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Asus 4870 1GB DK, 850W PSU and PCI-E 1.0 x16 Slot

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August 13, 2009 1:11:19 PM

Good morning/afternoon/evening. I just received my order of the Asus RadeOn 4870 1GB Dark Knight Graphics Card yesterday from the egg. Sweet price and next day delivery from their NJ warehouse. This new card replaced my previous Asus x1950 Pro. I re-ran the windows 7 performance tester. My gpu rating went from 2.0 to 7.5, pushing my system rating from 2.0 to 5.9 (hdd limited). I installed and ran 3DMark 06 (DX9) and 3DMark Vantage Pro (DX10) at 1280x1024 to get a feel on synthetic performance. I then saved the results of both benchmarks and ran BFME 2: ROTWK at 1280x960 resolution.

During the benchmarks, my computer was producing a crackling sound, similar to a psu or capacitors failing. No smoke smell or anything visually going wrong from what I could see. The system has been and is still running stable. Each time the app would switch between tests, the sound would go away. When I was playing BFME2, it did it much less frequently, mainly when in certain menus for some reason. That is a dx9 game with much lower gpu draw.

I then tried out Far Cry 2 with high settings which supports dx9 and dx10. The game looks awesome with dx10 mode, but when you approach scenes with water, the crackling sound happens. It is hard to narrow down where the sound is emitting from, as it sounds like it is coming from the psu but also the capacitors around the cpu area on the mainboard, but logically, it has must be the psu. It seems this card is dragging down my brand new 850watt psu! WTF? The requirement is a 550W psu. I need to determine if this is a case of a lack of efficient power for my new gpu, or something else. This is my psu...

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Under normal use, or low end 3d games, there is no crackling sound. I have not tried testing with my p3 kill-a-watt to see the actual power draw when using the card. Based on what I have read, it uses two 75W 6-pin connectors. That would total up to 150W of power just for the card alone. My system was using a total of approximately 280W during gameplay when I had my x1950 installed. This would still be well under the threshold.

The PSU was given to me as a no-hassle new replacement for my previous Ultra XVS 700-Watt under the Ultra Warranty which had a crackling sound after 1.5-2 yrs as well, but at all times, not just during games. That is ironic isn't it?

Here are my system specs...

Windows 7 Ultimate RTM x64
Asus M2N-E AM2 Mainboard
AMD Athlon X2 5600+ CPU (65W)
OCZ 4GB (1GB x 4) PC2-6400 (DDR2-800) Dual Channel Memory
Asus 4870 1GB Dark Knight GPU (Installed 8/12/09)
Western Digital Caviar Blue 640GB (WD6400AAKS) Hard Drive (Qty 4)
Ultra X3 850-Watt Modular PSU w/(1) 12v Rail (Rated @ 50A) (Installed June 2009)
APC Back-UPS ES 550VA UPS

I am aware that my UPS is insufficient if the power were to go out; been there and done that. However, this should be irrelevant under normal conditions (ie; no power outages, lol). Any ideas besides the psu failing during gameplay due to lack of power? I can always do a cross-ship RMA of the psu under warranty if needed, but this doesn't make sense. A new high power (even with only one 12v rail) psu and a new gpu and electrical crackling? What gives?

-- MaSoP

Here is a performance question. Considering my mainboard only has a 1.0 x16 slot and this is a 2.0 x16 card, how does that affect functionality or performance?

More about : asus 4870 1gb 850w psu pci x16 slot

August 13, 2009 1:24:45 PM

that PSU is not 850w, it's more like 550w.

PCIe 1.0 won't make any difference with that card.
August 13, 2009 1:44:23 PM

It could be a faulty psu, might have to return it for a new one under warranty or just buy one thats actually a recommended brand.

and the popping, you sure its coming from the tower and not the monitor or speakers?
Related resources
a b B Homebuilt system
August 13, 2009 1:59:51 PM

Ultra is not the best brand out there for computer parts. 50A x 12v comes out to 660 Watts going to your high power draw components, with no other rails to use. One pretty reliable, low-tech way to tell how good a power supply is: If it feels somewhat light in your hands, it's probably not very good.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 13, 2009 3:20:27 PM

Helloworld_98 said:
that PSU is not 850w, it's more like 550w.

I'm getting old so keeping up with this stuff is kind of tough.
What's the mathematical equation for determining that an 850 watt psu is only a 550 ? ( The 12v ouput alone is 660 watts )
a b B Homebuilt system
August 13, 2009 3:39:34 PM

I think what helloworld is getting at is that Ultra likes to over-exaggerate their wattage claims by using unrealistic parameters during testing. A common one is assuming the PSU will be constantly operating in an ambient temperature of like 25C. In the real world where people actually use computers, PSU internal temps are closer to 40C, which is also why you'll notice high quality PSUs have heavy aluminum heatsinks inside them. Just by making this seemingly small assumption, low quality or generic brands get away with saying their PSU is rated at wattages that could be 30% more than what they would produce in the real world. PC Power and Cooling, a very good PSU manufacturer that was acquired by OCZ not too long ago, has a nice page explaining this and other PSU myths.
http://www.pcpower.com/technology/myths/
a b B Homebuilt system
a b Ĉ ASUS
August 13, 2009 3:40:47 PM

A corsair 650TX is capable of outputting more total power than that 850 watt Ultra.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Since you have a kill-a-watt, check and see how much power the computer pulls underload, use furmark and prime 95 to stress the CPU and GPU at the same time. As you arent running at a high resolution the graphics card likely isnt running at max, water requires more graphics power so its likely that change in load that makes the crackling start occuring.

See if you can return the PSU and get some money back then get the corsair 650tx or 750tx.
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
August 13, 2009 3:45:08 PM

Ultra is getting a rep for exaggerating wattage ratings. There is no formula, it's just that they mis-label.

I'm not sure what helloworld is basing his statement on. The Ultra X3 line is the deluxe PSU line and supposed to be pretty good.

Sometimes a UPS can have a conflict with a PSU, so that's something to consider. Has to do with sine waves and such, but basically the artificial AC current coming from the UPS gives the PSU difficulties.

Ultra doesn't send their PSUs out for testing by the serious reviewers, so I can't really say what your actual wattage would be, or if the voltage sag and ripple is within spec.

Ultra HAD a solid rep for many years but has recently been producing some cheap units. They also shipped a bunch of mis-labelled PSUs a while back, but I think they made good on all those.

If you have a paper towel tube or a stethoscope you should be able to isolate the noise. Obviously swapping out the PSU would be an option to test.
August 13, 2009 3:50:40 PM

^ I based my statement on amperage on the 12v rail compared to a high quality PSU.
a b B Homebuilt system
a b Ĉ ASUS
August 13, 2009 3:53:36 PM

Ah yes, i forgot i had read antec had given a statement about the cheaper UPS's that provide square waves causing buzzing, try plugging it straight into the wall and see if the buzzing still occurs.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 13, 2009 3:56:37 PM

Proximon said:

The Ultra X3 line is the deluxe PSU line and supposed to be pretty good.

Exactly.
JG reviewed the X3 1000, though they don't do torture tests like HWS, they pulled 971 watts from it and gave it a 9.5 out of 10
August 13, 2009 3:57:39 PM

Proximon said:
Ultra is getting a rep for exaggerating wattage ratings. There is no formula, it's just that they mis-label.

I'm not sure what helloworld is basing his statement on. The Ultra X3 line is the deluxe PSU line and supposed to be pretty good.

Sometimes a UPS can have a conflict with a PSU, so that's something to consider. Has to do with sine waves and such, but basically the artificial AC current coming from the UPS gives the PSU difficulties.

Ultra doesn't send their PSUs out for testing by the serious reviewers, so I can't really say what your actual wattage would be, or if the voltage sag and ripple is within spec.

Ultra HAD a solid rep for many years but has recently been producing some cheap units. They also shipped a bunch of mis-labelled PSUs a while back, but I think they made good on all those.

If you have a paper towel tube or a stethoscope you should be able to isolate the noise. Obviously swapping out the PSU would be an option to test.


I'm going to hook up my p3 killawatt tonight to see the difference in load. The crackling was primarily occuring with the benchmarks. The 2 games didn't produce much at all. I suppose the benchmarks were putting alot more load on the card than the games were. I figured far cry 2 @ 1280x960 and high settings would be a decent load (nothing like 1920x1200 would) and would produce the sound, but only with the water scenes did it do it. Considering this is a $250 psu cut to $180 and I got it for free under warranty, I don't have the option of getting my $$$ back and buying a tier 1 brand. Thanks to everyone for the replies. I will post back after measuring the idle and gaming load figures, to compare to before the upgrade.

-- MaSoP
a b B Homebuilt system
August 13, 2009 4:03:42 PM

edit ok but then howbout the difference between max power an continuois power
a b B Homebuilt system
a b Ĉ ASUS
August 13, 2009 4:06:30 PM

no, you have efficiency backwards, a good 650 watt PSU can provide 650 regardless of its efficiency rating, the efficiency rating determines how much gets pulled from the wall, an 80% efficient 650 watt PSU at full load will pull 813 watts, a 70% efficient one will pull 929 watts.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 13, 2009 4:07:52 PM

^ Thank you
August 13, 2009 4:17:52 PM

From what I've read, here is the calculation for effeciency:

(DC Output) / (AC Input) = Efficiency

Below is an enlightening article on this subject...

http://www.motherboards.org/articles/guides/1487_7.html

Based on what that article says, hunter is correct. I'm itching to find out the wattage being pulled from my computer, when the new card is under heavy load. Another 6 hrs or so and I'll be able to figure that out and post the results. I'm wondering if I should even be playing a game, with the crackling sound happening, lol. I don't want to fry anything in my system.


-- MaSoP
a b B Homebuilt system
a b Ĉ ASUS
August 13, 2009 4:23:30 PM

hunter315 said:
no, you have efficiency backwards, a good 650 watt PSU can provide 650 regardless of its efficiency rating, the efficiency rating determines how much gets pulled from the wall, an 80% efficient 650 watt PSU at full load will pull 813 watts, a 70% efficient one will pull 929 watts.

+1

hunter315 is right.
August 13, 2009 4:23:48 PM

Proximon said:
Here's a thread discussing the whole mis-labelling fiasco:
http://www.jonnyguru.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5357

See, has nothing to do with the X3 line.

Also here is the tiered PSU list:
http://www.eggxpert.com/forums/thread/323050.aspx

You will notice the X3 line above 1KW is considered TIER ONE. Below that all the other X3s are considered tier two.


Nice reference piece. Thanks! Looks like I went from a Tier 4 PSU (Ultra XVS 700) to a Tier 2 PSU (Ultra X3 850), all for free, when I had the RMA process done. Looks like it is a decent psu after all. I would never have dropped that kind of coin ($180 - $250+) on a psu to begin with. I just got lucky, lol.

-- MaSoP
a b B Homebuilt system
August 13, 2009 4:26:18 PM

Since we got on the topic of efficiency, I took a close look at the specs on the Ultra 1000 watt PSU. http://www.ultraproducts.com/product_details.php?cPath=...

They say 85% efficiency at typical load which isn't unusual for a good PSU, but then they have a terrible efficiency graph that doesn't show an efficiency above 81%. Furthermore, their graph's Y-axis is all messed up with double numbers. Even the X-axis values don't say 85% anywhere. Either they are really that bad at making graphs, or they've been doctoring their stats so much they forgot what the original values were? :) 

As for the OP, since you got a high quality PSU for free, you made out really well. Ultra will still stay off my radar for new PSU purchases though.
August 13, 2009 4:28:06 PM

hunter315 said:
Ah yes, i forgot i had read antec had given a statement about the cheaper UPS's that provide square waves causing buzzing, try plugging it straight into the wall and see if the buzzing still occurs.


Ok, I'll definitely try plugging the system directly into the wall and see if it goes away. If it does, then I'll know the culprut is the ups itself. I'll also check the load my system pulls outside of the ups when I hook up the p3 kill-a-watt when I get home this evening. :-) If it is the ups, I may have to get a higher power model that can handle the wattage my system pulls, as I'm undoubtedly exceeding the 330 watts my ups can handle when under a load at this time. I was at 280 while gaming, which is only 50 watts shy of the maximum. I was getting only 2 or 3 minutes backup time out of the claimed 13-15 min. I'm probably above 330 now. *sigh*

-- MaSoP
a b B Homebuilt system
August 13, 2009 4:36:49 PM

well at 85% tdp on your system you pulling 299 watts on the antec calculator jus my 1 cent
a b B Homebuilt system
August 13, 2009 5:34:09 PM

obsidian86 said:
well at 85% tdp on your system you pulling 299 watts on the antec calculator jus my 1 cent

The calculator doesn't tell how much power you are pulling, it gives a wattage reccomendation for a psu that should power the equipment that you enter.
August 13, 2009 6:13:46 PM

delluser1 said:
The calculator doesn't tell how much power you are pulling, it gives a wattage reccomendation for a psu that should power the equipment that you enter.


Ding ding ding! :-) And he is out for the count! j/k

-- MaSoP
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
August 13, 2009 6:14:01 PM

It's true though that a good 450W will power that system, given a five year lifespan and adequate cooling.

Generally, I don't recommend anything lower than a 500W on a gaming rig. It's just a matter of margin and future upgrades, combined with price.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 13, 2009 6:28:18 PM

Yeah it would be silly to buy a PSU that just barely is able to power a system. As all efficiency graphs show, optimal efficiency tends to be right around 50% load of the PSU's maximum. Also, during startup, power demand can spike pretty high, and if it can't even meet that, it's never going to boot.

500W is plenty for a modest gaming build, single Gfx card. When going for bells and whistles, 650-750W is what to look for now.
August 13, 2009 6:52:39 PM

wathman said:
Yeah it would be silly to buy a PSU that just barely is able to power a system. As all efficiency graphs show, optimal efficiency tends to be right around 50% load of the PSU's maximum. Also, during startup, power demand can spike pretty high, and if it can't even meet that, it's never going to boot.

500W is plenty for a modest gaming build, single Gfx card. When going for bells and whistles, 650-750W is what to look for now.


It sometimes surprises me how much power some of the hardware these days draws from modern systems. I remember when a 150watt psu was common, but these days, we are talking about 500-1000watts as a baseline. Some hardcore rigs go to 1200 or higher, lol. That is insane wattage.

-- MaSoP
a b B Homebuilt system
August 13, 2009 7:17:23 PM

yeah, if they go any higher, we're going to have to start putting computers in the laundry room so we can plug in on the 220 volt, 30 amp circuit when nobody is drying clothes
August 13, 2009 8:07:16 PM

obsidian86 said:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... hard core enough? if not there is a company near us who maufactures 2500watt supplies with 120amp rail for cncs


Even our dell poweredge servers at my work don't use up that much power, lol! Geez. So much for "green and eco" friendly, lol. :-)

-- MaSoP
a b B Homebuilt system
August 13, 2009 8:13:57 PM

you know, 1500 watts works out to about 2 HP. Wonder how hard it would be to build a computer powered by a a weed eater.
August 13, 2009 8:41:11 PM

wathman said:
you know, 1500 watts works out to about 2 HP. Wonder how hard it would be to build a computer powered by a a weed eater.


LOL. That's a good one. :-) They should figure out how to drop a couple GPU's in a weed eater to make it more intelligent, lol.

-- MaSoP
August 14, 2009 12:50:28 AM

UPDATE: I used my p3 kill-a-watt to test the idle and load wattage. The numbers are lower than expected. My system idles at the desktop at 200watts, fluctuating by a couple watts up or down. When I run 3DMark Vantage Pro, or a game such as Far Cry 2, both at 1280x1024 and high settings (though resolution makes little difference in the results), I still hear the crackling sound which I am positive is emitting from the psu. Even if this psu had low effeciency, putting out 300 watts should be cake especially for a 850 Watt Tier 2 PSU. What gives?

I've ruled out my UPS as being the cause and I have ruled out it being a lack of power, as my system only uses a maximum of about 35% of the 850 watt rated peak power output. Should I call Ultra and complain that I hear crackling again, but this time, only when gaming or running benchmarks with my new grapics card? What else can they do, give me a 1000 watt model? LOL I'm still not sold that this thing is defective. However, I have seen weirder things. :-)

-- MaSoP
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
August 14, 2009 5:04:57 AM

Yep that's why I mentioned 450W being adequate.

If you are sure the noise is coming from the PSU, better ship it off.
August 14, 2009 6:04:02 AM

This sounds like arcing. Have you checked your connections for any debry. If you have been getting the crackling with two different psu attached to the new GPU check the GPU power connectors for particals, a piece of metal won't burn but will cause problems.

Just my 2 cents.
August 14, 2009 11:11:08 AM

darclance said:
This sounds like arcing. Have you checked your connections for any debry. If you have been getting the crackling with two different psu attached to the new GPU check the GPU power connectors for particals, a piece of metal won't burn but will cause problems.

Just my 2 cents.


The old psu made crackling noises all the time for about a week or two before I was able to get it replaced. I was using an x1950 pro at the time, my older graphics card. The x1950 wasn't causing it in the previous psu. I am going to call them today to report the issue though. I'm hoping a replacement will resolve the issue finally.

-- MaSoP
a b B Homebuilt system
August 14, 2009 12:39:50 PM

Another longshot, but thought I'd at least throw it out there. A while back I was living in a really old building, and the electrical was terrible. Thankfully I only lived there for a year, but I still wonder if the desktop I was using at the time would have lasted longer if I had lived in an apartment with better wiring. If you have "dirty power" to start with, there's only so much a UPS can do to clean it up. If you live somewhere that has up to code wiring with no issues, I wouldn't worry about it.
August 14, 2009 12:58:45 PM

wathman said:
Another longshot, but thought I'd at least throw it out there. A while back I was living in a really old building, and the electrical was terrible. Thankfully I only lived there for a year, but I still wonder if the desktop I was using at the time would have lasted longer if I had lived in an apartment with better wiring. If you have "dirty power" to start with, there's only so much a UPS can do to clean it up. If you live somewhere that has up to code wiring with no issues, I wouldn't worry about it.


I'm in a townhome that was built in 1990 and my county is strict about codes. It is very likely that my electrical system is up to par. It's a good point to make though. Thanks! :-)

-- MaSoP
August 14, 2009 4:01:02 PM

Well, I went ahead and contacted Ultra and setup an RMA and am having an advanced replacement sent to me. I'll have it sometime next week, as early as tuesday or wednesday. I didn't want to "eat" the $11 in shipping fees to send out the new 4870 card to newegg, as you have to pay for shipping to return rma items. :-( I'm hoping the psu resolves the issue. All the power issues I've had over the years are just irritating as hell.

-- MaSoP
August 15, 2009 10:01:27 PM

Here is an update. I had to remove my 4870 card as my system started shutting down abruptly without warning during gameplay today when playing bfme2: rotwk. I had to put my x1950 back in to eliminate the power shut down and the crackling sound problems. Man, what a pain in the ass. Perhaps I'm making bad choices in the hardware I buy these days. :-(

-- MaSoP
a b B Homebuilt system
August 17, 2009 12:30:42 PM

masop said:
Here is an update. I had to remove my 4870 card as my system started shutting down abruptly without warning during gameplay today when playing bfme2: rotwk. I had to put my x1950 back in to eliminate the power shut down and the crackling sound problems. Man, what a pain in the ass. Perhaps I'm making bad choices in the hardware I buy these days. :-(

-- MaSoP


I wouldn't say bad choices, maybe just unlucky ones. Which manufacturer made your 4870? Most gfx card makers these days seem to not vary a whole lot in terms of performance if the chips are the same. Quality does vary a bit more, though if the card isn't a dud when you first get it, I haven't noticed a whole lot of problems with the cheaper cards. Only other thing to watch out for is cheaper cards (especially overclocked ones) burning out faster due to poor heat management and/or bad soldering.
August 17, 2009 2:05:13 PM

wathman said:
I wouldn't say bad choices, maybe just unlucky ones. Which manufacturer made your 4870? Most gfx card makers these days seem to not vary a whole lot in terms of performance if the chips are the same. Quality does vary a bit more, though if the card isn't a dud when you first get it, I haven't noticed a whole lot of problems with the cheaper cards. Only other thing to watch out for is cheaper cards (especially overclocked ones) burning out faster due to poor heat management and/or bad soldering.


I suppose. I've had so many power related issues over the past few years, which is why I've been wondering how much bad luck can a single person have. My 4870 is the Asus Dark Knight model. I'm expecting the replacement psu in the next day or two, today if I'm lucky. If the new psu doesn't resolve the 2 problems, then it is either the new 4870 or an issue with the motherboard (Asus M2N-E) in how it regulates, handles and distributes the power, the only other thing I can think of.

In regards to performance, I was surprised how the 4870 1gb can barely handle a full screen of activity (at least half the screen full of enemy troops fighting) in bfme2: rotwk with ultra high settings at 1280x960 resolution. Perhaps my dual-core is bottlenecking the gpu? am I expecting too much? I suppose since the game is dx9 based and from 2006, it isn't optimized to fully utilize the cards capabilities from the get go?

-- MaSoP
August 18, 2009 10:01:45 PM

UPDATE: I replaced the psu with an identical new unit and although when playing FC2, I didn't notice any crackling sound, it still does it a little during the 3D Vantage Benchmark application. It must be the video card. I can't believe it. What gives? A DOA graphics card? I suppose this won't be the last time. It looks like I've got to return it to the egg for a replacement. That is going to cost me $10 shipping. :-(

-- MaSoP
a c 113 B Homebuilt system
August 18, 2009 10:10:25 PM

You sure this isn't just a short somewhere?

Have you run everything outside the case? Maybe even just disconnect all the case stuff and jump the pins to boot it, see if it still crackles.
August 19, 2009 4:04:41 AM

Proximon said:
You sure this isn't just a short somewhere?

Have you run everything outside the case? Maybe even just disconnect all the case stuff and jump the pins to boot it, see if it still crackles.


I'm so fed up with this issue, I'm not in the mood to take down my system to do that. I'm going to try to get free s/h so i can send back that gpu and hope the replacement is ok. If not, than I likely have a mb issue instead. It's rediculous. :-(

-- MaSoP
August 24, 2009 10:05:19 PM

Well, I just received and replaced my 4870 1gb asus with a 4870 1gb sapphire vapor-x. Same damned issue with an electrical crackling sound. What gives? Two psu's and two gpu's and the same problem. The only other thing in the system that can make that kind of noise would be the motherboard itself. *sigh* Anyone know if voltages in the bios could have an impact on the ability to run a 4870 1gb gpu on a m2n-e am2 board?
August 24, 2009 10:09:29 PM

Proximon said:
You sure this isn't just a short somewhere?

Have you run everything outside the case? Maybe even just disconnect all the case stuff and jump the pins to boot it, see if it still crackles.


It may be a pain in the ass, but you need Proximon's advice and see if it resolves anything. Otherwise you're just shooting in the dark.
a b B Homebuilt system
a b Ĉ ASUS
August 24, 2009 10:13:07 PM

Proximon gave you the best advice yet. It's going to take a little effort on your part to figure this out. You can't just keep blindly replacing components. I would follow Proximon's advice and build the system outside the case to eliminate the possibility of a short.

Edit: AMDThunder beat me to it.
!