Artifacts/Low FPS on Ultra

Technical Support
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Okay,... I've been just dealing with this and bumping my settings to Medium to allow me to play for quite some time,...
But upon stumbling across GeForce.com and reviewing the recommended 'Optimal Settings' for SC2 on a GTX260, I'm wondering if I might have damaged my video card with that runaway FPS issue SC2 had a while back.
(I have a GTX275, which isn't listed at GeForce.com yet, so I went to the next lowest model for its recommended settings).

Specs:

- 700W PSU (Sorry, don't have brand on me)
- Liquid Cooled Intel® Core™ i7 920 Processor (4x 2.66GHz/8MB L3 Cache)
- 6 GB [2 GB X3] DDR3-1600 Triple Memory Module
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 275 – 1792MB - Single Card
- ASUS P6T SE -- Intel X58 Chipset CrossFire Supported w/8-ch HD Audio, Triple-Channel DDR3, Gb LAN, S-ATA Raid
- Dual 500GB Drives (1TB Capacity RAID0) 16M Cache, 7200 RPM, 3.0Gb/s

(Isn't she sexy?)

If I run on Medium-ish settings, all is well. FPS is solid enough that I don't notice a problem (I think it drops to 20fps when there are 400 Zerglings on the screen,... :-P) and I get no unexpected behavior.

If I bump to Ultra, like GeForce.com suggests for the GTX260, I will eventually see artifacts, and soon after it will experience a hard lock.
Temperature on the card, according to RealTemp, never exceeds 70C (usually much lower),... which seems reasonable to me.

So,... should I be concerned that my card is an unhappy camper? I'm okay playing on Medium settings, but if the card is expected to perform well at Ultra and I'm consistently locking with said config, I'd like to be sure there isn't a problem. *shrug

I'm an IT guy, just not as obsessive with hardware as I was back in the day. So feel free to use as much techie speak as you'd like - I can keep up. :-P


I swear I tried searching, but good luck finding anything on NVidia cards without having to sift through a whole lot of posts from that melting hardware issue. :-)

Thanks all!

(Edit: She runs Windows 7 Home 64bit)
Is it overclocked? The card could be slightly unstable at those clocks and Starcraft 2 is reveling the instabilities with its particular load on Ultra.

Try and verify that Realtemp is reading the temperature correctly with another program. Heat can always cause a card to start artifacting.

My third guess would be that your power supply is unable to keep up with the load and is giving you graphics card ripple (on the 12 volt rail) and the higher load when running Starcraft 2 is pulling too much power and your power supply cannot handle it (however with a 700 watt PSU, as long as its a high quality one it should be fine.) Plug a Multimeter into a molex connecter, yellow and black wire if you can and verify that the voltage is staying above 11.8 volts and below 12.2 volts.

Try downloading Furmark (GPU benchmark), run it along side LinX (highly optimized benchmark, WATCH THE CPU TEMP!!! This thing makes the CPU almost MAX out fully and you may have core temperatures higher then normal) on the other 3 cores and see if the system starts crashing. Furmark and LinX should be able to expose any power related or overclock instabilities in your system.

O yea and update your drivers if you haven't.

Good luck, If you need more help then you can find here come around to www.Overclock.net I'm Darkknight512 on there, it is one of the best computer community there is.
Thanks for the suggestions, Darkknight!
I'll have to check out that software you recommended.

Interesting update on this, though:

Last night I went and picked up a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply, for those who aren't familiar) with line conditioning, because I noticed my new apartment has ALL of our outlets running on the same breaker. I didn't want to risk damage to my Beastie-box if a heating element or a thrown breaker caused irregularity in the circuit.

And, yah,... I tested out SC2 after installing the UPS and am suddenly getting 60-90FPS while playing a replay at 1920x1080 with max [Ultra] settings!!

I'm assuming you were on to something with the 12V rail, Darkknight. Perhaps the card was throttling down because it recognized 12V wasn't stable due to inconsistent voltage from the outlet!?
Before getting the UPS, I did check voltage in the BIOS and it never really deviated more than 0.2 - but that doesn't measure the voltage while on full load from the components, so I imagine it's possible that my PSU doesn't play well under full load without consistent power feed,... or something.

It's really amusing, too. While at idle, the UPS says my PC pulls less than 0.2 KWh. When running SC2 at Ultra settings, ~0.5 KWh! lol. Talk about a power hungry GPU/CPU, right?!
:-D
200 watts at idle? I would be killed if my rig pulled that much. =P

Also, careful with reading voltages with the BIOS chip, it uses a cheapy chip to do it.

A lot of PSU's may have trouble producing 12 volts stable if the AC line voltage is fluctuating, but it should shutoff by itself if the DC voltage starts going haywire. I suggest looking in your computer and finding the model and look up a review and make sure it's not going to cause you trouble down the road. Won't want the power supply blowing out some hardware if it fails later on down the road!.
200 watts at idle? I would be killed if my rig pulled that much. =P

Also, careful with reading voltages with the BIOS chip, it uses a cheapy chip to do it.

A lot of PSU's may have trouble producing 12 volts stable if the AC line voltage is fluctuating, but it should shutoff by itself if the DC voltage starts going haywire. I suggest looking in your computer and finding the model and look up a review and make sure it's not going to cause you trouble down the road. Won't want the power supply blowing out some hardware if it fails later on down the road!.


Agreed, entirely!!

PSU is the only component that can damage any and every other [internal] component. :-)
(I'm aware you likely already know this - just stating it for any other readers who stumble across this thread down the line.)

My vendor (iBuyPower - which is a HORRIBLE company, customer-service-wise, by the way) just wrote "700 Watt -- Power Supply - SLI Ready" on the order details.
Sure sounds like they may have gone cheap to me. :-P :-/


PS: Just noticed I didn't answer one of your questions;
No, she's not Overclocked.
I had been experiencing the artifacts in SC2 from Ultra settings since I started playing, so I didn't dare OC. Prior to SC2, none of my games needed any extra boost. 1920x1080 Max settings all around and never below 60fps. I Love my Beastie. :-)
Now to save up for a Solid State HDD,...
Why not build your own PC instead of buy? You said you were an IT guy, wondering why you decided on buying a prebuilt.

I'm going to stay away from SSD's for now, the controllers are getting much better but in my eyes, they are just not there yet and I can't justify spending $200 on just faster loading on games and browsers. I would much rather go for a new graphics card or something. If you do go for an SSD be sure to get one with a Sandforce or Intel controller and don't fill em past 80%, that's when you start losing performance and it can create lots of other problems.

Also, don't run SSD's in RAID0 unless the drives have very good garbage collection (downside to garbage collection is waste of cycles on the SSD which can eventually make it start corrupting data) because RAID0 does not support TRIM.

I just wish SC2 would support more then 2 cores, My graphics card (HD3850 running at 720/950) is at 70% load during some parts of the game because my CPU (Q8300 2.33 GHz, OCed to 3.0 Ghz) just cant keep up. I built this system when I was 12, only part I upgraded was the CPU (formerly an E4600 2.4 Ghz OCed to 3.0 Ghz) and it can still push 60 FPS in most games at 1600x900. The HD3850 is a beast of a card for it's time and it still is.
I didn't build my own because iBuyPower's price was insanely good, and they promised to ship in 24 hours! (Of course, they didn't live up to the promise - it took about a week instead)
I was also at home with a broken foot on Workers Comp, so limping my gimpy self around the local computer component store wasn't that appealing. Most of the components locally were more expensive than the price offered by iBP, so I figured it was a good bet.
There would be a decent warranty backing the hardware, a quick delivery (their warehouse was within 30 miles of my home), good price and hopefully overall painless experience.
Such was not the case, in the end. :-(
Now I look at the "iBuyPower" badge affixed to my case, and I nerd rage slightly every time.

Thanks for the tip on the SSD!
I just look at the Windows 7 System Rating and the only thing below 7.4 is the disk data transfer rate (at 5.9! QQ). I'm on a RAID0 with 7200 RPM drives, so it kinda makes me go =/
Really, it's not that much of a concern for me, though. I hadn't even bothered looking into SSDs seriously, but now I think I'll abstain for the moment. Heheh.
Like you say, the benefits of the disk transfer rates are mostly negligible.

RAID0 makes me nervous in the first place. I'm always a little on edge about my data as is, so there's a 1TB (Non-RAID) drive for full system images once in a while. I don't think I'd want to run SSDs on RAID,.. at least not until they're a little more common.

That's quite an OC on the CPU you've got!! Fairly stable, I assume?

Up until recently I was running on a Xeon. My best system was one I built as a web server some time ago, which I re-worked into a gaming machine. It never quite felt stable, though; so I had this rig built while I was receiving checks for sitting on my butt playing video games. :-D Ahh, those were good times.

At least your other cores can run music or something while the two dedicated to SC2 chug away, no?
Hmm,... just checked my PSU:

XON-800P14N
It's actually 800W,... a bit excessive.

Well rated by Wize.com (No idea if Wize is reputable, though):
http://wize.com/system-power-supplies/p1212336-xion-powerreal-xon-800p14n-800w-atx12v-22

One bad review from Amazon, but it's a dude in Singapore who's upset it isn't working on his Voltage or something,...

I've never heard of XION. Always been a Thermaltake/CoolerMaster boy, myself. Have any thoughts on them?
Never heard of it, a quick search on google gives me some bad reviews on Newegg.com... They make some other stuff but by the looks of it, they are just a hardware reseller and don't make much of their own stuff.

Usually if you have never heard of a PSU vendor it probably is not reputable. The ones on my "good" list so far is Antec, some Coolermaster (depends on the actual OEM, they don't make their own PSU's), Corsair, PC Power and Cooling, and that's about it.

I've actually never had a HDD fail on me so far, so I wouldn't be too worried but you should ALWAYS have a backup anyways.

Yea, disk speed is not that important unless you need fast access time for some reason, such as a server or you like everything to happen the second you tell it to happen, for me I can save the 200 dollars and wait an extra 1-2 seconds for Firefox to open or something.

Thanks, all OC's have to be perfectly stable for normal use (Mine was tested for a full day with LinX stressing the CPU), sometimes you will get data corruption with bad OC's and crashes kinda offset the gain you get from an unstable OC. I know this chip can go much farther, probably around 3.4 GHz with the cooling I have but my motherboard won't do anything higher then 1600 FSB (400x7.5 = 3ghz). The first thing I did when I built this computer and any computer that I build either for personal or sale is to stress it to the absolute maximum and try to get stuff to fail right then and there.

Yes, the 2 cores will run the OS and anything in the background (which I have plenty of running, I don't like waiting for applications to open so I just keep everything open, even on 4 gb of ram it's not too bad).
Hmmm,...
Just did my 400 Zergling test again and it still dips a bit when they move about. The drop doesn't change between 1920x1080 and 1280x720, though - so I wonder if it's my CPU at that point? O.o

It is only 2.66GHz; and like you say, SC2 only uses two cores,... Hmmmm,....

I think I need to swap my PSU before I get into Overclocking anything, though.

It's on liquid cooling and I've never seen the CPU temps above 60C, but I don't know if I should go risking Voltage problems. ;-)
Yea, at 2.66 Ghz your i7 is at about the same bottleneck as my Q8300 at 3.0 Ghz. It is almost defiantly the CPU. Put the Physics, Effects and reflections on low and see if it helps, you probably won't notice the difference in game anyways.

But how much is your FPS falling? If it's not falling past 40 FPS I would probably not worry about it, you can't have everything right?

If you do your research you should have no problem doing OC's, I have yet spoke to anyone that killed a CPU while overclocking other then when they are trying to hit 6 Ghz or something on liquid nitrogen.

How big is the radiator on that liquid cooling loop? 60C sounds kinda high under load on liquid to me. (I've never done liquid cooling myself though.) The limits on the Core i7 is 70C and about 1.3500 volts, I asked a few people and they had chip degradation past 1.3650 volts.

Give me your friend code so you can ask me in the future if you need help and maybe we can knock up a few games some time.

It's dipping into 20fps at times. Mostly above 40, but still - if I'm in the middle of a 4v4 where there really are that many units on the field, I'd like to avoid the 20fps moments. :-)
Although,... Even at 20fps, this game isn't terrible. Micro would be a little bit daunting, but how accurately do you really need to micro 400 Zerglings, anyway? lol

Most of the time I play 1v1s, so it's really not much of an issue.
I've also been playing on Medium for a while now, and never had a problem with the quality. I'm so focused on the game that the graphics almost completely escape me. I'll definitely tune down the processor intensive settings.
During replays, it's distracting if anything; "Oooh, shiny minerals!" lol.

60C is the absolute highest I've ever seen (and I monitor is obsessively, especially at the old place because our AC was nonexistent and during the summer it got pretty hot where I kept the PC). Usually, it's at about 42C under normal load.
After my test just now; highest settings, 400 zerglings, etc - My RealTemp says the Max recorded was 55C on one core. The other cores were 52 or lower.
The radiator is about 6inch square and 2inch deep, if I had to guess. Two fans sandwich it, though I feel like they could be upgraded. They're just a bit weak by my standards (I'm not very much concerned about fan noise. :-D)
I haven't blown the dust out of the radiator in a little while, either. Should probably take care of that in the near future.

I've played with Overclocking in the past. But I've also fried a graphics card (which I still feel wasn't anything I did wrong! lol), so I'm weary when I'm not 100% confident with the hardware (ie: The PSU, currently)

My Friend Code is 311
(Side note: You can check friend codes on forums by clicking the arrow next to their name. Heheh. I just recently discovered this as well)
Wow, 140mm radiator? That's so small I think iBuyPower decided to put "liquid cooling" in just to say we have "liquid cooling". No wonder your temps are only about 5 C lower then stock cooling.
Perhaps the card was throttling down because it recognized 12V wasn't stable due to inconsistent voltage from the outlet!?


"Dirty power" long ago earned it's place at the very bottom of my "variables to check off" list when troubleshooting. It's extremely rare when it causes an issue, but failure to ever check for the possibility can leave you running in circles indefinitely. Glad you found it out. : )


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If you think I'm being a helpful tech then let us know at- http://www.surveymk.com/s/K37CVGG Thank you, and good gaming!
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Perhaps the card was throttling down because it recognized 12V wasn't stable due to inconsistent voltage from the outlet!?


"Dirty power" long ago earned it's place at the very bottom of my "variables to check off" list when troubleshooting. It's extremely rare when it causes an issue, but failure to ever check for the possibility can leave you running in circles indefinitely. Glad you found it out. : )


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you think I'm being a helpful tech then let us know at- <a href="https://www.surveymk.com/s/K37CVGG" target="_new">http://www.surveymk.com/s/K37CVGG</a> Thank you, and good gaming!
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I know, right?!

I hadn't thought of power as the likely culprit for a technical issue in a long time. I didn't buy the UPS for that purpose, either. It just happened to help significantly!

I played quite a bit this weekend, all at Ultra except for some CPU settings darkknight suggested. It ran beautifully - not a single issue. :-D
It ran beautifully - not a single issue. :-D


Great to hear! : )

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