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Can I improve frame rates on this machine? 4.4Gz/FX4170/2Gb 6670/16Gb

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October 14, 2013 1:49:56 PM

Ok, bare with me, it's a fairly beefy post but I wanted to cover everything. I am also not sure if it's the right sub forum to ask this is in. I hope so.

Anyway, the PC:

FX-4170 (Quad) @ 4.4Gz (OC - stock 4.2Gz)
OEM (?) 2Gb HD6670
16 Gb DDR Memory (2 x 8Gb)
MSI 760GM-P21(fx)

Full CPU-Z and GPU-Z output: http://i.imgur.com/45Xb26e.jpg

I bought this machine as a pre build for programming on. It had a ton of memory and the quad core 4170 can be overclocked to 4.4 without any issues. I wasn't too bothered about top level gaming, but I did expect this thing to handle most of the modern titles at low resolution.

However, the performance is patchy to say the least. Some games run surprisingly well (in relative terms), the latest Tomb Raider seems to cope without any noticeable slow down, but others really struggle. The latest America's Army "Proving Grounds" is a perfect example. It uses the Unreal Engine and even with all the settings put to low and running a fairly low screen resolution it struggles at times to get higher than 20-30 FPS and whenever the screen gets busy (and especially if smoke/fog is used) the FPS can drop to the low teens. This wasn't down to ping which was in the low 60s. Just for clarity these are the AA-PG settings I was using - Res:1280x720, Texture Qual:Low, Shadow Qual:Low, Motion Blur: Off, Shader Qual: Low, Max Ansitrophy: Off, Ambient Occulsion: Off, Framerate Smoothing: Off, Vsync: Off.

This is pretty indicative of my experience, the odd game working without what seems like frame rate (either perceived or via an FPS count overlay) while the rest struggling to get over the 30 FPS mark.

Even older games seem to have a noticeable slow down. GTA 4 just wouldn't run at all without huge stuttering and Day-Z (the mod) at similarly low settings as AA-PG struggles to get more than 10-15 FPS. Both of these seemed to suffer FPS "negative spurts" if that makes any sense. The FPS would drop massively to single digits then sort itself out for a couple of seconds then repeat the trick. Now I believe that both Day-Z and GTA 4 have frame rate issues and for differing reasons so I am loathe to use them as an example.

Mafia II, which is a few years old now, struggles too. I'm not sure of the exact FPS but the slowdown is noticeable at times, especially when driving at speeds (which presumably is when the CPU/GPU is being pushed the most). Even on low settings I still experience it. Again, just for clarity I will list the settings I use - Video Mode:1280x720, Vsync: Off, Antialiasing: Off, Ansitropic: 1x (no off), Shadow Qual: Low, Ambient Occlusion: Off, Geometry Detail: Low, APEX PhysX: Off.

In general no game feels "right", which is a really difficult metric to gauge, but I think we all know the feeling of playing a game on which the PC is just matching but things still feel a bit "spongey".

I don't want to start an Intel/AMD or AMD/nVidia debate, what I have is what I have and I am not planning upgrading for a good few months (especially as for development the machine is absolutely fine). What I would like to know is how I can improve the performance of the gaming. I can provide BIOS settings if needed (the only thing I have done is overclock the CPU from 4.2 (stock) to 4.4 (22x200)) and it is flashed to the latest update.

Obviously I have checked for applications/services in the background, but closing just about everything I can, disabling the AV and using things like Game Booster from Razer (I appreciate it doesn't turbo charge everything but every little helps, right?) I am still not getting that good a gaming experience.

Am I fooling myself? Will the 2Gb 6670 never really cope with modern games even in low res? Is the FX-4170 not really cutting it? Have I got some sort of stupid bottleneck? Help me, please.

TL;DR? Click on the link near the top, see the specs, think of a reason I am getting pretty poor FPS for most games.


Many thanks for any replies.

Ric

Edit: Sorry I should have mentioned I am running Windows 7 Ultimate x64.


October 14, 2013 1:53:49 PM

upgrade your gpu as the 6670 is relatively weak. get a cheap 7870 and you'll see tangible improvements right off the bat. you'll be needing a new psu if your current psu is oem as they are usually not that great and lacks 6pin cables.
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October 14, 2013 2:00:05 PM

nokiddingboss said:
upgrade your gpu as the 6670 is relatively weak. get a cheap 7870 and you'll see tangible improvements right off the bat. you'll be needing a new psu if your current psu is oem as they are usually not that great and lacks 6pin cables.


I take the point you are making, and there are several upgrade paths (keeping the same mobo) such as moving to an FX-6300 or the 7870 as you suggest.

However as I said in the thread I am not planning to upgrade, more trying to figure out if there is something I need to do to get this rig working a little better.

I also appreciate the 6670 (even at 2Gb) is hardly a gaming card, I did expect it to cope with most things a low settings though.

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a b K Overclocking
October 14, 2013 2:07:19 PM

RicP said:
Ok, bare with me, it's a fairly beefy post but I wanted to cover everything. I am also not sure if it's the right sub forum to ask this is in. I hope so.

Anyway, the PC:

FX-4170 (Quad) @ 4.4Gz (OC - stock 4.2Gz)
OEM (?) 2Gb HD6670
16 Gb DDR Memory (2 x 8Gb)
MSI 760GM-P21(fx)

Full CPU-Z and GPU-Z output: http://i.imgur.com/45Xb26e.jpg

I bought this machine as a pre build for programming on. It had a ton of memory and the quad core 4170 can be overclocked to 4.4 without any issues. I wasn't too bothered about top level gaming, but I did expect this thing to handle most of the modern titles at low resolution.

However, the performance is patchy to say the least. Some games run surprisingly well (in relative terms), the latest Tomb Raider seems to cope without any noticeable slow down, but others really struggle. The latest America's Army "Proving Grounds" is a perfect example. It uses the Unreal Engine and even with all the settings put to low and running a fairly low screen resolution it struggles at times to get higher than 20-30 FPS and whenever the screen gets busy (and especially if smoke/fog is used) the FPS can drop to the low teens. This wasn't down to ping which was in the low 60s. Just for clarity these are the AA-PG settings I was using - Res:1280x720, Texture Qual:Low, Shadow Qual:Low, Motion Blur: Off, Shader Qual: Low, Max Ansitrophy: Off, Ambient Occulsion: Off, Framerate Smoothing: Off, Vsync: Off.

This is pretty indicative of my experience, the odd game working without what seems like frame rate (either perceived or via an FPS count overlay) while the rest struggling to get over the 30 FPS mark.

Even older games seem to have a noticeable slow down. GTA 4 just wouldn't run at all without huge stuttering and Day-Z (the mod) at similarly low settings as AA-PG struggles to get more than 10-15 FPS. Both of these seemed to suffer FPS "negative spurts" if that makes any sense. The FPS would drop massively to single digits then sort itself out for a couple of seconds then repeat the trick. Now I believe that both Day-Z and GTA 4 have frame rate issues and for differing reasons so I am loathe to use them as an example.

Mafia II, which is a few years old now, struggles too. I'm not sure of the exact FPS but the slowdown is noticeable at times, especially when driving at speeds (which presumably is when the CPU/GPU is being pushed the most). Even on low settings I still experience it. Again, just for clarity I will list the settings I use - Video Mode:1280x720, Vsync: Off, Antialiasing: Off, Ansitropic: 1x (no off), Shadow Qual: Low, Ambient Occlusion: Off, Geometry Detail: Low, APEX PhysX: Off.

In general no game feels "right", which is a really difficult metric to gauge, but I think we all know the feeling of playing a game on which the PC is just matching but things still feel a bit "spongey".

I don't want to start an Intel/AMD or AMD/nVidia debate, what I have is what I have and I am not planning upgrading for a good few months (especially as for development the machine is absolutely fine). What I would like to know is how I can improve the performance of the gaming. I can provide BIOS settings if needed (the only thing I have done is overclock the CPU from 4.2 (stock) to 4.4 (22x200)) and it is flashed to the latest update.

Obviously I have checked for applications/services in the background, but closing just about everything I can, disabling the AV and using things like Game Booster from Razer (I appreciate it doesn't turbo charge everything but every little helps, right?) I am still not getting that good a gaming experience.

Am I fooling myself? Will the 2Gb 6670 never really cope with modern games even in low res? Is the FX-4170 not really cutting it? Have I got some sort of stupid bottleneck? Help me, please.

TL;DR? Click on the link near the top, see the specs, think of a reason I am getting pretty poor FPS for most games.


Many thanks for any replies.

Ric

Edit: Sorry I should have mentioned I am running Windows 7 Ultimate x64.




Well to be honest, that seems about appropriate for the hardware. Both are fairly entry level pieces of hardware in their respective zones. The HD 6670 is quite weak, and the FX-x1xx series has a slew of problems. To be honest though, the issue why you're probably seeing jumpy frames in at least a few games is due to the CPU (though I'm sure the GPU is holding you back greatly as well). At least a few of the games you mentioned, GTA IV and Day Z for example, are superbly CPU heavy and the FX-4100 simply cannot handle it. The FX-4100 has terrible architecture. When the FX-x1xx series came out, its architecture known as Zambezi provided performance that was actually worse then the Phenom II's that preceeded it. Not to mention that it doesn't truly have four cores. The current issue with all of the FX line is that the cores share resources, so they're not entirely cores, but a bit closer to threads.

There's a lot of things I could say, but long story short, your CPU is making it extremely difficult for the CPU-bound games your playing, and your GPU isn't too pretty either.

Now that's the diagnosis, so onto the solution! You don't want to upgrade, so I suggest you get a good aftermarket cooler ($30, Hyper 212 EVO) if you don't already have one, and overclock that CPU big time. The FX series is known for its overclocking potential. You might not see a big performance increase, but you could potentially overclock to as great as 5 GHz, though that's a little unrealistic. Perhaps you could go so far as a 4.8 GHz, but it's hard to say. You could also try overclocking your GPU. That's sure to net a few more frames. Overall though, not much can truly be done until you upgrade.
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October 14, 2013 2:09:06 PM

you cannot do anything more for the 6670. its a decent gpu for its price but the games you are playing are either too buggy (arma ii) or poorly optimized (gta iv, mafia ii) so its no surprise that the 6670 spurts blood when you play :D 
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October 14, 2013 2:15:05 PM

Well the short answer is yes your fooling your self. You have to upgrade your video card to get better performance. I have a feeling your have DDR3 based Video since it has two gigs (which a total waste).

If you want better performance get a better gpu to start.

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October 14, 2013 2:17:07 PM

Deus Gladiorum said:
There's a lot of things I could say, but long story short, your CPU is making it extremely difficult for the CPU-bound games your playing, and your GPU isn't too pretty either.


Your whole answer is good, but the kernel of the problem I think you have identified in the sentence I've quoted.

I've obviously bought something that, while developing (Visual Studio, Photoshop, etc) the machine is fine, but try throwing games at it and the lack of punch where it really matters is missing.

Thank you for your answer.
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a b K Overclocking
October 14, 2013 2:18:04 PM

A lot of people are telling you to upgrade your video card, and they're right. But I'd just really like to emphasize how much these games that you mentioned specifically are responding to the limitations of your CPU. You should be able to play most of those games on low settings with at least smooth frames, but it's really because of the CPU that you're experiencing such issues. Like I said, those games are very CPU bound. nokiddingboss said they're poorly optimized. That's true in some ways, and when a game is poorly optimized it usually means you need extra processing power to compensate.
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October 14, 2013 2:24:56 PM

It does seem the more I read about it, the more problems I find regarding the FX-4170. This was one of the first pre-builds I have bought in probably over a decade, and I'm guessing it was cheap (-ish for the UK) because they didn't do well and now the market is flooded with them, meaning every pre-build is going to use it so they can market it equivalent to other quad cores.
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October 14, 2013 2:31:05 PM

it is "true" whenever gta iv is mentioned. for the love of zeus, i hate that game.
-edit-
its not the fx4170's fault. its your gpu really. you only need a mild (think 7770) upgrade to reap the benefits.
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October 15, 2013 3:53:39 AM

Just a quick update, I ran MSI Afterburner on the card and it seemed to accept overclocking from 800Mhz (core clock) to 900Mhz without artifacts or blue screening. This manages to add an extra 5 or 6 FPS which is putting me into the range where some of the games are playable. If I combine that with overclocking the CPU (with a cooler as suggested) then I might manage to get up to a "decent" (relative terms) performance from this rig.
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a b K Overclocking
October 15, 2013 6:12:02 AM

RicP said:
Just a quick update, I ran MSI Afterburner on the card and it seemed to accept overclocking from 800Mhz (core clock) to 900Mhz without artifacts or blue screening. This manages to add an extra 5 or 6 FPS which is putting me into the range where some of the games are playable. If I combine that with overclocking the CPU (with a cooler as suggested) then I might manage to get up to a "decent" (relative terms) performance from this rig.


Awesome! Just make sure you put it through Unengine and/or 3D Mark first. You need to make your GPU run till it pukes to make sure your overclock is stable. Good luck with the rest of your overclocking.
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October 15, 2013 6:35:52 AM

I had actually forgotten I had Afterburner installed, I had used it for FPS benchmarking before. It only allows me to increase the core clock from 800 to 900Mhz, with the memory clock able to go from 500 to 650. Not sure if this is something that Afterburner is detecting of it's just a simple case of only allowing a percentage maximum. I was planning upping it by sequences of 10 or 20Mhz but thought I would go 'hell for leather' and see if it could cope at the top end. Strangely enough it seems to have worked without any issues.

In terms of stress testing, I ran both Mafia II and AA-PG fairly solidly for a while, checking the GPU usage (up to 99% at times) and temperature (which sits somewhere between 60 and 65'c, depending on load). Obviously this isn't a proper stress test but in terms of gauging whether the whole thing is about to fall over it's not bad.

I tried clocking the Memory clock and although there was no artifacts you could tell the rendering was going wrong, some textures seemed overly bright, some had an odd moire effect, etc, with no real speed increase so I am going to stick with that at 500, with the core clock at 900.

I still find the FPS drops in spikes which I can only put down to CPU issues, whether bottlenecking or just being a bit pish. As I have a stock cooler on the chip I am not keen on bumping up the CPU speeds just yet. I can risk the card going (there is onboard VGA on the mobo if push comes to shove) but if the chip blows I'm up the proverbial creek.

Anyway, onwards and upwards. As it is, I can play something like AA-PG at 30-40 FPS which is hardly belting along but any FPS player will know that anything less that 30 and you'll find yourself struggling.
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