Q8200 CPU bottlenecking a sapphire 5850 extreme?


System Spec:
Q8200 @ 2.3Ghz Yorkfield
Asus P5Q-E Mobo
Cosair 650w power supply
Sapphire 5850 Extreme
Windows 7 64 bit

I recently upgraded to a 5850 from my 4850, which was starting to show its age on a few of my more demanding games, however since upgrading I've noticed no improvement, and in some cases like GTA4, a decrease in performance.

I followed the installation instructions to the letter, and after using DriverCleaner to get rid of my old drivers managed to get my card up and running on Catalyst Control Centre 11.5, but have had no improvement in any of my games.

A few benchmarks: I use a 1360x768 resolution for my monitor and I have anti-aliasing on at 4x for all these games.

Company of Heroes high settings; 4850 around 50 fps, 5850 60 fps
Unigine Heaven, Direct X 11 and Tessellation on; Average 31fps (not tested on 4850)
GTA IV Medium settings, v-sync on, definition on; 4850 around 30fps, 5850 less than 20! Playing I rarely get above 20 on the 5850.
FarCry2, High settings; both 4850 and 5850 just about playable on high settings around 25fps, but any higher it becomes unplayable.

So I would like to know, is this problem due to me not getting rid of my old drivers properly, or am I being bottlenecked by my CPU? Should a q8200 quad core be bottlenecking quite so much? I know GTA IV is quite a processor intensive game, whic would explain such poor performance, but still it shouldn't be performing worse than a 4850 I am quite sure.

I am thinking about sticking all my important stuff on an external HDD, wiping my hard drive and re-installing windows (to make sure the old drivers are gone) and then perhaps overclocking my CPU to help a bit, but I wanted your advice, is there anything I could've missed? would registry entries for the old drivers be responsible? I am sure I deleted most of them but I am cautious about what I delete from my registry so may have missed some. I wasn't expecting this card to perform as well as the benchmarks I've seen online, due to my system, but this seems unusually slow.

I plan on upgrading to an i7 setup at around christmas time, and bought this card to be used in a newer system I plan to build.
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  1. I would say it definitely is a CPU bottleneck. At lower resolutions like 1360x768 games tend to be more CPU bound than GPU bound, your card is definitely not operating at full load, and you certainly should be getting much better framerates than you are. I have a 6870 which is roughly equivalent to a 5850 and despite how badly coded GTA IV is, I typically will at least average out at 30FPS using the higher graphical settings at 1080p. I am using a much faster CPU though, an i5 760, 2.8 GHz.

    Problem is a lot of games are not properly multithreaded, so the slower quad core is not advantageous. Some games will only use two cores, and 2.3 GHz simply isn't fast enough to run most games at high settings. GTA IV is one of the few games that will use all cores to their fullest, but it needs a really fast quad core for optimum performance due to the horrible porting job Rockstar did.

    Aside from a CPU upgrade, all I can suggest is that if possible, try to overclock your CPU, that should help alleviate the bottleneck. Use CCleaner to clean out the registry, if there is leftover driver data, that will get rid of it. Honestly, I don't think it is really a driver problem, most problems involving leftover drivers from an old card tend to occur when switching from ATI to nvidia or vice versa.
  2. Like supernova said, your CPU is definitely the major bottleneck there. I ran an E7500 2.93ghz for a while and it wasn't fast enough at stock clocks to keep a GTX 460 happy, which is in a similar performance range. I overclocked it to 3.2ghz and that helped a little. Socket 775 CPUs can be had for pretty cheap, maybe see if your motherboard supports one of the higher clocked ones, you might be able to throw $50-60 at it and have a substantial improvement.
  3. check 3D score of your 5850 with your CPU running at stock and then OC it a bit to see if you get increase with your 5850, if so then your CPU bottlenecks it.
  4. Your 4850 was already bottlenecked by a 2.3ghz cpu.
  5. If you need to prove it out before spending money you could mildly OC the quad by 200 or so Mhz. If you see a direct increase in FPS you can guarantee you're bottle-necked by the CPU.

    We all already know you're limited by the timid clocks of the Q8200 though.
  6. Thanks for your advice guys, really wish I'd have got a Q9400 instead now when I built this rig!

    Looking around, looks like Q8200 isn't a very good overclocker, the best I've seen is 2.63Mhz stable, so I'm not sure even overclocking will do the trick,

    One again, thanks!
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