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Am I asking too much? AMD 6950

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
June 20, 2011 4:22:52 PM


I've recently gone through two AMD 6950 cards. One through XFX (6950 1gb) and the other through MSI (6950 2gb). Neither performed well for my tastes and I'm starting to wonder if I need to save my money and buy a more expensive card... perhaps I'm just asking too much out of them?

My 3d Mark 06 and 11 tests put my existing card (AMD 4870) as neck and neck with both of my 6950s. 06 was between 14,000 and 15,000 for both cards. 11 didn't test the 4870 since it didn't have Direct X 11 (obviously), but that capped out at about 4650 for the 6950s.

My point is, I spent about $150 almost 4 years ago for a 4870. Now i'm spending $300 for either 6950 and they aren't performing any better than my 4870. In fact, when I Play Call of Duty: black ops, my 4870 actually runs it a little better. I can play it at 16x10 with 4x AA, 16xAF, trilinear and maintain an average FPS of about 60.

For both 6950s, that same set up my FPS drops to an average of about 40 or so. I have to turn everything down in order for it to do a little better.

I feel like I wasted my money and am thinking that in order to do better i'll have to save my money and get a 6970 before I start seeing an improvement in gaming performance.

I didn't overclock the 6950s beyond what is possible in the Catalyst GUI. I did not flash the bios in the 6950 2gb.

Again, am I being too unfair to these cards?

My specs are:

CPU: Intel i7 930
MOBO: ASUS P6X58D-E LGA 1366 Intel X58
RAM: G.Skill 6gb PC3 10666
PSU: Corsair 650 watt

Thanks a lot.

More about : amd 6950

June 20, 2011 5:21:15 PM

Thanks for the quick reply. when you say "driver updates" I assume you mean the graphics drivers? I'm using Catalyst 11.5 which is recommended by both hardware manufacturers.

Other than graphics, what other drivers should I be updating? Motherboard? Processor? After a quick check of ASUS's site, the most recent chipset driver is dated 2009 and I bought this MOBO in 2010 so I have the most recent chipset drivers.

I know on paper the 6950 is twice as powerful as the 4870, but performance wise they just don't cut it. Perhaps I'm doing something wrong, but I can't see that as being the case. I've been modding computers since 1993, and building them since 1999.

I just assumed that if I installed these cards, my games should run a little better. Not "a ton" better per se, but I'd be happy with 25-40% increase in performance.

Honestly, all I'm trying to do is to get COD:BO to never dip below 125 FPS with all the graphics turned down low. I.e., 0 AA, 0 AF, low textures, no shadows, bilinear filtering.

I don't want it to be pretty, just fast. But when I do want it pretty, I don't want it running @ 40fps either.

Thanks again.
Related resources
June 20, 2011 5:57:38 PM

Hmmm, well I am running PCI-E 2.0 x16, perhaps I need to update my bios for it to take full advantage of a 2.1 card. I know its fully backwards compatible, but perhaps my MOBO is not seeing all aspects of a 2.1 card...

I'll look into it on ASUS's support site and let you know. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.
June 20, 2011 6:05:22 PM

Wow, i can't believe it but I'm running the original BIOS version. I'm going to flash it tonight with the most recent (I'm 5 versions behind!) one.

I'll post my findings.

thanks again!
June 21, 2011 4:32:47 AM

I've updated the BIOS to the most recent one for the MOBO and its still performing the same. Again, the 3d Mark 06 is 16,500, versus my 4870 which was about 14,500.

Any other suggestions or should I just return this thing?

June 21, 2011 5:00:38 AM

I think it is not the 6950's fault that you have low fps especially in cod:bo which is not a too demanding gaming,with the 6950 you could easy get 100fps minimum at resolution of 1080p.You system if pretty fast but i suggest testing it on another pc and see what happens also install the gpu in a diferent pcie slot(if you havent tryied yet).
a c 216 U Graphics card
a b À AMD
June 21, 2011 6:18:15 AM

I suggest you don't use 3d Mark 06 as your test benchmark. At the very least, use 3dmark Vantage. 06 is very dated, and you are likely being bottlenecked by your CPU due to the low clocks on your stock i7 and 06's inability to truely stress your card. When using really old games to test, your card won't be tested very accurately.

Your 3dmark11 score was about right for the card. Perhaps a touch low, but again, that could be due to stock settings.

Try 3dmark Vantage and give us an update.
a b U Graphics card
June 21, 2011 10:02:43 AM

I would be doing research on software tools to thoroughly clean/remove all traces of old drivers....

It seems inconceivable that the 6950 is not massively improving framerates at any decently high resolution....and a performance *decrease* tells us for sure something is wrong.
June 21, 2011 2:46:47 PM

I have 3 PCI-E slots but only 2 of them work b/c due to the positioning of the MOBO and the PSU. I've tried both, no difference between the two.

GPU-Z shows the slot is truly PCI-E 2.0 x16, so its communicating correctly.

3d Mark Vantage is showing 13,300 which is 2000 less than the 6870 and 5 to 6000 less than a 6950.

Something is holding it back, I agree... or the card is just faulty. But I don't know what else to rule out. I don't have access to another computer to put this card into.

Removing all traces of old drivers usually means registry corruption. I use REVO uninstaller to remove registry files that are left behind, so that's not likely the issue.

a c 216 U Graphics card
a b À AMD
June 21, 2011 3:12:02 PM

Do you run with Smart Doctor or other 3d party software that tweaks your graphics card?

Oh, one other thing to check. Open up MSI afterburner or GPU Z to see what the clocks are running at while you game or test. It's possible the clocks are not hitting their proper mark. It's also possible your PSU isn't giving it enough juice and it's powering down.
June 21, 2011 4:57:55 PM

I do not run with Smart Doctor or anything like that. I set my 3d settings manually, as I've always done since my MOH:AA days. I usually tweak towards performance rather than quality

I ran GPU-z and logged the clock speeds during a 3d mark vantage test. The clock speeds idled at 400mhz and jumped to their set max when under heavy load.

is that normal? would I get better performance if I was somehow able to force the clock speeds to remain at their max?

As far as PSUs are concerned, I guess its possible that it's starting to fail, though I'm not seeing any signs of it. The computer is stable, never shuts off randomly. I checked ATI's approved list and it's on there.

I bought the PSU several computer builds ago, back in 2008. I don't know what the average lifespan of a gaming PSU is.
a c 216 U Graphics card
a b À AMD
June 21, 2011 5:03:58 PM

Under 3d gaming, it should always be at 800+mhz. Since it shows 400mhz idle, I assume you have 2 monitors? If all that is true, that's not the problem.

If while in a 3d game, and you see the clocks dropping from it's 3D settings on anything but loading screens, it's throttling, possibly due to lack of power.

Your Vantage score is definitely lower than I'd expect.
a c 216 U Graphics card
a b À AMD
June 21, 2011 5:04:33 PM

Oh yeah, one more thing, what OS and version are you using?
June 21, 2011 5:07:21 PM

Win 7 64 bit professional.

I just checked this site:

How accurate do you think that is? I ran everything though and it said the recommended PSU is 800 watts! If that is even partially close to reality then I am at best, a little under powered... and at worst, severely under powered.

I'm thinking I may need as much as 850 watts.
a c 216 U Graphics card
a b À AMD
June 21, 2011 5:21:41 PM

That site is not accurate from what I can tell. It recommends me a 1000 Watt PSU, which seems crazy for my system.

Use this site, it seems a lot more accurate:
a b U Graphics card
June 21, 2011 6:21:56 PM

OP:is your 930 at stock? Else: couldn't the low clock frequencies be holding the OP back?
a b U Graphics card
June 21, 2011 6:24:25 PM

OP you will not need 800 watts that is rediculous, maybe if you had crossfire 6950s that were overclocked and a highly overclocked cpu, your 650 watt should be fine but what specific model do you have, otherwise I'd say overclock that CPU and see if things drastically improve...
June 21, 2011 6:46:36 PM

No my 930 is not overclocked. I've got the stock heatsink and fan, so I probably shouldn't do that until I get some better cooling for it.

I'll have to research what the best cooling system would be (other than liquid, don't want to go there right now).

However, I just have to add that I shouldn't have to overclock my CPU in order to get a $270 vid card to perform better than my $150 4 year old card. I still think there's something wrong with my system, but I can't start replacing all of my hardware in order to find the problem.

June 21, 2011 7:21:17 PM

FWIW, here is the link to my results:

I tried to close as many programs as possible and made sure none of my components were on power save.
a b U Graphics card
June 21, 2011 8:47:40 PM

well regardless of what you think you need.... the 2.8ghz stock clock frequency of your i7 930 will hold you back, when gamers were using those chips for new builds a while back before SB came around they were buying that model because of its price and with every intention of oc'ing it, my prediction is that it is holding you back a bit.
June 21, 2011 8:51:33 PM

Thanks. Would overclocking it be sufficient or should a new CPU be purchased?
a b U Graphics card
June 21, 2011 8:55:13 PM

yeah an oc should be more than sufficient if you can pull off a decent one, there is no cpu that would be worth upgrading to on that platform in respects to gaming... but if you can oc then your chip will be fine for several years to come, also make sure that you have a clean driver installed and no previous drivers left (driver cleaner) if you have not already done so.
June 21, 2011 8:58:52 PM

Thanks. what do you mean by "there is no CPU that would be worth upgrading"... is there something wrong with my platform?

At any rate, what do you think of this particular heat sink:

? would it be good enough to try to OC it?

Thanks for your advice :) 

a b U Graphics card
June 21, 2011 9:02:48 PM

no just saying that the 990x for example costs 1000 and would give you a diminishing return on performance above an i7 930 with a good oc. Basically buying a new cpu on your current platform will be no better (in gaming) in short you have a perfectly fine cpu for gaming once you get a nice oc on it, there is no need to upgrade

Never heard of that heatsink, but I would recommend the cooler master hyper 212+ which is about 10 more I have it and its great and cost effective. Really you do not need that great of a cpu cooler to oc, you can oc it on stock but you need to watch temps, even with an aftermarket heatsink you will need to test and monitor temps but by no means do you need to spend more than 40 bucks on a cooler master hyper 212+ to cool off your 930
June 21, 2011 9:10:15 PM

Excellent, thanks :)  I'll give it a shot. Hopefully I can play COD:BO with better than 50fps when I'm done :) 

Thanks again, i'll keep you posted if you'd like.
a b U Graphics card
June 21, 2011 9:25:21 PM

Tsss that game is *** and has a bunch of known problems in itself, really not a good measuring point if you ask me. If you want to play a real shooter the choice is easy; BFBC2 until BF3 it makes COD feel like a cartoon shooter. Black ops is dx9 crap

Aside from that you should have no problem oc'ing and if you are not getting 60+ in black ops or any dx9 console port like that then the problem definatley lies elsewhere are you sure that your drivers are cleanly installed?
June 21, 2011 9:31:58 PM

Well I appreciate your opinion on gaming, I will certainly check out BFBC2.

I have completely uninstalled the drivers and cleaned the registry of all traces of the drivers just to be sure.
a b U Graphics card
June 22, 2011 12:50:25 AM

ok good it seems that I am having problems with my own GPU as we speak..... Dammit it might be RMA time for me
a c 216 U Graphics card
a b À AMD
June 22, 2011 1:30:06 AM

gizeh68 said:
No my 930 is not overclocked. I've got the stock heatsink and fan, so I probably shouldn't do that until I get some better cooling for it.

I'll have to research what the best cooling system would be (other than liquid, don't want to go there right now).

However, I just have to add that I shouldn't have to overclock my CPU in order to get a $270 vid card to perform better than my $150 4 year old card. I still think there's something wrong with my system, but I can't start replacing all of my hardware in order to find the problem.


If I have read correctly, the new card is still performing better, just not a lot better. That's what you'd expect if your CPU is holding things back. Essentially the CPU is only allowing a max of XXX FPS, not allowing the new card to work at it's true potential.

I'd recommend getting a new HSF, like the Cooler Master Hyper 212+, or if you want to go for the top of the line air cooling, a Thermalright Silver Arrow or Noctua.

I'm currently running on a i7 920 (older model of what you have) @ 4.0Ghz. It makes a large difference at times. These i7's were clocked very low compared to their potential.
a c 216 U Graphics card
a b À AMD
June 22, 2011 1:34:33 AM

That said, if you had your CPU clocked at 3.4Ghz or better, I'd expect you to have a 18-20k score in 3dmark Vantage.

Unless you overclock the CPU to 3.8 and the GPU to max of what CCC allows, your score will post as "low" in their comparison test, that's due to almost all the saved scores being done on highly overclocked systems.
a b U Graphics card
June 22, 2011 1:40:00 AM

yeah and beyond that isnt real gameplay expirience more important then 1 synthetic benchmark, rather take the performance in as a whole
a b U Graphics card
June 22, 2011 1:56:59 AM

When you say it's jumping between 400 mhz and 3d clocks is it like when you're at a menu screen it goes to 400 or is it jumping down to 400 while still in a full screen 3d application?

If it throttles down during the loading screen between benches that's normal, if it throttles down in the middle of the benchmark that's not normal.
a c 216 U Graphics card
a b À AMD
June 22, 2011 2:00:36 AM

He seemed to indicate it was only between gaming...but if it is during, you might check to see if turning up PowerTune in Overdrive, would help.
June 29, 2011 12:44:14 PM

Thanks for the replies. As a few of you suggested, the problem was that my CPU was holding me back. I ran LinX and measured the gflops and monitored the CPU core temps with CPU-Z HWMonitor. I also measured the max clockspeed with CPU-ID.

Gflops were 20, way to low for this CPU.

Heat was idle @ 60 deg C, during LinX it was @ 86 deg C.

Clockspeed was 1.5 ghz.

CPU was throttling itself down due to heat issues.

Sooo, I bought Xigmatek's Dark Knight heatsink/fan combo. It was like night and day! It now idles at 36 and never goes above 60 even when peaked.

LinX measures the gflops at 37. clockspeed back up to 2.9 ghz.

Now the 3dmark scores a lot better. 3dmark Vantage is 18,800. 3dMark 11 is P5200.