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XFX 7970Ghz Edition Double D throttling problem. Faulty card or PSU related?

post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 
Hello,
First of all let me say that I kinda resent being "that guy" that signs up asking for help with his problem, but I am basically at my wits end and this does seem a place with a lot of knowledgeable people. Hope you won't mind too much.

At the end of february, I purchased the card in the thread title, to give my old HD5870 to my sister. Card went in and everything was seemingly flawless, if you don't factor in the obscene coil whine that comes from the thing. Gaming experience however, was weird. Things were not flowing as smooth as they should and while I knew about the fps render time problem with ATI cards, I was using the latest drivers that had it fixed.

I decided to download MSI afterburner and monitor the card while gaming, and soon I found out what was happening. As soon as the game I was playing, was displaying a very intensive scene, the card would start throttling. The GPU core (memory clock is always stable at 1500 when this happens) would start to go up and down in the 500-1050 mhz range. A gpu clock log would read like this: 1050,797,832,637,1023 and so on.

Once this behaviour started, there was no way to stop it, even if in a fps I was just looking at the ground with nothing happening, once the throttling started, the only thing that fixed it was to exit the game and restart it, or change the core clocks to something else and then change back them to default, this would stop the throttling until the next intensive scene occurs.

When this happens, the GPU temperature are in the 50ies or mid 60ies celsius so way, way below "risky" temperatures.

When I first discovered this behavior, a rapid look through internet tipped me that setting the powertune option to 20% might do the trick and stop the throttling, I did and in the first few days, this worked. Throttling had stopped in Heaven 4 and in most of the games. Fast forward to last week when Tomb Raider is released, I get it and while playing I notice again the dreaded throttling. Everytime there would be a close up on Lara's face, coupled with the TressFX option, the card would start to throttle (even with the 20% powertune) and GPU usage was going from 100% to 64% and back up every second.

-I thought it was a driver issue and tested with the 13.1 whql, 13.2beta6 and 13.2 beta7 drivers, all displayed the issue, even when I partitioned one of my hard drives and did a fresh install of windows on it, to rule out any software problem.

I got myself a program to monitor PSU voltages, well knowing that they are not 100% reliable, but since I lack a digital multimeter, that was the best I could do. On the +12v rail, the voltage was oscillating between +11,904 and +12,000 all the time. The GPU throttling doesn't seemed to be affected by that as it could well start to throttle when the reading was at 12v. The psu is a LCpower that I got it back in 2008, knowing that it was a channel well unit and is basically identical to a thermaltake Toughpower, and so far it ran like a champ. Had no trouble even in the past when I had 2 5870 overclocked to 900/1300 in crossfire to run them.

-I tried to put my cpu at default clock, and it seems that this, delayed the occurrance a little bit.


Powertune worked fine as first, but now it seems to stop the throttling only in heaven. Games that should by less stressful on the GPU (dx 9 crysis 2, witcher 2, sniper ghost warrior 2) will cause the GPU to throttle.
I was also advised to download radeonpro, and create a profile for the games, and select the "Always use highest clock while gaming" option, but that doesn't work either. The clocks stay stable, but the core will be still going from 100% to 64% back and forth, creating the same issues.

At this point, I am left in the annoying position of being unable to really determine if its the graphics card at fault, or my power supply. The fact that with the CPU at stock clock, the throttling showed up lately and the fact that the throttling starts only when very intensive scenes are on screen, makes me think that the PSU might be at fault sadly, I have no one with a capable enough pc to house a 7970 and run tests, so I am on my own on this.

Has anyone any idea of what I could do to further narrow it down to either the PSU or GPU, or is my only option left to blindly purchase a new PSU with hopes that was the culprit. I was thinking about a Corsair AX series 760W 80 Platinum, do you think that would be enough for my system?
post #2 of 53
Have you overclocked your gpu? What are the current clocks and voltages and what are the default?
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post #3 of 53
The Double D coolers have always had an issue with VRM's overheating. Might be your issue
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post #4 of 53
The XFX DD cards are possible the cards with the worst coolers out there they are crap does a very poor job of cooling and are very loud as said above you might have a card thats so bad its overheating
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post #5 of 53
the double D is the worst amd card.. a shame XFX are hitting the ground now
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post #6 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramzinho View Post

the double D is the worst amd card.. a shame XFX are hitting the ground now
The DD cooler is made out of leftover engines spare parts from a Tu-95 Bear
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post #7 of 53
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies. My car runs at stock clocks (1050/1500) with stock voltage (1.213).

Didn't know about the bad name of the DD cooler, my card is one of those with the revision that supposedly fixed the VRM problems but I decided to test the VRM theory anyways.
What I did, was to set the fan speed to 100% and leave them be with the card idle for a while to ensure the card was as cool as possible when entering the text. I also took a hairdryer who can blow cold air and placed it in correspondance of where the VRMs are.

This test was carried out on the assumption that VRMs don't get to critical temperatures immediately, but would take at least half minute to do so, I used MSI Afterburner for this.

-Started MSI Kombustor with the powertune option at 0% and the core was throttling from the get go

-Started MSI Kombustor with the powertune option at 20% and the core was rock solid at 1050mhz for 10 minutes (my hand got tired holding the hair dryer)

So it looks like powertune does have at least an effect in improving the card core stability, and makes me think that when it throttles in games is because not even the 20% powertune setting gives it enough power.

Now, should not this exam debunk the VRM theory?
I mean, if that was indeed the case, should not the issue occuring even faster with a 20% increased power draw, that should cause the VRMs to generate more heat?
Also, I've discovered today that if I am playing a game who has a FMV in the middle of the level, that would stop the throttling aswell. If the card was throttling before the FMV, it will stop doing so once it starts. It will resume doing so, when the next intensive scene occurs. If that was the VRM, doesn't make little sense that the throttling stops just for the FMVs?
Edited by -red- - 3/14/13 at 2:11pm
post #8 of 53
I own the same card and so does a friend of mine. Everything you described happens to my friend and I. Once the throttle starts, it's like an infection and we have to reboot pc/ reboot game/ redo clocks for the card to get normal behavior again.
I have Witcher 2 also, same thing. That being said. I think this abnormal behavior...is actually normal (since we own crap cards make by a crap company). Keep in mind, some games will do this to any card. There's always 'lag spots' in certain games. One minute you're walking around with solid frames and when you go into a certain area that seems harmless/ or cutscenes, major throttle. Happens to me in Witcher 2 a lot.

Anyway, at least you know you're not alone. I'm saving for a 690 or Titan. This was my first and final go with AMD.
post #9 of 53
Same deal here, i thought it was my psu tbh and like you i was considering getting either a seasonic or a corsair 760W. I'll forward this thread to Shauun (XFX) since im in contact with him for a while now telling him all the steps i went trough to try n solve this issue.
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post #10 of 53
Thread Starter 
Well, I bit the bullet and got myself a Corsair 760W 80+ platinum. Installed and tried some benchmarks, with powertune option at 0% the card still throttles. At this point I am going to iron out the psu as possible cause, and just assume the video card is faulty. Actually I think that more than being something wrong with the card hardware, the bios on the card is crap and has a low TDP value or something.
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