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Sapphire 6950 2gb in Crossfire makes BF3 and Skyrim unplayable

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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February 22, 2012 8:29:16 PM

Just installed a second Sapphire 6950 2gb card today, and now I am having major issues running BF3 and Skyrim, which before today worked just fine. I upgraded to a second card to increase gaming performance (if I run at any resolution lower than 1920x1200 everything gets super blurry to the point where AA and post processing on or off make no visual difference whatsoever...picture just becomes way too "soft", so I hoped 2nd card would allow me to run that res. with more playable framerates). Now, I get worse performance than before in Skyrim (unplayable at settings even lower than before on the single card) and Battlefield gets insanely choppy. Like, two screens on top of eachother showing the same thing at different refresh rates choppy. Basically it turns into an old movie where you can physically see the frames moving down the screen lol. I've gone through and changed every video setting in-game one by one, and then done the same with the 3d gaming settings in CCC. In BF3 I have noticed something: If I set the resolution to 1920x1080 with refresh rate of 59.94, choppiness goes away, however doesn't run very smoothly...but at least I can see.
Before when I had just the one card it was slightly overclocked, nothing insane as I had just started with that...but now both cards are at default settings as far as overclocking goes. I have noticed also that when CF is enabled and Battlefield is running, one card goes to 99% activity with fan almost full speed, while the second card stays around 11-13% activity, which didn't seem right to me, but I'm not an expert obviously so maybe that is normal?

As for Skyrim, pre CF I could run it just fine at full resolution as long as AA was off, or 1680x1050 with 2-4x AA was perfect yet a little blurry as mentioned before. Even then though I did notice that turning AA on even the lowest setting went from being great to totally unplayable at 1920x1200...which again I thought was odd given there was such a giant performance jump, either all or nothing you could say.
Post CF, game is so laggy even on 1680x1050 with AA off that it feels like I'm running at MAYBE 10 fps...it's insane.
I only got the 2nd card for these 2 games, and now something is clearly wrong...making me feel like I just wasted $240. I've looked all around, and from what I can tell the fact that my performance was so low with even the 1 card is odd...let alone now performance disintegrating with an upgrade lol


My setup:
Asus P8Z68-V PRO
Intel i5-2500k OC'd to 4.6
G.Skill 8 gb DDR3 @1600
2x Sapphire HD6950 2gb
WD 500gb 7200 rpm sata-6gb/s



Somebody please help me out here
I've tried everything I can think of...as it stands right now I just run with CF off, which hopefully is only temporary. All drivers are updated (even did a clean reinstall of newest CCC)...I'm at a loss.
February 22, 2012 9:14:11 PM

Sounds like microstuttering to me. What you get sometimes with 2 cards, is a higher FPS counter but it feels like a lot less FPS. Unless there's some other problem there, maybe with your PSU (what brand/watt?)? With 2 cards the FPS fluctuates wildly so your FPS can feel like a lot less than it actually is, and also cause stuttering. Single cards don't suffer from microstutter. Also, 3 cards minimizes the effect as well (wouldn't reccomend 3 cards).
This is the exact reason I haven't gone SLI/Crossfire. I'm in the same position you are, I have a 120hz monitor, 2500k OC to 4.3ghz, and a gtx 570. I can't get 120fps consistent in BF3, and I want it. I really do just have to wait until the 600 series comes out.
Crossfire has worse microstuttering than SLI does. I think your eyes are just more keen to it than most people. If you have 2 Nvidia cards it many not bother you as much.
If your problem is in fact microstuttering, you did just waste your money. It's a flaw of the technology and there's nothing you can do. You should probably sell both your 6950s and buy a 7970 or wait until the 600 nvidia cards come out (I would wait).
2 cards also adds 1 frame of lag to the whole process. Between that and microstutter I will never go 2 cards as that can put you at a slight disadvantage if you're a hardcore FPS player. Also, a lot of games only scale about 25% instead of the 75-90% others do.
You're also playing 2 games that have known problems with dual card solutions. I've heard that Skyrim has horrible xfire/sli support and I know that the gains are 10-20% from it, throw microstuttering into the mix and you're not gaining anything at all. Like you said, you can notice a loss. BF3 also has some problem with dual cards according to my limited research.
If I were you, I would sell one 6950 now and just go back to single card, and then probably buy a gtx 680 when it comes out and sell off the other 6950 then.
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a b U Graphics card
February 22, 2012 9:23:54 PM

Using drivers 12.1 I presume?

That's an amazingly buggy driver, I'm staying with 11.12 till they come out with the fixes for xfire glitches. Try 11.12, see if it makes a difference. Also, even though I have 3 6950s, I can't run Skyrim with maxxed shadows.... Try turn them down. But yes that could be micro stuttering anyway.
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a b U Graphics card
February 22, 2012 9:25:08 PM

microsuttering is not major slow downs.

what psu do you have. maybe your to close or over its rated output. also how old it is.
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a c 92 U Graphics card
February 22, 2012 9:26:29 PM

you should have been able to max skyrim before with 1 card. Skyrim is maxed with a 6870 at 1080p and all you need is cpu power.

you should try different drivers for bf3.
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February 22, 2012 11:55:49 PM

I am running on a Ultra x3 1000 Watt PSU....so everything should be fine as far as that goes...according to that Extreme psu calculator site, even with the whole system OC'd and running at 100%, it still doesn't go over 700 watts...so even if that is off a bit, could it be THAT far off?
The issue is definitely not a microstuttering problem...I WISH that was my biggest concern...that I could handle.
As it goes right now, according to GPU-z, both cards run and clock speeds are correct, however while the primary goes up to 99% load in BF3, the secondary has yet to break 25%. Again, not an expert on this (haven't had a crossfire setup since the days of the old x1950 cards) but that just seems odd to me. Another thing I'm not sure about, if crossfire is indeed enabled as both GPU-z and CCC claim, if I boot the system with my lcd plugged into ANY of the 4 available DVI ports, it should work, yes? As it is now, if I boot plugged into the secondary card at all, my screen just goes into power save mode...Not sure if that means anything though.
My next move I guess is to try the drivers...although I find it hard to believe that the issue I am experiencing is driver related...if 12.1 is buggy enough to cause THIS, I feel like it would have been fixed by now. Just wishful thinking? lol
My "last resort" is to follow the instructions on that link about starting from scratch...hopefully it won't need to come to that but if it does, and even that doesn't work, maybe I will just return the 2nd card, sell the 1st, and just spring for the best of the new 79xx series I can afford...

UPDATE: uploaded a youtube video of the BF3 display corruption I'm experiencing...hopefully that will clear up any notions of microstuttering being the issue... also, sorry for the quality, but as the video description says, it didn't show up in FRAPS so I had to use my phone. http://youtu.be/1diLisBW9-E
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a c 92 U Graphics card
February 23, 2012 12:41:01 AM

try running 3dmark11 and see your scores compared to others.
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February 23, 2012 2:42:28 AM

Another update here...
Uninstall-wipe-reinstall drivers 11.12, no change. Turns out the issue in the video I posted is NOT BF3 exclusive, so far every game I have tried (except Skyrim for some reason) flickers like that...Even 3dMark11 does it. Speaking of that, I ran it twice, once on mid second time on extreme, and both times scores were WAY lower than they are supposed to be. On extreme test I would even go so far as to say abysmal: avg. framerate through graphics test 1-4 of 12.2! Graphics: 2648, physics: 8222, combined 3043. Something is obviously very wrong.
I noticed 2 things recently as well: 1- In Sapphire TRIXX app, primary card says "Bus Interface: PCI-E 2.0 x16 @ x8 2.0", while secondary card says "Bus Interface: PCI-E 2.0 x16 @ x8 1.1".
2- According to the results of 3dMark11, besides a giant stop sign that says "there is probably something wrong", it claims my "core clock= 250 mhz; memory clock= 150 mhz" It should read 800/1250 shouldn't it? Not 250/150...

Also, from searching around I have noticed a recurring theme when it comes to Crossfire issues of this magnitude (although I have yet to find anyone with my SAME issue, just parts here and there)...it seems to be a motherboard issue. If that is the case, it could explain why even before with the single card, although it worked much better than it does now, it still seemed to perform lower than expected...
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a c 92 U Graphics card
February 23, 2012 3:17:07 AM

try each card separately
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February 23, 2012 1:01:51 PM

Oh wow, something is seriously wrong, and your PSU is fine. Like the other dude here said you should start from scratch. Here's what you do to start with the problem.

1. download driver sweeper and the 11.2 ati drivers like that guy suggested.
2. uninstall all ati drivers.
3. boot into safe mode, run driver sweeper and remove all ati display, and nvidia display drivers if you ever had an nvidia card.
4. reboot, install the 11.2 drivers.

see if that fixes it.

If not, try that link someone posted.

It's obviously a driver issue I would think since your system was running a-ok before. Just to make sure, are your cards running in either 16x/16x or 8x/8x pci-e mode?
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February 23, 2012 1:13:41 PM

Also if you think it's a motherboard issue try going to the Asus site and downloading/installing the latest motherboard bios for your board.

Didn't see you installed 11.2.

I don't know how that board works but one is running at 8x 2.0, one is running at 8x 1.1. I'm not sure about it, but that might not seem right. Sounds like you need to go into your mobo bios and see if you can correct it if it needs to be?

And as esrever said, you need to try running that second card you bought as a single card in your games. It's a possibility the second one you bought is defective, if not you ruled that out.
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February 28, 2012 3:59:13 PM

Alright, update time.
So, to list what I did...Started from scratch, uninstalled, wiped, reinstalled each time I switched cards. New card in previously unused slot (pcie 16x_2, single card before was installed in 16x_1) worked, so the card seems to not be the issue. Did it all again in crossfire mode, switching the cards' positions with eachother, changed nothing. Updated mobo bios to newest available and double checked bios settings to check for any possible graphics related settings that could be causing problem, found none. Sapphire Trixx now says that both cards are running 8x 2.0 now instead of before where one was 1.1, so that is an improvement I guess.
Seeing as how the card seems to be working, my only chance now is to change the motherboard. The Asus P8z68-V pro running now I got open-box from Newegg, so it's possible that the mobo was defective when I got it, and Newegg claims to test only basic functionality so if there was a crossfire issue maybe they wouldn't have noticed it. Unfortunately it is too late to return the mobo, so I guess I'll just have to eat that...
I'll update once the mobo switch has been finished with the results. Here's hoping...
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March 3, 2012 3:51:28 AM

Man, if it's not the mobo and I were you... I would just sell my 2 6950s when kepler arrives and get a nice single card solution. SLI/Crossfire in my opinion... microstutter, input lag, some games don't scale as well as others, minimum frame rate issues, and more... just get the most powerful single card you can afford.
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a c 216 U Graphics card
March 3, 2012 4:01:48 AM

Both games you mention had a lot of issues with the normal drivers at release. Did you install the CAP profiles? Without those, the drivers are going to have major crossfire issues with those games.

I also might suggest uninstalling Trixx and give it a go. I've had both Trixx and Smartdoctor give me serious issues with some games in the past.
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