Got my 6970s today - Mixed bag so far...

Discussion in 'PC Hardware, Software and Displays' started by Grall, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    First off, these boards are FRIGGIN HUGE.

    Not just in length, but the full-sized block-shaped plastic shroud hits connectors on my mainboard, forcing me to sacrifice the eSATA front-mounted socket and fiddle with the front USB sockets as well. Even so, the board is slightly squished in my chassis (P180 Mini; uATX), further reducing the already thin spacing between both cards.

    The rear plate is also very convenient as a security measure, but it strangles the fan of the adjacent board nearly completely in a cramped system like I've got. This made me a bit suspicious, but I decided to have faith in AMDs product designers and engineers.

    Before pulling the old boards I had uninstalled the graphics driver to clear the way so to speak. Upon starting the system and running the driver installer, I was greeted early on by a bluescreen. I felt like Keanu Reeves, doing his best 'whoah!' expression. I've not had a bluescreen while installing a driver in years and years. Literally, I''ve no memory of when it last happened.

    Reboot, re-install... It worked, installer finished in record time, but literally NOTHING got installed. Reboot again, nope. Still standard VGA adapter, according to the device manager... I tried to uninstall the problem reporter - the only piece of software that "stuck" - and the installer hung and would not finish, or even exit when I tried to abort. Had to kill it off manually.

    Next attempt with the installer, and it installed everything but the driver. The report just said "failed", without elaborating further in any way. Thanks! So after just spending SKR 6400 and only getting abuse for it in return I was getting a wee bit ticked off at this point...!

    Another install - manually un-ticking everything I could except for the driver, and FINALLY... SUCCESS! Checked the CCC, crossfire was working, Aero Glass activated. Why all the initial fuss though, what gives?!

    Then I started up Boinc, running the Milkyway plugin on both GPUs, aaannnnnnddd...UH-OH!

    Let's cut things short and say I shut down the client when the CCC temperature indicator reached 97C and the fan was screaming like a god damn banshee, and no indication of the curve about to stabilize. Shutdown again, turned the chassis sideways and forced an internal USB front-panel cable inbetween the graphics cards to create some spacing and then re-started again. Now the temps "only" reached 93C at most, and the fan peaked at a "mere" 53% (which in real-world terms is almost hairdryer-loud, with a nasty high-pitch hiss to it) or so for relatively short periods.

    AMD... EPIC FAIL!!!

    Your cooler design fucking sucks. I was hoping it would not, but it does. I may be forced to take these cards back, because I can't live with a PC that is so loud and this hot-running. I want to be able to run compute software without my boards scorching themselves and getting annoyed by a fan that goes up and down in revs constantly, sometimes revving so much the noise borders on the obnoxious. My old 4890s never went above 88C or so, even in Milkyway, which is the hottest-running application I've got, and the fans stayed at a constant stable level. They were far from quiet that's for friggin' sure, but at least they didn't switch gears all the time.

    I just don't understand why AMD didn't go with a thinner, but wider-diameter fan instead, Nvidia used an offset fan in the 8800GTX Ultra, that worked fine. There's also the taller-than-standard MSI Lightning series of cards, amongst others. People don't use horizontal desktop chassis anymore, a slightly taller board WILL fit any tower chassis in use today,maybe some cramped HTPC chassis can't handle them, but that's not a biggie, a 6970 is typically too loud and too power-hungry for the HTPC crowd anyway.

    Tidbit: both caymans blasting away at Milkyway caused my PSU fan to spin up noticeably faster than I've ever felt before, even on hot days, and this winter day my room temp is a pretty comfy 22-23C (23 at eye height, but my floors are much colder due to unheated spaces right underneath my apartement, so the PC standing at waist height likely experiences a little less.)

    So... I'm not terribly impressed with the physical properties of these boards. They're needlessly large (naked boards show a lot of dead PCB space), and the shrouds and backplate cut off a lot of airflow to the fans. Really nooby design I must say. It's less of a problem for people with big ATX chassis with multiple PCIe slots spaced far apart, but in my compact chassis these cards fry, particulary the top primary board. Even idle temps with clocks turned down to 250MHz (most of the time; the card gears back up to 880 periodically for no discernible reason despite no background apps and only 1 display attached) hovers around 48-53C, that's terrible.

    So, if you're thinking of CFing 6970s and only have 2 PCIe 16x slots with a single extra slot between them - seriously consider buying Nvidia instead. I would, knowing what I do today.

    Now I will try starting up some games and see if I can make this thing bluescreen again. LOL!
     
  2. Mize

    Mize 3dfx Fan
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    what motherboard are you using?

    FWIW, I feel your pain.
     
  3. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    Got the ASUS RampageII Gene. Good board, except, it's damn cramped... Not that I blame ASUS for it, oh no. Frankly I'm amazed they managed to fit the amount of stuff this board has at all. Dual PCIe16x, 6 DDR slots, 7 internal, 2 external SATA, dual external firewire, optical spdif in and out... Only thing annoying me hardware-wise is ASUS fit a god damn Realtek ethernet controller on the board instead of just fitting an intel PHY and using the built-in controller in the chipset. I guess they saved a buck that way, I dunno. Oh well! Not that it really matters a damn thing to me, my network traffic could almost fit in a thimble, 15MBit/s downstream/2.2Mbit/s upstream won't break my CPU's back Realtek controller or not. ;)

    Learned my lesson there by the way, don't buy uATX if you're an enthusiast. They're hell to work in. When you gotta remove the CPU cooler to pull a fan header you know it's BAD, lol. It's a really neat system when it's all fit together though, even though the P180 Mini is nearly the size of most generic ATX casings.

    PS: GPU reaching 91C playing goshdarned WoW. Fan RPM going up and down like a friggin 5-dollar hooker.
     
  4. Dr Evil

    Dr Evil Anas platyrhynchos
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    nVidia gpus would't fare much if any better in such a tight space. You need space and good airflow for high end mgpu setups. WoW should run pretty good with just one of those :)

    Good coolers would help, but there aren't space for those either. Can't help but tell how happy I'm about the Accelero Xtreme plus cooler that I installed on my GTX 570. I have significantly overvolted and clocked (900core/2100mem) the card, but it won't go past 60c in any situation and its fans are so silent that I can't hear it from the case whether it's running 40% or 85% and my case fans are set to low also!

    Not a silent rig by any means, but not bad either.
     
    #4 Dr Evil, Jan 3, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 3, 2011
  5. digitalwanderer

    digitalwanderer Dangerously Mirthful
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    Sorry to hear about your pains Grall, but in fairness all cards need a bit of space to breath.
     
  6. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    In all fairness they do indeed, sure, but this could nevertheless have been designed better. Hell, other cards have. Both the 48xx and 58xx series the radial fan could suck air from both sides. Not as much from the rear due to the PCB being there of course, but it did work. And Nvidia have also engineered their shroud with a cut-out to improve airflow. Shaping the shroud like a totally enclosed brick maybe isn't the best way of going about things... :razz:

    Oh well.

    On top of everything else, Fraps has decided to go on strike on me. Won't show up in HL2, so it's hard to judge true performance when I fiddle with AA settings.

    When using morphological AA, is there any true benefit or indeed any difference at all from increasing MSAA level? Do I get MSAA on top of the MLAA, or does MLAA override the MSAA? I've not seen a clear and concise description of how this stuff actually works on various levels of AA and the associated performance impact...
     
  7. DarthShader

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    Assuming you have the standard P180mini fan layout, you have now 4 fans pulling air out of the case, including a 200mm one. And no fans blowing in. Maybe you sacrificed the drive cage to install one fan there, but It might be not enough, it's still a big disproportion causing negative pressure. You could try reversing the 200mm fan to balance things out a bit, Silverstone FT01 style.

    In the end, however, it will most likely only lower the noise, but not themperatures. It's seriously not a good idea to install dwo hot GPUs so close to each other, particulary with such cooler design and backplates. I'd RMA one and wait for non-reference designs to appear on market. :)
     
  8. Davros

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    to be fair though you should only go u-atx if you want a quiet low power pc
    if you want hi performance (fast, hot cpu, massive heatsink + fan ect) you should stay away
     
  9. swaaye

    swaaye Entirely Suboptimal
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    I think uATX is fine for a single high end GPU. Or maybe one of those dual GPU cards.
     
  10. eastmen

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    Man i had a p180 that i just got rid of . The case was really bad for cooling gpus. I moved to the nzxt phantom and my 9650 unlocked to 9670 dropped 15c with just the stock fans. I have another fan on the way. I can't max out the fans in the case because my heatsink goes into the side panel fan area.
     
  11. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    That would be 5 fans actually... ;) The 2 standard case fans, 2 GPU blowers and fan in PSU. I reversed the 120mm fan though, and switched the lower drive cage for a fan. I don't need that many drives anyway, I have just 2 right now.

    Hmmm...! Yeah, that might not be such a bad idea. :)

    Anyhow, these things... Damn, they get hot, but can they run Crysis or what! WOW!!! :lol::lol::lol:

    THIS is how Crysis shoulda been all along! I whacked up the rez from 1280*720 - the highest my 4890s would comfortably run the game at - to 1080P (native LCD rez) and switched all the advanced effects to max. Started a game, 60-85fps, SOLID. Dayum!

    Switched on 4xAA on top, friggin game still ran at 55-70ish. Microstutter galore tho - plenty times you can see the game isn't running a smooth 55+ fps. I really hoped ATI woulda solved that problem properly by now, but whatta heck. Aiming and sniping foes without the sniper sight is just so much easier when playing at a proper rez. I'm really enjoying myself.
     
  12. Silent_Buddha

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    Well, at least it's shorter than a 5870. :) Someone I know took the plunge on a 6970 and actually regained the use of a 3.5" slot at the front of his case. :D

    Actually the 58xx stock coolers cannot draw air in through the rear vents. The fan and main cooling area of the shroud is completely seperate from that rear air pocket. You can easily see that by looking in through the vents or from the top around the power connectors.

    I'm pretty sure the 48xx stock coolers were similar, but I've recently sold my 4870 and my 4890 is in my computer in Japan so I can't easily check that.

    Yeah, negative air pressure is going to impact the cooling to an extent. But the simple fact of the matter is, the P180 mini is not going to do well with high end multi-card setups. Combine the P180 mini chassis with limited air intake and two high power video cards without an extra slot seperating them and the top video card is goign to have some serious problems whether it be Nvidia or ATI.

    Heck, even in a case with good airflow and more importantly ample air intake, I would NOT run dual 480, 580, or 6970 without an extra slot between the cards. All three of those video cards have issues with a shortage of air for the top card. If you're going to do dual cards with those, make sure you have PCIE, slot, slot, PCIE for adequate cooling.

    Regards,
    SB
     
  13. Dave Baumann

    Dave Baumann Gamerscore Wh...
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    Sorry the experience didn't meet your expectations, but a couple of things to note:

    The rated TDP differential between dual 4890's and 6970's is 120W, and with PowerTune the 6970's are going to be running closer to that TDP in many more cases than 4890's, so your real power differential potentially comes in even higher than that; even though there are cooler differences between the two you are going to have some penalty from that TDP difference, and that will come in the form of accoustics in a cramped environment.

    Secondly, personally, I don't understand the hangup on the actual GPU core temp; running 90-100(+)C temps are well within normal bounds and the fan tables are designed to put acoustics over temps (below 100C).
     
  14. Dave Baumann

    Dave Baumann Gamerscore Wh...
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    Correct, all these boards draw air the fan in exact the same manner, including the 4870/90.
     
  15. Squilliam

    Squilliam Beyond3d isn't defined yet
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    Maybe return those cards and go with dual 5950s? That ought to give you a power use much closer to you old 4890s. Otherwise you could drop the powertune on both cards back down about 20% each and see how it effects your noise and temperature issues. If anything that should tell you whether dual 6950s are the way to go.
     
  16. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    I tested changing the powertune slider, but every time I did it reset to default (0%). So I had to enable overdrive, and then after changing the slider down to -20% powersave clocks don't work properly anymore. The clock speed of the primary card now changes back and forth between 350/1000MHz and 880/1375MHz. Wuttaheck...? It also becomes awfully sensitive for what operations make the card tick back to full clock speed. Basically anything more complex than just moving the mouse pointer around seems to provoke the card back to full clock speed when activating overdrive. I would have hoped for more granularity there, as I don't think the windows desktop really needs 28Gpix/s fillrates... ;) No, not even aero glass, heh.

    Anyway, it pleases me the fan of the secondary card now spins down before the driver has kicked in, something my old 4890 never would do. This was a wee bit annoying those (quite frequent) times that win7 decided to sit for about 30 seconds doing nothing during startup before letting the display driver kick in, and the fan just continued to scream. Now the PC goes very quiet within a few seconds of powering it up, which is way nice.

    Also, is it just my imagination, or does the driver take longer to initialize for the 6xxx (and maybe 5xxx too) series compared to 4xxx? I feel the bootup takes a bit longer now, but can't really tell as I didn't time the process with a stopwatch. Anecdotal evidence rocks, eh? ;)
     
  17. Squilliam

    Squilliam Beyond3d isn't defined yet
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    Obviously you need an SSD now, im just saying... :lol:
     
  18. Mize

    Mize 3dfx Fan
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    W7's bizarrely slow boot-ups drove me to an SSD as well...
     
  19. Bouncing Zabaglione Bros.

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    I've seen a couple of posts related to this. One identified IE as causing the problem, another said that raising the PCIe power setting in his BIOS from auto to 1.2v allowed powertune to start working more sensibly.
     
  20. karlotta

    karlotta pifft
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    a 100+ C temps for the GPU isnt the real issue, its the rest of the components on the card, that end up crashing your game/APP, when your GPU is in 100C zone.And the only way i can get it that hot is if the cards are stacked so close only a credit card can slide between them. Do to slot layout on some MB... ATI/AMD should find away for more airflow, like Nvidia did. They beveled some plastic so air can get in on stacked cards.
     
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