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Crossfire 7970 worse PERFORMANCE than single 7970

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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April 8, 2013 7:30:34 AM

I purchased a second MSI 7970 last week to go along with my original HIS 7970 as im using eyefinity. The single was working quite well with pretty much medium settings and no aa running about 45fps in most games like bf3, crysis 3 etc. Sometimes better sometimes slightly worse, but ALWAYS smooth. Anyway i though i would like to be able to turn aa back on and hopefully reach 60fps as well with a second card.

The result of adding the second 7970 has been less than pleasing, while frames per second have increased notably and i am indeed getting above 60 fps in nearly all games with aa turned back on the gameplay is extremely choppy and not smooth. Feels alot more like 20 to 25 fps on a single card, I'm wondering if anyone has any tweaks or solutions that may have worked for them, not necessarily in eyefinity but just with crossfire in general.

What i have tried so far..

I have the new AMD beta driver installed with the caps profiles.

I originally had the HIS 7970 in the top slot as the primary but switched them around and now have the MSI 7970 as primary for a very slight improvement. The HIS overclocks slightly better but i have them synchronized to the same speeds with afterburner to 1075 for core clock and 1550 for memory clock with +20 power limit.

I have tried rivatuner fps limiter with limited success. It seems to be the best bet so far. Some games still experience what i would describe as stutter rather than the choppy gameplay i described earlier which is a better result but still not ideal. Also i find myself having to limit my frames to what i could already achieve with a single card making crossfire pointless.

I have tried using D3D override and forcing triple buffering, again with limited success, not sure if v-sync should be enabled or disabled with triple buffer, or whether or not i should be using the fps limiter with triple buffer?

I have turned ULPS off in the registry.

I have tried at stock clocks and it just runs worse.

Any help with tweaks or anything at all would be great. Feel like i have just blown $400 bucks on a 2nd card that does little to nothing. Not to mention the eyefinity setup that is usable with a single card but not really at the level i would like meaning if i can't sort out crossfire it's a god chance i will be heading back to a single screen with a single gpu losing more money again in the process. Thanks.
April 8, 2013 7:34:34 AM

What's your specs? I have a feeling it's either your psu not being up to par, or the mobo isn't meant for crossfire.
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April 8, 2013 7:44:23 AM

It's is normally highly recommended to crossfire the same cards which you did not do. Msi and his have different bios's that ccan act weird together. Plus you never told us anything about your computer.
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April 8, 2013 7:48:32 AM

sorry guys, i have a asrock z77 extreme 4 motherboard, a corsair 850 watt power supply, 16 gig ram and a 3570k cpu overclocked to 4.4ghz. Can buying a different brand of gpu really make a difference? i read that the brand did not matter at all.
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April 8, 2013 8:02:28 AM

mick500 said:
sorry guys, i have a asrock z77 extreme 4 motherboard, a corsair 850 watt power supply, 16 gig ram and a 3570k cpu overclocked to 4.4ghz. Can buying a different brand of gpu really make a difference? i read that the brand did not matter at all.


Yeah I have seen multiple times on toms reviews that it has caused issues. It shouldnt most of the time but it is highly recommended to not miss match brands because it is really easy to buy the same brands in the first place compared to trouble shooting two different brands. I would return to match your original card.

I'm not really saying it is the problem but it's something that can be easily eliminated and that has caused issues in the past.
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April 8, 2013 8:11:16 AM

It's not really a possibility. The original card is over a month old with no issues and the MSI card is from a shop that flat out refuses refunds unless the item is broken. I have them both running at the same clock speeds, shouldn't that negate any differences between the 2??
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April 8, 2013 8:15:09 AM

Have you tried the new card by itself to make sure it's working right?
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April 8, 2013 8:18:03 AM

wanderer11 said:
Have you tried the new card by itself to make sure it's working right?



Yeah i have, it doesn't overclock quite as well, can only get 1075 and 1550 where the HIS can get upto 1125 and 1575 and be totally stable and could probz go even further, but yeah the msi works fine on its own.
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April 8, 2013 8:33:52 AM

BigMack70 said:
I could not for the life of me get an XFX DD BE 7970 + MSI Lightning 7970 to play nice together in crossfire last spring. Wound up selling the XFX and getting a second Lightning because of it. I believe the problem in that case was that each card had a very different BIOS and Overdrive/Afterburner had their brains scrambled trying to read the cards' information. Don't know if anything similar may be going on for you.

Anyways, MSI Afterburner framerate limiting functionality has been a life saver to me with these 7970s... zero stutter when I use that, tons of stutter when I don't. Don't know if Riva Tuner does the exact same thing or not (my guess is yes, but I don't know for sure), so you could always try Afterburner.

It's always possible that eyefinity has issues that single monitor does not, though :\



So are you still needing to use a frame rate limiter with the same manufactured cards? Would flashing the bios of the cards to the same bios resolve that issue or likely still have differences?
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April 8, 2013 8:35:08 AM

Hopefully this'll help you out.

I have a setup near the same as yours. I am running a 3570k @ 4.4 on an ASRock Extreme 4. I am currently running a crossfire setup with two 6870's. They are both reference models.

When I first purchased the second card, I found that the microstutter was unbearable for most games (BF3, etc.). So, I went away from the two card setup for a while. Recently, though, I reinstalled the second card and found a program called RadeonPro which helps tremendously with a crossfire setup.

Basically, what you can do with RadeonPro is create a crossfire profile for each game you play and what you are going to end up doing is forcing Triple Buffering and a Dynamic FPS. I have my Dynamic FPS set at 59 fps so that I won't get any tearing because of my 60 Hz monitor.

What this is doing is forcing a custom VSync profile for every game (you will have to create a profile for each individual game, but you can create a global profile for all games, but you'll want separate profiles) which will eliminate 99% of all microstutter. I haven't experience any microstutter since doing this and finally enjoy having two cards. Tom's actually has an article that briefly talks about RadeonPro.

Try it out and see if it helps you.
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April 8, 2013 11:41:58 AM

From what I understand, there should be a switch to change from a locked bios to an unlocked one. I believe it's switch 1 you want it set to. If the bios doesn't work, all you have to do is set it back to the locked bios(switch 2). So there shouldn't be any risk, someone correct me if this is wrong but I'm pretty sure.
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April 8, 2013 2:04:50 PM

The issue is obviously that Crossfire does not have frame metering built in. If you create a bottleneck, frame spacing occurs because it forces time between each card starting a new frame. Those tests show without v-sync or a FPS limiter, which has been shown to help. Unfortunately with Eyefinity, at least 5760x1080 does not support v-sync, so you'll have to fix it with some sort of FPS limiter. You'll also have to create a limiter for each game you play, because you probably won't want it lower than your average FPS, or have it so high that it doesn't do anything.
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April 8, 2013 3:10:47 PM

BigMack70 said:
The risk is that it's likely to void the warranty on the card and, if he is still able to return it, possibly make it un-returnable.


Well if you have a card with a dual bios which I believe all 7970's have, you can't brick a card. There will be a locked default bios you can change back to with a flip of the switch if something goes wrong. Also if you're running crossfire which he is. He could still boot up his system and flash the bad bios back to the original one. Obviously using gpuz to back up bios beforehand. I actually did it myself recently. I flashed back the bios to the original because I had to rma a card. So it shouldn't ever void the warranty if the proper steps are taken.
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April 8, 2013 3:22:23 PM

BigMack70 said:
cdrkeen said:
BigMack70 said:
The risk is that it's likely to void the warranty on the card and, if he is still able to return it, possibly make it un-returnable.


Well if you have a card with a dual bios which I believe all 7970's have, you can't brick a card. There will be a locked default bios that you can flip back to with a switch if something goes wrong. Also if you're running crossfire which he is. He could still boot up his system and flash the bad bios back to the original one. Obviously using gpuz to back up bios beforehand. I actually did it myself recently. I flashed back the bios to the original because I had to rma a card. So it doesn't void the warranty


Notice how bricking a card wasn't on my list of risks for a dual-BIOS card? :sarcastic: 

Not all 7970s are dual-BIOS and I didn't bother to look up OPs to see if they are. If they are, refer to my post that you quoted for the risks (which are still great enough that I don't recommend it unless you are ABSOLUTELY sure that it will fix the problem). If they are not, the risks are even higher since you could potentially brick the card.


So then what other risks are there. If he has a dual bios then there are no risks.
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April 8, 2013 3:24:22 PM

cdrkeen said:
So then what other risks are there. If he has a dual bios then there are no risks.


Back when the 6950's were first brought out, a lot of people flashed 6970 bios on their cards. Not long after, many people had video card damage to their VRAM. Using a bios not designed for the card can use timings not meant for that card that can cause damage.
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April 8, 2013 3:30:42 PM

bystander said:
cdrkeen said:
So then what other risks are there. If he has a dual bios then there are no risks.


Back when the 6950's were first brought out, a lot of people flashed 6970 bios on their cards. Not long after, many people had video card damage to their VRAM. Using a bios not designed for the card can use timings not meant for that card that can cause damage.


I see, good to know. Didn't know there was a difference in timings for vram on a gpu. It shouldn't be much different for gddr5 unless they are using inferior quality vram.

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April 8, 2013 3:43:21 PM

BigMack70 said:
Voiding your warranty and being unable to return a card are risks... in addition to the issues if you do something silly and use a wrong BIOS for the card as bystander pointed out.

Given that there's only a slim chance that BIOS conflict is the issue here, it's a desperation move for the OP. If OP feels like it's desperation time, IMO better to just sell one of the cards and get two matching cards.

Flashing a bios isn't as risky as you're saying. Not sure why you keep saying the same thing over and over after I already explained this. If he has a dual bios then you won't void your warranty because you can flash it back to the original. Now if he does accidentally put the wrong one in then it would damage the card possibly voiding it. But they most likely would see it as a faulty card. You cannot test the card when it won't boot up.

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April 8, 2013 4:07:14 PM

As simple as it may seem, some situations don't always turn up rosy, or require a lot of effort. Look through these instructions I created once: www.tomshardware.com/forum/316974-33-radeon-6950-shader...

If you look through the post, there are a number of people who bricked their cards and spent a lot of time and effort trying to unbrick them. It seems every case was different and had different requirements to unbrick them. Granted, none of them had dual bios switches, but flashing isn't all that risk free either.
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April 8, 2013 7:46:43 PM

Thanks for the discussion about the bios flashing, i gotta say i tend to agree with bigmack70, considering it's $800 worth of gpu i would only do it as a last ditch effort if i was pretty confident that was the issue. I really don't think different manufacturers should matter, they are both running at the same clock speeds and some games like black ops 2 run fine in crossfire. but the majority of them are broken. So yeah, still at a loss.
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April 8, 2013 9:08:14 PM

BigMack70 said:
Do you see the scaling you'd expect from benchmarks (e.g. 3dmark/unigine)?

If programs like Afterburner/GPU-Z/etc are able to read your cards correctly (e.g. correct sensor types and readings on each card), then I doubt it's a BIOS conflict (could be but I would doubt it). I was fairly confident of a BIOS conflict on my old XFX/Lightning setup because Afterburner/etc would never be able to correctly read the sensors of the bottom card, since the Lightning and the XFX had different sensors (e.g. the Lightning has VRM and memory temperature readings but the XFX didn't).


Not sure exactly what sort of scores i should be getting , but i got 40,800 in 3D mark vantage and i think that sounds about right? GPUZ and Afterburner both read the cards fine, Well gpuz and afterburner seem to read everything okay, but under the sensors tab the second card does have alot less information? Is that normal? The first card lists about 15 things while the 2nd car only lists 6. It has the main info tho, like core clock, memory clock etc. Apart from that the only other difference listed is the bios version and sub vendor.


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April 8, 2013 9:34:05 PM

mick500 said:
BigMack70 said:
Do you see the scaling you'd expect from benchmarks (e.g. 3dmark/unigine)?

If programs like Afterburner/GPU-Z/etc are able to read your cards correctly (e.g. correct sensor types and readings on each card), then I doubt it's a BIOS conflict (could be but I would doubt it). I was fairly confident of a BIOS conflict on my old XFX/Lightning setup because Afterburner/etc would never be able to correctly read the sensors of the bottom card, since the Lightning and the XFX had different sensors (e.g. the Lightning has VRM and memory temperature readings but the XFX didn't).


Not sure exactly what sort of scores i should be getting , but i got 40,800 in 3D mark vantage and i think that sounds about right? GPUZ and Afterburner both read the cards fine, Well gpuz and afterburner seem to read everything okay, but under the sensors tab the second card does have alot less information? Is that normal? The first card lists about 15 things while the 2nd car only lists 6. It has the main info tho, like core clock, memory clock etc. Apart from that the only other difference listed is the bios version and sub vendor.



It sounds like the only issue is the standard CrossfireX limitations on metering. V-sync and FPS limiters are your friend, unfortunately v-sync doesn't work in Eyefinity, so look at FPS limiting.

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April 8, 2013 10:15:05 PM

BigMack70 said:
And I'm not sure why you keep trying to pick fights with me by quoting me and refuting things not in the quote... you void your warranty by flashing the BIOS. Getting away with it is another matter entirely.

And you seem to think I'm saying that flashing the BIOS on a dual-BIOS card is super risky, but if you notice, I've never said that. I've only said that the risk is only worth it for the OP if he is sure that a BIOS conflict is what is causing the issue - he'll have to figure that one out for himself most likely.

Also, you did request this and you've been corrected...
cdrkeen said:
So there shouldn't be any risk, someone correct me if this is wrong but I'm pretty sure.


There is risk. There's a lot of risk for single-BIOS cards (again not sure what cards OP has), and there is minor risk for dual-BIOS cards. But there is no such thing as a completely 100% risk-free way to flash the BIOS of your GPU.

No one is picking fights here except for you. You keep spreading miss information in these threads. With a dual bios there is a very small risk of bricking your card. If you dont know what you're doing and are dumb you will void your warranty. There is nothing else to say about this. Stop miss informing people just to feel good about yourself.

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April 9, 2013 2:46:56 AM

cdrkeen said:
BigMack70 said:
And I'm not sure why you keep trying to pick fights with me by quoting me and refuting things not in the quote... you void your warranty by flashing the BIOS. Getting away with it is another matter entirely.

And you seem to think I'm saying that flashing the BIOS on a dual-BIOS card is super risky, but if you notice, I've never said that. I've only said that the risk is only worth it for the OP if he is sure that a BIOS conflict is what is causing the issue - he'll have to figure that one out for himself most likely.

Also, you did request this and you've been corrected...
cdrkeen said:
So there shouldn't be any risk, someone correct me if this is wrong but I'm pretty sure.


There is risk. There's a lot of risk for single-BIOS cards (again not sure what cards OP has), and there is minor risk for dual-BIOS cards. But there is no such thing as a completely 100% risk-free way to flash the BIOS of your GPU.

No one is picking fights here except for you. You keep spreading miss information in these threads. With a dual bios there is a very small risk of bricking your card. If you dont know what you're doing and are dumb you will void your warranty. There is nothing else to say about this. Stop miss informing people just to feel good about yourself.




well do you know of a decent tutorial for flashing a 7970 if i get desperate enough to try it?
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April 9, 2013 2:53:35 AM

Settle down people!
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April 9, 2013 11:22:19 AM

When you use framerate limiters, what framerate limit are you using?[/quotemsg]

Trying all different limits for different games. 45 seems to be the best in terms of smoothness, but that was pretty much achievable on a single card. Not sure if this makes a scrap of difference or not but the MSI 7970 is listed as using CHiL 8228 while the HIS is listed as using Volterra VT 1165.
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April 9, 2013 1:29:00 PM

That is more aggressive FPS limiting than I thought you'd need, but I guess it makes sense, as you do have to get FPS lower than it normally would be in order to force some frame time delays.
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April 9, 2013 1:39:04 PM

Yeah, some games like bf3 don't require it to be so low, but the biggest issue seems to be that the fps fluctuate pretty drastically, so i have to set it low to counteract that. Like most games would average around 70 i think but drop to 45 not all the time but pretty regularly and disrupt the game. I have tried at 1920x 1080p and the eyefinity does take a lot to run but even in single screen some games are just poorly supported for crossfire i believe. Assassins creed 3 is completely unplayable as is far cry 3 without the limiter in either single screen or eyefinity. Anyway i flashed the bios on both cards to the MSI 7970 lightning Ghz with no real benefit, so i can rule out conflicting manufacturers as the issue.
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April 9, 2013 1:46:01 PM

mick500 said:
Yeah, some games like bf3 don't require it to be so low, but the biggest issue seems to be that the fps fluctuate pretty drastically, so i have to set it low to counteract that. Like most games would average around 70 i think but drop to 45 not all the time but pretty regularly and disrupt the game. I have tried at 1920x 1080p and the eyefinity does take a lot to run but even in single screen some games are just poorly supported for crossfire i believe. Assassins creed 3 is completely unplayable as is far cry 3 without the limiter in either single screen or eyefinity. Anyway i flashed the bios on both cards to the MSI 7970 lightning Ghz with no real benefit, so i can rule out conflicting manufacturers as the issue.


I guess the reason I thought the lows might not be a problem is that I figured those low moments were due to a CPU bottleneck, which also spaces out the frames. It seems the whole trick is based around the idea of not letting the cards run at full capacity, so they get forced to space out the frames. But I guess some dips are a result of the GPU not having quite enough power as well, which is when the stuttering happens.
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