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Ati 5970 overclock issue?

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May 30, 2010 8:43:30 AM

so by following the guide on guru3d.com (http://www.guru3d.com/article/overclock-radeon-5970-gui...) i decided to overclock my ati 5970 (i only have 1---can't afford crossfire atm). i successfully (or so i thought) overclocked it to 900 mhz on the gpu clock and 1225 mgz on the memory clock. i thought it was successful (as in stable) because i ran the furmark stability test for about half an hour (w/ no problems) and then i ran the heaven benchmark (i got a score of 1585 w/ an average of 63.1 fps) also with no problems :sol:  . believing that there was no problem with the OC i proceeded to play a little half-life 2 (which is the least graphics intensive game i have) and the computer decided to crash about 10 min. into it... :ouch: 

i haven't played again but i decided to revert my card to its stock clock speeds to be safe, since i'm new to overclocking gpu's (and i don't want to break the 5970---it's WAY too expensive to break). i was wondering if i can get any input from you guys on what the problem is perhaps?

my system:
cpu: core i7 960 @ 3.2ghz
gpu: ati hd 5970 2gb
memory (ram): 9 gb ddr3
psu: 825 watts
os: win 7 home premium 64 bit
program used for overclocking the gpu: msi afterburner with close observation of the catalyst control center

i guess it may be worth noting that the temperature of the gpu never went above 67C, which i think is a good sign, considering i'm using the stock cooling system (a fan) for the gpu (i've got my cpu water-cooled).

my hypotheses:
not enough voltage (after all, i only raised it to 1.1625 volts, as specified on the guide)...

well, thanks for the replies in advance!
May 30, 2010 2:54:16 PM

Are you sure the rest of you system is stable? Have you run Prime 95? Both the small fft and the blend test for at least 2 hours each without failures? If the system is found stable after the test then I would try overclocking the video card. You may in fact need more voltage on the card to reach that overclock (from 725 stock on the gpu to 900) you desire. And no matter what Furmark or OCCT or any test says the best stability test is to play games.If it crashes its not stable. Add more voltage or decrease overclock.
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May 30, 2010 6:51:58 PM

ok i'll run through all that and report back the results!

i mean my main goal was to overclock it to the level of a 5870 (850 on the gpu clock and 1200 on the gpu memory clock) but i guess i just wanted to see what it could do. thanks for the reply! :) 
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May 30, 2010 8:18:34 PM

The gpu's are not the only thing that can get HOT on the card. The memory and VRM's temps, you can see those in gpu-z. Your trying a more than 20% o/c ? Why not 800, and leave the voltage alone.
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a b U Graphics card
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May 30, 2010 8:28:35 PM

You can't really expect it to be 100% stable. Have you tried again or have you given up after that once crash?

I got my card up to 950/1250 on 1.149v and that is 90% stable. A crash on the odd day during a game but perfectly acceptable.
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May 30, 2010 10:01:51 PM

FWIW, HL2 is one program the is very intolerant of overclocking errors. It's a pretty good choice for real world stability, in my opinion.
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May 30, 2010 11:33:48 PM

festerovic said:
FWIW, HL2 is one program the is very intolerant of overclocking errors. It's a pretty good choice for real world stability, in my opinion.


ah ok! i'm still to try it (i've had a busy day today) but i'll get to it this evening!

oh and @Rofl_My_Waffl: actually it was a bit late at night so i did give up after the crash (well after putting it back to its stock speeds); and yeah, i figured it can't be 100% stable---just don't like my computer locking up on me since it's literally brand new. btw, what psu do you have? because i was wondering throughout the whole process last night if i even have the adequate psu (@ 825 watts) to be overclocking such a monster card.

additionally, when i was overclocking, and before getting to 900, i played bad company 2 for about an hour with no problems. at that moment the gpu clock was at 875 (and i had already ran the programs i mentioned with the addition to the benchmark included with street fighter 4). so i figure, now, that 875 will probably be my stable speed for the gpu clock (with the memory clock at 1225).

so i will def. run through everyone's suggestions (even the suggestion of looking at gpu-z)! this has been a ton of help! thanks for the replies!
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May 31, 2010 1:37:57 AM

hmm so i'm retrying the overclock and it will not let me go beyond 775. furmark crashes the moment i press 'go' to test for stability!! :-P

i wonder if i screwed anything up...well clearly i did something wrong--i just hope i didn't do anything to damage the card (or anything else).
i'll run stability tests on this computer (along with the gpu) so i'll get back when i'm done with that!
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May 31, 2010 5:22:16 AM

ok guys! so i ran some stability tests, all came out fine! :-D

here's what i noticed: the crashes are coming from when i modify the voltage for the gpu---whether it's via the ati overvolting tool or msi afterburner. strange huh?

well seeing as how voltage modification is out of the question (at least for now), i'm going to see how much i can overclock without adding voltage (and while staying stable most of the time).

at the moment i'm at a gpu clock of 775 and memory clock of 1075. without the possibility of modifying the voltage, hopes of clocking my card to the speed of a 5870 is, IMO, quite unlikely. :-(

No biggie though. As of now, i still can't find a game/regular app that will put a lot of stress on my gpu. also seeing as how my current monitor has a refresh rate of 60hz, getting some outrageous fps (like anything beyond 75) would really only result in a lot of screen tearing, which means i'd have to use vsync more than i already do anyway.

this is not to say that it's not worth overclocking your 5970 (i mean if you had a ferrari or a lambo wouldn't you like to take it to the autobahn and drive it as fast as you can?). that being said, i'll wait for games to be released that will not run well with max settings on (what can i say? i love eye candy). at that point, i'll just get crossfire for the 5970 (hopefully by then it won't be selling for $600+).

HOWEVER....if any of you have suggestions as to how to fix this crash i'm getting with voltage modification, i will be all ears!

in the meantime, i think it's best for me to stick to cpu overclocking. :-P

thanks for all the input so far!
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a b U Graphics card
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May 31, 2010 6:40:15 AM

Try replacing the thermal paste on the card with something better. Maybe Arctic Silver or something equivalent (or better).
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May 31, 2010 7:39:18 AM

festerovic said:
Try replacing the thermal paste on the card with something better. Maybe Arctic Silver or something equivalent (or better).


hey so i got it at 800/1100 stable without manipulating the voltage *thanks to notty22 for the suggestion!!* (i ran the various stability tests and benchmarks mentioned here and played half-life 2 for a little over an hour). now i'm gonna test it out with bad company 2, street fighter 4, and nfs: shift. so far it's looking good but i will def. replace the thermal paste (as soon as i get my hands on some probably this week).

i think i have to mention that one thing i did differently today is that i found that while overclocking (with either one of msi:ab or ccc overdrive tool) only 1 gpu was being overclocked. so today on the "select gpu to configure" drop-down i overclocked both gpu's. maybe this is what i am doing wrong?
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May 31, 2010 7:18:44 PM

so i managed to track the crashes to modifications solely on the engine voltage (not the memory). modifying the engine voltage makes the computer crash even at stock clock settings (725/1000). anyways i'm still at 800/1100 w/o problems and voltage modification but to get higher, clearly i'll need to add voltage on not just the memory (which doesn't trigger the crashes) but also on the engine.

what do you guys suggest i do?
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a b U Graphics card
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June 1, 2010 12:10:02 AM

I think Stag's first link has the issue nailed in that thread. Check out the reg edits.

If that does not help, then I suggest checking out the basics. Upping the voltage is triggering more heat than normal, so regulating the temperature may give you results. Using any one of the overclocking utilities we've mentioned on this thread, try upping the fan speed to 100% and redoing your voltage tests to see if heat is causing the failures. I am betting on the reg edits fixing your problems, though.

GL. I'm jealous, I would love to be toying with that card, but I already blew my tax return.
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June 1, 2010 11:01:08 PM

wow everyone's been super helpful!!! problem solved! stag, that link's very interesting! lot's of useful info there! and festerovic, you got it! i was using the fan on 'auto' when i was overclocking and had the crashes. i thought that by using 'auto' it would apply the proper fan speed at certain temps. however, i looked at a guide on 3dguru (i lost the link) that talked about setting the fans on msi: ab that basically said that when overclocking, you can't really rely on the 'auto' settings because, among other factors, the time it takes for the fan to speed up appropriately when the temperature jumps (say, 10C) may be too long(i'm not an english expert so does that make sense?). that is to say that you have to appropriately adjust the fan settings so that when applying voltage changes, overclocking, etc, the temp. doesn't jump so quickly and if it does, your fans are set accordingly to prevent the card from frying (or in many cases, in order to keep the computer from crashing).

so to test this, i went on the catalyst control center and made sure that the option to set the fan manually was enabled then set the fan at 90% (as you may or may not know, the 5970's fan is probably a little louder than an xbox360--meaning it's loud as hell--so i didn't want to set it at 100%). then i used the ati overvolt utility, applied additional voltage and ran the multi-gpu furmark stability test and surprise surprise, no crash (and my card's max temp stayed at a cool 50C through the whole test). of course, i was doing this with stock clock speeds because even at stock speeds, my computer would crash once applying extra voltage to the card. i'll do some overclocking on it (and this time, i'm sure i'm doing it properly) and let you guys know about the results!

oh on another note, festerovic: haha this pretty much was my tax return!! it's the first time i have a video card that's on the current generation (my cards are usually like 2 yrs old when i buy them so i don't spend so much money but this time i decided to splurge)!

thanks everyone for the help and i'll probably be posting back here to let you guys see my overclocking results! :-D
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June 3, 2010 6:21:55 AM

ok so i said i would post results and before i do, know that the benchmarks were run in a resolution of 1920x1080 with each app at it's default settings. i avoided the furmark benchmark because, after some research, i found ati was ruling it a 'power virus' which can cause the card to throttle (something to do with temperatures and the vrm's)... there are a few articles out there on this (i think one of them is in this website...can't recall).

so anyways, the overclocking i focused on was mainly one @ 850/1200 so that the clocks can match that of the ati 5870. i admit these aren't a lot of benchmarks but since i'm still new to computer gaming (always had slow computers so i resorted to consoles for my gaming needs) i still don't have a lot of games to test with.

*****Street Fighter 4 benchmark:
725/1000:
score: 29604
avg. fps: 333.67

850/1200:
score: 30616
avg. fps: 347.13
--------------------------------

****Heaven benchmark w/ DX10:
725/1000:
FPS: 96.5
score: 2430
min.: 27.1
max: 191.3

850/1200:
survived through the first 16 phases then...<computer froze>
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

so i'm aware that it crashed using the heaven benchmark but i don't think i would judge it completely unstable. besides running the benchmarks above, i did play bad company 2 and half life 2 for about an hour each with no problems. that being said though, honestly i didn't quite notice a huge performance gain from the overclock. i did say it wasn't completely unstable, which obviously means that it's not completely stable either. in fact, if anything, some games seemed to run a little bit more slowly (this may be a throttling case) with the overclock. this was the case with street fighter 4 (not the benchmark but the actual game) and mlb 2k10. as for half life 2, it ran a bit faster but i don't think the voltage used and the heat created were hardly worth the results. with the overclock, bad company 2 ran exactly the same(i noticed no difference at all). it's worth noting that i had the card's fan running at 95% the whole time with the overclock. therefore running bad company 2 w/ overclocking really results in just a lot of noise produced by the fan (i'm an xbox360 owner so i don't find the noise that annoying but i'm sure a lot of you would hate it). in conclusion, i don't think it's worth the overclock.

to be honest, in the last few days that i was testing the clocks at 800/1100, i saw slight improvements w/o having to boost the fan up so high. it's a bit disappointing since i'm sure i'm probably doing something wrong or maybe there will be improvements with later catalyst drivers. i mean don't get me wrong. this card is a monster with a lot of untapped potential--not to mention that it's a must have if you want to use eyefinity, which is one of the main things advertised by ati for this card. anyways, i love it but i'm hoping for maybe improvements in future drivers (while i save up some money for a better PSU and another 5970 for crossfire).

if anyone has any suggestions/comments, please i'm all ears! thanks everyone!
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a b U Graphics card
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June 3, 2010 3:47:39 PM

Your results - as in, the slowdown or lack of positive results from overclocking, are typical of the card reaching its limit in usable overclock. Sometimes the heat generated actually slows things down, even though it is able to run without crashing. I had the 7900GT card a while back, and it overclocked like a monster. But after doing a lot of benches, I determined that even though I could set the speeds over 100mhz higher, the end results were slower than what I got at lower speeds.

I think every component that you can overclock has a similar tendency, sometimes overclocking is not for the best. Now that you have the benches, you should figure out how much heat and potentially how much shorter of a lifespan do you want for your card, vs. mentally knowing that your card is as maxxed as it can go. To be honest, if I were contemplating this, I would not worry about OCing it at all other than for benching, the card is extremely powerful and I doubt there are too many games that give you bad frames ;) 
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a b U Graphics card
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June 3, 2010 3:53:13 PM

Did you know what was the temp on your card?

Higher temperature would cause transistors to leak more voltage. When too much happens, numbers aren't crunched right and you get artifacts or a system crash.
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June 5, 2010 6:10:22 AM

very nice post.
i ahve accepted you post informations.
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June 5, 2010 7:07:53 AM

hey all! thanks! so yeah festerovic. you're very right. i've decided that considering none of the games i play atm don't stress my card so there's no need for OCing except for benchmarks (i still haven't gotten my hands on Crysis, which i hear gives hell on gpu's). therefore in the meantime, i def. don't want to decrease the lifespan of my card.

and @ rofl_my_waffle: yeah i agree with the temperature/voltage argument. weird thing is that when i was checking the temps while playing games or running the benchmarks, the highest i saw was 71C, which was with bad company 2. the temperature at which the card crashed with the heaven benchmark was 69C. maybe CCC isn't registering the correct temps? oh and i did get artifacts when i attempted to do the OC of 850/1200 with no voltage increase (i was just testing--not expecting a stable OC). that happened with bad company 2. at that point i just quit the game and lowered the clocks to prevent the computer from crashing.

well thanks everyone for the replies! everyone's been really helpful and if it weren't for this forum, i would've probably fried my gpu, ruined my new computer, and i would've not learned so much about tweaking gpu's. Thanks! :-D
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June 5, 2010 10:27:06 AM

What voltages were you using with the OC. The 5970 is not only underclocked in terms of speed. The voltage has been scaled back considerably too because they can.

A 5870 would have core voltage of 1.162v at default while a 5970 would have 1.050v on default. The 5970 of course has higher binned chips than the 5870 but you still need to raise it if you want overclock. There is an overclock/overvolt limit placed on every card in the BIOS, you can't really explode your card for raising voltage too much.
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June 12, 2010 8:19:19 PM

rofl_my_waffle said:
What voltages were you using with the OC. The 5970 is not only underclocked in terms of speed. The voltage has been scaled back considerably too because they can.

A 5870 would have core voltage of 1.162v at default while a 5970 would have 1.050v on default. The 5970 of course has higher binned chips than the 5870 but you still need to raise it if you want overclock. There is an overclock/overvolt limit placed on every card in the BIOS, you can't really explode your card for raising voltage too much.



hey sorry for the late response! i was out of town. the voltages i was using with the OC were 1.625 for the core and 1.15 for the memory and i actually wasn't aware about those limits on the BIOS for video cards (good to know!). obviously, i haven't tried OCing my card in the week that I've been out so i son't have any additional results/configs. i'm actually fairly confident about the OC capabilities on this card but I will probably not be testing that until i get a hold of a game that will not run well at max settings. i was also thinking that if i do encounter any stuttering/slowdowns, it MIGHT be because of my processor (which is not overclocked yet). I don't think the core i7 960 @3.2ghz will bottleneck the card will it? well that's probably off-topic on this thread so i'll read up more on that and post about it on a different thread...
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June 13, 2010 2:52:59 AM

core i7 is no bottleneck, lol, you built a beast.

Do you have 3dmark vantage? What kind of Performance preset score do you get?
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June 15, 2010 3:34:32 AM

festerovic said:
core i7 is no bottleneck, lol, you built a beast.

Do you have 3dmark vantage? What kind of Performance preset score do you get?


hey! i actually don't have 3dmark vantage...i was gonna get it right now but i wasn't aware it's not a free program. i guess i'll just get it later.
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June 15, 2010 2:06:04 PM

yeah it costs money. It was the first one I bought, after using 3dmark since 2001. It's a fair price for the amount of usage I got out of it. I think you can get 5 uses out of 3dmark06 for free, though.
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June 18, 2010 12:40:27 AM

festerovic said:
yeah it costs money. It was the first one I bought, after using 3dmark since 2001. It's a fair price for the amount of usage I got out of it. I think you can get 5 uses out of 3dmark06 for free, though.



hey! i ran the trial version and these are the results:
3DMark Score: P22594 3DMarks
CPU Score: 20520
Graphics Score: 23382

Jane Nash: 68.82 FPS
New Calico: 68.14 FPS

AI Test: 2878.53 Operations
Physics Test: 26.22 Operations

since I'm new to this benchmark, I'm not exactly sure how these scores measure up though it compared my system to the "fastest system" with a core i7 980x @ 3609 Mhz, 6GB ram, with the nVidia geforce gtx 480 (under "name" it says 4 way SLI). It's results are:

3DMark Score: P63925 3DMarks
CPU Score: 56105
Graphics Score: 67039

Jane Nash:186.56 FPS
New Calico: 207.56 FPS

AI Test: 8079.51 Operations
Physics Test: 66.43 Operations

lol I think those results are INSANE compared to mine :o  though I'm pretty sure that system is a bit of an outlier...
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a b U Graphics card
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June 18, 2010 4:03:37 AM

hehe, yeah people go to great lengths to get crazy scores, so don't look at that. People use cheater drivers and liquid nitrogren just to get the score. For myself, I make sure I compare to other systems that are more like mine through the ORB browser, using futuremark approved drivers. I get around P15000 with 2 4870s in crossifre, overclocked, with a q6600 overclocked to 3.6ghz.

I think your scores are on target, and are pretty awesome. You should have great gaming performance on anything you throw at it.
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October 22, 2010 1:00:38 PM

Yeah, that system has 4 LN2-cooled EVGA 480GTX GPUs and 2 LN2-cooled Xeon X5680 CPUs (6 cores each, i.e. 12 cores), overclocked at 5.5GHz... :ouch: 
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