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Old 12-12-2012, 05:29 PM   #1
Dankk
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Default Games feel "jerky" or "hanky janky" on my new FX-8350 build (SOLVED)

Edit: Turns out, the 12.10 driver has an odd issue with the GPU clocks not being completely stable. 12.11 beta drivers have fixed it. Woohoo!

Original post is below.

----------

I apologize in advance if my problem sounds vague, but I will try to be as descriptive as possible. I recently built a new machine with an FX-8350, an MSI Twin Frozr 7870 (OC edition), 16GB of DDR3 1600 memory, etc, etc, but I'm a little disappointed right now: Many newer games feel "jerky" on my new PC. Despite getting decent framerates, there is an odd kind of microstuttering going on.

Sleeping Dogs, Hitman: Absolution, and BF3 are currently the most notable offenders I can think of (I have yet to try all my games on the new build). I had another machine with a very similar setup, including a 7870, but it had an i5-2500k instead of an FX-8350. Sleeping dogs ran extremely smooth on my i5-2500k machine, but feels very "jerky" on my FX-8350 machine with the same settings. I don't understand it at all.

Before we go any further: I understand that the i5-2500k beats out the FX-8350 in games by a fair bit. Let's just get that out of the way right now. I don't want to start a CPU debate. However, this should only make a difference in CPU bound games, shouldn't it? Sleeping Dogs is certainly not CPU bound. (correct me if I'm wrong.)

You might say "Well, but BF3 multiplayer is actually CPU-bound." True, but I've joined completely empty BF3 servers with small maps and it makes no difference. The framerate jankyness/microstuttering is still there when running around in an empty level.

Hitman: Absolution is probably the worst. I assure you, the stuttering is not because I'm running Hitman at unreasonable settings; Medium-High with 0xAA is not unreasonable at all for a 7870 at 1080p. I can certainly lower the settings for a better framerate, but it does nothing to fix the "jerkiness". Hitman Absolution is the most hanky janky of all.

Based on the topic title, it sounds like I'm blaming it on the processor; in reality I'm not sure what's causing the stuttering. Rather than putting this in the CPUs forum, I feel it's more appropriate in VC&G because it's completely graphics/gaming related and I've yet to pinpoint the problem.

You can see my build in my signature, but I'll write it down here for the record. This is what I'm using:

AMD FX-8350 Processor
MSI R7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM
MSI 970A-G46 AM3+ AMD 970 Motherboard
Kingston HyperX 3K SH103S3/120G 2.5" 120GB SSD
SeaSonic M12II 620 Bronze 620W PSU

Things I've done
  • Freshly installed and updated Windows 7 x64
  • Fresh install of latest stable AMD drivers (12.10)
  • Installed the latest AMD chipset drivers from MSI
  • Updated the MSI motherboard's BIOS to latest version
  • Set memory timings and voltage correctly in BIOS
  • Changed PCI Express link state power management in Windows to "off"

That's... all I can think of right now. I wish I could be more descriptive. I'm not as knowledgeable as some of the people here on AT, which is why I'm asking for advice here. What could be causing this annoying "micro-stuttering" I'm getting in my games? It's (kinda) subtle enough that many average gamers wouldn't notice it, but I 100% without a doubt notice the problem, and it definitely didn't exist when I was playing BF3/Sleeping Dogs on my i5-2500k machine.

If need be, I can record an off-screen video showing the problem. I'd have to upload an uncompressed 60fps recording straight from my camera in order to see the effect.
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:35 PM   #2
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Pretty graphically intensive titles, stop switching to hanky janky processors! An overclock should do the trick but yeah if you cut your IPC in half you're gonna notice right? I certainly notice a difference in games going from stock to 3.8ghz on my PII x6.
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:39 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BD231 View Post
Pretty graphically intensive titles, stop switching to hanky janky processors! An overclock should do the trick but yeah if you cut your IPC in half you're gonna notice right? I certainly notice a difference in games going from stock to 3.8ghz on my PII x6.
If this kind of problem is universal to AMD processors, you'd think all the tech reviews sites would make note of it somewhere. I can look at every FX-8350 review online, look at gaming benchmarks, framerates, but literally nowhere have I read anything about games having micro-stutter.

I'm still inclined to believe there's something wrong with my particular build. If my gaming experience is really stuck like this, then that's an absolutely massive bummer.
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:54 PM   #4
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If your power control in CCC isn't already, push it up. Maybe you're getting throttling?
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LessThanDan View Post
If this kind of problem is universal to AMD processors, you'd think all the tech reviews sites would make note of it somewhere. I can look at every FX-8350 review online, look at gaming benchmarks, framerates, but literally nowhere have I read anything about games having micro-stutter.

I'm still inclined to believe there's something wrong with my particular build. If my gaming experience is really stuck like this, then that's an absolutely massive bummer.
The thing that stands out to me is that BF3 has issues. BF3 is probably the best case scenario for your 8350 vs your old i5. BF3 is probably the only title right now that can actually use more than 4 cores and where the 8350 can actually compete directly with intel processors thread for thread. So it seems to me that something else is going on with your system. How bad is the stuttering? Is it possible to post a video?
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:14 PM   #6
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I doubt the problem is your CPU, my guess is something else is going on. What are your temps like, is anything possibly throttling?
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:28 PM   #7
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I have an 8320 slightly overclocked and it works perfectly in every game I've played so far. I'm not sure what is giving you the problem, but it doesn't seem like your cpu.
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:41 PM   #8
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have you verified that your card is running at the correct PCI-E link speed with GPU-Z?
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:46 PM   #9
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could it be the thermal grease? i had same problem half year ago. my setup were a a8 apu fm1 socket and a 960t am3 socket both had microstuttering. i have sold all parts but noone complained if something were faulty..... so i dont know what was wrong but 1 thing was good. i bought a 2500k, no problems after.( all parts were new)
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:26 PM   #10
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Capture frame times using fraps. That should tell you how much of a stutter problem you have. You could compare it to charts done on tech report to see if its looking like the gpu and how bad it is. Might not give you any insight at all, or it might be essential. Either way some data on how bad the stutter is and its type will help understand the causes.
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:36 PM   #11
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I call for an investigation!! By ALL review sites!!
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Old 12-12-2012, 09:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3DVagabond View Post
If your power control in CCC isn't already, push it up. Maybe you're getting throttling?
Are you talking about the "Power control settings" slider in AMD Overdrive that spans from -20% to 20%? I tried increasing this at various increments, first to 5%, then 10%, then 20%. It made no discernible difference.

Do I need to take any additional steps to apply this setting? Restarting my computer, etc, etc?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitman928 View Post
The thing that stands out to me is that BF3 has issues. BF3 is probably the best case scenario for your 8350 vs your old i5. BF3 is probably the only title right now that can actually use more than 4 cores and where the 8350 can actually compete directly with intel processors thread for thread. So it seems to me that something else is going on with your system. How bad is the stuttering? Is it possible to post a video?
I will post a video (or two) very soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowSpyder View Post
I doubt the problem is your CPU, my guess is something else is going on. What are your temps like, is anything possibly throttling?
My GPU temperatures are stellar. Never goes past 60 C on full load.

My motherboard does have an odd problem with a faulty CPU temperature sensor, which intermittently spikes up to 255 C when the CPU is under full load, thus throttling it down to 1400MHz. I've detailed the problem in a post right here. However, I don't believe the two issues are related; the faulty sensor only glitches out and throttles after several minutes of full load, and only does so very briefly a bit at a time. With my games, they're stuttering 100% of the time, all the time. And that's not under full CPU load either. There is no correlation whatsoever.

Other than that issue, my CPU temperature is stellar as well; never goes past 60 or so (at least when the sensor isn't going crazy).

Quote:
Originally Posted by cmdrdredd View Post
have you verified that your card is running at the correct PCI-E link speed with GPU-Z?
I apologize for my lack of knowledge in this subject. What is PCI-E link speed, where do I find it in GPU-Z, and how do I know it's correct?

I took a couple of screenshots for you, running Hitman Absolution with GPU-Z open. Here's the graphics card tab open:



And here's the sensor tab open. Can you discern anything unusual from these readings?



Quote:
Originally Posted by Rast View Post
could it be the thermal grease? i had same problem half year ago. my setup were a a8 apu fm1 socket and a 960t am3 socket both had microstuttering. i have sold all parts but noone complained if something were faulty..... so i dont know what was wrong but 1 thing was good. i bought a 2500k, no problems after.( all parts were new)
I don't believe this is the problem. With my CPU, I gingerly and professionally applied a small dot of AS5 thermal compound and mounted a Cooler Master Hyper 212+ Evo as my cooler. I'm not sure why it would be causing problems. As for my GPU, I've made no modifications to it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrightCandle View Post
Capture frame times using fraps. That should tell you how much of a stutter problem you have. You could compare it to charts done on tech report to see if its looking like the gpu and how bad it is. Might not give you any insight at all, or it might be essential. Either way some data on how bad the stutter is and its type will help understand the causes.
Here are some FRAPS benchmarks detailing Hitman: Absolution Frametimes on two different settings. I'm not sure how to parse these numbers, so I uploaded them to Google Docs for you to look at.

Hitman: Absolution Frametimes (Medium Settings)

Hitman: Absolution Frametimes (High Settings)

I can't test BF3 and Sleeping Dogs at the very moment. I'm updating BF3 and Origin is being dog slow. Sleeping Dogs can't retrieve my save from the Steam Cloud so I don't have a savegame right now. I'll try to get to these next, maybe they'll report more interesting frametimes.
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:07 PM   #13
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Your GPU core clock seems to jump up and down from that pic. That is probably the cause of your problems
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zebrax2 View Post
Your GPU core clock seems to jump up and down from that pic. That is probably the cause of your problems
I suspect this one is caused by AMDs long standing bug with its power saving algorithm. Sometimes it gets confused about whether a game is running and reduces the clock speed of the GPU, it causes pretty severe problems as you can see.

In 6 months the only solution I found was to modify the profile XML file by hand and then make it read only, setting the clock speed to the maximum normal speed. That means it never underclocks even in Windows but it will fix your game.

I also had a look at the frame times which you can take the difference of and then graph and you will see this for hitman on high (The peaks max out at 600 ms sometimes!)



As we can see there is microstutter to the tune of nearly 20ms, and the frame rate is regularly less then 30 fps (33 ms). This is not a trace showing a playable game.

The medium settings on the other hand produce the following:



That looks perfectly playable and very normal. I am surprised you aren't happy with the performance you are seeing with this. However its notable there are quite a lot of high spikes in that graph, a few too many honestly. There is no underlying severe microstutter but its on the edge of what I personally perceive as smooth motion (around 5ms swings). There are certainly large performance drops on a regularly basis however, its not a great trace but I would expect it to be playable.

Try modifying your AMD profile XML file with maximum clocks, confirm it with GPU-Z and ensure core clock remains at maximum and then try the game again in high settings. I hope that will fix it.
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:28 PM   #15
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in GPUz you see where it says PCIe 3.0 x16 @ 2.0 x16 beside bus interface? That is telling you that your card can handle PCIe 3.0 @ x16 and is running at 2.0 x16. That's what I was wondering. I had to reseat one of my cards at first because it was running at PCIe 1.1 x2 for some reason.
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:51 PM   #16
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Have you tried different versions of the AMD video drivers?
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:00 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zebrax2 View Post
Your GPU core clock seems to jump up and down from that pic. That is probably the cause of your problems
Well I'll be damned. I think you're right. Looking at GPU-Z while in-game, the GPU core clock keeps wavering between 450MHz and 1050MHz (1050 is where it should be staying, obviously). I don't know how I missed this. Obviously I wasn't looking very closely.

So I guess the next step is: How in the world do I get it to stay at 1050MHz while in a game?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrightCandle View Post
I suspect this one is caused by AMDs long standing bug with its power saving algorithm. Sometimes it gets confused about whether a game is running and reduces the clock speed of the GPU, it causes pretty severe problems as you can see.

In 6 months the only solution I found was to modify the profile XML file by hand and then make it read only, setting the clock speed to the maximum normal speed. That means it never underclocks even in Windows but it will fix your game.

I also had a look at the frame times which you can take the difference of and then graph and you will see this for hitman on high (The peaks max out at 600 ms sometimes!)



As we can see there is microstutter to the tune of nearly 20ms, and the frame rate is regularly less then 30 fps (33 ms). This is not a trace showing a playable game.
While the game was running a bit slowly - way under 60 FPS - I believe it was still staying over 30 FPS. On average, I believe FRAPS reported it hovering around in the ~40's. Not very satisfying, but I wouldn't call it unplayable. I would, however, say it's annoying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrightCandle View Post
The medium settings on the other hand produce the following:



That looks perfectly playable and very normal. I am surprised you aren't happy with the performance you are seeing with this. However its notable there are quite a lot of high spikes in that graph, a few too many honestly. There is no underlying severe microstutter but its on the edge of what I personally perceive as smooth motion (around 5ms swings). There are certainly large performance drops on a regularly basis however, its not a great trace but I would expect it to be playable.
There's definitely a big improvement on Medium settings, where at least it's staying at a constant 60 FPS or more. There still feels like there's some micro-stutter, but maybe I'm just being pedantic? I realize that not all game engines run as smooth as butter, and some are more flawed than others.

Hitman: Absolution's performance difference between Medium and High settings is pretty huge. The game's definitely a bit of a beast to run. Keep in mind I'm using the presets; you can customize the settings to your liking, but I'm just using the Medium and High presets for benchmarking purposes.

Color me curious... could you analyze these BF3 frametimes for me? This is another game that just feels "off" to me. This benchmark was performed at Medium-Highish settings at 720p, framerate averaging around ~60FPS I think.

Battlefield 3 Frametimes (High-Ultra settings)

While my GPU is obviously having problems with the clocks - which might be causing those spikes you mentioned - it's also possible that this continuous "micro-stuttering" I'm seeing might mostly be psychological, and BF3 always performed this way. It wouldn't the the first time I've had issues that are just in my head. I'm kind of strange like that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrightCandle View Post
Try modifying your AMD profile XML file with maximum clocks, confirm it with GPU-Z and ensure core clock remains at maximum and then try the game again in high settings. I hope that will fix it.
I will try this right away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ketchup79 View Post
Have you tried different versions of the AMD video drivers?
Not yet, but I will if I continue to have problems.
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:19 PM   #18
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Unfortunately your results also match TechReports (http://techreport.com/review/24022/d...in-windows-8/6) which means its likely drivers/hardware.

When it comes to converting between FPS and frame times 16.6ms is 60 fps and 33.3 ms is 30 fps. So you can see your FPS in practice on medium settings is averaging between 55 fps and 76 fps normally. That is a fairly OK swing but there is clear stuttering going on, not sure I would notice that one personally but as I have found just because the chart doesn't show MS doesn't mean its not there. But the hicups are 30fps and below.

As to BF3 its somewhere between the two:


So its averaging what looks like about 60 fps in the beginning but the MS is often 10ms or more. I would not perceive that as smooth motion, its twice my perception. Worse than that there are ~ 30 fps hicups every few seconds, which are very damaging to the perception of motion when compared to the 50 fps lows seen throughout the rest of the trace. That is not a healthy chart or playable settings IMO.
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:38 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrightCandle View Post
Unfortunately your results also match TechReports (http://techreport.com/review/24022/d...in-windows-8/6) which means its likely drivers/hardware.

When it comes to converting between FPS and frame times 16.6ms is 60 fps and 33.3 ms is 30 fps. So you can see your FPS in practice on medium settings is averaging between 55 fps and 76 fps normally. That is a fairly OK swing but there is clear stuttering going on, not sure I would notice that one personally but as I have found just because the chart doesn't show MS doesn't mean its not there. But the hicups are 30fps and below.

As to BF3 its somewhere between the two:


So its averaging what looks like about 60 fps in the beginning but the MS is often 10ms or more. I would not perceive that as smooth motion, its twice my perception. Worse than that there are ~ 30 fps hicups every few seconds, which are very damaging to the perception of motion when compared to the 50 fps lows seen throughout the rest of the trace. That is not a healthy chart or playable settings IMO.
So, it seems we've found that his card keeps bouncing from idle clocks to 3d clocks while playing which is causing, I would be willing to bet, most of his stuttering, probably nearly all of perceptible stuttering. It makes me wonder if techreport's card is suffering the same issue since their framerate behavior seems to so closely match...? Sure would explain a lot.
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:42 PM   #20
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First of all: Holy cow! I just did the XML fix. Had to boot into safe mode and edit it there, save it, and set it to read-only. Rebooted into Windows and confirmed via GPU-Z that GPU clock is now running at a constant 1050MHz. Then I started up BF3 on the same level, same empty server.

There is a very noticeable performance increase here. Just to give you an idea, I was previously getting ~60 FPS on High-Ultra settings at 720p, before the XML fix.

After the XML fix, not only am I getting closer to ~70 FPS on the exact same settings, but I also changed the resolution from 720p to 1080p. 1080p, High-Ultra settings, no AA, and it was running spectacularly.

And by spectacularly, I mean no micro-stuttering (or decreased micro-stuttering). Yup. Doing the XML fix seemed to fix the "jerkiness" for me. The game ran decisively much smoother. My mind is blown right now.

BrightCandle, I appreciate your help a lot. While that graph is concerning, can you do one more analysis for me? I took another benchmark after doing the XML fix. Again, this is at High-Ultra settings at 1080p, no AA.

I figure it's a good idea to actually map out these frametimes so we can determine if I'm actually right, or if it's all in my head. Thank you again for the help.

Battlefield 3 Frametimes (High-Ultra) (1080p) (XML fix)
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:52 PM   #21
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I just ran Hitman: Absolution again. You know earlier when High settings were "unplayable"? Booted up the game after the XML fix, 1080p on High settings, and I'm now getting nearly ~60fps in the exact same area (as opposed to the 40fps from earlier). Best part: The microstuttering is nearly eliminated. I am seriously impressed.

I didn't benchmark this one, so you'll have to take my word for it. But I am 100% confident it's running far better now. My eyes can't be playing tricks on me. (And hopefully FRAPS isn't playing tricks on me either).
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:57 PM   #22
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Quote:
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Glad to hear the fix worked for you.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/po46zj431p8n0mu/frames.png

Looks much better now. You still get some spikes here and there but if you're running around a lot on a big map it could just be things streaming in and out. I would consider this perfectly playable with a few hiccups once in a while. Obviously everyone has their own definition of playable. Did you notice when these big lag times were? Did it seem like you were coming into a new area of the map and were loading objects?

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Old 12-13-2012, 12:12 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Hitman928 View Post
Glad to hear the fix worked for you.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/po46zj431p8n0mu/frames.png

Looks much better now. You still get some spikes here and there but if you're running around a lot on a big map it could just be things streaming in and out. I would consider this perfectly playable with a few hiccups once in a while. Obviously everyone has their own definition of playable. Did you notice when these big lag times were? Did it seem like you were coming into a new area of the map and were loading objects?
Thanks a ton for the help. As for the spikes, I can't say for sure when or why they occur. They're definitely noticeable, but not so jarring that they'd take me out of the gameplay. Sorry. How normal (or abnormal) are those spikes generally? Are they something to worry about?

This also raises a concern for me: Is the XML hack really the only solution to this problem? Is this how I'm going to have to leave it from now on? I would ask if maybe it could just be fixed in a new driver, but BrightCandle says it took him 6 months to figure out the problem, which is kind of a long time. Within that time period, AMD never released a fix? Is there still any hope for an official driver fix from AMD?

I also noticed that my GPU fan is a lot louder after the hack. When overriding the clock settings in the XML, did I somehow override the fan settings too?

If so, I'm a bit disappointed that I have to use a hack to make my games run properly.
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Old 12-13-2012, 12:21 AM   #24
Hitman928
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Originally Posted by LessThanDan View Post
Thanks a ton for the help. As for the spikes, I can't say for sure when or why they occur. They're definitely noticeable, but not so jarring that they'd take me out of the gameplay. Sorry. How normal (or abnormal) are those spikes generally? Are they something to worry about?

This also raises a concern for me: Is the XML hack really the only solution to this problem? Is this how I'm going to have to leave it from now on? I would ask if maybe it could just be fixed in a new driver, but BrightCandle says it took him 6 months to figure out the problem, which is kind of a long time. Within that time period, AMD never released a fix? Is there still any hope for an official driver fix from AMD?

I also noticed that my GPU fan is a lot louder after the hack. When overriding the clock settings in the XML, did I somehow override the fan settings too?

If so, I'm a bit disappointed that I have to use a hack to make my games run properly.
You can always try the latest beta drivers. Chances are they won't hurt and they come with some pretty nice performance improvements in a lot of games. They've been fixing a lot of stuff with all the 12.11 betas, I haven't kept up with them all, but it's worth a shot for now. The fan is probably louder because you're running fully clocked 100% of the time so the fan has to rev up more to keep things cool.

As far as the jumps go, it just depends on what you were doing during that time and if it was noticeable to you. For instance, if you're transitioning to a new part of the map and textures are being streamed in or something, you might get a little bit of stutter but it's normal for most and most people I don't think mind. Basically if it doesn't bother you, don't worry about it. You don't have to be bothered by something just because it shows up on a plot
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Old 12-13-2012, 12:22 AM   #25
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So, a little digging around, I came across someone with the exact same problem with his 7870. His turned out to be a driver issue.

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I picked up a 7870 last week too and had a few performance niggles,after running 2 old school 6 year old nvidia cards the difference with the 7870 was immense but it had a slightly bogged down feel to game play.

After checking clock speeds in MSI Afterburner it showed the card fluctuating between 1050mhz and 450mhz on the core during gameplay so the the frames were up and down as was the gpu usage which was mainly around 64%,rarely in the 80's/90's,dipping down to 20% regularly too

I uninstalled the 12.8 drivers and installed just the 12.6 driver (without the CCC and all the other stuff) and bingo! no fluctuating core anymore,once any 3d action is happening it shoots straight up to 1050 mhz and stays there until game over

The GPU usage however still hung around at 60-20% until I increased the 'power limit' slider in Afterburner to +20% and hey presto usage is now in the 80's/90's........performance is night and day compared to how it was,settings are now cranked up and it's fantastic.

I don't know why the power limit was too low on mine but after reading about other 7870's throttling down because of the TDP limit it was worth a shot.
I would try the new 12.11 betas. If that doesn't fix it, report it to AMD and see if they have a fix for it.
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