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Artifacts in 3dMark11, but never in games?

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December 30, 2011 9:32:47 AM

I am new to the world of PCs, well, I've not had one since a Voodoo was good, so effectively new...

I recently built my first PC in 15 years or so: i5 2500k (4.5Ghz), MSI Z68 GD55, 8Gb Vengaence (1600Mhz), 2 x GTX460 1Gb.

I am currently trying to understand graphics card benchmarking and overclocking, what I should try, and what I should look out for etc.

My SLI cards are pre overclocked, and I have been using the EVGA precision tool to bump them further. I am currently at 830, 1660, and 2005 for Core, Shaders and RAM. This seems to be in line with what can be expected in reviews. Everything seems stable, but I am getting odd things happen on screen on teh 3DMark 11 tool. Here is what I have run:

* I have run Furmark, and it happily thrashes along, temps for each card go to approx 70%, no issues seemingly.

* I have run the OC tool from EVGA, and this works fine although I do get the odd artifact here and there listed, but I don't actually know what this means. I can get more if I turn on the CPU test module at the same time. but again, I don't know what this means. Oddly, although the top card gets s little hotter (which I understand), it also runs faster, generating 95%+ load at all times, whereas the bottom card often sits at 70%?

* I can happily play Crysis 2 with the DX11 patch and High Res Texture Pack on Ultra everything (Note, my monitor currently caps out at 1400x900), I'm not sure how to get it to show me a frame rate, but it feels very very fast and smooth, no issues at all.

* The Unigene Heaven benchmark runs really smoothly, just the occasional stutter but nothing other than that.

* But, when I try 3DMark 11, I get wierd green splodges that occassionally flash over the screen at random.

I'm sorry if this seems a basic question, but what are they, are they a result of overclocking too far, and other than irritating are they a problem? The fact that I only see them in 1 benchmark suggests that normal gaming is OK, it's just the benchmarks that are intended to really hurt that exhibit the behaviour? I presume that if it is a result of going too high, then the worst I can have is a graphical bodge on screen, and it isn't like pushing a CPU too far where data corruption will cause a crash? I do get lower FPS in 3DMark than Heaven at a lower resolution, so maybe it's just really really taxing the system hard.

I'll do more testing later with different overclock profiles and see if I can reduce them or make them worse, but in the meantime I'd appreciate any advice to a newcomer :) 
a b U Graphics card
December 30, 2011 12:00:27 PM

Have you upped the Volts on your card at all?

Artifacts like that tend to be memory related - I get them all the time on Skyrim - Then again I only get them on Skyrim, and Skyrims code is dire.

I see your memory at the 2000mhz Mark, this is good, but to get it there you should be looking at at least a 0.015v increase, well, on mine its more like a 0.04v increase...
December 30, 2011 12:09:11 PM

No change to voltage ratings on either card. The Precision OC utility does now allow you to do it, but I haven't touched them. Although I did notice that one card was running at 1v, the other at something like 0.987? I will add that to my list of testing - what's a safe limit (along the lines of a Core i5 for example, where the received wisdom is keep it under 1.4, and preferably under 1.35)?
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a b U Graphics card
December 30, 2011 12:23:02 PM

Dont push it past 1.11v even that is pushing it.

I have mine at 1.075 and it wont let me go higher without doing a BIOS flash.

Infact, I dont want to go higher - but mine were undervolted beforehand so there is a difference there.

Push it up but 0.010v at a time and test for the artifacts. Make sure the temps are monitored closley.

Oh and try MSI Afterburner, it usually has voltage control unless your PCB is terrible.
December 30, 2011 12:30:40 PM

Cheers, I'll give it a go. I don't want to raise voltages if I can, as I am already on the cusp of hitting my PSU roof. But if it fixes it, I will probably go for a compromise between it and lowering the RAM oveclock a little.
a b U Graphics card
December 30, 2011 12:34:07 PM

What PSU are you running?
December 30, 2011 12:43:53 PM

i5 2500k running at 45x with auto voltage (Lucky chip? peaks at 1.376v, 65c), power save features enabled to throttle back to 1.6 on idle. It Primes and Burntests at Extreme without errors. Last night ona single core workload it went to 5.65Ghz for a short while according to the Intel turbo boost monitor? Antec Khuler 620.
December 30, 2011 12:47:34 PM

Bah, I read that as CPU, not PSU!

OK, PSU is a Cougar GX600. Gold efficient. MSI Z68GD55 Mobo (Low power requirements under load from various reviews/benchmarks). Velociraptor HD (lower power than most 3.5" drives). I know 600w is tight (I have an energy monitor in the post to see how tight!) but the TomsHW September $1000 PC used a 600w PSU with the same CPU and Cards and system peaked at 458w with CPU and GPU load.
a b U Graphics card
December 30, 2011 12:52:56 PM

stuffe said:
Bah, I read that as CPU, not PSU!

OK, PSU is a Cougar GX600. Gold efficient. MSI Z68GD55 Mobo (Low power requirements under load from various reviews/benchmarks). Velociraptor HD (lower power than most 3.5" drives). I know 600w is tight (I have an energy monitor in the post to see how tight!) but the TomsHW September $1000 PC used a 600w PSU with the same CPU and Cards and system peaked at 458w with CPU and GPU load.


A 600w Gold efficient PSU should handle the card overclocked + volted.

Gold efficiency is hard to come by and my god does it show when your on full load.
December 30, 2011 7:35:59 PM

I upped the voltage to 1.05, and it made things way WAY worse - which I find odd. But, I completed the test with a score of 7456. I then reduced the memory speed and put the voltage down to 1.025, a clear run bar 1 tiny flicker, and a score only about 10 slower. I think we can get carried away wanting to squeeze every ounce of these things when it makes no difference in the real world.

So, for reference, I am now 1.025V, 847Mhz Core, 1694Mhz Shader and 2005Mhz memory, averaging 7450 in 3D Mark 11.

Cheers for your help.
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