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Poor performance with GTX 260 - Bottleneck?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 16, 2010 11:20:51 AM

Hello there.

I just bought a new GTX 260. Unfortunately, I think the performance is somewhat poor.

First of all, that's my hardware specs:
CPU: C2D E7200 @ 3.42 Ghz
RAM: 4 GB DDR2-800 @ 720Mhz (couldn't adjust ratio with FSB, so I left it underclocked 1:1)
MB: MSI P35Neo-F
PSU: Seventeam ST500PCG
GPU: XFX GTX 260/216 SP. Core Edition.
Drivers: 196.21

I've tested so far in Crysis (using the benchmark tool, gpu_benchmark map), BFBC2 and 3DMark Vantage. I'm running the games at 1650x1050.
In Crysis, I've got 36 FPS average, High details, no AA, Dx10. What's interesting is that when my CPU was OC'd to 3 GHz I couldn't get more than 28 FPS average. So I believe it was a bottleneck issue. Testing in DX9 I get 46 FPS average.
In BFBC2, there are some levels that are really painful to play and I get 20 FPS sometimes, my settings are on High, HBAO Off no AA. I haven't done any benchmarks, so I don't know how to tell exactly how is the performance, but it should be better. I also noticed that decreasing the graphics details don't make any significant improvements in FPS.
What worries me most is the the GPU Score at Vantage. I get a score of 7,4k. I tried some overclocking and it increased to 8,4k, which i think is still too low. I tried with my CPU at 3 GHz and 3.4 Ghz and the results were quite the same.

I'll be testing my scores using 3Dmark06 as soon as I get some time home (which will probably be only Thursday), but from what I've heard it is CPU dependant, so I dunno.

I don't know where the problem may be, I think the CPU bottleneck would be gone, or at least very decreased, at 3.4GHz. If it was the PSU, my system would hang and show some blue screens, am I right?

Sorry for my English. Regards.
a b Î Nvidia
March 16, 2010 11:29:19 AM

A 3.4ghz e7XXX C2D wouldn't bottleneck it at all. You have to remember, the GTX260 isn't necessarily one of the best cards out there.
In Crysis you should be getting around 42FPS with that card, though.
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March 16, 2010 11:30:18 AM

Could be the fact that your CPU is only a dual core. If there's any way to try a C2Q in your rig that would be a big help as you could see if the bottleneck lifts somewhat.
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March 16, 2010 11:46:47 AM

@shadow187: I also believe that I should get 40+ FPS using DX10, despite any possible bottleneck.

@Griffolion: Actually, I was thinking about upgrading my CPU as well, but I'll only be able to afford it in one or two months. I'll possibly buy a Q9550, but now I'm afraid that I won't get any performance increase at all. There's no way to test a C2Q just to be sure btw. Those are somewhat hard to find and very expensive where I live.

What about my Vantage score? It performs very badly, I notice some stuttering at the first scenes, don't know if it's normal.
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a b Î Nvidia
March 16, 2010 11:48:50 AM

Your graphical power would have increased from 3.0->3.4ghz if there was a bottleneck, which you say it didn't.
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March 16, 2010 11:54:27 AM

shadow187 said:
Your graphical power would have increased from 3.0->3.4ghz if there was a bottleneck, which you say it didn't.

It didn't in the Vantage's GPU Score. When benchmarking Crysis, however, it increased from 28 to 36 average FPS.
I can't stabilize a more powerful overclock to check if the bottleneck is gone, though.
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a b Î Nvidia
March 16, 2010 11:56:30 AM

Ah, I see where you're at.
See if you can get it to 3.6ghz by upping the voltage a knotch.
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a b Î Nvidia
March 16, 2010 12:51:10 PM

I expect your being CPU bottlenecked in the games you've tested, both Crysis and BFBC2 are very demanding on the CPU (and GPU).

If your running vantage in 1280x1024 then you are most deffinately being CPU bottlenecked.
Remember Mhz isn't everything, your E7200 only has 3MB of Cache and a 1066FSB (stock)
A Q9550 would deffinately increase your FPS.
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March 17, 2010 10:49:34 AM

Rustyy117 said:
I expect your being CPU bottlenecked in the games you've tested, both Crysis and BFBC2 are very demanding on the CPU (and GPU).

If your running vantage in 1280x1024 then you are most deffinately being CPU bottlenecked.
Remember Mhz isn't everything, your E7200 only has 3MB of Cache and a 1066FSB (stock)
A Q9550 would deffinately increase your FPS.

I believe I'm running Vantage at low resolutions, haven't realized that it made the test even more CPU dependant.
I don't know how the points are calculated in Vantage, but will try to set it to higher resolutions and see how it works with the GPU Score.

I'll be able to test more aggressive overclocking tomorrow, since I went to a Dream Theater show yesterday, slept like 3 hours and now am at work, heh.

I'll post any further results. Thanks for the advice.
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a b Î Nvidia
March 17, 2010 2:18:46 PM

At lower resolutions the GPU can output more FPS, lets say at 1280 x 1024 a 260 can output 70 FPS, but the CPU can only keep up as far as 50FPS, so your performance will be capped at 50FPS.

As you go into higher resolutions, say 1920 x 1080 your GPU is no longer able to output 70FPS and can now only output 30 FPS, so now the GPU is the bottleneck.

It gets alittle more complex than that though, A CPU bottleneck will be worse if your playing a game thats very CPU dependant like BFBC2 that can use 4 cores

Let us know how you get on with your overclocking.
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March 18, 2010 11:29:12 PM

Alright guys, I tried unsuccessfully to stabilize the overclock to 3.6GHz.
Since I'm using the stock cooler, I do not want to push the vcore over 1.35v. I guess my motherboard isn't really helpful now.

So I'll come to my next question: In my country, the difference between a Q9400 and a Q9550 is about 100 USD. Is it worth the extra cache and almost insignificant 0.2 Ghz? In the shop I use to buy my hardware the Q9550 isn't even box, it's an OEM version.
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a b Î Nvidia
March 18, 2010 11:53:51 PM

More L2 Cache is good for gaming, though I doubt the difference is worth $100. Spend the $100 on a good cooler, though it won't cost nearly that much, ;) .
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