"Underperforming" GTX 590 - Significant CPU/GPU bottleneck??

Ok so I've read loads and loads of posts from tom's and been amazed at the wealth of knowedge available from the community on here, but I've finally taken the plunge and joined, I'm a newbie here so please be kind!

Apologies, bit of a story but please read:

Essentially, my system until very recently comprised of the following:

Intel Q9450 on Asus P5Q with Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler, Geil "Black Dragon" DDR2 1066Mhz memory in Dual channel mode with timings 5-5-5-15, both of the above overclocked to 3.6 Ghz and 1076Mhz respectively and stable for 12hrs in Prime95 on blend setting. O/S: Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit Case: NZXT Tempest Evo, PSU: Jeantech 700w Modular, Graphics: Nvidia 9800 GTX+, Sound: HT Omega Claro, Storage: Samsung 1.4tb, 2x Western Digital 36GB Raptors in RAID0 Configuration, 1x Western Digital Caviar 320GB

I lovingly built the system myself and don't have money to upgrade often so I buy my parts with a view to making them last rather than upgrading every 5 minutes. I recently got some money for an upgrade however and I thought "I know CPUs haved moved on a bit since the core2quad days but this beast is clocked at 3.6 Ghz and I want to game and can't aford a completely new build, what can i swap to make this machine perform amazingly in games?" I'd been REALLY REALLY fed up at low frame rates and micro stutter with some games such as Metro2033 and FarCry2, and I love Metro2033 and wanted to be able to play it in DX11 on max settings, so I decided to upgrade the graphics card.

I duly read a lot of reviews, and being a bit of an Nvidia fanboy (sorry!) that's what i went for, and since i was still in ye olde socket 775 territory and PCIE 2.0 land I thought I'd get the biggest card I could that was still designed for that generation of technology and leave PCIE 3.0 cards until my next build (years off!)and decided to go for a GTX 590. Now I know that Nvidia publishes graphs with games optimised with coding for their drivers etc so take with a pinch of salt but when I looked at ye olde fabled GPU comparison chart it showed that my 9800 GTX+ would get about 7000 3DMark vantage points on Nvidia's test settings, whilst a GTX 590 would get about 43000, nearly 6 times as much. This is gonna make my PC fly, I thought drooling.

I picked up a GTX 590 with a previous single owner at a good price off of Ebay, and duly bought a Corsair TX850 V2 PSU to go with it (a bit overkill I know but I thought this PSU will last me for a very long time in future builds) and my PC went a bit faster, but nowehere near as fast as I thought it should go with that kind of graphics power. I was having a job to keep ~70fps in Farcry2 and the fps were very inconsistent whereas my previous card kept ~55 fps with little variation, and with Metro2033 I was averaging 60 fps with a lot of variation on max settings. Needless to say this was not the performance hit I was hoping for! Looking at reviews for the card and benchmarks I saw people were getting 54 to 60 average fps at 1920x1080, I was getting between 46 and 51 at 1680 x 1050! I know Metro2033 is a very demanding game so I thought I'd look at FarCry2, and found people getting an average of around 151 fps with my card!!!

At this point I realised something was definitely up, but what? Looking at websites test rig setups and my rig the cpu stood out as the obvious major older component, so I wondered if my cpu might be bottlenecking the card, but I thought a quad core cpu at 3.6 Ghz even if the cpu is slightly dated has got to be more than enough not to cause a bottleneck as most games aren't even optimized to take advantage of quad core processors and there must surely be enough power there to run a frikkin' graphics card at full speed, surely???? Anyway i did some research and found out that CPU bottlenecks do indeed exist; as I understand it (in layman's terms anyway) the cpu instructs the graphics card what to do, and that if your CPU is not "man enough," it won't feed the graphics card enough requests quick enough to utilise it fully causing a bottleneck. I read more and heard people on forums asking if a gtx 570 or even 580 would be ok on a cpu similar to mine, but not a geforce series 5 sli setup, which is effectively what a gtx 590 is. The general answer was that a 560 or 570 would be fine, but no one had asked about an SLI setup, so:

Is it most likely to be my CPU causing decreased framerates and what I consider "poor performance" from this card relative to most benchmarks I've seen or is there something else I've overlooked that would be easy to rectify that would increase gaming performance? Or is memory a possible factor, or even the chipset on my motherboard (Intel P45) or is that a stupid question (in which case sorry!)

Finally... I read that a crude test to see you've got a CPU bottleneck without gutting the system is to lower the resolution of a game which should increase the workload of the CPU relative to the graphics card and show up as a bottleneck if the fps don't increase. I benchmarked the opening level of metro 2033 using Fraps at different resolutions AND different CPU speeds (overclocked and not) and did the same for Batman Arkham Asylum using the in game benchmark, here are the results, at my gaming resolution they vary a bit with processor speed changes but are a lot lower than benchmarks for the card on the internet in metro 2033, how come???

Metro 2033: DX11Everything maxed with all DX11 features enabled, advanced physx on, benchmarked using Fraps over opening level, played in same way each time to avoid excessive errors in results:

1680x1050 800x600
(min,max,avg) (min,max,avg)
3.6 Ghz 31,78,52 51,180,112
2.66 Ghz 30,79,52 40,147,91

Batman Arkham Asylum in game benchmark, all game settings at maximum:

1680x1050 800x600
(min,max,avg) (min,max,avg)
3.6 Ghz 45,145,98 40, 159, 108
2.66 Ghz 34,120,81 32, 135, 87

Could someone please interpet these results in light of the above information? I am very happy to do more tests / provide more information if people tell me what they would like. I uninstalled Farcry2 as i got upset with poor performance, but can reinstall and benchmark it if that helps! Apologies again for the long post, thanks for reading and please help!!!
6 answers Last reply
More about underperforming significant bottleneck
  1. your cpu is definitely causing a bottleneck :( btw how much did you get your 590 for?
  2. cloudzeng said:
    your cpu is definitely causing a bottleneck :( btw how much did you get your 590 for?

    Hmm hmm.. I have several ideas but I don't think his cpu is giving him that bad performance. He does have bottlenecks but the bottlenecks are limited. Can you run Heavens benchmark with vsync off on 1920x1080, tesselation extreme and everything maxed and post results. I would like to see that.

    - Fastreaction
  3. hi mate
    allthough the Intel Q9450 is a impressive cpu in its own right its architecture is quite old and using the legacy lga775 socket designation and the slower ddr2 memory this is whats bottlenecking your pc....
    your previous card namely the 9800gtx was designed around the lga775 platform and worked well with core 2 quads and duo,s however the GTX690 is more aimed at sandybridge/ivybridge platforms ...with most GTX690 owners opting for core i5/i7 cpu,s and ddr3 quad channel memory ( allthough dual channel would also be fine )
    theres not much you can do with your current set up.... i would recommend a motherboard bundle upgrade such as the "Krypton Z68 650i Intel Core i7 2700K 3.50Ghz @ 4.60Ghz Overclocked Bundle "( http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=BU-082-OE&groupid=43&catid=2053&subcat= ) ... this is a sandybridge core i7 and would work well with the GTX690 producing frame rates in excess of 100fps in most games.... however the less expensive "Krypton Z68 600i Intel Core i5 2500K 3.30GHz @ 4.60GHz Overclocked Bundle"( http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=BU-063-OE&groupid=43&catid=2053&subcat= ) would also be a sound choice and both bundles come overclocked by the retailer.... ( ive used overclockers.co.uk for many purchases and i highly recommend them.. never had one problem with them and their after sales support is second to none )
    i had a similar problem to yours when i purchased my GTX550ti... i was originally running it on a lga775 platform with a E5700 and 4gb of ddr2 ram ( pc2-6400) and i was also dissapointed with the gaming performance .... ive since upgraded to the pentium G620 which is a inexpensive sandybridge cpu and ive noticed a marked improvement in performance....( around 25% )
    i suppose you could replace your motherboard with one of the few lga775 boards that support ddr3 ( http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MB-217-MS&campaign=pcm/googleshopping&pup_ptid=19586772875&pup_kw=&pup_c=pla&gclid=CLewl9Xe_rECFUNTfAod2CYAzw ) but one of the problems here is most of these are entry level boards ...... the move from ddr2 to ddr3 may help but i cant promise massive improvements...
    good luck
  4. Hi guys,

    Thanks for the replies, I figured I probably wouldn't like the general consensus but maybe it will help others from making a similar error, it's the first "expensive" pc error I've made...

    Cloudzeng - Picked up the card for £320 inc P&P

    Brianthesnail - Thanks for the info but it was a Geforce 590 i bought, not a 690 - the 690 is PCIE 3.0 and as you say was clearly designed with the newer CPUs and motherboards in mind so I didn't even entertain the idea of getting a Geforce 6 series card, but the 590 whilst very powerful is still PCIE 2.0 so I didn't figure on having any problems....

    Fastreaction - I ran Heaven 3.0 at the settings you've requested, not used it before it's a very pretty benchmark! I'm using the latest Nvidia Drivers and all settings were on default apart from Vsync which was turned off in the Nvidia drivers and in Heaven. Did 3 runs to get an accurate result and they were actually very consistent which suprised me!

    Run 1:
    Average fps: 52
    Scores: 1310
    Min fps: 8.4
    Max fps: 109.9

    Run 2:
    Average fps: 52.1
    Min fps: 9.6
    Max fps: 109.5

    Run 3:

    Average fps: 52.1
    Scores 1311
    Min fps:9.6
    Max fps 109.5

    Fastreaction what do you make of those? Also you said in your first post you had "several ideas" as to what was going on, would you care to elaborate?
  5. Actually if you reach 50fps in that I wonder about "bottlenecking".
    I re-read your 1st post carefully and I noticed this "advanced physx on". What happens if you turn physx off?

    - Fastreaction
  6. yes,i have to agree... allthough the Intel Q9450 is still a powerful cpu to this day the GTX590 is in another league... and your cpu will max out while your gpu will probally be at around 50%.... that said the benchmark results for metro 2033 are by no means poor.... a average of 52fps at stock clock is nothing to be sneezed at,and anything above 30fps is generally seen a playable
    basically while your using a lga775 platform you wont see improvements .... i discovered this ( to a lesser extent ) when running crossfired HD5750,s and a pentium E5700..... allthough like yourself i could acheive playable frame rates they have doubled in some games since i upgraded to a sandybridge cpu ( pentium G620) and replaced the crossfired radeons with a GTX550ti...
    but im allmost sure the newer architecture on the sandybridge cpu ( and the associated 1155 motherboard ) have alot to do with the improvements ... ( oh yes and the ddr3 memory (1333mhz) were i was using ddr2 (800mhz ) prior to this )
    however upgrading your core components wont be cheap and its probally not the answer you want to hear.... however a core i3 3220 ( http://www.aria.co.uk/SuperSpecials/Other+products/Intel+Core+i3-3220+3.30GHz+%28Ivybridge%29+Socket+LGA1155+Processor+%2877W%29+-+Retail+?productId=52002 ) is a reasonably priced ivybridge cpu and with a passmark cpu score of 4468 ( http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_list.php ) compared to 4039 for the Q9450 its actually faster aswell ( if only by a bit )............ it also has hyper threading which is not supported on the Q9450
    throw in a Z77 chipset motherboard such as the MSI Z77A-G41 ( http://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Components/Motherboards+-+Intel/Socket+1155+-+Intel+Z77/MSI+Z77A-G41+Intel+Z77+Socket+1155+DDR3+PCI-Express+Motherboard+?productId=52099 ) and 8gb of 1600mhz ddr3 ram ( http://www.aria.co.uk/SuperSpecials/Other+products/8GB+Exceleram+Black+Sark+LP+ERS303B+%282x4GB%29+1600+%28PC3-12800%29+240-Pin+DDR3+SDRAM+CAS+9-9-9-24+1.5V+?productId=51651 ) and you can bag a motherboard bundle that will be more suited to the GTX590 and acheive improved benchmark results
    but the main reason for a move to 1155 is you then have the option to upgrade the core i3 when finances allow .... even a core i5 would only set you back another £50 while acheiving even better results
    in summary theres not much you can do with the current set up... maybe adding another 4gb of ram could help in some instances but with your Q9450 being about as good as it gets with lga775 the move to another socket designation is your best bet
    hope this helps
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