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ATI 5970 and Artifacts (Dragon Age)

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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July 7, 2010 2:59:25 PM


System Specs:

Motherboard - XFX nForce 680i SLI - LGA775 Socket
Videocard - ASUS 5970
CPU - Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Wolfdale 3.16GHz 6MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor
Memory - 4gb DDR2
PSU - OCZ-XS 700w
Case - Antec P182
Monitor - Westinghouse 37" 37w3 (DVI connection)
HDDs - 2 x Sata 500GB WD 7200RPM + 1 x IDE 500GB WD 7200RPM
CD/DVD - Installing ASUS CD/DVD Soon
Fans - 2 x 120mm exhaust + 1 x 120mm near PSU
OS - Windows 7 Professional 64bit
ATI Driver - 10.6 + CCC

Problem:

Uninstalled my old XFX 8800GT SLI setup and installed my ATI 5970. I uninstalled drivers but did not use Driver Sweeper. Install went smoothly and had system up and running after I rearranged cables in my case. Temps at idle are 53c and load reach 81c. (WOW of all things runs it the hottest)

Fired up Dragon Age: Origins and started playing. At first I had dual monitors on my system, but 2D + 3D didn't work well. Apparently there is a known issue with running both and the game would flash black and then come back repeatedly.

Turned everything up on DA:o  and it ran smooth. After 5 minutes into the game, I started noticing artifacts appearing during the dialog scenes. They were not present during any of the main gameplay areas. After a few hours, they started showing up in my Character Doll window's background when I pull it up.

Artifact Description: They begin as small randomly placed boxes in the background of the dialog areas. On walls, tree lines and even randomly blank areas. They are usually greenish tint and sometimes red or purple. During the cutscenes, the artifacts can be covered up by any of the characters as they walk, move or do any other movement that would cover up the artifacts. The artifacts seem to pulse slightly.

Here are my thoughts:

1) My friend and I bought the same card at the same time. I believe he is willing to pull his card to let me test his card to see if I get the same artifacts. I will also put my card in his system and have him run the same game to see what he experiences. This may be the best (easiest) option.

2) Uninstall and reinstall ATI Driver. Use Driver Sweeper to make sure all NVIDIA and ATI drivers are removed before the reinstall.

3) Reinstall Win7 64bit on a secondary HDD to see if the same problem occurs. I'd REALLY like to avoid doing this because it is so time consuming, but it is what it is right?

Any other suggestions? I've searched around the net and have found very little about ATI and artifacts in Dragon Age. I played a bit of Team Fortress 2 last night and didn't notice any problems. I haven't tried many other games, but as soon as my ASUS CD/DVD drive comes in, I'll be playing Battlefield Bad Company 2 again. That should be a good test of the card.



Ninefingers



One more thing... it seems that Dragon Age and TF2 are a bit... well jumpy. I'll be running forward and I can tell that the game seems to ever so slightly catch and then go again. This isn't an obvious issue, but once I started noticing it, it really started to bother me. Could it be because my card is just too crazy fast for my system and the other parts of my system causing it to slow itself down?
July 7, 2010 3:05:59 PM

perform option #2 first, if the issue continues then swap with your friend and see if he has a similar issue. i don't think option #3 would solve anything.

as for the "jumpy", turn on the in game v-sync. DA also likes 3+ cores so it could just be a lag spike here and there.
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July 7, 2010 3:46:04 PM

It could be your processor or memory as well since the graphics card is not the only thing that draws the models.

Test your card on your friends computer as well.
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July 7, 2010 3:51:11 PM

I'll try the uninstall / reinstall first. Also work on using Vsync. (I always assumed that Vsync was a bad thing to use. Have I been wrong all this time?)

Thanks for the advice. I'll update what I find out.
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July 7, 2010 4:59:47 PM

V-Sync is a good thing. It ensures that whole frames are rendered before refreshing the screen which can eliminate artifacts.

Though V-Sync would uses more resources and can hinder performance if your computer is not powerful enough. So most people keep it turned off.
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July 8, 2010 2:57:21 PM

UPDATE:

1) V-Sync is on.
2) Uninstalled driver. Drivers Sweeper in Safemode. Reinstalled ATI CCC + DRIVER 10.6

Fired up Dragon Age: Origins to see if the problem returned.

Everything is maxed except AA which is set to 2x.

Game runs smooth and perfect. Dialog screens were fine. I then decided to check display options and bumped up the AA to 4x.

Artifacts IMMEDIATELY appeared. (There was not a warm up time or anything. Just an immediate thing)

When I dropped it back to 2x, they disappeared. I then pushed them up to 8x. Immediately more artifacts appeared than at 4x. When I dropped it back down to 2x, they went away again.

After that, artifacts only appeared when at AA 2x when the 2d loading screen appeared.

Any thoughts as to:

1) What could cause 4x and 8x to immediately show artifacts when changed?
2) For my system specs, 700PSU is clearly enough to run the card right?
3) Should the next step be to get my friend's card to test it? (Same brand, model etc I just hate to ask him to pull his card when his system is fine. I just think this is the only way to know know know if it is my videocard and if I need to RMA it.)

That's what I tested last night. Any other advice?

Ninefingers
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Best solution

July 8, 2010 3:20:52 PM

It is not your CPU or RAM. Artifacts are generated from faulty or overheating video cards. After reading about your AA experiments, I get the feeling that one of the GPUs has a flaw.

Run ATItool and see if your scan brings up artifacts. You need to figure out if this is related to DA only or if your card is indeed artifacting under stress. While you are running ATItool scans, use GPUz to monitor your temps. How hot do your GPUs get after a good 10 minutes of full load?

Have a look at your fan control as well. Are you on auto? Go to manual and bump them up to 50-60% and see if you get less or longer-delayed artifacting. That could be an indication that something is overheating.

If ATItool is showing artifacts then you have a defective card and you should get a new one.

If you have the ability to look at it in a different system definitely do that. Or alternatively, use your friends card in DA and see if it does the same. That will tell you a lot too. Good luck!

Edit: You may even want to try running the Heaven benchmark where you can select the AA/AF levels. Max everything out and see if you get artifacts in here too.
http://unigine.com/download/

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July 8, 2010 3:35:14 PM

Thanks for the fast reply.

ATITool is bugging out on me. There are 3 or 4 different .27 betas out there. None of them seem to want to install correctly on my Win7 64bit system.

The only version I installed that actually "ran" on my system was the .27b2 version. It could not detect my card for some reason, but it did let me scan for artifacts. I didn't let it go over 8 or so minutes because I wasn't sure it was actually doing it's job.

After reinstall of driver, I installed latest beta driver .27b4 and tried to run it. As soon as I asked the .exe to run, my whole system locked up. My system doesn't appear to like ATITOOL for some reason. I'll reinstall b2 and see if I can scan for artifacts again if you think it will give an accurate reading of artifacts. (I think it may)

A few support threads regarding ATITOOL:

http://forums.techpowerup.com/showthread.php?t=100303 (I have not tried to disable driver signature enforcement yet)

ATITOOL Beta4 - http://www.softpedia.com/get/Tweak/Video-Tweak/ATITool....

http://forums.techpowerup.com/showthread.php?t=45596&pa...

Maybe I'll try 27b3 next.

Are there any other artifact detector tools out there for ATI cards?

GPU-Z is showing @ 75c - 78c while playing after a few hours.

Thanks again for the advice all.

Ninefingers
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July 8, 2010 7:25:53 PM

More info:

Got ATITOOL .27b2 running on my PC. It wasn't perfect, but it did let me scan for artifacts. I let it run during lunch (@15 minutes) and it did not find any artifacts.

With GPU-Z open, I watched as it took on 99% load and the temp went topped out at 75c. This seemed a bit low, so while running ATITOOL I opened MSI Afterburner OC program to verify temps.

Temps were correct, but it said my 2nd GPU was at 0% utilization during the ATITOOL test. I tried to double check to make sure I was reading that correctly. Will ATITOOL only measure 1 GPU?

Ninefingers
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July 8, 2010 9:37:32 PM

Ah yeah, I have had ATItool lock my system up before. I think the last stable version was .26

http://www.techpowerup.com/atitool/

Maybe because it is an old version it doesn't like the 5970 for some reason. Who knows.

I am not too familiar with GPUz and how it shows info for a 5970. I think it should look like an xfire setup where at the bottom, you should have two "cards" to select from. You should be able to see each GPU individually and under a full load (scanning with ATItool) you should be able to switch back and forth and see a load on each GPU. Does that work? I would just get a second reading and not trust MSI afterburner just yet.

If you are indeed having a GPU issue, maybe you need to roll back to a previous ATI driver like 10.5 or older.

Have you tried the Heaven benchmark? I like that one because you can set the AA and AF settings. That should give you another idea on how specific these artifacts are.
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July 9, 2010 2:22:19 AM

Oh wow.

Oh...

Wow...

Artifact CITY.

When I first ran Heaven at Dx11, 4xAA, 1920x1080, non-vsync it seemed to run ok.

While the demo was running, I enabled vsync and it all went to hell. HUGE STARLIKE artifacts flying all over the screen. The screen started flickering.

Sanctuary had little colored dots on the side of the screen and Tropics had something similar to Heaven.

Temps maxed out @ 80ish so not too bad there.

I'm afraid I have a bad card. I'll see if I can borrow my friend's card and give it a go before doing anything else to my system.

Sad times.

Ninefingers
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July 9, 2010 2:31:16 AM

On the Tropics demo I can get it to look alright as long as I don't enable any AA. As soon as I enable it, the artifacts appear. If I go to 8xAA it is horrible.

Heaven demo always has artifacts now.

Frustrating.
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July 13, 2010 3:50:58 AM

My friend has the exact same card and game as I. I put my card in his system to test it and artifacts started showing up. It is my card. Working on an RMA now.

Thanks again for all the advice and help.

Ninefingers
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July 13, 2010 3:52:07 AM

Best answer selected by Ninefingers.
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