Question Advice for new graphics card


May 15, 2017

Last year my system suffered a hard hit (electrical stuff, all fixed now) that required that I swapped the motherboard and CPU (as well as some other irrelevant stuff). Since I was in a hurry (it is my main computer) and the components were on sale, I went with something newer than what I had, which resulted in me getting an i7-7700k and an ASUS Prime z270A motherboard (here is the PCPartPicker link if you need it).

The GTX 980 graphics card was not affected, but I fear that in the new setup it may be bottle-necking the system.

So what I'm asking is two-fold:
  1. Are my fears warranted? Is it bottle-necking the system?
  2. If so, what would be a graphics card that would be well-suited for the new setup?
I'm aware that an i7-7700k will barely push 1440p (even with the 4.5 Ghz overclock I got from it), so I'm fine living in the 1080p world for now. Unless, I'm mistaking; I'm willing to learn.

I was thinking of the 1070 TI, but in terms of bang-for-the-buck, I feel as though the 1660 TI would be a better fit, although I'd be sacrificing a drop of 2 GB of RAM.

Any help/advice would be appreciated.



I will add to what remix is saying by also saying that I think you are a bit too in your head about the term "bottlenecking".

It's a term a lot of people throw around loosely these days like some kind of buzz word without really knowing what it is they are talking about.

And in regards to a bottleneck of some kind in your system, it should be a GPU bottleneck, since all that will result in is less frames per second than what it could be with a beefier GPU due to you maxing it out and using it to it's fullest potential, and frame rates of an undesireable amount can be remedied by getting a better GPU.

But if the CPU is what's holding everything back, then upgrading a GPU won't do anything to performance without first making sure the CPU is on par with or higher performing than the GPU it is to be paired with.

To clarify further, all a bottleneck is, is that one component is slow enough that it is causing a serious performance hit to other pieces of hardware which causes sub optimal performance.

The reason the term "bottleneck" is thrown around a lot in regards to CPU and GPU more than anything, is simply because when it comes to CPU, you can get a competent one for not much money, but where all the graphics and frame rates are at is in the GPU, and if the CPU is completely and utterly incapable of keeping up with the GPU, then it will cause a drastic reduction in potential performance, performance you are expecting but not getting from say your 2080 Ti that you just spent over a thousand dollars on, performance that you though you were paying for, but are now not getting and making the purchase a waste of money, either by way of deciding to live with it, or by way of dumping more money into upgrading the CPU to something that can handle or exceed the speed and requests of the GPU for data and information.

So to be completely honest with you, I will suggest you stop thinking about "bottlenecking" in the way you currently do and just simply ask yourself or others when it comes time to buy new hardware, the question of:

"Is the expected performance of a certain GPU what I am looking for? If so and I decide to purchase said GPU, what CPU will match evenly or exceed the performance of the GPU when it comes to being able to deliver on all the information and tasks requested of it by the GPU and the games in question?"

That will help you to determine what hardware is necessary to get the performance you are looking for in games you are looking to play with said hardware.

And one thing a lot of people like to do, is determine what GPU will work for them with their budget, and then splurge on a CPU that exceeds the specs required to pair evenly with the GPU, so that down the road, they can upgrade the GPU for more frames and better graphic settings at higher resolutions without worrying too much about the CPU becoming a component that holds things back and forces them to upgrade that too, which at times for budget reasons, may require the individual to purchase a whole new platform which would be CPU, Mobo, and RAM.

Hopefully this helps to clarify and inform you on the term "bottlenecking" and what it should actually mean.

Now, in regards to your original question for the hardware you have, your CPU is just fine, especially if you're overclocking it.

For more performance in games without lowering resolution and quality settings, you will need a better performing GPU.

To further answer your additional questions, losing out on 2GB of VRAM doesn't mean much if playing at 1080p.

Since the VRAM is what's used to store all the graphic files that then need to be rendered and such, which the higher the resolution and texture quality, the larger those files become and thusly the more VRAM you need to store all of that.
For 1080p gaming, an RX 580 will do just fine for a lot less.
Otherwise you could spend a tad more for the 1660 Ti to get marginally better performance, but technically better nonetheless.

But if your budget permits, and you may be looking to go 1440p, then look into at least the 2060 but more preferably the 2070 or 2080.

All this though is assuming 1440p at medium or high presets in most modern AAA titles at an average 60fps.

For higher frames (100+) at high settings at 1440p, you'll need to look into something with performance of a 1080 Ti / 2080 or better.

But your CPU is just fine the way it is, and if it starts to fall short at some point, consider overclocking it.