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MSI HD 6950 CF heavy FPS fluctuation in Unigine Heaven

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September 20, 2011 5:33:59 AM

I'm running Unigine at 1080p, with all the settings jacked up to the MAX but with 3D disabled.

What happens is that the benchmark starts off at about 25FPS, then shoots to 100, then ranges from 30 - 40, then after a while goes to 85 FPS, then back to 40ish. It's very bizarre.

My HD 6950's are both reference MSI boards and seem to unlock and OC just fine. Unlocking the HD 6970 shaders and overclocking to 6970 speeds didn't help much. Bumping the "power control settings" in AMD overdrive didn't help either.

System:
Intel i5 2500K (stock speed)
Corsair Force GT 3 120GB SSD
Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD4
8GB Corsair Vengeance 1866MHz 9-10-9-27 @ 1.5V (always worked fine with GTX 570's)
XFX 750 Watt Black Edition PSU (also not the problem, since it managed to feed a pair of obscenely overclocked GTX 470's just fine)

GPU-Z says both cards are running at 8x PCI-E speeds.


Some time ago I had GTX 470's in SLI then GTX 570's in SLI. Both set ups scored better because of more consistent frame rates.


Not sure what I did wrong.
September 20, 2011 11:00:01 PM

No one has anything?

Every time I go with ATI cards, I get headaches. Why do I even bother. Never again!

Also, people who claimed that GTX 470's were too hot and too loud need to play with a pair of AMD cards. These HD 6950's idle at 45 and 74 degrees. The GTX 470's I sold idled at 44 and 60 degrees, in the same case and same motherboard. And they are noticeably louder. Even at idle they are annoying. Custom fan profiles don't help much.

Anyone interested in buying a pair of unlockable MSI HD 6950's? I still have the boxes, packaging and all the accessories. I'll ship via USPS from NYC.
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a c 171 U Graphics card
September 21, 2011 4:24:33 AM

update drivers, bios, windows and also try an actual game rather than a benchmark tool. You should use driversweeper to remove any traces of old drivers before installing new ones, and make sure you remove the old nvidia drivers this way also. Some people have reported your issue with a faulty crossfire bridge, try another one.
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September 21, 2011 5:28:29 AM

iam2thecrowe said:
update drivers, bios, windows and also try an actual game rather than a benchmark tool. You should use driversweeper to remove any traces of old drivers before installing new ones, and make sure you remove the old nvidia drivers this way also. Some people have reported your issue with a faulty crossfire bridge, try another one.


I did the first 3 things right away.

I didn't have nvidia drivers on this install. I did a fresh install when I got the 6950's, but I did upgrade from catalyst 11.7 to 11.8 without sweeping old drivers. i'll try that.

Also bought a new CF bridge locally from a place called DataVision. will try that too.

thanks
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a c 216 U Graphics card
September 21, 2011 6:47:53 AM

That is normal for the Heaven benchmarks. In fact, it's very normal for benchmark programs in general. They aren't designed to be optimized for game play, but rather they are there to test the machine, so they don't go back to make the tough areas playable like you would see in a game.

Don't worry about it, you are getting the performance you should.

One more note, the extreme setting on tessellation was designed to make Nvidia cards look good, it was not meant to be used for ATI/AMD cards. Set tessellation to normal, and everything is better and will perform as well as your previous Nvidia cards at the same settings.
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September 22, 2011 1:48:34 AM

bystander said:
Don't worry about it, you are getting the performance you should.


No... I'm not. i don't mean to be an ass because I know you are just trying to be helpful. But these cards should not be performing like this. Not only were the GTX 470's faster, they never gave me graphics glitches.

For instance when I take a jet out for a spin in Just Cause 2, the lower 1 inch of the screen flickers.

My official "BSOD due to AMD driver" count is now 11. Overclocking is very modest. 50MHz at best.

I had my GTX 470's OCed to 900Mhz, that's nearly 33%, with a small voltage bump. and I got videos to prove it. I had an occasional stutter or graphic glitch (like a tree or a rock flashing or something like that). But they never crashed, even thought the temperature hit 99 degrees when under heavy load.

Is there a voltage mod I should try? I know the default is 1100mV
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a c 216 U Graphics card
September 22, 2011 2:43:15 AM

I was referring to your 6950's performance. As you can see, I am using 470's in SLI now, but what you may not know is that I had a pair of 6950's before (in another machine now). The 6950's were consistently faster in most games, but Heaven benchmark, with extreme tessellation was one of the few exceptions. The only reason I use the 470's instead is that I have a 3D monitor, and 3D vision is much better than AMD's 3D path.

No where in your post did you mention glitches, so i assumed you were talking about your benchmark. The glitches are another issue all together. Your driver crashes and bugs sound like either overheating or voltage problems.

EDIT: one more thought. With 470's in SLI overclocked to 900MHz, you will not notice any improvement using 6950's near stock. 470's at stock are only a small amount slower than 6950's, although 470's at 900Mhz must be extraordinarily loud.
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a c 216 U Graphics card
September 22, 2011 2:51:21 AM

You can increase the voltage with the newest version of MSI afterburner. If that doesn't work, the beta version does.
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September 22, 2011 2:59:42 AM

bystander said:
I was referring to your 6950's performance. As you can see, I am using 470's in SLI now, but what you may not know is that I had a pair of 6950's before (in another machine now). The 6950's were consistently faster in most games, but Heaven benchmark, with extreme tessellation was one of the few exceptions. The only reason I use the 470's instead is that I have a 3D monitor, and 3D vision is much better than AMD's 3D path.

No where in your post did you mention glitches, so i assumed you were talking about your benchmark. The glitches are another issue all together. Your driver crashes and bugs sound like either overheating or voltage problems.

EDIT: one more thought. With 470's in SLI overclocked to 900MHz, you will not notice any improvement using 6950's near stock. 470's at stock are only a small amount slower than 6950's, although 470's at 900Mhz must be extraordinarily loud.


470's at 900MHz were loud as hell, no doubt there. But not much louder then the 6950's when they both hit 80 degrees, which they do when gaming.

the glitches only became apparent when I actually started gaming.

I won't bother reinstalling my machine again.
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September 22, 2011 3:00:40 AM

bystander said:
You can increase the voltage with the newest version of MSI afterburner. If that doesn't work, the beta version does.


I know, but I was wondering to what. I bumped it to 1110mV, playing Nexus Wars on Star Craft 2 right now to see how stable this will be.
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a c 216 U Graphics card
September 22, 2011 3:06:26 AM

How much gap is there between your cards? And are your cards reference models?
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September 22, 2011 3:16:53 AM

bystander said:
How much gap is there between your cards? And are your cards reference models?


The PCI Express slots on my motherboard are 3 slots apart, instead of the usual 2. which i is why i bought it. Look up pics of GA-Z68X-UD4-B3 if you aren't sure what I mean.

They are reference models. And I'm going to RMA them. 6 minutes into a game of Stacraft 2 and I got a crash. This wont do.
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a c 216 U Graphics card
September 22, 2011 4:21:49 AM

Ya, that doesn't sound good. I'd advise getting non reference 6950's. They are generally a lot quieter than the reference cards. The HIS 6950 IceQ Turbo's have even been unlockable by a few people I've seen post in my instruction guide to unlocking non reference 6950's. Most aren't anymore.
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a c 216 U Graphics card
September 22, 2011 4:23:20 AM

Btw, why are you switching from 470's to 6950's?
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September 22, 2011 4:35:12 AM

bystander said:
Btw, why are you switching from 470's to 6950's?


I started gaming with 3 monitors, thought I may benefit from the 4GB of VRAM. nVidia's 3D vision thing was pretty awesome, but I get headaches from 3D junk very quick.
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a c 216 U Graphics card
September 22, 2011 5:13:45 AM

solomonshv said:
I started gaming with 3 monitors, thought I may benefit from the 4GB of VRAM. nVidia's 3D vision thing was pretty awesome, but I get headaches from 3D junk very quick.


Did you use 3D at 120hz? I do find it interesting how many people talk about getting headaches with 3D vision, while I have no issues at 120hz (100hz or less is a problem for me), but at the same time, I get motion sickness real easy with low FPS in a 1st person view with or without 3D. It's crazy how we all react so differently to things.

Ah, that makes since on the 3 monitor thing. I haven't tried that yet.
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September 22, 2011 5:19:21 AM

bystander said:
Did you use 3D at 120hz? I do find it interesting how many people talk about getting headaches with 3D vision, while I have no issues at 120hz (100hz or less is a problem for me), but at the same time, I get motion sickness real easy with low FPS in a 1st person view with or without 3D. It's crazy how we all react so differently to things.

Ah, that makes since on the 3 monitor thing. I haven't tried that yet.


My monitors can only do 60Hz. I couldn't find decent monitors with thin bezels and adjustable heights that can do more then 60. None that were affordable anyway. I'm OK with spending $600 on 3 monitors, but not much more than that.

My living room TV is a Samsung UN55B8500. This TV is supposed to be able to do 240Hz. I'm not really sure what the frame rate is on 3D Blu Rays, but those give me headaches too. Avatar, Up, Shrek, all gave me headaches. I'm just not meant to watch 3D.

Tron in 3D wasn't that bad for me, but that's probably because half of the movie is actually 2D.

But I don't get motion sickness from anything.
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a c 216 U Graphics card
September 22, 2011 6:24:51 AM

Ah, that would explain the headaches. In 3D, your monitor would only do 24hz (per eye). I found that even 50hz per eye wasn't tough on me, so I understand. It takes 60hz per eye for it to work well for myself (120hz).

In movies, it's also 24hz, though I know the 240hz TV's do some sort of added frame generation, but I'm not sure how that works in 3D and how good it is.
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September 22, 2011 6:26:56 AM

bystander said:
Ah, that would explain the headaches. In 3D, your monitor would only do 24hz (per eye). I found that even 50hz per eye wasn't tough on me, so I understand. It takes 60hz per eye for it to work well for myself (120hz).

In movies, it's also 24hz, though I know the 240hz TV's do some sort of added frame generation, but I'm not sure how that works in 3D and how good it is.


Everyone else who watches my TV loves it. they don't feel a thing. I get teary eyes, eye strain and headaches. thats just how i am.

Overall, this TV was an effective way to sink $4000 down the shitter.

EDIT: I never tried plugging my PC into the TV. Hmmm..... If only it didn't weight 100lbs.
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a c 216 U Graphics card
September 22, 2011 6:34:47 AM

solomonshv said:
Everyone else who watches my TV loves it. they don't feel a thing. I get teary eyes, eye strain and headaches. thats just how i am.

Overall, this TV was an effective way to sink $4000 down the shitter.

EDIT: I never tried plugging my PC into the TV. Hmmm..... If only it didn't weight 100lbs.


It probably wouldn't have worked well. That sort of 240hz TV doesn't usually allow more than 60hz as a monitor. I wonder if it would be different for you doing 3D vision on a 120hz monitor. It sounds like it might not work well for you.
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October 5, 2011 5:10:05 PM

I just sold my eVGA GTX 470s and bought 2 HIS IceQ Turbo 2GB 6950s and I will say that I am just as frustrated with you. I have not experienced any BSOD or any sort of problems with the hardware, BUT when I play Call of Duty: Black Ops and an explosion goes off or there is a smoke gernade my FPS drops to under 30. I cannot seem to find the fix for this or know where to start. I wish I would have just stuck with the reliable 470s because in games the performance increase, while a good amount does not warrant the problems that ATI has. There are known problems with Medal of Honor and BF:BC2 as well with 6950 CF with black flashing lines which I have experienced. I knew this problem before buying these cards, but went ahead and got them anyways because I got both shipped for $540 and figured the price/performance was unbeatable. I was thinking about either getting 1 GTX 570 or 1 GTX 580 and SLIing down the road. I wish I would have stuck with NVIDIA. I have always been an ATI fanboy and have had many dual card setups from them with little to no problems, but NVIDIA does perform better, but their prices absolutely suck compared to ATI as far as price/performance. Until ATI truly gets their driver team some more resources, I will be going NVIDIA I think. I was thinking about just using one of the video cards, because it runs beautifully, selling the other one and waiting until Q1 to see what NVIDIA throws our way. If you have any questions my Steam is xiZm2004
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October 5, 2011 8:56:51 PM

@ xiZm

good thing i'm not alone. that rules out the fact that i'm crazy.

i think this is a crossfire issue more than anything else. i say that because a single HD 6950 with unlocked shaders and overclocked to 900/1350 @ 1.15V seems to perform better in Crysis then the 6950 crossfire set up. the FPS counts are lower but the game is just SO MUCH SMOOTHER! The difference is astounding.

Now, I'm not sure who i'm supposed to blame, the game or AMD's drivers. I'm more inclined to blame AMD's drivers because I have had countless of bad experiences with catalyst drivers, going back as far as ATI radeon 9600. Starcraft 2 played with SLI very well, but I have to diable cross fire for stacraft 2. I had SC2 crash on me at least 5 times with crossfire on. so the culprit is pretty obvious, i think.

But blame aside, I don't care who's fault it is, I just want to play my damn games.

And Nvidia GPUs aren't as expensive you say, at least not in the US. A friend of mine picked up 2 ECS GTX 570s for $520 after rebates, plus 2 free copies of batman arkan city @ newegg.com. They overclocked pretty well too.

You just have to look for deals. HD 6970's are never on sale though. the lowest they go is $340 a pop. and those usually carry only a 2 year warranty.

EDIT: Ok, I found an HD 6970 for $300 AR: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
but still a 2 year warranty. I think anything under 3 isn't worth buying.
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October 5, 2011 11:43:46 PM

I mean if I am paying for 2 video cards and spending 500+ I expect to be able to play my games. This is a HUGE crossfire issue as it does not happen with one card. I tested both of my cards in Furmark for 20 minutes +. They are running perfect. I have always been an ATI fan, but I am beginning to see the grass is GREENer on the other side. I would never buy from a company like ECS for an expensive video card because I've never even heard of them :??:  I am appalled that ATI does not even say anything about this issue. There has obviously been an issue with CF in BF:BC2 and Medal of Honor for a while with the black lines. I would have loved to pick up 2 GTX 570s for about the same price as I paid. I wish I would have never given my GTX 470s away. In benchmarks like Heaven 2.5 my cards kill these GTX 470s, but it has nothing to do with performance if you can't even play the games! Get it together ATI!

I am truly thinking about returning both of these cards and just eating the cost of 2 x GTX 570s, but I did not want to have to do that in the first place because going from 470s to 570s it's not really THAT much of an increase, nor does it warrant the extra cash for it
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October 6, 2011 12:01:06 AM

I like ECS. They used to go by the name elitegroup. They aren't popular in the US.

I bought a bunch of things from them. First computer that I ever built, which was in 2003, was built wih an ECS motherboard. That thing took a heck of a beating because I had no clue what I was doing. my first GPU was also from a company you probably never heard of, AOpen. It was an NVIDIA 6800GT. It was a beast at the time. Overclocked like a champ. Creepy box design though.
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