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Need help with AMD 6850 installation (Longish)

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 17, 2011 12:53:00 AM

My Rig:

mobo Ga-m57sli-s4
CPU AMD x3 720 (oc to 3.1 GHz)
GPU 9800GTX+
RAM 4gb Kinston HyperX
PSU 550W Cooler Master
OS Win XP 2005 MCE & Win 7 32-bit (Dual Boot)

*Star Wars: The Old Republic in XP*
1080/High Settings
30-40 fps

*Battlefield 3 in Win 7*
1080/Low settings
30-40 fps but kind of choppy. Guess it's to be expected considering BF3 is so CPU intensive.

After putting in AMD 6850...

*Star Wars: The Old Republic* (Worst)
1080/High Settings
25-35 fps AND it kind of stutters every 3-4 seconds with these "tiny" freezes like it's getting stuck on something.

*Battlefield 3* (Better)
1080/*HIGH* settings
steady 50-60 fps. BUT after around 2-3 minutes of playing the game crashes.

Possible theories:
1 - Driver problem. I just got finished spending a couple hours uninstalling drivers and using driver sweeper and ccleaner to make sure every extra possible thing was removed and then reinstalled 6850 Drivers. Absolutely no change. Exact same problem. (I did this just in Win XP btw. When it didn't work, didn't think I needed to bother with it in Win 7)

2 - PSU problem. I was able to play 9800GTX+ which demands more power than 6850 with no problems. So I doubt that is the reason.

3 - CPU bottleneck. I don't really believe this would be the problem because all over the place people say that an x3 720 can easily handle a 6850.

4 - Mobo bottleneck. This is one I really don't want to think about because I've already decided I was only going to upgrade my CPU (to x3 720) and GPU (to 6850) because I didn't want to put a significant amt of money into a computer to play SWTOR. I already had the wrong CPU sent to me and had to pay $20 restocking fee and I almost bought another mobo and RAM but last minute said No. For the love of everything that is holy, please don't tell me this is the problem because I'm going to lose it.

If anyone wants to know, I have dual boot OS b/c I liked my XP and BF3 only runs on Vista or Win 7. So I installed 7.

I do have a Q6600 system oc'd to 3.0 GHz, but the one listed here is what I planned on using the 6850 in.

If no one has any suggestions, I would love to hear them.

Thanks.
a b U Graphics card
December 17, 2011 12:55:52 AM

BF3 isn't CPU intensive btw, it is GPU intensive.
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December 17, 2011 1:08:11 AM

rocknrollz said:
BF3 isn't CPU intensive btw, it is GPU intensive.


Sorry, but if you just google "bf3 cpu intensive" and you will find many respectable gaming sites talking about how cpu intensive bf3 is. It's a known fact.
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a c 141 U Graphics card
December 17, 2011 8:51:22 AM

BF3 is only CPU intensive in very large multiplayer scenarios. Anything that can be reliably benchmarked in single player is not CPU intensive. You look to be getting about the right performance for BF3 with the 6850, just need to find out why it's crashing. There is definitely something wrong with TOR. I'd suggest reinstalling the game, you may want to take that step with BF3 as well. Are you having problems with any other games or just these 2?

You shouldn't be having motherboard bottlenecking issues. Even on an old PCI-E 1.0 slot, a 6850 will not saturate the bandwidth. Even with the best single GPU card out there the performance loss on a 1.0 slot would be fairly small, and it would not cause the game to stutter, it would just cap the card's performance a bit lower. Some of the older PCI-E boards do have a problem with the 2.1 cards like the 6850, but that issue usually prevents the system from booting, it doesn't typically mess up game performance. You may want to check for a BIOS update related to PCI-Express 2.1 compatibility. If you don't have that update, you might want to get it.

I noticed you OCed your CPU, try removing the overclock and see what happens, it's possible that it is not entirely stable and that could be causing these issues. You may also want to try to run memtest, you might be having memory problems, causing the unstable performance in TOR, if you OCed the RAM, return it to stock. Your PSU is not of the best quality, but if it could handle the 9800GTX+ fine, it should be able to run the 6850 with no trouble.
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December 17, 2011 2:13:31 PM

I was only playing BF3 in multiplayer. Haven't even once tried single player yet.

I figured out what the issue was. It must've been a driver issue, because after several hours of frustration and reading several articles saying how hard it is to install a new GPU and NOT have driver issues unless you reinstall the OS, I just said eff it and formatted my hd and reinstalled win xp and win 7. Win xp had the same exact issue, while win 7 was perfectly fine and running like it was suppose to.

So yeah... driver issue. BUT win xp still had same problem so maybe it's something else. If I had to guess I would say that because win 7 supports multi-core cpu's then it may "help" the gpu get the higher fps. But since bringing up CPU performance in a GPU forum has triggered so much discourse... I'll just leave that be. :p 

Thanks for all the help guys. I'm just glad it works now so that I can go back to playing SWTOR.
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December 17, 2011 4:07:47 PM

Well, that was a bit premature...

I just finished downloading BF3 and still same problem. I guess looking back on everything, nothing actually changed except I found out SWTOR runs better in Win 7. Now - I am getting the appropriate fps in SWTOR now that I'm running it in Win 7 but BF3 is still crashing after a few minutes.

I downloaded HWmonitor to see what my GPU temps were and they didn't appear to get over 70 degrees. I think that's ok. Is there a way to have HWmonitor keep a record of your temps without having to alt+tab out to see what it's running?

These are the only 2 game I will be playing so I am really trying hard to get them to work.

thanks.
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December 17, 2011 5:00:37 PM

Ok. I think I found out what the problem was. Even though I was able to play BF3 with High settings at 30-40 fps, when I put it to Medium settings and turned off AA, etc, it did not crash. I believe this is because of memory problems (i could be wrong) but the only difference between my old card and this one was old one 512mb and this one was 1gb. I am also running 32-bit win.

Just wanted to let everyone know in case someone else is having the same issue with BF3. Decrease your settings (even though you get acceptable frame rates) and you should be good to go.
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a c 141 U Graphics card
December 18, 2011 4:11:33 AM

You should be able to run high settings on BF3 with no problem. Which driver revision are you using? If you are using a driver off a CD that came with the card, it probably isn't up to date for BF3 and might cause problems. You may want to try another revision.

I would check your video card's stability under load conditions, download Furmark and run that, it is a GPU stress testing utility. If it crashes or blue screens or artifacts using that, that may indicate that you may have a defective card. 70 degrees is an okay temperature for that card, so you aren't overheating. TOR isn't very demanding, and probably won't push your GPU to its limits, BF3 would do that on high settings.
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December 18, 2011 11:18:34 AM

First, I want to say that after a marathon session of SWTOR, if I had to put a number on how much better my 6850 is performing over my old 9800GTX+ in this system... It would be like 5-10% better. The fps are minimally better and it's a tad bit smoother. That's the only difference. So I'm thinking there just has to be something wrong somewhere. :pfff: 

Thanks Supernova11

I can't imagine it being a driver issue. I downloaded most recent drivers off of AMD site after a clean OS installation. (ver 11.12)

I just downloaded Furmark and ran it like you said.

Burn-in test
res 1080
min fps 23
max fps 24
avg fps 22

I didn't know when I first started running Furmark that I had to go to settings to tell it to log temps. I did watch it though and...

2 minutes in - 75 deg
3 minutes in - immediate spike to 81-82 deg then back down to 75'ish
5 minutes in - 78-79 deg

and it stayed like that for rest of test except for a couple more spikes back to 81-82 but they were not as huge of a jump as the first one (since baseline was now 78-79)

The GPU graph never went over white line (max temp line?) except for those couple spikes. So I guess this rules out temp issues?

One other thing I've noticed is that on the outside of the box it says that it's an "overclocked" 6850 and that instead of 775MHz and 4000MHz, it's oc'd to 820 and 4200 (that's what is says on the box).

I'm going to try and decrease the clock to the more conservative settings and see if there's any difference. I just can't go any longer today and I have to get some sleep.

Thanks for all the suggestions.
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December 18, 2011 11:24:12 AM

OH! And Furmark score was 2094
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a c 141 U Graphics card
December 19, 2011 2:32:36 AM

Yeah, I would try turning the clockspeeds down to stock, sometimes factory overclocked cards are not entirely stable. The usually get the better chips to facilitate the higher clockspeeds, but sometimes they don't work right straight out of the box. It's possible you may need to bump up the voltage a little bit to get the factory overclock stable.

Your temps are fine for that GPU, particularly if it is overclocked. The 6850 actually isn't that much faster than a 9800GTX+, the 6850 at stock is only 2 tiers above it, so the performance boost isn't going to be huge. The theoretical performance difference is probably 20 to 25 percent in your case with the overclock, and that is if the CPU is not causing any bottleneck, which might be possible with the Athon II X3, depending on how CPU heavy TOR is. Run task manager in the background set to the performance tab, see how much CPU TOR is using. If it's using 100%, your CPU is holding back that 6850 a little bit.
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December 20, 2011 5:58:08 PM

Thanks for all of your help Supernova113.

I decided to decrease GPU speeds to stock and I didn't notice any difference for better or worst at all.

I did notice though, that during Multiplayer matches in SWTOR, the fps drop significantly. Into the teens and single digits and it's almost unplayable. This was bringing me back to thinking it could be CPU/Mobo related.

So I dropped all my settings down on GPU to the lowest they could go but kept the same resolution (1080) and it performs exactly the same as on High settings. In other words, I get the same fps whether all the settings or on low or high.

SWTOR (running around and questing) = 30-60 fps
SWTOR (Multiplayer) = 7-17 fps

Since the furmark did fine, is it possible it's not my GPU holding me back? I don't know...

But I've read everywhere where people say that an x3 720 could handle a 6950 and it still wouldn't be bottlenecked. What's your opinion?
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a c 141 U Graphics card
December 21, 2011 2:27:09 AM

Since you are getting the same performance on low and high, this definitely is not a GPU problem. Given your card's BF3 performance it is running as it is supposed to. I think your CPU might be holding you back for TOR multiplayer at least. MMOs can sometimes be very CPU heavy games, and a triple core Athlon II might simply be too weak to handle it properly. When they say your CPU won't cause a bottleneck, they are usually talking about the more GPU heavy titles ie. Crysis, Metro 2033, various console ports; most games don't need a very beefy CPU unless you are running a very high end SLI/Crossfire setup. I don't think this is a motherboard problem, otherwise you would probably get poor performance in every game, not just TOR multiplayer.

If possible, try to overclock your Athlon II higher than 3.1 GHz and see if that helps your performance. If not you may need to look at a CPU upgrade, though if you do take that step you may want to act soon, AMD is discontinuing their Athlon II and Phenom II lines in favour of the FX chips, and none of those are very good performers in gaming scenarios.
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December 23, 2011 3:30:29 PM

First, I want to say thanks for all of your help Supernova.

You keep referring to the chip as an Athlon II but I believe it is a Phenom II (unless I'm mistaken).

Regardless, I pulled the card out of my machine and installed it on another machine I have that has almost the same exact specs

Gigabyte mobo (not sure what model)
4 GB 800 MHz RAM
480W PSU
Q6600 CPU

Benchmarks were worst but gameplay was better?!?!

Heaven Benchmark 2.5

x3 720
FPS - 42.7
score - 1076

Q6600
FPS - 24.4
SCORE - 688

The irony is that even though my benchmark scores went down, the fps in SWTOR were more consistent and were slightly better.

A guy I work with was saying that benchmarks are not as reliable as people make them out to be and that the Q6600 is a better chip.

I must admit, I am about to just buy another motherboard, RAM, etc and be done with it, but it's just irking me that I can't figure out why I'm getting (what I consider) this sub-par performance.

I've read in countless forums that the x3 720 and the Q6600 could "easily" handle the 6850 but it appears that those chips are holding back the capabilities it. Especially considering I have friends using the same GPU getting 60+ fps. (Although they are using Phenom x4 965 and i5-2500K in their rigs.)

Idk. Sorry about being so long. Any help or suggestions will be appreciated.
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a c 141 U Graphics card
December 24, 2011 4:22:59 AM

The x3 720 is an Athlon II chip, the Phenom IIs are all 900 series except for the 840 I believe, which is simply a rebadged Athlon II that performed closer to a Phenom than the other Athlons. The Q6600 might hold back the 6850 in the less threaded titles due to its low clockspeed of 2.33GHz. As said above, I would try overclocking that AMD CPU higher if possible and see if that helps. The only other thing I can think of is the Athlon II has no L3 cache, it's possible TOR really needs the L3 cache to get optimum performance, though I'm not sure, you'd have to ask around on TOR's forums for an answer to that.

One final option is you could try to unlock your CPU's fourth core if your motherboard allows it. BF3 and TOR should be optimized to use up to 4 cores, having the fourth core may help your performance. There is no guarantee that you will get a successful unlock though, a lot of the time cores are locked on AMD CPUs because they did not pass quality control.
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December 24, 2011 2:09:17 PM

Newegg says (if you click the link in the original post) that it is a Phenom II with 6mb of L3??? I guess it's just a marketing thing???

Sorry. Should have mentioned I have the Q6600 oc'd to 3.0 GHz (ran Prime95 over 48hrs and no BSoD, temps never over 55degs)

I'm taking it that the CPU's are just can't handle the full capabilities of this card here in my situation, which is fine. I just wish it was the GPU, because if I'd known that the GPU was too powerful for that chip, then I would've just gotten a cheaper GPU. It's just that EVERYWHERE everyone says that the x3 720 "can easily handle" the GPU so I took that as meaning that the chip wouldn't be the bottleneck.

Regardless, thanks for your time Supernova. Hopefully someone reading this will see that even though the 6850 can run on x3 720 (oc'd to 3.1) or even Q6600 (oc'd to 3.0), the CPU's will be the bottleneck and won't let the card's full capabilities come out and therefore you are better off getting a cheaper GPU.
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a c 141 U Graphics card
December 25, 2011 3:15:21 AM

A Q6600 at 3.0 GHz should be able to handle a 6850 fine. That CPU should not bottleneck. If you managed to get through a furmark test without much trouble there shouldn't be anything physically wrong with the card. Could you download GPU-Z and post the video card info screen? I want to check to make sure that the card is fully functional, and that it is getting full bandwidth from the PCI-E slot If it is running at x4 mode, that may cause issues. You may want to try an the alternate PCI-Ex16 slot on the AMD CPU's mobo, and see if you get better results. I can only suggest that you try to use the Catalyst 12.1 Preview driver if you haven't already and see if it gives better support for TOR. If the hardware checks out on everything else, then this is probably a game issue, and you will have to bring that to Bioware's attention and hope they patch it.
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December 26, 2011 10:54:09 PM

Here is a screenshot Supernova113



It is a screenshot of anything I could think of that could possibly be related.

I've already given the Q6600 to my stepson for Christmas and told him it was his, I was just throwing the 6850 in it just to give it a shot and see if I got any better results. And I did but they were only marginally better.

I think that my slight improvement with the Q6600 during gameplay with both games (BF3 and SWTOR) was from it being a quad-core and the x3 being a tri-core and both games being recent game probably taking advantage of the multiple cores.

One thing I did that made a HUGE difference is I overclocked my RAM from 800 to 1066, dropped the timings down a touch and I got humongous performance boost out of my entire system. (All those people who say RAM speed doesn't make a difference must have no idea what they are talking about).

Also, after doing that I up my CPU voltage and got a stable oc of 3.4GHz (compared to 3.1). This seemed to improve things a little as well.

I figured out what the problem was with bf3 crashing after a couple minutes of play with that APPCRASH error


Problem signature:
Problem Event Name: APPCRASH
Application Name: bf3.exe
Application Version: 1.0.0.0
Application Timestamp: 4ece50fa
Fault Module Name: bf3.exe
Fault Module Version: 1.0.0.0
Fault Module Timestamp: 4ece50fa
Exception Code: c0000005
Exception Offset: 00107e60
OS Version: 6.1.7601.2.1.0.256.48
Locale ID: 1033
Additional Information 1: 0a9e
Additional Information 2: 0a9e372d3b4ad19135b953a78882e789
Additional Information 3: 0a9e
Additional Information 4: 0a9e372d3b4ad19135b953a78882e789

Read our privacy statement online:
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=104288&clcid=0x0...

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It IS because I am running a 32-bit Windows 7 system with 4GB of RAM which isn't enough memory for High settings. 4GB of RAM minus 1 GB GPU equals only 3GB of RAM for system to play with. I confirmed this by dropping various settings and having it run stable. Also, I just so happen to have another hard drive that has 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate which I slapped into my x3 720 system and it ran perfectly fine on High Settings b/c windows was able to access all 4GB. In other words, I'm becoming more and more convinced it's not an issue with my GPU but an issue with my overall configuration of parts (particularly 32-bit Win 7).

It's been fun eeking every little bit of performance I could out of this system, but I think I've hit the end unless there is something else you see in that pic Supernova113 that could help me out.

Overall I'm happy with what I have although I will say that BF3 is at 100% CPU usage when I play. So even though the x3 720 "can hang" it's being pushed to it's limits. I slacked off on using SWTOR for testing because BF3 seems to be more demanding (therefore if my PC can play BF3 no problem, then I know it can play SWTOR).

Unless I hear something back again from Supernova 113 - thanks for all the help.
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a c 141 U Graphics card
December 27, 2011 12:12:00 AM

Everything looks okay on the graphics card. You have PCI-E 1.1, but the 6850 isn't fast enough to fully saturate that bandwidth so it shouldn't be negatively effecting performance. If your board allows it, try unlocking the fourth core on your CPU, that will help performance a bit in games that are sufficiently threaded to use four cores. Aside from that, I'd say maybe save up some money for a full platform upgrade at some point in the future. As you've seen, some games benefit from having a little more CPU horsepower than what most AMD CPUs can provide, having DDR3 RAM may also be helpful if you are running into issues with memory speed. Having more PCI-E bandwidth would also be useful if you want to Crossfire, or get a more powerful GPU in the future.
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January 5, 2012 11:04:11 PM

Best answer selected by knightbringr.
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