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6870 vs 7870 and game performance

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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April 1, 2012 11:47:03 PM

Ok, so I just upgraded from a 6870 to a 7870 hoping that it would fix some of the sluggishness i get in games like Skyrim and Crysis and Metro 2033. However, it didn't seem to make much of a difference. There are places where the card does seem to perform better but there are places where the frame rates drop as low at 15. I am running this in 1680x1050 too! WTF.

Let me start off by saying the rest of my system specs:

20.1 inch Dell FPW 1680x1050
3.2 GHZ i7 quad core
12 GB DDR3 triple channel
Sapphire OC Edition 7870 overclocked to 1175 core and 1300 memory. I bumped the power controls up to 50%. None of the overclocking seemed to make a difference.
1 TB 7200RPM HDD

Ok, so let me give an example of what I tried. I went ahead and set my AMD catalyst control panels to the defaults. I went to the Skyrim launcher and set everything to ultra. I then go to the top of whiterun in skyrim near the enterance to dragonsreach and look out over the city. My frames drop to like 20fps. This is the same performance I got on like my 6870. Something else has to be bottlenecked. I look at the CPU and it doesn't seem to be maxed out when I am up there. My memory is fine and I am not swapping. I don't even have a swap file turned on because I have 12 gigs of RAM. I change things like the antialiasing from 8x to 0x and I still see the same slowdown to the same degree. I have tried reinstalling the drivers. I have tried what I think of as everything. Can someone please help guide me as to what to do! I read the reviews of the card everywhere and they say the minimum framerates are way higher than what I am getting, even on 1080p resolutions. What could possibly be bottlenecking my system? Please, someone help me!

April 1, 2012 11:54:07 PM

What catalyst version are u using ? 12.3 is the First to officially support 7xxx
so upgrade if u are using older version , it might help
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April 1, 2012 11:54:15 PM

I haven't tried Skyrim (yet) or Metro 2033 very much, but I can tell you that I'm running Crysis 2 on Ultra in DX11 with the texture pack on a 1080p monitor with my 7870 and I never saw my frame rate dip below 35 fps (usually it stayed between 45-60 fps) in my experience (I played the entire campaign). It might be your power supply. What brand and wattage is it?
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April 1, 2012 11:55:37 PM

Try a lower OC, I have mine on 1105 because that's the most stable.
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April 1, 2012 11:57:06 PM

Try running with 4x AA and drop your shadows down a notch. I get 57+ so the 7870 should smoke your old card. I don't know much about your CPU but Skyrim is a CPU hog.
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April 1, 2012 11:57:34 PM

gary1 said:
Try a lower OC, I have mine on 1105 because that's the most stable.


Definitely a valid test, but he did have a 6870 in there which has having these same issues.
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April 2, 2012 12:05:58 AM

Hello.
Hmm, is the problem happening only in skyrim?
If yes, what version of skyrim are you using?
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April 2, 2012 3:20:28 AM

Thanks for all the replies guys. I am not having any stability problems. Frankly, I am not noticing a difference in FPS depending on me turning on the overdrive or not. I am running the catalyst version 2012.0214.2218.39913. It's the version that came with the 7870 disk. I tried checking for updates but it says I have the most up to date catalyst control center. It's happening in Crysis, Crysis Warhead, Metro 2033, Skyrim, MW3, even Oblivion isn't noticibly faster. The only game that I noticed being faster was Mass Effect 3 and BF3. It's weird because I can turn the AA down and I still get the same frames. It's like my CPU is bottlenecking me but none of the 8 logical cores are being pegged at 100%. Every game except Mass Effect gets very variable frame rates. If I had to guess, it's something wrong with the driver. I am running windows 7 ultimate 64-bit.

All I did was install the card, install the drivers from the disk, and set everything in CCC to default. I tried overclocking it to make it faster, but that didn't help, as I've mentioned already. I then found my old driver for my 6870 in device manager by showing hidden drivers that aren't in use, and I uninstalled that. I then reinstalled CCC once again and tried to do everything back to default.

This card should be destroying these games, even at max settings. I am pretty disappointed, but something has to be wrong.
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April 2, 2012 5:34:16 AM

The updater is incorrect. Your driver is very much out of date. Here's the latest for your OS - http://www2.ati.com/drivers/12-3_vista_win7_64_dd_ccc.e...
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April 2, 2012 7:51:41 AM

Wow thanks guys. Let's see if it works. If it does, why did they ship drivers with the card that don't even have support for the series? Oh wait...I forgot this is AMD
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April 2, 2012 8:21:02 AM

Ugh, still not working. Ok, so I installed that driver, but I didn't uninstall anything ahead of time. I restarted afterwards. The CCC was the new version. Something is up! I went to skyrim launcher, I told it to "detect best settings." It chose ultra high. I run around whiterun, and I get 20-60 FPS, with lots of stuttering. The place with the lowest framerate is when I go to the top of the stairs and look out over whiterun. I even changed shadow detail to medium, and the FPS still dipped to just under 30 fps. I am in such a low resolution! How is this possible!?!

Ok, there has to be some old bad driver or something on my system. Can someone with this card at least go to whiterun in skyrim and turn FRAPS on and tell me their min framerate doing the same test on ultra? Is it stuttering like crazy? I am sure it won't be but please for a sanity check!

How can I clear out every driver I have ever had on here that would affect this? I have had the following cards in the past: 5870, 6870, and now the 7870...lol

Again, thanks so much for all your help!
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April 2, 2012 10:58:07 AM

Don't have much experience with AMD's drivers, but maybe go to program and features and remove CCC? Then check your system for ATI/AMD folders and delete them. ALL of them. Then re-install.
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April 2, 2012 1:22:18 PM

I was doing a lot of test with a lot of gpu/cpu compinations for skyrim and I found out that, if your frame rate goes up after lowering the shadows then its the cpu that reaches to its limit.
Try install latest patch for skyrim as it seems to improve cpu optimisation a lot!
(latest patch is 1.5+ I think.)
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April 2, 2012 6:58:38 PM

The update helped a little bit. Now, I am getting like 35 as the minimum frame rate when on those stairs looking over the city. Why is my CPU bottlenecking but not having any cores being pegged at 100%? And plus, my CPU isn't "slow." My resolution isn't high. My graphics card is good. It seems to me that it's impossible to get consistent frame rates of 60fps or higher with Skyrim because either bad coding by bethesda or bad drivers. Also, I was just using skyrim as an example. Why am I getting sub 20 FPS in Metro 2033 in Ultra and 30-40 FPS on COD MW3. It seems like I should be getting hundreds of FPS with this card in these games based on the benchmarks.

If anyone would try running their Skyrim with any AMD video card that can handle ultra and run around to the top of the stairs in whiterun and look over the city and tell me if they get big dips in frames, it would be really helpful to determine if I am chasing a red herring.

Thanks guys :)  Any other ideas and feedback will be greatly appreciated! <3
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April 2, 2012 7:27:48 PM

Skyrim will only use around two cores, some say four. If you have a process assigned to more cores than it is programmed to use, you may get strange stuttering/lagg issues. Try running Skyrim on your third and fourth core to see if it helps.

To remove drivers, uninstall your current ones (Device Manager -> Display Adapters), get Driver Cleaner Pro, launch it, choose ATI (And NVidia if you've had a green GPU recently), re-boot, download and install new drivers, reboot.
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April 3, 2012 12:58:45 PM

Drummer16161616 said:
The update helped a little bit. Now, I am getting like 35 as the minimum frame rate when on those stairs looking over the city. Why is my CPU bottlenecking but not having any cores being pegged at 100%? And plus, my CPU isn't "slow." My resolution isn't high. My graphics card is good. It seems to me that it's impossible to get consistent frame rates of 60fps or higher with Skyrim because either bad coding by bethesda or bad drivers. Also, I was just using skyrim as an example. Why am I getting sub 20 FPS in Metro 2033 in Ultra and 30-40 FPS on COD MW3. It seems like I should be getting hundreds of FPS with this card in these games based on the benchmarks.

If anyone would try running their Skyrim with any AMD video card that can handle ultra and run around to the top of the stairs in whiterun and look over the city and tell me if they get big dips in frames, it would be really helpful to determine if I am chasing a red herring.

Thanks guys :)  Any other ideas and feedback will be greatly appreciated! <3


You mean everything maxed out? Then its normal that you get 20fps. Your gpu isnt a dual gpu monstrosity. And Metro 2033 can kneel even HD6990 and GTX590. According to Techpowerup you should gettin average 27fps with a core i7 920 @3,8Ghz. It is normal to go down even at 20fps. Just use high settings.

Also, Skyrim developers thought of overwhelming PC horsepower will destroy any performance will be asked from Skyrim without optimising it. Guess what? They were wrong. Thats why they release a single patch at 1.4 that made the game 75% faster (from 20fps with my settings on markath to 35fps on my pc with Q6600 and GTX570 to avoid gpu bottlenecks) by using your cpu better than before. And even gpu companies also give drivers in order to improve the performance. Bethesda said that will continue to working on optimising more. Also beware that by asking people to go with Ultra settings in skyrim you will get a HELL lot of different responses even with people with the same GPU. The reason is that Ultra makes also shadows on ultra which is cpu depended so you will see huge varieties of numbers and it will confuse you more.

Now as for COD MW3, I really dont know what the hell is happening. You should had more fps for sure...
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April 4, 2012 3:02:43 AM

Ok, so I kind of found a solution to cleaning out all my old drivers. I had a bunch of crap on my PC. Basically, I uninstalled CCC from the control panel. I then uninstalled my display adapters from the device manager. I then restarted. Then I searched for any folders named ATI or AMD on my PC. I deleted those in program files, program data, local, roaming, etc. Then I searched my registry for ATI and AMD and removed all folders in there with those names. Then, I restarted and
reinstalled the latest drivers.

Things are decent now. It seems whenever I get stuttering in games it is related to my CPU, except for Metro 2033 of course. I am still very disappointed by the fact that I have stuttering at all. Crysis runs pretty smooth now. Skyrim is ok after the update, but the shadows look terrible even on ultra. I can't believe Skyrim is programmed so poorly, jeez. There are a bunch of weird glitches and whatnot, even in version 1.5.

Lol, I figured out what was happening with COD MW3. I got it on launch day and I guess I needed to apply some patch and it totally fixed the artificial 40fps limit! It now runs at 60 fps. It still stutters like hell in the menus and the videos when loading the levels, but I turned on my resource monitor and saw that whenever the CPU was pegged it would drop the framerate. Weird...

I look forward to AMD releasing new drivers to fix some of the glitches with this card and maybe improve performance. I am a little disappointed overall by this card, but I do not think it's the card's fault. Since most games ran fine with the 6870, I figured, "Hey, this is 2 times as fast as my current card, getting the 7870 should fix all the minor performance issues." Sad thing is, almost all of those issues still exist, but most of them are pretty minor. Thanks for all the help guys!

I would love it if someone could post me some config options to make the skyrim shadows look good and have the game still playable!
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April 9, 2012 7:11:52 AM

aicom said:
I haven't tried Skyrim (yet) or Metro 2033 very much, but I can tell you that I'm running Crysis 2 on Ultra in DX11 with the texture pack on a 1080p monitor with my 7870 and I never saw my frame rate dip below 35 fps (usually it stayed between 45-60 fps) in my experience (I played the entire campaign). It might be your power supply. What brand and wattage is it?


Heh, my framerate is great in crysis 2 too, man. That game has way worse graphics than crysis or crysis warhead. The environments are about 1/10th as detailed as the prior two games because they had to make it run on consoles. Two running the two games I mentioned and let me know if you get the same results in 1080p :)  You should get about 20-60 fps depending on how much is going on in the game at the time.
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April 9, 2012 7:13:26 AM

Best answer selected by Drummer16161616.
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