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HD 5850 and 5870 CrossFire Performing Worse Than Single Card

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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January 5, 2012 4:58:56 AM

Hey ya'll,
I just bought a 5870 for cheap with plans to CrossFire it with my 5850. However, when in Skyrim looking down at the town from Dragonsreach, my results are as follows:
5850 Alone: 20 fps
5870 Alone: 22 fps
5850 + 5870 Crossfire: 18 fps


The rest of my computer's specs are as follows:
Windows 7 64 bit
OCZ Gold 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2000 (PC3 16000)
MSI 790FX-GD70 AM3 AMD 790FX ATX AMD Motherboard
AMD Phenom II X4 550 Black Edition Callisto 3.1GHz Socket AM3 80W Quad-Core Processor HDZ550WFGIBOX
Thermaltake TR2 W0388RU 600W ATX 12V v2.2 Power Supply
1TB 5400 RPM HD SATA
64GB SSD Samsung 830 Series SATA II/III
Latest AMD Catalyst and CAP drivers installed
The 5850 and 5870 are plugged into the PCI-E 2.0 16x slots and bridged with the crossfire cable.


In the AMD Control Center, it shows that CrossFireX is enabled. GPU-Z shows that both GPU's are being used.


Other points of interest:

Running 3DMark Vantage on the first animation:
Crossfire Disabled, running off just the 5870 gets 4900 frames
Crossfire Enabled gets 6100 frames
(Crossfired numbers are consistently higher, but not by much)

Running Mafia 2 benchmark with all settings on highest except for PhysX:
Crossfire Disabled, running off just the 5870 gets 49.7 fps avg (Also, GPU-Z shows 96% GPU usage and 50% CPU usage)
Crossfire Enabled: 61.2 FPS (GPU-Z shows GPU usage maxing out at around 70% for both cards, and GPU usage around 70% as well)
(Crossfired numbers are consistently higher, but again not by much)

In Batman Arkham City, benchmarks are identical for both with all settings on highest. (Around 62 fps)
Performance decreases (by 2-4 frames generally) in Skyrim with Crossfire enabled.

I'm stuck as to why I'm not getting more of a performance increase, and why performance is actually taking a hit to some games.
The only thing I can think of is that my PSU Wattage isn't enough... but then wouldn't that just result in my PC shutting down if it wasn't able to draw enough power from the PSU? 600W is the recommended for crossfiring the 5800's on AMD's site.
Thanks for any help, insight, and input!
January 5, 2012 5:15:24 AM

Lemme tell ya, I run 3x gtx 580's and a 2600k at 4.6ghz and when I stand on that balcony and look down my frames come to a crawl as well. The game is very cpu (frequency and architecture not cores) demanding. It is a console port so it doesn't multi thread very well. Not a gpu issue.
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January 5, 2012 5:15:44 AM

You can't crossfire two different model cards , so in reality you are only using one card even tho you have installed both cards to crossfire.
2 x 5850 will cross fire or 2 x 5870 will crossfire
1 x 5850 and 1 x 5870 do not crossfire.
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January 5, 2012 5:18:18 AM

monsta said:
You can't crossfire two different model cards , so in reality you are only using one card even tho you have installed both cards to crossfire.
2 x 5850 will cross fire or 2 x 5870 will crossfire
1 x 5850 and 1 x 5870 do not crossfire.



Crossfire works differently than sli. As long as they are in the same series they are compatible afaik.
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January 5, 2012 5:20:15 AM

Don't they have to be the same model at least?
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January 5, 2012 5:24:33 AM

I'm not totally sure, but I think it will scale down some of the specifactions of the 5870 to the 5850's specs. We need an xfire pro in here. I can talk about sli all day though have never had an xfire machine.

He is seeing some scaling in 3dmark though it's not as much as I would have hoped if I were him as well. Again, we need an xfire xpert in here. I'd like to here the solution to this one.

Edit: I do remember hearing the 5xxx series scaling left more to be desired, not like the 6xxx wich I've heard have quite exceptional scaling.
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January 5, 2012 5:30:27 AM

lemlo said:
I'm not totally sure, but I think it will scale down some of the specifactions of the 5870 to the 5850's specs. We need an xfire pro in here. I can talk about sli all day though have never had an xfire machine.

He is seeing some scaling in 3dmark though it's not as much as I would have hoped if I were him as well. Again, we need an xfire xpert in here. I'd like to here the solution to this one.

Edit: I do remember hearing the 5xxx series scaling left more to be desired, not like the 6xxx wich I've heard have quite exceptional scaling.



Thanks for your reply! Here's a couple articles that I also linked to the other user, it seems like they crossfire quite well (well at least much better than what I'm getting...) I don't know why it's not working out so well for me!

http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/xfx58705850/
http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1107/1/
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January 5, 2012 5:39:35 AM

I've never seen it work successfully myself with two different models to be honest, but looks like others can do it from the articles you posted.
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a b À AMD
January 5, 2012 5:47:13 AM

It's going to depend on the game as well though. The first you mentioned doesn't support CF, or at least it didn't when it launched. The other games you mentioned do show higher scores in the benchmarks. You might only be getting an extra 10 frames in Mafia 2, but its ~23% more. Take a look and see what CF 5850s do in that game, or the percentage increase. Batman:AC seems to hit a 60FPS ceiling so no help there.

Take a look for all the usual suspects. Remove any OCs, check temps and voltages, virus, etc. Doing some quick math in the head I calculate your power draw at around 425W. (I don't know what CPU you have. I thought all the 550s where dual cores. I'm assuming this is an unlocked CPU?) I'm not sure your TT 600W can provide that much on the 12V rail.
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January 5, 2012 3:23:29 PM

Odd thing to do, though, a 5870 and a 5850. You should definitely overclock that 5850 to get it up closer to 5870 speeds. Most people can get around 850 core, 1150 mem. I run 870/1200 on my 5850s.

Anyway, Skyrim has big CPU issues in cities.

I can't access the right places to get the official thread links, I think if you search Skyrimnexus.com you can find it.

This should be the right info, though (I can't open the page from here but it seems right):
http://gamingbolt.com/modders-release-patch-that-boosts...
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January 5, 2012 3:45:13 PM

"AMD Phenom II X4 550 Black Edition Callisto 3.1GHz Socket AM3 80W Quad-Core Processor HDZ550WFGIBOX "


-thats your bottleneck. Like most people said, skyrim issues and lack of a strong processor combine to create low frame rates in skyrim. If you decide to upgrade to the 6000 & 7000 series seriously look into replacing your processor before...
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January 5, 2012 3:56:15 PM

--->AMD Phenom II X4 550 Black Edition Callisto 3.1GHz Socket AM3 80W Quad-Core Processor HDZ550WFGIBOX<---

As said above, you're definitely CPU bottlenecked. By the way, that's a dual-core model, not quad, so you're seriously underpowered compared to your graphics punch.

As for Xfire, it treats both cards like the weaker of the two, so you're scores, after uprgrading your CPU, would reflect more of a 2x 5850 setup. I researched this when I was looking to get old 4000 series cards to supplement my pair of 4850s
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January 5, 2012 3:58:21 PM

Would it make a difference if you put the 5870 in the PCI-e 1 and the 5850 in PCI-e 2.... I'd imagine your PC would "prefer" the better card in PCI-e 1.... but I agree your bottleneck could be your CPU.... at least in skyrim...
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a b À AMD
January 5, 2012 4:02:04 PM

It shouldn't make a fundamental difference. The 5850 has less shaders then the 5870, so the 5870 will have to wait around until the 5850 gets done doing its calculations. It might make a difference in OCing, but I'm not sure about that.
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a b À AMD
January 5, 2012 4:12:52 PM


If your 550BE is OC'ed to 4GHz it won't hold you back, too much, especially if you raise the IMC/NB to 2400MHz. Unlocking a third core would help on the limited number of games that can truly multi-core (and are not simply load balancing).

I think you need to fix your RAMs. I need to see a screenie on your DDR3 2000. You might run quite better with 2 sticks in dual-channel with the IMC/NB at 2400MHz.

With a proper setup, your video should be great - switch the cards around in your slots, or find a guide for the best way to CF your cards.

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January 5, 2012 8:38:36 PM

greenrider02 said:
--->AMD Phenom II X4 550 Black Edition Callisto 3.1GHz Socket AM3 80W Quad-Core Processor HDZ550WFGIBOX<---

As said above, you're definitely CPU bottlenecked. By the way, that's a dual-core model, not quad, so you're seriously underpowered compared to your graphics punch.

As for Xfire, it treats both cards like the weaker of the two, so you're scores, after uprgrading your CPU, would reflect more of a 2x 5850 setup. I researched this when I was looking to get old 4000 series cards to supplement my pair of 4850s


Alright so it seems like it's my CPU! Thanks for all the information guys, I appreciate the help.

The CPU I have was unlocked so its a Quad core. (It shows up as AMD Phenom II X4 965 or something like that). Would Quad Core make a difference for the crossfire?

I'll try turning the clock on my processor up and see if that helps.
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January 5, 2012 9:16:42 PM

In Skyrim you don't need more than a dual core, but it has to be well over 3ghz. A quad core is good too, but doesn't really help much. My quad is usually topping out at about 60% usage, but normally it's 40-50%. I think in the Tom's review, the most improvement was from 1-2 core, then a slight improvement over that to 3 core, and none over that to quad core.

CPU clock speed is going to give the biggest improvement. That, and the Skyrim mod I mentioned.
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January 6, 2012 12:40:38 AM

wolfram23 said:
In Skyrim you don't need more than a dual core, but it has to be well over 3ghz. A quad core is good too, but doesn't really help much. My quad is usually topping out at about 60% usage, but normally it's 40-50%. I think in the Tom's review, the most improvement was from 1-2 core, then a slight improvement over that to 3 core, and none over that to quad core.

CPU clock speed is going to give the biggest improvement. That, and the Skyrim mod I mentioned.


Like this guy says. 4 cores will help, but haveing the freq's at or near 4ghz will benefit you the most. Having an unlocked quad it will be a little difficult getting those speeds though, so you may be looking at an upgrade. Your on an amd platform though so it shouldn't be too costly.

Edit: you could always disable 1 or 2 of the unlocked cores and see how high you can get your freqs. Less cores means lower temps and then maybe higher freqs as well, you could possibly make it work.
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January 6, 2012 5:19:16 AM

wolfram23 said:
In Skyrim you don't need more than a dual core, but it has to be well over 3ghz. A quad core is good too, but doesn't really help much. My quad is usually topping out at about 60% usage, but normally it's 40-50%. I think in the Tom's review, the most improvement was from 1-2 core, then a slight improvement over that to 3 core, and none over that to quad core.

CPU clock speed is going to give the biggest improvement. That, and the Skyrim mod I mentioned.




its not that skyrim doesn't utilize the cores...it seems that the gpu is being bottleneck by a weaker processor. I had a 5870 and it gave me great frames on skyrim and even on BF3. His setup should even be better because he has a dual solution. However. microstuttering on the 5 series was pretty bad from what i hear...


Oh in addition here is a bench with a stock 5870 and stock 980x...

http://techreport.com/articles.x/22192/9

I am around 1-2 frames off on my old 920!
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January 6, 2012 1:34:34 PM

aznplayer213 said:
its not that skyrim doesn't utilize the cores...it seems that the gpu is being bottleneck by a weaker processor. I had a 5870 and it gave me great frames on skyrim and even on BF3. His setup should even be better because he has a dual solution. However. microstuttering on the 5 series was pretty bad from what i hear...


Oh in addition here is a bench with a stock 5870 and stock 980x...

http://techreport.com/articles.x/22192/9

I am around 1-2 frames off on my old 920!


You run 2560x1600? Cool. I'm saving up for a 27" Dell Ultrasharp myself.
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January 6, 2012 4:52:10 PM

wolfram23 said:
You run 2560x1600? Cool. I'm saving up for a 27" Dell Ultrasharp myself.



nope not usually. my friend has that crappy 700+ monitor so we fooled around with it...the 3d is surprising kool cuz its the monitor and not the graphics card that churns it out...
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a b À AMD
January 10, 2012 4:48:14 PM

ffoxxttrott said:
Alright so it seems like it's my CPU! Thanks for all the information guys, I appreciate the help.

The CPU I have was unlocked so its a Quad core. (It shows up as AMD Phenom II X4 965 or something like that). Would Quad Core make a difference for the crossfire?

I'll try turning the clock on my processor up and see if that helps.


In most cases ... No.

Two fast cores sharing the L3 tends to perform better than four not-as-fast cores sharing the L3, especially with the IMC/NB at 2400MHz+ ...


edit: And your CPU ain't what is really holding you back.

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