Core i3 2100T, Intel Core i5 3570K, Intel Core i7 3770K, Intel Core i7 3820 and the Intel Core i7 3960X.
We tested four games, Dirt: Showdown, Battlefield 3, Crysis 2 and Max Payne 3. The games were tested with their highest settings, since that's kind of the reason you spend so much money on a graphics card in the first place. We ran the games in two different resolutions: 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) and 5760 x 1080 (3x Full HD).