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Weird performance issues

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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December 9, 2012 10:52:36 AM

So here's what's bugging me. Games that are supposed to be running fine are having pretty big lag spikes and frame drops. This means that for the most part FPS is stable at around 55-100 until it quickly dips to around 40-30 and in some cases even 20. This is only happening in first-person shooters.

Specs:

GPU: AMD Radeon HD 6850 @ 1920x1080
CPU: Intel i5 2400
RAM: 8Gb DDR3 G.Skill Ares
HDD: Western Digital 1Tb Caviar Black (7200 rpm)
Mobo: Msi Z77A-G45

Temperatures: completely fine ;) 

It seems that my PC is able to handle the game just fine until I enter a big city or a big battle and the framerate suddenly gets all grumpy.

My question is this: What's causing the problem? Is the 6850 getting a little weak or could it have something to do with the HDD? I know this GPU will not be enough at some point, but maybe an SSD could provide a solution to this?

I honestly do not know, that's why I'm asking you :) 

Thanks!
a b U Graphics card
December 9, 2012 11:22:05 AM

You called it dude. Your 6850 is weak at 1080p! A GPU upgrade would be nice. The rest of your system is nice, and a good GPU to match would be a real boost in performance, and most likely kill any notion of dropped fps while gaming.

A 7870 or 7950 would be a good match, or gtx670 depending on you budget. 2gb vram on whichever card you can afford to buy and your good to go.
December 9, 2012 12:08:30 PM

keith12 said:
You called it dude. Your 6850 is weak at 1080p! A GPU upgrade would be nice. The rest of your system is nice, and a good GPU to match would be a real boost in performance, and most likely kill any notion of dropped fps while gaming.

A 7870 or 7950 would be a good match, or gtx670 depending on you budget. 2gb vram on whichever card you can afford to buy and your good to go.


Thanks!

I'll wait with the SSD longer and look into GPUs more. Is it really the vram holding it back? I could try lowering the textures and see if that gives a boost. Thanks again!
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December 9, 2012 12:31:20 PM

7950 and 670 are a bit out of my price range. Hopefully I can sell my current card in the future though.

7870 or 7850 both seem good. There is an option to go with a 660 though. The 660 is even slightly cheaper. Luckily this is a huge topic so I'll just take my time and see which is best for me.
a b U Graphics card
December 9, 2012 3:32:58 PM

liivahiir said:
7950 and 670 are a bit out of my price range. Hopefully I can sell my current card in the future though.

7870 or 7850 both seem good. There is an option to go with a 660 though. The 660 is even slightly cheaper. Luckily this is a huge topic so I'll just take my time and see which is best for me.


If GTX 660 is cheaper or at the same Price point as Radeon 7850 then don't hesistate to buy it. It's more or less around 5% slower overall than Radeon 7870 at stock speeds.

Also keep in mind that the GTX 660 features adaptive vsync that gives a smoother gameplay, FXAA that gives better Visuals WITHOUT sacrificing almost any performance, TXAA which is better than MSAA, physx that gives some cool effects and ofc boost that automatically overclocks your GPU when performance is needed.

BUT the Radeon 7850 and 7870 has some great overclocking abilities which you can push very far, if you get the right aftermarket cooler on it.

It's not the biggest upgrade, but you will see some great increase of FPS whenever you need more than 1 GB of vram.
December 9, 2012 4:18:42 PM

lostgamer_03 said:
If GTX 660 is cheaper or at the same Price point as Radeon 7850 then don't hesistate to buy it. It's more or less around 5% slower overall than Radeon 7870 at stock speeds.

Also keep in mind that the GTX 660 features adaptive vsync that gives a smoother gameplay, FXAA that gives better Visuals WITHOUT sacrificing almost any performance, TXAA which is better than MSAA, physx that gives some cool effects and ofc boost that automatically overclocks your GPU when performance is needed.

BUT the Radeon 7850 and 7870 has some great overclocking abilities which you can push very far, if you get the right aftermarket cooler on it.

It's not the biggest upgrade, but you will see some great increase of FPS whenever you need more than 1 GB of vram.


Sorry, I think I explained it wrong.

MSI GTX 660 Twin Frozr III - 205 €
AMD Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 - 219 € (These all seem to have very similar coolers)
AMD Sapphire Radeon HD 7850 2GB - 173 €

OR - the MSI HD 7850 Power Edition - 190 € (this is probably the best choice at the moment imo)

The 7850 and 7870 perform quite similarly, so there's not a huge difference which one I might end up choosing.

When it comes to Nvida vs AMD, I'm currently leanig toward the AMD side because of the following reasons:

1. The overall average performance difference in games between the 7870 and 660 is very small for me. (I don't play the games at the moment where the 660 crushes the 7870)

2. AMD cards can actually run Physx quite well. The only game where you really need an Nvidia card for that is Batman: Arkham City. (I don't play that by the way :)  )

3. The 660 has some trouble with AA http://media.bestofmicro.com/H/T/349265/original/Framer...
(this is information gathered by other people of course)

4. The AMD cards and especially the 7850 Power Edition should have pretty good overclocking capabilities.

BUT there are also some pros to 660 as you said.

1. FXAA (look at the graph http://media.bestofmicro.com/H/T/349265/original/Framer... )

2. I like that automatic overclocking feature you mentioned. I'll have to look more into that myself.

3. Absolutely guaranteed Physx or Bf3 performance I guess :) 

Then again, if I was going to go with the 7850 Power Edition, I might as well look at the 660 as well. Although I have to say, the cheapest 2GB 7850 does look like an awful lot of GPU for the money!

7850 vs 660 - http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/660?vs=549

Or I might not buy anything at all and wait for the newer series :) 
December 9, 2012 4:31:08 PM

Kari said:
you could download GPU-Z to monitor the load and ram usage and whatnot while gaming
http://www.techpowerup.com/gpuz/


Thanks! I just tried that and the results were very surprising.

I launched Borderlands 2 and maxed out everything except for Physx.

Fraps was showing around 45-60 FPS (rather unstable) and even in smaller fight the framerate dipped and dropped like crazy (not what I would call a smooth gameplay at around 50 fps at all).

But here's the thing, both GPUz and MSI Afterburner showed that the vram usage never went above 700Mb!

I put the textures at "low" and tried again. The fps didn't improve and vram usage went down 200Mb.

GPU usage was maxed at all times though.

I guess the vram isn't so much a bottleneck as simply the core and memory clock.

As I said, I'll probably not buy anything new at all and just wait and see. Setting the textures to high and bringing down other settings like render distance, game detail, bullet decals and foliage draw distance help hugely and get rid of the stuttering with the game still looking nearly as good as before.

The endless battle between AMD and Nvidia is still relevant though! :) 
a b U Graphics card
December 9, 2012 4:31:41 PM

None of your links else than the anandtech provides any information about GTX 660, only the TI version.

In the anandtech comparison GTX 660 crushes Radeon 7850 by a margain in almost every aspect. Still paying 32 € doesn't seem as that much when the performance gain is so big.

The waiting game is a crucial game to play, you can always keep waiting for the next 'big thing'. But when you've waited for so long, then the next 'big thing' could just around the corner Again. Not saying it's bad to wait, but you can always keep on waiting because Things get better everyday.

I just hope you get happy with whatever you choose. Good luck. :) 
a b U Graphics card
December 9, 2012 4:34:31 PM

Oh and I just had to mention this!

The overclock might seem small on the GTX 660 on boost.

But I can tell from using a reference GTX 660, with no overclock, it hits 1110.5 MHz when playing intensive games and still remain on 70 degrees and 30% fan speed. I saw this using GPU-Z. :) 
December 9, 2012 4:49:03 PM

lostgamer_03 said:
Oh and I just had to mention this!

The overclock might seem small on the GTX 660 on boost.

But I can tell from using a reference GTX 660, with no overclock, it hits 1110.5 MHz when playing intensive games and still remain on 70 degrees and 30% fan speed. I saw this using GPU-Z. :) 


That's impressive. Hopefully 2 fans instead of 1 can also produce a lower humming noise too. My 6850 always goes to 100% in games and it's pretty loud and whiny. I've also tried overclocking it, but it pretty much freaks out at 800 MHz, so there's really no point.
a b U Graphics card
December 9, 2012 4:55:00 PM

Turn down your resolution and see if it fixes the problem. If so, that's it. Run GPU monitoring software and check and see if you're be maxed out. Run CPU software/task manager and see if you're being maxed out. Watch your HD light, run HD monitoring software and see if it's being maxed out, chugging along.

Lots of way to diagnose and find the cause.
December 9, 2012 5:11:15 PM

lostgamer_03 said:
None of your links else than the anandtech provides any information about GTX 660, only the TI version.


True. We'll just assume that the 660 Ti is a bit better than the 660 :D 

lostgamer_03 said:

In the anandtech comparison GTX 660 crushes Radeon 7850 by a margain in almost every aspect. Still paying 32 € doesn't seem as that much when the performance gain is so big.


I guess we both have out own meanings of "crushing". It's just that any result over 60 FPS doesn't seem that important to me. The performance of the 7850 isn't "bad". Yes, the 660 is more powerful than the 7850, that's a fact. The 660 may be a little more future-proof too. I'll think about it. Besides, if I can sell my current 6850 they both become quite affordable.

lostgamer_03 said:

The waiting game is a crucial game to play, you can always keep waiting for the next 'big thing'. But when you've waited for so long, then the next 'big thing' could just around the corner Again. Not saying it's bad to wait, but you can always keep on waiting because Things get better everyday.


Yup, I understand that. The only reason I said that is because the current performance with the 6850 is still pretty acceptable. I don't play that many high-end games, but it's clear that I'll have to upgrade at some point. Don't worry, I'll only wait if it's worth it ;)  Thanks for the advice!
a b U Graphics card
December 9, 2012 5:36:27 PM

liivahiir said:
True. We'll just assume that the 660 Ti is a bit better than the 660 :D 



I guess we both have out own meanings of "crushing". It's just that any result over 60 FPS doesn't seem that important to me. The performance of the 7850 isn't "bad". Yes, the 660 is more powerful than the 7850, that's a fact. The 660 may be a little more future-proof too. I'll think about it. Besides, if I can sell my current 6850 they both become quite affordable.



Yup, I understand that. The only reason I said that is because the current performance with the 6850 is still pretty acceptable. I don't play that many high-end games, but it's clear that I'll have to upgrade at some point. Don't worry, I'll only wait if it's worth it ;)  Thanks for the advice!


Agreed, agreed and agreed. ^^
December 9, 2012 5:37:08 PM

getochkn said:
Turn down your resolution and see if it fixes the problem. If so, that's it. Run GPU monitoring software and check and see if you're be maxed out. Run CPU software/task manager and see if you're being maxed out. Watch your HD light, run HD monitoring software and see if it's being maxed out, chugging along.

Lots of way to diagnose and find the cause.


1600x900 did the trick it seems. GPU usage was somewhere in the high 90s, not entirely maxed and the frame dropping wasn't there anymore.

Vram usage was below 450Mb.

Again, looks like the GPU core speed isn't enough to do all the work. As I said before, this can be helped with settings. The game still looks good without all the render distance.
a b U Graphics card
December 9, 2012 5:47:57 PM

liivahiir said:
1600x900 did the trick it seems. GPU usage was somewhere in the high 90s, not entirely maxed and the frame dropping wasn't there anymore.

Vram usage was below 450Mb.

Again, looks like the GPU core speed isn't enough to do all the work. As I said before, this can be helped with settings. The game still looks good without all the render distance.



Good stuff. Even the difference between 1080p and 1600x900 is like 630,000 pixels less per frame, so at 50fps, that's a lot less pixels it has to draw and probably not something you'll notice that much.
December 9, 2012 8:12:57 PM

getochkn said:
Good stuff. Even the difference between 1080p and 1600x900 is like 630,000 pixels less per frame, so at 50fps, that's a lot less pixels it has to draw and probably not something you'll notice that much.


What now seems odd to me, is how the 660 is supposed to dramatically increase performance. So, it turns out that vram isn't the real problem and it's rather the core speed that's causing the poor framerate. Well, the 6850 has a core clock of 775 Mhz and for example the 660 has a core clock of 980 Mhz. That doesn't really like a huge difference to me. How's 200 MHz supposed to give almost double the performance in some games?
a c 86 U Graphics card
December 9, 2012 8:45:36 PM

liivahiir said:
What now seems odd to me, is how the 660 is supposed to dramatically increase performance. So, it turns out that vram isn't the real problem and it's rather the core speed that's causing the poor framerate. Well, the 6850 has a core clock of 775 Mhz and for example the 660 has a core clock of 980 Mhz. That doesn't really like a huge difference to me. How's 200 MHz supposed to give almost double the performance in some games?

its not the pure clockspeed per se, but rather the stuff that is actually running at that clock speed.... like comparing big v8 engine to a small inline 4...
!