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2yr old Rig not performing to expectations

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August 10, 2011 8:05:11 PM

Hey all,

Forgive me if this isn't the right forum for this, I have some general questions about my rig (this is the first I've built and it's ~2 years old).

First the specs:
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core HDZ955FBGIBOX
MB: ASUS M4A78-E AM2+/AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard
RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit - (Was thinking of upping but I don't really ever see my 4gb being completely utilized as it is.)
GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 896MB
HDD: Seagate Barracuda LP 1TB 5900 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s - (Looking at getting another, higher RPM (or possible SSD))
PSU: OCZ ModXStream Pro 700W Modular High Performance Power Supply - (700W too puny, mayhap?)
Optical Drive: Sony Optiarc 24X DVD/CD RW SATA - OEM - (Who even uses these anymore? ;) )
Case: NZXT TEMPEST Crafted Series CS-NT-TEM-B Mid Tower
Wirless N Adapter: D-Link DWA-552 32-bit PCI Xtreme Desktop Adapter

Running Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit. Last format/reinstall was about a year ago.

So I mainly use my PC for Gaming/work. Obviously gaming puts more stress on my machine than anything so my questions stem from there.
Lately I've been playing some open world "Sandbox" games which are generally heavy on any machine (especially with graphics turned up high).

The main issue is that I feel like my rig should be performing better than what it is. Lately during some GTA IV sessions, I've noticed my GPU gets very hot (~80-90 °C). I'm still getting around 30-45 FPS pretty consistently, but I'm forced to lower some of the graphics (water, shadows, distance rendered, etc). I've been reading some people that installed High Res Texture mods to GTA with a similar rig to mine being able to run the game on MAX settings with no problems.

So this lead me to seek out some info on benchmarking and stress testing. I read an awesome article on stress testing that featured different hardware monitoring and benchmarking software (HWmonitor, prime95, Memtest86+, etc), but I'm kind of lost as to what to do with them. I mean, if prime95 spits out some stats for me, what do I do with that info?

Also, another random problem I had while actually building the machine: Asus directed me to install my GPU in the second PCIE slot and put the "ASUS VGA switch card" in the first slot. This "...allows the second PCIE _x16 slot to run at full x16 mode..." The problem is, when I do that, I get no display whatsoever, just a black screen on the monitor (That's plugging it in via DVI to either of the graphics card ports or the MB port). So basically I've been running it without the VGA switch card (the graphics card is in the first PCIE slot, the second PCIE is vacant). Is that bad?

Any help would be appreciated, sorry for the lengthy post.

Sincerely,

Dazed and Confused.

More about : 2yr rig performing expectations

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a b B Homebuilt system
August 10, 2011 8:27:40 PM

Your motherboard should have 2 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 to run x16 single or dual x8. You should check to make sure. It's usually the first one that's PCIe 2.0 x16. You should be getting around high 40s fps. What resolution are you playing at?

My [free] suggestions are to update to most recent driver for your gtx 260 and to consider overclocking it using MSI Afterburner. I wouldn't go overboard with the program. Bump up with small increments at a time. I would focus on the first two which I believe to be core clock and memory clock. I don't remember sorry.

My [paid] suggestion is a faster hard drive but that's probably not worth the extra money if your drive works fine right now. I would suggest the samsung spinpoint f3 for $60. It's the performance king out of any 1TB. Budget friendly and great performance.

There's no bottleneck by the way so no need to upgrade other parts. I would consider a side fan or two as exhaust to pull out the hot air your gpu dumps out.
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August 10, 2011 8:50:15 PM

Wintermint,

Thanks for the suggestions!

Manual says the first PCIE is "...at max. x8 link" and the second (bottom) is "...at max. x16 link". So I've been running my card at x8 this whole time?

I'm running at full Res. 1900x1200. V-sync is off, Shadows down to Medium (from Very High), Water down to Low (From Very High). The rest is High-Very High. Anti-Aliasing is x4 I think.

My expectations aren't unrealistic, I realize ol' Bessy (el computador) is beginning to show her age. I just want to make sure she's running the best she can for the next year or two before my Post-Grad education starts.

I updated the drivers this past week, so they should be solid.

I might look at a new HDD. Our little girl is 1yr old (this past week), and we have a stockpile of 1080 HD home videos and several hundred RAW format pics we've taken over the past year that has, with other media, practically filled my 1TB External, so I have an excuse anyway;). It'll also give me a chance for a fresh install of Windows. I'm a CCleaner/Defraggler fanatic and I keep my rig clean of mess, but I still like to format/reinstall once every year or two just because I've gone through a lot of games.

I'm hesitant to overclock for pure lack of experience, and I feel like my machine runs kind of hot as it is. You know of any good guides/sources I could read up on to get to know the subject better?

Thanks again for the help!

J-mo.
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 10, 2011 9:03:34 PM

one posibility is to get a newer GPU than the 260. For cool running and better 1920x1080 performance consider a GTx 460, GTX 560 base model (not the ti), HD 6850 or HD6870. which will run from from $155-$190 depending on the model. you coudl go even higher (GTX 560ti/HD6950) but those run in the $225-250 range.

as for overclocking the 955, its as simile as increasing the multiplier in the bios. You can easily get the 955 into 965/970 speeds on the stock cooler.
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August 11, 2011 1:10:01 AM

ScrewySqrl said:
one posibility is to get a newer GPU than the 260. For cool running and better 1920x1080 performance consider a GTx 460, GTX 560 base model (not the ti), HD 6850 or HD6870. which will run from from $155-$190 depending on the model. you coudl go even higher (GTX 560ti/HD6950) but those run in the $225-250 range.

as for overclocking the 955, its as simile as increasing the multiplier in the bios. You can easily get the 955 into 965/970 speeds on the stock cooler.



Yeah a 460 is best for price, 560 best OC and 6950 has best stock, I really think that your 260 thermal paste is buring out.
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August 11, 2011 11:46:58 PM

Best answer selected by j-mo.
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