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CPU overclock or SLI'd GTX 570s?

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June 19, 2011 4:24:44 AM

I recently brought a eVGA GTX 570, with the intent of buying a second one later and SLIing the two. For the meantime, I thought I'd overclock the single 570 and keep the power up until I get the second 570. Using eVGA Precision, I was able to get a stable overclock at 835mhz core and 2060mhz memory. Quite an impressive overclock! But when I ran a few benchmarks, I barely saw a 3fps improvement! I talked about this with someone, and he thought my CPU was being a bottleneck. My CPU is an Intel i7 960 @ 3.20 ghz, and he suggested overclocking it would remove the bottlebneck and allow the GPU overclock to take effect.

I've never overclocked a CPU before, so I went for the less scary route and used Intel Extreme Tuning Utility. I let it do an "aggressively over specifications" autotune overnight on the longest time settings. When I got up in the morning, it was stuck at 27 minutes left. Stuck, not frozen, Windows itself and the program itself were still able to be interacted with, but the Autotune wasn't progressing, so I had to reboot. When Windows returned, here's the changes I noticed that XTU had made:
Core voltage: from 1.100V to 1.260V
Memory voltage: from 1.500V to 1.600V

It says "Your autotune session resulted in the CPU running at 3.46 GHz". It seemed like the overclock had been successful, despite not finishing properly. But when I went to run another benchmark, I noticed there was a "jerk' every three seconds, a jerk that wasen't there before the CPU overclock. Not only that, but the result I got from the benchmark was basically the same as before the Autotune. Resetting my BIOS to default fixed the "jerk" issue.

All I can conclude from this was possibly:
1) Intel XTU didn't do the overclock properly, either because it wasn't able to fully complete the process, or that the program itself has issues.
2) My CPU cannot function properly if overclocked.
3) My CPU gets too hot if overclocked.

Which seems likely? Speaking of heat, I ran a stress test in XTU, and I noticed I was getting temps of around 80c. This seems a little hot, especially when you consider my CPU is watercooled, and my GPU is not, yet my GPU gets similar temps. So I'm thinking my current water cooler is not adequate for overclocking.

So to get to my main question, should I put my plans of a second 570 on the backburner, and focus on the CPU instead? I'm afraid that if I SLI 2x 570s that they will perform like a single 570 because of my CPU. If so, should I look at getting beefier water cooling and learning how to overclock my CPU? My current water cooling system is some sorta all-in-one unit, there's a block on top of the CPU and two tubes to a radiator. No reservoir or separate pump. In my amateur opinion, it looks pretty wimpy, which would explain why I was getting 80c+ temps with a CPU stress test.
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June 19, 2011 8:12:26 AM

Honestly I am not a fan of the In Windows overclocking. Best and most stable way is the BIOS or UEFI. But 80c+ is quite high which means that the water cooler isn't doing its job. It sounds like a all in one water cooling system like a Corsair H50 or H70 but those tend to give nice cooling, at least the same as the best air coolers do.

Either the water cooler is broken (possibly pump or no fan for it) or its mounted wrong. With that yu should hit maybe 60c in stress tests.

As for the benchmark results, sometimes a overclock will help and sometimes it doesn't. I don't think a GTX570 would be bottlenecked by a Core i7 960. What resolution do you play at? Because if its too low then the CPU might be doing all the work.
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June 19, 2011 8:29:02 AM

Quote:
Honestly I am not a fan of the In Windows overclocking. Best and most stable way is the BIOS or UEFI.

The advantage of in-Windows (I can also choose manual settings in XTU) tuning is the GUI is far less threatening than in the BIOS :p  But even then, I'd have to learn how to manually overclock, from what I've read it doesn't look as simple as GPU overclocking where it's basically "bump up core clock little by little until it starts running too hot, the bump it back until it's stable. Repeat with menory clock".

Quote:
But 80c+ is quite high which means that the water cooler isn't doing its job. It sounds like a all in one water cooling system like a Corsair H50 or H70 but those tend to give nice cooling, at least the same as the best air coolers do.

Either the water cooler is broken (possibly pump or no fan for it) or its mounted wrong. With that yu should hit maybe 60c in stress tests.

The water cooling system came with my PC, it's brandless, but it doesn't look like one of Corsair's. But yeah, I get the feeling that it's not doing a very good job too. You think I'd need to replace it if I were to even think about CPU overclocking?

Quote:
As for the benchmark results, sometimes a overclock will help and sometimes it doesn't. I don't think a GTX570 would be bottlenecked by a Core i7 960. What resolution do you play at? Because if its too low then the CPU might be doing all the work.

Really? I'd think since I was able to overclock the core from 732mhz to 835mhz that I'd see more than 3 extra frames. I'm running Heaven Benchmark at 1920x1080 BTW.
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June 19, 2011 3:38:41 PM

fireaza said:
Quote:
Honestly I am not a fan of the In Windows overclocking. Best and most stable way is the BIOS or UEFI.

The advantage of in-Windows (I can also choose manual settings in XTU) tuning is the GUI is far less threatening than in the BIOS :p  But even then, I'd have to learn how to manually overclock, from what I've read it doesn't look as simple as GPU overclocking where it's basically "bump up core clock little by little until it starts running too hot, the bump it back until it's stable. Repeat with menory clock".

Quote:
But 80c+ is quite high which means that the water cooler isn't doing its job. It sounds like a all in one water cooling system like a Corsair H50 or H70 but those tend to give nice cooling, at least the same as the best air coolers do.

Either the water cooler is broken (possibly pump or no fan for it) or its mounted wrong. With that yu should hit maybe 60c in stress tests.

The water cooling system came with my PC, it's brandless, but it doesn't look like one of Corsair's. But yeah, I get the feeling that it's not doing a very good job too. You think I'd need to replace it if I were to even think about CPU overclocking?

Quote:
As for the benchmark results, sometimes a overclock will help and sometimes it doesn't. I don't think a GTX570 would be bottlenecked by a Core i7 960. What resolution do you play at? Because if its too low then the CPU might be doing all the work.

Really? I'd think since I was able to overclock the core from 732mhz to 835mhz that I'd see more than 3 extra frames. I'm running Heaven Benchmark at 1920x1080 BTW.





Just a quick question for you about bottle necking, I just bought a Zotac 570 GTX as was having driver issues with my 8800GTX and feels like its being held back from its potental, on my logitec kboard it says ram is doing 30 odd % and the cpu 90 - 100% work, thinking of upgrading to a i5 2500 cpu but not sure if taking 4 gb of ram out will help out and make the ram work harder in order to help the cpu or is it just BF BC2 cpu hungry ?

Rig details

zxnt tempset case
cooler master 1000w psu
p7n diamond m/board
vista 64 bit
8gb corsair dominator ram
E8500@ 3.16ghz
zotac 570 gtx.

Chees

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June 19, 2011 10:01:58 PM

I don't understand much about bottle-necking myself, but I'll bet removing RAM isn't the answer! As I understand it, some games place more focus on the CPU, and some games the GPU. Hell, I've seen games that run the same no matter which awesome GPU you put in the PC that's running it.
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June 20, 2011 12:50:40 AM

I just recently bought a second 570 SSC from EVGA. Currently using them on an X58 board with a core I7 920 as the CPU. I have my card OC'd to a 900 core clock. Fans running at 85% when the cards hit 70c. CPU is OC'd a little to 3.2 ghz. On the Heaven Benchmark with everything maxed at 1920 / 1080 res I score 1800. I don't think a 960 could bottleneck a 570. The biggest bottleneck in any computer is the HDD. An SSD will fix that. I don't think that's your issue though. You would probably notice a huge difference buying a 2nd GPU. There isn't really anything wrong with the X58 / 960 right now. Your best best would be to get a 2nd card and to wait until the X79 platform comes out later this year. If you have money laying around switch to Z68 and get a 2500k or 2600k
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June 20, 2011 3:37:18 AM

Alex00322 said:
The biggest bottleneck in any computer is the HDD. An SSD will fix that.


ALthough tehinically a true statement, it can be misleading to think that removing this particular bottleneck will do anything to help gaming framerates at all; it will not. It merely speeds up/reduces time loading Windows, starting programs, and in the case of games, time spent loading the next level into memory. (From 30 seconds to 20 seconds is not worth it to me...)
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June 20, 2011 4:13:38 AM

I didn't say it would fix the framerate issue :p 
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June 20, 2011 6:56:02 AM

Alex00322 said:
I just recently bought a second 570 SSC from EVGA. Currently using them on an X58 board with a core I7 920 as the CPU. I have my card OC'd to a 900 core clock. Fans running at 85% when the cards hit 70c. CPU is OC'd a little to 3.2 ghz. On the Heaven Benchmark with everything maxed at 1920 / 1080 res I score 1800. I don't think a 960 could bottleneck a 570. The biggest bottleneck in any computer is the HDD. An SSD will fix that. I don't think that's your issue though. You would probably notice a huge difference buying a 2nd GPU. There isn't really anything wrong with the X58 / 960 right now. Your best best would be to get a 2nd card and to wait until the X79 platform comes out later this year. If you have money laying around switch to Z68 and get a 2500k or 2600k

My original plan was to get a second 750 and SLI the two, but when I heard that my CPU may be a bottleneck, I was worried that if i went and brought a second 570 that I might not see any difference. You're saying that won't be the case?
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June 20, 2011 7:39:55 AM

Don't even try to OC with your current cooling solution. Sorry, but 80°c is far too high to be stable or secure, and will be even less so with SLI or a more powerful CPU.

The first thing you need to do, before you put anything else new componets into the computer is to make it stable by sorting out your cooling. You can't add new parts to an unstable computer - it's like trying to build a castle on shaky foundations, and believe me, sooner or later your castle will fall and you'll be left paying for/picking up the pieces.

Sort out your cooling, THEN sort out bottlenecks. Current problems>other upgrades, especially if your problem will both get worse with time, and will get worse if you put more gear in.

-Nih
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June 20, 2011 8:10:57 AM

Nihilis said:
Don't even try to OC with your current cooling solution. Sorry, but 80°c is far too high to be stable or secure, and will be even less so with SLI or a more powerful CPU.

The first thing you need to do, before you put anything else new componets into the computer is to make it stable by sorting out your cooling. You can't add new parts to an unstable computer - it's like trying to build a castle on shaky foundations, and believe me, sooner or later your castle will fall and you'll be left paying for/picking up the pieces.

Sort out your cooling, THEN sort out bottlenecks. Current problems>other upgrades, especially if your problem will both get worse with time, and will get worse if you put more gear in.

-Nih

I just ran a CPU stress test (un-overclocked), highest temp was 75C for a brief moment, average was around 70C. Too hot? Normal?
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June 20, 2011 8:23:36 AM

^ I'm a cool freak (literally - my computer is so cool it doesn't break 45°c at full load) so take what I say with a pinch of salt. However, I would say you need to sort out your cooling system. The fact that your watercooler is unbranded isn't an ideal situation to be in, and any watercooler installed shouldn't allow your system to go above 65°c. It may be that the cooling fluid inside your system needs replacing (all in one systems do need their fluid replacing after 3 years on average.) Or it's just a crappy cooler, which does seem likely seeing as it was included with the PC and is unbranded.

Again, my vote goes for stabilising your PC before you put anything else in. Heat problems increase as time goes on (dust, system damage, wear and tear, age) so it won't get any better, especially if you put more components in.

However, obviously it's up to you :) 
-Nih
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June 20, 2011 9:32:31 AM

My cooler is unbranded, but it looks just like one of Corsair's only with a different shell over the pump, so I suspect it's a Corsair that was modded by my PC's manufacturer. Having said that, should a Corsair all-in-one run at an average of 70c when un-overclocked? My PC is only a year old, so the fluid shouldn't need replacing just yet, not to mention these all-in-ones are suppose to be maintainence-free.

If I had to get better CPU cooling, what would be a good choice? I see that Corsair sell a similar all-in-one water cooler that's gotten good reviews (the 50 I think it was). Or would I be better off with a more beefy water cooling system and looking into CPU overclocking (assuming that CPU overclocking isn't a total joke like my experiences in GPU overclocking has been)? I've seen a nice, simple-looking water cooling kit from Thermaltake, and the radiator looks to be the same size as my current one. The only problem is I'd need to make room for the pump and reservoir. About the only place I can see it fitting is below my drive bays, but I'd need to remove/move my PCI fan.
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June 20, 2011 2:07:33 PM

I opt for air cooling. Never even considered liquid cooling, so I'm the wrong guy to ask about that I'm afraid.

Good luck with whatever you choose! :) 
-Nih
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June 20, 2011 3:33:21 PM

I was reading on a forum where a guy had overclocked his i7 960 to 4ghz (air cooled) and his temps never went above 68c during a 8 hour stress test. Considering mine is hitting 70c un-overclocked, I'd say my cooler is kinda crap :p 

So yeah, it sounds like I'm in need of a better cooling system. I guess I should start a new topic specifically on this idea, rather than trying to re-direct this thread :p 
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June 20, 2011 3:33:35 PM

Best answer selected by fireaza.
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