Extremely poor 9800 GX2 performance


I've just upgraded my graphics card from an X850 XT PE to a 9800 GX2 as a final (and pretty much only) upgrade before I retire this machine. Since I can't afford to build a machine from scratch at the moment, or at least not my ideal one, I was hoping to keep this one ticking over for a while longer.

I'll list everything since power consumption is going to be important here:
AMD X2 4200
Nvidia 9800 GX2
2GB Corsair XMS TwinX PC3200
EQS A72K9-CF motherboard (never did use Crossfire ;))
4xSeagate Barracudas
4xcase fans
Soundblaster Live 1024 (it's lasted well)
Card driver version: 180.48

The OS is Windows XP. I have my regular install, and a clean install for testing purposes.

Just to make it clear, I wasn't expecting amazing framerates with that hardware given how old it is now, but I was expecting far better than what I'm actually getting.

I've had problems with the card from the word go. The card didn't work at all until I set told the BIOS to initialise PCI-E before PCI, and doing so has caused 64MB RAM to be shared with what seems to be onboard graphics, and this motherboard doesn't officially have any. I guess they just didn't include an output on this model.

I eventually got a picture out bottom output on the card. I'd have presumed that the manual would be right in saying that the top output is the bootable one, but I guess not.

After messing around with the drivers to get them to work with XP, it was time to test. I noticed the game performance didn't seem to very good. Infact, it was only a tiny step up from the X850 XT PE.

I presumed that perhaps the SLI wasn't working, but Rivatuner confirms that it is, although there's no multi GPU option in the Nvidia control panel as there should be (apparently). I did try to disable SLI to check for a difference in performance, but that just locks the drivers up and causes the machine to bluescreen whenever it's booted, under both Windows installations.

The only thing I can think of is that the card is underpowered, and it probably is, but I'm not sure how badly.

After checking real world consumption and seeing that the 580w recommendation was overkill, I decided to try it out on a 500w first (http://www.antec.com/usa/productDetails.php?lan=us&id=26500 http://www.antec.com/specs/SP500_spe.html) and go from there. I've become a bit confused about whether or not it's getting enough power.

The PSU has four modular outputs and two 12v rails (17A and 19A). I've connected two PCI-E connectors to the 8 pin input cable with one connector in each modular slot (second and third slot). Since the 6 pin connector needs two molex inputs, I've connected that cable to the fourth modular slot on the PSU. The first is being used to power all the drives and fans, since I wasn't strong enough to pull this one out the PSU to rearrange it. ;)

Benchmarks against a similar PC:
X850 XT PE: http://service.futuremark.com/resultAnalyzer.action?resultId=9409404&resultType=14

If anybody has any ideas or suggestions on what could be causing the problem, they'd be greatly appreciated. I really don't want to replace the PSU unless it's 100% sure it's causing the problem since they're not cheap over here (compared to the U.S.).

Thanks for your time. =)
24 answers Last reply
More about extremely poor 9800 performance
  1. BAD cpu = bad results.

    overkill on the GPU

    9600gt would have been nice or a 4670 ......
  2. The price difference between this card and the 9600GT is actually minimal. It's not a new card so I bagged it for a good price. I wouldn't have gone overboard for this machine. ~£100 versus ~£150 and

    As for
  3. Sorry, managed to post too early and I can't edit it.

    As I wanted to say, the price difference for the performance is tiny and it can be used in a future machine if I want.

    As I said in my post, I'm not expecting anything great, but I know that even lower spec hardware can outperform the GX2 with how things are going. I have an older machine pulling higher FPS in World of Warcraft (GX2 is around 15 FPS versus 20) with an X800 XT PE. ;)
  4. Hmm, while that is a rather aged CPU, I would say you should be getting far better results, esp in WoW, than that. I ran my SLI 8800GT (essentially the same if not a bit slower than your GX2) on a Socket939 dual-core system clocked at 2.9Ghz and saw 30-40FPS in WoW with full eye-candy at 1680x1050. If you can, I suggest a bit of OCing. If you can break 2.6Ghz, you should get decent results, tho not mind blowing and certainly still below the full potential of the card.

    EDIT: Also, 500W, even from a quality maker like Antec, is going to be borderline for this setup. I suggest at least 650W.
  5. The BIOS isn't great so OC'ing the CPU isn't really an option without complications.

    Just to go into a bit more detail, I game at 1280x1024, and in a city (Dalaran) I'll get 15 FPS with minimum settings.

    Another example would be Red Alert 3. Tried it with max settings at 1680x1050 (another monitor) and got 20 FPS, and that was with nothing going on. A bit of action and it'll drop nicely.

    I'm quite confident there's something more than the CPU at fault. =(
  6. can you just try to OC this CPU a lil bit ?

    But yes, this 9800GX2 pump alot from the CPU so you can have lower perf with this that you could have with a 9600gt that dont pump you CPU.
  7. I can and will try it, but it won't be a very impressive overclock with the settings the BIOS provides. ;)
  8. DEFINATELY a CPU bottleneck is happening.
    Overclocking may help. try and get it to AT LEAST 3GHZ
  9. cpu and ram bottleneck.
  10. well thats double the GPU's the cpu has to talk to... double the workload
  11. and considering the CPUs suckage as well. only like what? 2.2ghz :lol:

    OC every componet in your system and give it a try. overclock the ram, FSB, W/E you can OC!!!
  12. Yeah, that definitely sounds like a combination of not enough power and a cpu bottleneck. You may actually get better performance by turning 1 card off (disabling SLI) as it would lower the power draw and CPU workload.

    Even with all the minor issues of the 9800GX2, overall it is still a very powerful card and I wouldn't give up on it yet. Good Luck!
  13. well i would sell that card and get the 4830 or 4850, two card setup is never good(dual GPU)
  14. the x2 4200 came out in 2005................. the GHZ means NOTHING, per clock is everything.

    the per clock is brutal even compared to a entry level C2d
  15. rangers said:
    well i would sell that card and get the 4830 or 4850, two card setup is never good(dual GPU)

    well, the 4850 would lower the amount of bottleneckage hes currently getting.

    and i mean, 4850 kicks butt and its just one card. no problems to deal with for multicard-ness

    i have my share of multicard setup nightmares... :|
  16. Well, I think you're having more than one problem here. First it looks like your board has issues with the card. You should be able to disable SLi without having the whole system lock up. Still using nVidia cards on those early ATI boards can be a real pain. Two, I don't think that PSU is enough for the 9800GX2 only because there many not be enough power available on the 12v Rail. Three the CPU is a little underpowered so the overhead required for Sli could result in lower frames than just using a single GPU. Overclocking the system should yield improvement as the CPU is the main bottleneck, but you need to take care of the other issues first. You said you updated your BIOS so I assume you're using the latest version.

    I say disable all devices in your BIOS that you don't use and check the PC health on boot to see if you get wide fluctuation in your voltages. If you do, that's your power supply crying :). Also use Google to see if anyone else is having trouble with your particular board model and newer video cards.
  17. try reloading the drivers several times

    make sure all ati stuff is gone

    i doubt more ram will help but look at your ram usage smear the task manager across the screen - game o it and check the ram usuage

    or use 2 screens

    the GX2 may need more ram

    if not the cpu is the bottle's neck
  18. next check the ram
    smear the task manager across the screen of much ram is used? if its high you need more

    if ram is fine then the cpu is it

    you got a slow pci-e slot in that mobo too? is it 4x?
  19. Thanks for all the advice.

    It's x16.

    I overclocked the CPU and the 3DMark score picked up quite a bit. It went from about 6.6k to just over 8k with taking the CPU from 2.2ghz to 2.35ghz. I'd like to go higher, but the lack of any HT multiplier option in the BIOS (Award BIOS-I-4M, 2K050930A) is stopping me at the moment.
  20. i think this is you main bottleneck. OC CPU+RAM seem to help alot ! keep trying on this way, and find a 600+ psu
  21. dragonsprayer said:
    try reloading the drivers several times

    make sure all ati stuff is gone

    i doubt more ram will help but look at your ram usage smear the task manager across the screen - game o it and check the ram usuage

    or use 2 screens

    the GX2 may need more ram

    if not the cpu is the bottle's neck

    yes, and make sure to not use crappy windows task manager. download Dtaskmanager
    thats the good one >:)
  22. Agree with everyone. CPU/RAM is much to slow for this card.
    Disable SLI. Running SLI on an old AMD board kinda scares me. You should be just fine with the performance equal to a single 9800GT. If you do so, I don't think you will need a more powerful PSU. Save that amount of money and give it to a new system later on. Then get a better PSU (I would get +600W) with better hardware and run the card at its full potential.
  23. i agrre again ! Nils advise are nice. This 9800GX2 (with new driver) can beat lotta card. The issue with this card is the driver ... and ur OLD amd board. But with a futur new system, this GX2 can push near 20k 3dmark06 EZ.
  24. Spent a long time overclocking, but could only manage just over 2.42ghz stable and just over 2.52ghz unstable. Like I said, the BIOS is a bit lacking and that could be causing the problems.

    The HTT bus can't be too low or too high.900-1150 is the range it'll run at here, roughly, and anything higher than ~220mhz at x11 multi won't work with any stability because of it. However, dropping the HT multiplier (which was disguised as LDT frequency and given in MHz) to x4 just stopped the machine dead.

    With changing the CPU multiplier down from 11, I couldn't get over 245mhz CPU frequency.

    I guess I'll switch the CPU to a 4800 unless I can see what the deal with overclocking is. I was expecting a lot higher than 2.4.

    Anyway, the new 3DMark06 results with the best stable overclocking I could do:

    Thanks for the advice anyway everyone! =)
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