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Mystery Stuttering! i7-950 + GTX 560 Ti

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July 28, 2012 5:48:02 PM

Hi!

I've been getting this really odd stuttering while playing games and it's driving me bananas.

It happens after playing a game for a few minutes (so far it's happened in every game I've tried). It basically appears as if some frames are rendered for too long making a single frame stay on screen too long about 2-3 times per second. This happens in exactly the same way in all the games I've tried and at all graphical settings. The frame skips are also accompanied by a synchronised crackle from the sound (particularly noticeable with headphones). It also some times does this during video playback.

I scoured the internet and found information about micro stuttering but that seemed to only happen in SLI/crossfire setups, so no luck there.

The next thing I thought it could be was a bottleneck of some sort, but looking at my spec's that seems unlikely. I also looked at my stats in CPU-Z, GPU-Z, Task Manager and CPUID HWMonitor while in a game with the stuttering and none of them showed any of the components being strained at all.

I thought it may be a fault in the GPU I had at the time (a 1GB GTX 460) or its drivers but I tried many different drivers and none of them fixed the problem. It also happens in my new 1GB GTX 560 Ti so I don't think it's a GPU problem.

I've also tried different sound drivers to see if that's the problem, but no luck there either.

Anyway, it seems I've done everything within my knowledge to try and find the problem but now I'm stuck and that's why I'm here asking people who probably know a lot more than me about this sort of thing.

Here are my specs:

Motherboard: Gigabyte X58A-UD3R

CPU: i7-950 OC @ 3.50 GHz

GPU: Gigabyte GTX 560 Ti 1GB (previously GTX 460 1GB)

RAM: 6GB Patriot

HDD: Samsung 103SI

OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit


TL;DR

> Frame rate seems to skip in all games. Appears as if one frame is left on screen two long 2-3 time every second.

> Stutter is accompanied by a synchronised short crackle in the sound.

> Happens in both GPUs I've tried (GTX 460 and 560 Ti).

> I'm sure it's not a CPU bottle neck as it would be very difficult to bottle neck my current CPU (i7-950 is apparently fine with dual GTX 680s).

> Occurs with all GPU drivers I've installed.

> Everything appears normal in all hardware monitors during the stuttering.

I'm COMPLETELY stumped. Any help or ideas would be very much appreciated.

Thank you.
a b U Graphics card
July 28, 2012 6:09:11 PM

Have you tried updating sound drivers ? I know you said you tried GPU drivers. Try running a DPC test:

http://www.thesycon.de/deu/latency_check.shtml

And see your sound driver is giving you latency spikes. If so, you most definitely should update your soundcard drivers. If not, try it anyway.
a c 179 U Graphics card
July 29, 2012 5:11:13 AM

Have you had this problem for a long time or is it something that just started to happen? Do you remember what you did to your rig just before this problem, like update or add any new hardwear or softwear.

What are your temps at idle and load? If you have to stop and get out of the game then go to a program then your temps have a time to cool so you don't get real time temps.

In side of your rig clear of dust? I had to ask sorry. Have you checked on how much back ground programs are running at the same time while playing? What is your PSU's brand and wattage?

There are a lot of things that could be causing that problem. The questions I ask are a way to rule out certain things so could please answer the questions and not skip over unless you fix your problem.

Then you don't even have to reply. It migh be just a simple update for the bios. You have to do them as well as anything else on your rig. Good luck and get back to us.
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July 30, 2012 1:15:40 PM

Hi DM186

I've had this problem for quite a long time, yes, and it's possible that the problem has always existed in some capacity. I don't remember any specific updates in hardware or software before I first started to notice it either.

My temperatures on my GTX 560 are about 35C idle and around 65C at load. My CPU cores usually stick around 40 at idle and occasionally hit 80C at load (they never usually reach this in games, only during rendering from a CAD program). I get these temps while inside the games as well.

I did clear the inside of dust a couple of months ago but it's probably a little dusty now. It did the same stuttering just after I'd cleared the dust too.

I have checked the background processes while in the games and I didn't see anything that looked suspicious but I'm not an expert so I wouldn't be able to identify if a certain process was causing trouble.

As for the PSU I'm not sure about the brand (I don't have an internet connection at my new house yet so I'm replying to you from my work place during lunch break, so I can't check my PC to find the brand name) but I know it's a 750 watt unit.

I haven't updated the BIOS though. It did occur that that might help, but I'm not confident I can carry out the update without risking breaking my system.

-----

Maxx_power,

I have gone through and updated my sound drivers but that didn't seem to be the problem.


Thanks to both of you for getting back to me!
a b U Graphics card
July 30, 2012 2:43:52 PM

ODPaterson said:
Hi DM186

I've had this problem for quite a long time, yes, and it's possible that the problem has always existed in some capacity. I don't remember any specific updates in hardware or software before I first started to notice it either.

My temperatures on my GTX 560 are about 35C idle and around 65C at load. My CPU cores usually stick around 40 at idle and occasionally hit 80C at load (they never usually reach this in games, only during rendering from a CAD program). I get these temps while inside the games as well.

I did clear the inside of dust a couple of months ago but it's probably a little dusty now. It did the same stuttering just after I'd cleared the dust too.

I have checked the background processes while in the games and I didn't see anything that looked suspicious but I'm not an expert so I wouldn't be able to identify if a certain process was causing trouble.

As for the PSU I'm not sure about the brand (I don't have an internet connection at my new house yet so I'm replying to you from my work place during lunch break, so I can't check my PC to find the brand name) but I know it's a 750 watt unit.

I haven't updated the BIOS though. It did occur that that might help, but I'm not confident I can carry out the update without risking breaking my system.

-----

Maxx_power,

I have gone through and updated my sound drivers but that didn't seem to be the problem.


Thanks to both of you for getting back to me!



Did you try the DPC latency checker ? Try that, if there is a severe latency issue that could cause programs to stutter using real time sound, that could be an issue.

Try also to go to device manager, uninstall manually the sound card (should have a name that is recognizable under the proper category for your device), then find the option in menu to scan for hardware changes to let it reinstall the driver.

If your sound card driver came with a control interface software that allows you to set settings like equalizer, pseudo-3D sound, other gimmicky enhancements, disable all of those in the driver control panel.
a c 179 U Graphics card
July 31, 2012 5:06:15 AM

Try what maxx_power is suggesting that way you can either rule it out or it will fix your problem and that would be very good. But if it doesn't then at least you will know it is not the problem.

CPU's are not suppose to get that hot. 80c is way to hot. The most my CPU gets is about 58c under major load. Your GPU's are fine. So what kind of cooler do you have on your CPU?

At idle my temps are around 30c. I will link you to a few temp programs that are good. Have you checked your RAM? Try one stick at a time and you can run memtest86+ for about 30 min.

On your CPU you might want to get some thermal paste and reapply some just in case that could be the problem. I also will link you to some how to update your bios. So let us know how eveything turns out. Good luck.

http://www.memtest.org/

http://www.techpowerup.com/realtemp/

http://www.techpowerup.com/gpuz/

http://www.alcpu.com/CoreTemp/

http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html

http://event.msi.com/vga/afterburner/download.htm

http://event.msi.com/vga/afterburner/images/Afterburner...

August 3, 2012 4:15:42 PM

Hi DM186,

Thanks for those links! I shall look into updating the BIOS once I have an internet connection at my house.

I checked my CPU temps again by running some hefty rendering for a little while and turns out I was getting mixed up. My max temp for the CPU was 66C after a long batch render on a fairly hot day. I was getting mixed up between my PC CPU (which is fine) and my macbook pro CPU (which sometimes hits 90C, but that's another problem for another time I think).

I haven't checked RAM though, so I'll do that once I get internet aswell.

-------

Hey maxx_power

I'll certainly try the latency checker as soon as possible and in the meantime see if there any weird features I can disable as you suggested.


Anyway, thank you both for your help and suggestions and I'll let you know how things go.

Cheers!
a c 179 U Graphics card
August 4, 2012 3:43:49 AM

Ok I will keep my fingers crossed and I will be waiting to hear back from you. Cheers
September 2, 2012 1:05:42 AM

Hi again,

So I've tried a few different things to try and fix the problem, including disabling sound drivers and so on, but I think I've found a fix.

My rig was bought from CyberPower System UK, and they assembled it with a 'safe and secure' overclock on the GPU. This is stored in the BIOS and can be loaded from some of the CMOS profiles. I went into the BIOS and loaded a set of CMOS settings without the overclock and it seems to have stopped the stuttering.

I can't be 100% sure it's worked but I managed to play a game for a good long while without any stuttering cropping up at all. I then re-loaded the overclock CMOS profile and the stuttering started in-game again fairly quickly.

That's all good, but I'm now finding that without the OC I get a squealing sound from the GPU. Strangely enough though, it only seems to squeal when there's no load on the graphics card. While playing a game it seems to be near enough silent.

Also, it seems to take longer for my PC to start up than before and Windows randomly decided to switch to basic scheme...

Is this worth worrying about?
a b U Graphics card
September 2, 2012 1:12:17 AM

ODPaterson said:
Hi again,

So I've tried a few different things to try and fix the problem, including disabling sound drivers and so on, but I think I've found a fix.

My rig was bought from CyberPower System UK, and they assembled it with a 'safe and secure' overclock on the GPU. This is stored in the BIOS and can be loaded from some of the CMOS profiles. I went into the BIOS and loaded a set of CMOS settings without the overclock and it seems to have stopped the stuttering.

I can't be 100% sure it's worked but I managed to play a game for a good long while without any stuttering cropping up at all. I then re-loaded the overclock CMOS profile and the stuttering started in-game again fairly quickly.

That's all good, but I'm now finding that without the OC I get a squealing sound from the GPU. Strangely enough though, it only seems to squeal when there's no load on the graphics card. While playing a game it seems to be near enough silent.

Also, it seems to take longer for my PC to start up than before and Windows randomly decided to switch to basic scheme...

Is this worth worrying about?


That's usually just the inductor coils making a whine. Under no load conditions the inductors are most frequently the causes. This is nothing to worry about. BUT, for some the noise is annoying.

Good to hear your stuttering issue is much better.
September 2, 2012 1:38:08 AM

Thanks for the reply!

I just thought though, it could be the psu rather than the graphics card. I checked the wattage on CPUID and it's bouncing between 25 watts and 147 watts at the lowest and highest points...

D'you reckon that's normal or really bad?
a b U Graphics card
September 2, 2012 1:46:32 AM

ODPaterson said:
Thanks for the reply!

I just thought though, it could be the psu rather than the graphics card. I checked the wattage on CPUID and it's bouncing between 25 watts and 147 watts at the lowest and highest points...

D'you reckon that's normal or really bad?


That's just your CPU up and down clocking depending on what's the load on it. That and C-state changes. That is normal on a modern CPU. It throttles down when not doing much work to save power, and so the TDP is changed as well dynamically between a maximum and a minimum.

Use a little tube (like an empty paper towel roll) against your ear with the other side pointed inside the case with the case door open and the whiny noise on to locate what exact component is causing this whine. If it is high pitched, an only comes on with certain loads (or no load), it is most likely just some inductor coil whine.
September 2, 2012 2:13:16 AM

I shall give that a go, thanks. Is there any reason it would start doing after removing the overclock?
a c 179 U Graphics card
September 2, 2012 3:07:25 AM

I agree with maxx on this one and give it a go. The wattage in CUPID is just CPU. The only way to see how much wattage is going to the GPU is my a volt meter. If you had to undo the factor OC.

In order to get it to play you might want to test your GPU in another rig to see if it is also stuttering just to make sure that your GPU is good because you shouldn't be getting that squeal at all.

They should have given you a card that came from the factory already OC'd and not try to OC it through the bios. Are you able to change the clocks on the card it self? Like using MSI Afterburner. Get back to us and good luck.
a b U Graphics card
September 2, 2012 2:06:20 PM

ODPaterson said:
I shall give that a go, thanks. Is there any reason it would start doing after removing the overclock?


Yes. There is a reason. The issue is that inductor coils sometimes exhibit a resonant frequency when combined with the rest of the components. When the ripple current passing through them is just right in both frequency and amplitude (as in PWM modulation), the inductors can be excited to resonate at its structural resonance, causing the characteristic buzz you are hearing.

In your case, since the components didn't physically change, only the OC profiles, my hypothesis is that the OC profile had different voltages and clocks, so the coil was more saturated and/or passing current under a different set of PWM modulations such that the resonant frequency was not being excited. When you removed that profile, the AC-load on the coils changed, and whatever it is at now is exciting the resonance.

Physically this doesn't cause any problems.

Here is a Wiki article on this, and extremely generalized:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coil_noise
a b U Graphics card
September 2, 2012 2:12:14 PM

Out of curiosity, if you do a OCCT run on LinPack settings and use CPU-Z to log the CPU speeds, when the CPU gets hot (say 80 degrees or so) does it throttle ? If it does, it might explain why you were getting stuttering under OC conditions. The CPU might have reached a thermal throttle point.
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