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Top of the line hardware = Bottom line Performance??

Last response: in Overclocking
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December 17, 2007 7:20:13 PM

Hello Fellow TechHeads,

I have been building custom computers for the better part of 15 years, and typically have no questions when it comes to my own rigs, but honestly with this problem I am stumped, there are only two issues that I think could be the reason for my computers poor performance, but before we get in to deep, here are the specs:

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 2.4Ghz
OverClocked to 3.0 Ghz (very stable)
Zalman 9700 CPU Cooler
(Maintains Idle Temp of 34 Deg Cel)
(Load temp of 48-50 Deg Cel on average)
4Gb of Corsair XMS2 DDR2 Performance Memory(800 spd)
2x BFG 8800GT OC 512mb /SLI OC'd to 700/1900
BFG 680i SLI MotherBoard (1333mhz FSB) "Original Bios"
COOLER MASTER 850W SLI Certified Power Supply
Creative Fatality1 X-FI Soundcard
2 x Samsung SATA DVD-R/RW optical drives
3 x Sata2 WD 250gb HDD w/16mb Cache in Raid (NVRaid On Board)
(Striped for Performance)
3 x 120mm Antec Red LED Fans
2 x 80mm Antec Red LED Fans


On paper the system looks like it should rock...Unfortunately it doesn't even roll.
I went out and completely rebuilt my system this weekend, going from a 939 Socket Dual Core
AMD Opteron 2.8 ghz (OC'd)DDR system with 4gb of ram and an ASUS A8n Sli-Premium MOBO. Swapped
only the MOBO, RAM and Processor, reinstalled WinXp Pro, all the updates done, and all the latest drivers
for all my hardware. Nothing installed on the Hard Drive except WINDOWS and 3dMARK06. I overclocked my
processor to 3.0 Ghz after some extensive testing, I also Overclocked the VideoCards to what I have read was stable all over the internet (700/950) (1900 effective) for my 8800GT OC's, and ran some stress tests on the cards to check for temps, they ran fine. Now heres the KICKER.. I can only manage a 3DMARK06 Score of about 10,700.

What the Hell I kept saying to myself?? My old system with slower ram, a slower processor, and a 3 year old MOBO got a score of 11,600 with the same setup, and the worst part is that the 3DMARK scores for the processor showed virtually no improvements, going from a slower Dual to a faster Quad, and No Improvements?? Hmmm.

I tried tweaking everything, adjusting overclocking up, down, reinstalling Nvidia's latest drivers for the 680i and the 8800GT's, swapping ram, and back again. I even installed some games and it ran rock solid with excellent performance. I even reinstalled 3DMARK06 again, to see if anything changed. Nothing...I got the same scores after all the changes.. Now I have read online that some guys with virtually the same setup are pulling 15000+ or higher in 3DMARK, so what am I doing wrong?? The only thing I havent done yet is update the MOBO bios. OH and the funny thing is that when I look in 3DMARK in doesnt show my cards as SLI'd but in windows it shows they are, and in NVIDIA control panel it shows they are. I have the purchased version of 3DMARK06, (advanced) not the professional version..is it possible that 3DMARK isnt recognizing both cards and running scores for only one??
I know I have SLI configured correctly..SO WHAT GIVES?? The only other issue could be the 850watt psu isn't pushing enough juice to keep the system running optimally, but I doubt it, this powersupply is a tank. I called BFG Tech Support (@ 11:30 pm eastern time heh) and they were nice but couldn't help me with my problem, but said they didn't think it was the powersupply.

Any advice at all would be helpful guys..thanks!!
December 17, 2007 7:30:29 PM

Soz before i could suggest anything could you give your 3DMark06 score's, as in SM2 SM3 and CPU so we can see which it's most likely to be? In my setup as a comparision for yours:

SM2 6122
SM3 7727
CPU 2563

Basically all of your hardware should equal or be way over this. If your CPU was reading higher but not your SM's i'd guess 3DMark doesn't see your SLI which is most likely it. Are there any options you can tweak in Ntune etc... to turn off AA/AF to increase fps?
December 18, 2007 4:54:20 AM

Thats just it (haha) all my scores are lower than yours!! and in 3dmark06 where it says "Graphics Cards Linked? it says: false. But everywhere else it says they are, in control panel says SLI and even in the detailed information in 3dmark it shows (2) 8800GT's taking up pci express slot 1 and 3, on my 680i mobo... I have tried everything to enable them, in 3dmark but nothing works...I am stumped, Im at my last resort and that is to update the MOBO BIOS.. HOPE IT WORKS..and doesnt kill my board..(GULP)...never happened to me yet but that doesnt mean there isnt a first time.
Related resources
December 18, 2007 9:18:46 AM

Your probably right to get the latest BIOS update. This is a brain scratcher. I was gunna say drivers but you are up to date, then perhaps your mobo doesn't support but it does... Then the PSU but thats got plenty of juice... But you mentioned you ran a few games and they ran excellent. It's got to be as simple as 3DMark isn't seeing your rig correctly.

If CPU-Z and GPU-Z say your systems at spec you've o/c'ed it, ignore 3DMark. If you want some benches try using Aquamark, PCPitstop, SuperPi or if you have Crysis the CPU/GPU benches it has in it's sub dir. Maybe try an older version of 3DMark. Just to make sure you have patched 3DMark06 right? As for knowing if SLI is definately working i have a similar problem, no benching software other than the supplied CCC see's my x-fire setup. 3DMark thinks i have just one card.

Maybe someone with a SLI config would like to input on whether their version of 3DMark recognises it?
December 18, 2007 2:53:28 PM

What are you settings for 3dmark? you didnt change it from default? If you turned up the resolution from the defaults then there obviously will be a massive difference compared to default resolution tests from other people. Same thing for AA etc. I have a wimpy E2180 @ 3Ghz and a single 8800GT @ 700/975. I have around 11,3xxish, forgot the exact number. You should be blowing me away. For the hell of it uninstall all traces of 3DMark. Download the free basic version, and run that.
December 18, 2007 6:50:53 PM

Wow you got that 8800 GT really Oc'd, Im running 700/950 stable but I dont know if I would go further, and the funny thing is that I am right there with you score wise, if we were comparing 1 to 1 cards.. so thats gotta be it.. 3dmark isn't seeing my Sli config. and of course I did leave it at all default settings.. I know that more I push it the lower the score will go.

My version of 3dmark06 is 1.1.0.. I will check for a newer version... I reset my bios to default clockings last night and removed my cmos battery for about an hour to reset my PCI-e bus bandwidth to stock 16x 16x, and then re ran 3dmark at 3.2 ghz on my cpu, and my GPU at 700/925, and hit 10,700.. but again 3dmark still showed unlinked graphics adapters?? GPU-Z and CPU-Z both show my system exactly as I have it setup, SLI'd, OC'd with the correct ram timings. Nvidia Control panel shows everything perfect too.. I will try the uninstall of 3dmark06 tonight and attempt the free version. Although I dont see what difference that would really make. But we will see. Other than that it plays everything I have rock solid with maxed out res and settings, and awesome FPS.
December 19, 2007 6:17:06 AM

Just for a quick side note: I ran Aquamark 3 last night on my system, I scored 150,000+ and my average frame rates were into the 150 range...
although I don't know how that compares with anyone else..but I think thats pretty good, thats roughly 7.5 x my score when I was running a 3800 x2 athlon and a single 6800 256mb 2.5 years ago.. LOL oh the the time flys and how the technology becomes obsolete....I love it.
December 19, 2007 10:26:38 AM

Can't give any help there. Aquamark doesn't like vista 64. Have you tried disabling SLI then doing the same test?
December 19, 2007 3:29:39 PM

The MAX no artifacting (ATItool tested) OC I could get with my BFG 8800GT OC was 710/1040. It ran 3Dmark, no artifacts and I ran the ati artifact scan for about 15 minutes. Capped off around 57C at these speeds with my new cooling. The gains from 700/975 was amazingly nothing impressive. From 600/900 it was a massive gain, 75Mhz memory gain, and from 975 to 1040 is 65Mhz, of course the core only went up a small 10Mhz. Basicly it only scored me another 200 points. Very strange though When I suicide'ed my E2180 to 3.2Ghz @ 1.525 and card @ 700/1000 I scored a hair over 12000. Which doesnt make sense, the cpu-score only went up about 200 points. Somehow that made my SM2/3 scores bounch up a bit, my SM2 went up about 400 points and SM3 went up 200 points. But when I set my card to 700/1000 I dont get near what I was getting when I was at 3.2Ghz and same 700/1000. Very stange, but as I'm writing this I think I might have had those dumb 'Enchance Performance' options maxed out in my BIOS (Gigabyte DS3L). That could be it, I ran some Doom3 timedemo's testing each option. I think it was standard,turbo,extreme. And I'm not sure what they do exactly but each option up gave me better performance, not only that but for a little small one setting change it did a decent improvment. I'll test that out. Hmm I went off track here.

***I'll post my detailed 3DMark06 scores when I get home.
December 19, 2007 7:00:19 PM

Well there have been several articles written thus far since the 8800 gt's release about the great effect that your cpu may have on the GT's performance, several people claiming that the GT is being bottlenecked by many buyers CPU capability.

So I checked on Toms hardware for a rating of what my Q6600 should be scoring in the cpu score tests of 3dmark06, and what I saw was very disturbing, the q6600 that toms tested at stock speeds in 3dmark scored over 4000+ points in the cpu benchmarking test..mine is scoring around 1500?? Something is definitely not right here, and more and more fingers are pointing to either my mobo, or Proc.
a b U Graphics card
December 19, 2007 8:09:28 PM

Could always try to RMA the board, claim it as defective and show them the benchies.
December 19, 2007 11:00:18 PM

I ran quite a bit of tests with me E2180 and 8800GT budget combo. Very strange results with CPU at 3Ghz and video stock 600/900 this is what happened:

3Ghz 600/900

3DMark Score 10749 3DMarks

SM 2.0 Score 4889 Marks

SM 3.0 Score 4929 Marks

CPU Score 2524 Marks

3Ghz 700/975

3DMark Score 11283 3DMarks

SM 2.0 Score 5045 Marks

SM 3.0 Score 5408 Marks

CPU Score 2545 Marks

3Ghz 700/1000


3DMark Score 11399 3DMarks

SM 2.0 Score 5125 Marks

SM 3.0 Score 5439 Marks

CPU Score 2569 Marks


3.2Ghz 700/1000

3DMark Score 12003 3DMarks

SM 2.0 Score 5435 Marks

SM 3.0 Score 5632 Marks

CPU Score 2744 Marks

Why when the cpu ran at 3.2Ghz my video scores boosted up so much I'm not to sure.
December 19, 2007 11:15:27 PM

Maybe your CPU was bottlenecking it but not sure how even at 3Ghz, unless when you went from 3 to 3.2 it made the ram run faster. Dunno it'll be interesting if anyone else comments on this.

However great scores!
December 20, 2007 1:46:45 PM

See Bildo thats just the funny thing..I am running (2) 8800gt's in SLI @ 700/1000 just like you.And my Proc (Q6600) is OC'd to 3.2 ghz but its a (quad core) and I'm using performance Corsair XMS2 DDR2 800 memory with an 850watt Cooler Master performance PSU..and I'm stable..but I can't break 11,000 points in 3DMARK06 and by all accounts I should be blowing your score away. Last night I ran several tests and even updated my mobo to the newest BIOS.. I got absolutely no improvements in performance at all with the new bios, but I tested with Aquamark3 with no overclocks and a single card.. I scored 122,000. Then I overclocked my proc and enabled Sli, and bumped the cards up to 700/1000 each with 100% fan speed.. I only increased 25,000 points to 147,000...incase your wondering ..thats only a 25% increase in performance with an 800mhz overclock on each core, and an entire second card enabled and overclocked... I then ran the same benchmark setups in 3dmark.. get this.. with one card enabled and at stock proc speeds I scored 8400, then I enabled the second card overclocked them both again to 700/1000 and the cpu to a stable 3.2 ghz and I climbed to a whopping( sarcasm) 10,990 pts... thats right with all my overclocks and 2 8800gt's running at over GTX speeds.. all the latest updates including all hotfixs for 3dmark updated drivers for Nvidia and updated bios, and a completely clean windows xp sp2 with all updates.. I cant break 10,990.. the score your breaking with just one card and a lower lvl proc..
December 20, 2007 3:48:41 PM

closed_deal said:
Maybe your CPU was bottlenecking it but not sure how even at 3Ghz, unless when you went from 3 to 3.2 it made the ram run faster. Dunno it'll be interesting if anyone else comments on this.

However great scores!

The most beautiful part of this build was the price...I really was at the right place at the right time. I have over $100 of rebates coming in as well though. My CPU was $92, PSU was $25 AR, memory was about $100 AR 2x$40(I hit the fine line when they end and restart the rebate), Case was $15 AR, mobo was $109, reused my raptor from last build, 320GB WD book was $81 instant off price. Video card was $237 but not before going to BestBuy 3 TIMES because they kept reducing it so I price matched it(Orginally payed 279.99!). But I really didnt loose much on the gas since it's almost in line on my way home from work, so it was worth it. My cpu cooler was $10 AR, Accelero VGA was $17 and $8 for the turbo cooler. So I believe I made out like a bandit considering the amount of money I spent and the amount of performance im getting. Of course I'm seeing the mobo for around $80-$90 but I cant really complain! Not only that I ordered an MSI NX8800GT OC from buy.com october 31st, still havent gotten it, but I only paid $190 After some store credits I gathered over the past 2 years. I see these selling for around $300 on ebay, so that would be a nice little profit that I could included in my budget.
December 20, 2007 3:54:36 PM

Oh ya, the only thing I can think of is that your settings for 3DMark06 are not the defaults. Because on paper, and in real-world your system should be dominating. Whats your CPU/SM2/SM3/Total 3dmark06 score? This should maybe reveal something. This can be found out by clicking result details once you get the results webpage. Remember also that I dont think 3Dmark06 is designed to utilize 4 cores, or 2 I think. Also post any logs that 3Dmark06 can generate.
December 21, 2007 12:43:49 AM

OK bildo..heres some new and entirely amazing information.. I did some research today and after several hours at work, not really working , discovered through the SLIZONE forums that infact theres nothing wrong with my SLI at all.. I even ran 3dmark with the SLI notifucation bar running to show me when and how much of my SLi was actually being utilized during the benchmark, and in fact it was being utilized most of the tests all the way through. Next I also discovered that according to most users of the 680i SLi chipset, it is an amazing overclocker, but I was not aware of how much until I read Nvidia Manual for Overclocking the 680i Chipset..Thats right they wrote an entire manual to potentially destroy there own chipsets and motherboards... they gave all the correct Voltage and timings that the board could max too, and even have listed examples of what each option should be set too within the bios.. SO I studied some more.. and finally started tinkering in my bios past ..(way past what I thought was safe)...I am currently typing you this message on a Q6600 that runs 2.4 ghz outta the box.. and its been running solid benchmarks and apps, for the last 3 hours with no artifacts or slowdown or crashes at get this: 3.6 GHZ.. and at a 1600 mhz FSB, with my graphics cards running at a whopping 734/1066 overclock.. all on AIR COOLING!!.. Remember how I told you that I could barely break 10,000 in 3dmark, well I got upto these scores tonight:

3dmark score:12167
Sm 2.0 score : 6581
Sm3.0 /HDR: 8276

CPU SCORE: 1647
( I think this is because of the lack of support for Quad cores??) Not sure, but my CPU score is the only thing holding me back from hitting easily 15,000+ when I look at most peoples dualcore scores, in the 4000+ range. But with my stock CPU Tom's says I should be hitting well into the 4000+ range..so looks Like I got some work to do ..but I am almost there..

OH and I ran Super PI and nvidia's benchmark stability programs with no crashes either. and my CPU's max temp has only reached 53 degress celsius. Under load.

I also re-ran Aquamark3 again and scored over 160,000 points..
December 21, 2007 12:45:37 AM

OH and according to system Comparisons my system is within the top 6% of machines tested in the world... haha.. then why the crappy CPU SCORE??
December 21, 2007 12:49:56 AM

dragoncyber said:
OH and according to system Comparisons my system is within the top 6% of machines tested in the world... haha.. then why the crappy CPU SCORE??



My Q6600:

2.4 GHz: 3743 CPU Score
3.6 GHz: 5448 CPU Score

I don't know whats wrong with yours.
December 21, 2007 2:41:09 AM

3.6Ghz is very impressive q6600 OC for air I think. At least compared to my mighty mouse E2180 @ 3Ghz. Not only that you have 2x the cores 2x the heat to deal with, but still pretty cool under load for having to deal with 2x the heat. But something is seriously wrong with your cpu score. Afterall your cpu according to toms charts is comparable to a E6320 1.866Ghz...which scored 1646,the SM/2/3 scores look to be right. Do you have all power features disabled in BIOS? also make sure you dont have any AV software running in the backround, as a matter of fact check all of your backround tasks and end everything with your name except explorer and taskmgr. Then run the test, at stock and your OC setting. Make sure to note your scores in notepad or something each time the test is done. I believe you have the ability to hit another 3~4000 points. But this time all eyes on the CPU.
December 21, 2007 9:07:20 AM

Well, after downloading something..(Intels Processor Id program from INtel.. I ran it on my proc.. guess what... 3 out of 4 cores were somehow disabled???!?!?!? and get this it was windows that did it!!

I looked in device manager under the computer tab, and it showed a single core ACPI PC, although CPU-Z saw it as a quad core and the intel program saw it as a quad, Windows was calling it single, and since I couldn't figure out how to switch this setting.. (i tried everything besides pulling the proc out and reinstalling....) I decided it best to just reinstall windows.. And guess what...it's fixed everything.. I now show Mulitprocessor Cpu in Device manager, and I just ran Aquamark 3 without any OverClocks at all just a base system with my SLI configured.. and I scored better than before with everything overclocked... Now intel ID shows all 4 procs running @ 2.40 ghz at 1066 FSB... anyways it's really late...(6 am in the morning here) and I dont have anymore energy left.. so tommorrow benchmarking for Dragon Cyber. Thanks for all your thoughts and advice guys, !!
December 21, 2007 9:11:24 AM

ps.. I completely rebuilt my machine tonight too guys... all red fans, everything Wired perfectly... Looks like hell is inside my case with the lights off....:) 
December 21, 2007 12:39:30 PM

I actually did a search for that and it seems like common xp problem and quad cores...Another tiny reason I'm glad I went with vista. And in reality its not all that bad. When fully booted up its only using 385MB RAM. Vista see's 3.5GB out of the 4 I have installed as well. Anywho looks like your in the fast lane now, GL HF!
December 21, 2007 1:14:39 PM

wow.... how didnt you figure that out before?

have you ever ran prime 95 and watched your task manager and was the cpu usage maxed in all four boxes?

If that was the case than I cant imagine how 3 out of four cores were disabled. Also what stepping is your q6600? As I really dont think it matters if you are attaining 3.6 ghz.

I'm curious to know what your scores in 3dmark06 are now.

Question: is the free version of 3dmark06 produce acurate scores?
December 21, 2007 2:04:26 PM

All the tests I ran are with the free basic, and from toms article saying when E2180 OC to 3~3.2Ghz it performs within E6750-6850 range. I compared my cpu-score to the charts and its very close to what I expected and what tom said. So I would say the freebie version is accurate, its just very very and very limited to what you can do(basicly lets you run the test and shows web based score, period) Even the loop options is blocked out lol. But hey its free.
December 21, 2007 3:27:17 PM

bildo123 said:
All the tests I ran are with the free basic, and from toms article saying when E2180 OC to 3~3.2Ghz it performs within E6750-6850 range. I compared my cpu-score to the charts and its very close to what I expected and what tom said. So I would say the freebie version is accurate, its just very very and very limited to what you can do(basicly lets you run the test and shows web based score, period) Even the loop options is blocked out lol. But hey its free.


The free version is the standard test that everyone uses.
December 21, 2007 6:23:58 PM

Right now i'm getting 8409 on 3dmark06
SM 2.0 3604
SM 3.0 4338
CPU 1804

I didnt overclock my cpu because it's been unstable lately. I was failing prime 95 at very low settings. So anyhow... I think those scores are alright after reading some of everyones.

However those scores are with a 4600+ X2 at stock 2.2 ghz and 8800gt factory overclocked at 650/950.

My question is what score is gpu? Also how bildo are you getting such good SM 2.0 and 3.0 (dont know which one is gpu) running at 600/900? It must be because you overclocked your cpu so much.

I raised my gpu's core and mem to 700/975 in nvidia control panel under adjust gpu settings and then went to perform system test and my comp crashed after one minute of testing. How do you guys overclock the gpu so well and get it to run stable?

I have a serparate thread started about overclocking my cpu but if you have input and if anyone is an AMD guru then i'm all eyes.
December 22, 2007 9:18:10 AM

OK GUYS!! GREAT NEWS, after some stability testing and temps monitoring under load I decided that 3.2 ghz was a pretty safe bet, at 43 degrees celcius idle to 57 degrees w/Load. I reinstalled windows and all new drivers and software. Totally clean system. Nothing installed but 3dMArk06, Ntune, AquaMArk3, and Super PI.

Here are the New Specs and Voltages:

Intel Q6600 Quad Core Processor: OC'd to 3.2 GHZ per core.
(Rock Solid) CPU Voltage OC'd to 1.30v
Zalman 9700 (All copper cooler) 6 heat pipes.
4GB Corsair XMS2 Performance DDR2 (800 Spd)
Ram Unlinked and at 1.850v running stock 800 Spd.
2x BFG 8800GT OC 512mb /SLI/ OC'd to 730/1000 ( Stable)
Each GPU Fan Bumped up to 100% w/Ntune.
BFG 680i SLI Mother Board (1333mhz FSB) Bios P31 (Newest Available)
Front Side Bus Voltage OC'd to 1.5V
All other Bios Related Frequency or Voltage Settings Left on "AUTO"
COOLER MASTER 850W SLI Certified Power Supply
Creative Fatality1 X-FI Soundcard
2 x Samsung SATA DVD-R/RW optical drives
3 x Sata2 WD 250gb HDD w/16mb Cache in Raid (NVRaid On Board)
(Striped for Performance) Total Raid Size of 715Gb
3 x 120mm Antec Red LED Fans
2 x 80mm Antec Red LED Fans

New Scores:

3DMARK06: 17,564
CPU Score IN 3DMARK: 5,446
AquaMArk3:177,634

Now as you can see huge Improvement over my computer just a few days ago, like I said I discovered that Windows XP had somehow disabled 3 out of my four cores.. but I reinstalled and everything runs perfectly.. I can't believe I broke 17,500 with this system.. and I think I can do 18,000 with the proper OC's and Voltages.. Well, we will see soon enough..

Again thanks everyone for any advice you gave.

December 22, 2007 5:25:32 PM

Wow that is good news... i'm hitting only 9651 right now. I'm trying to break 10,000. Are you only turning you fan speed up on the 8800gt's during loads like 3dmark? Have you tried raising the mem bus to like 1050? I only o'cd mine to 700/1000 and ran 3dmark stable with fan at 80%. I'm going to try to up it to where you set yours on 100% and run 3dmark again.
December 24, 2007 1:20:32 PM

That seems a bit better! Well at least now your slamming my budget rig(which still pwns, which makes your system double super pwnishness) If I was you I would go grab the orange box. The first game I played out of it was portal lol, its actually a pretty good game...too short though :( 
!