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  1. #1
    Cain's Lair General
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    Default WT's experiments with ATI's hardware - tempting the curse

    I've been buying Nvidia since .. OMG, the original Nvidia Riva TNT back when everyone was rocking a 3Dfx !! My only attempt to venture over to camp Red was on my last build when I bought one of the highly sought after Sapphire Toxic 6950s that unlocked to a 6970. What did I get for that ? A DOA card that was back-ordered at Newegg by at least two weeks. I threw in the towel and bought a GTX580 and never looked back.

    I still would like to give ATI/AMD a try, and always wanted to grab one for cheap and toss it in a rig. Unfortunately the Bit/Litecoin craze has seen these cards skyrocket in retail price, so I gave up and awaited the inevitable 'Coin crash that would free up thousands of these cards on the market. I have long lusted after the 48x0x2s, and saw them selling on Ebay for more than anyone should pay for one. They are notorious for overheating, and any buyer needs to be aware of this and deal with it.

    So I was in a project mood, scouring the FS/FT forums and happened upon a Diamond 4870X2 selling for all of $40, advertised 'as-is' and appeared to work fine in Windows, but would glitch and overheat in games. I could tell it needed a good cleaning, so I took a chance on it. It showed up today and I gave it a good cleaning but didn't bother to deal with replacing the TIM yet, just blowing dust out of the fans.

    Out went the BFG GTX280 OC card, a card that scored a solid 7.3 on Windows 7's WEI performance score.



    In went the 4870X2:



    The Hell is that all about ?? It scored LOWER than the 280 ??!! A quick Google search shows that Windows WEI score does NOT recognize a second GPU (just like it won't recognize a second RAID'ed HDD) and that 7.1 score is the same score a single 4870 scores. Test it with games and it comes alive and shows it was a worthwhile upgrade.

    The temps at idle were at 89-90° ... oh well, no surprise, I knew that going in. These things are ovens !!



    The later AMD Catalyst utilities allows you to manually adjust the fan speed, so I installed that and bumped the fans from their default of 40% to a higher 60%. Temps dropped like a rock, all the way down to 56°, but fan noise was noticeable now. I settled on 55% and it is a nice balance of low temps and bearable fan noise. With the side panel back on, its no louder than any higher end card I've owned.



    I wanted to use this card on my Win 8.1 preview rig, but its poor Apevia 650w PSU (remember that thing, KP ??) broke down in tears when I showed it the video card. It didn't have an 8 pin PSU power cable to bring the beast to life.
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

  2. #2
    Cain's Lair General
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    Ughhhh, tried to run a benchmark in Company of Heroes and it gave up and restarted on me with artifacts galore. Going to turn down the clocks but it looks like the seller was right - great in Windows, fails in games. The diagnostics shall now commence ..
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

  3. #3
    Administrator Life Time Member Apache Warrior's Avatar
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    Every Radeon Graphics card I ever had ended up having problems. I have never had any problems with my Nvidia Cards.
    Apache


    "Where do you put the bayonet?"
    Chesty Puller (upon seeing a flamethrower for the first time)
    I am all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Lets start with typewriters.
    Frank Lloyd Wright

  4. #4
    Moderator Life Time Member Duke{CLR}'s Avatar
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    Haven't had ATI in a while, mostly because I like the support EVGA give us USA customers great service. From what Juneau has said though they have different rules for other parts of the globe.


    Killed by CLRs since 2004. WOOT!
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  5. #5
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    Default

    Interesting testing so far ... it has crashed only once, and that was on a Steam game. When I tried an older game (Dungeon Siege 2) that I purchased retail, it ran fine. The fans throttle up when gaming, and it makes some noise, but I've determined that the current temps should be fine.
    This card may just end up on my pegboard hutch as a display card. I consider it geek art, so $40 for a conversation piece is fine as well.
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

  6. #6
    Game Administrator Life Time Member juneau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apache Warrior View Post
    Every Radeon Graphics card I ever had ended up having problems. I have never had any problems with my Nvidia Cards.
    Apache
    Nothing but sheer bad luck.

    Quote Originally Posted by Duke{CLR} View Post
    Haven't had ATI in a while, mostly because I like the support EVGA give us USA customers great service. From what Juneau has said though they have different rules for other parts of the globe.
    That be true. We pay more for the products yet get less in return when it comes to aftersales.

  7. #7
    Administrator Life Time Member Apache Warrior's Avatar
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    I know, but after buying three over the years I have gotten gun shy about sinking more money into a brand that hasn't held up for me.
    Apache


    "Where do you put the bayonet?"
    Chesty Puller (upon seeing a flamethrower for the first time)
    I am all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Lets start with typewriters.
    Frank Lloyd Wright

  8. #8
    Game Administrator Life Time Member juneau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apache Warrior View Post
    I know, but after buying three over the years I have gotten gun shy about sinking more money into a brand that hasn't held up for me.
    Apache
    You didn't lose money on the cards did you? They get replaced/refunded? Or were they all out of warranty?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apache Warrior View Post
    I know, but after buying three over the years I have gotten gun shy about sinking more money into a brand that hasn't held up for me.
    Apache
    I'm curious to hear what cards you tried and what failed. I actually have at least 3-4 old ATI cards still lying around - we are talking AGP here (9800 Pro, X800 GTO), and they still all work.

    I also found an eVGA 460 2Win (two 460 cards on one board) for $80, but can't justify buying more higher end cards when I only play on my primary PC. Just to fix the failing fans on it would run me $60.
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

  10. #10
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    Soooo frustrating !!! I decided to run the Unigine Heaven benchmark on the card - a beastly benchmark that will make most cards sweat. I felt I had the heat dealt with, and even bumped the cards voltage with MSI Afterburner. If it was gonna work, it should work under those conditions.
    It ran the benchmark for a good 12 minutes - I checked every 5 minutes and it displayed no glitches or other anomalies at all. After another 5 minutes I checked on it and the PC had lost display and needed power cycled. Experiment over.

    I yanked the card and popped the GTX280 back in - 100% stability is back. Looks like the 4870x2 goes on the display shelf now.
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

  11. #11
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    Unbelievable what these cards pull as far as power delivery. I'm seeing recommendations for nothing less than a stout 600w unit for the card, and the PSU calculator shows my hardware config will draw 449w at the wall, 499 under load.

    I picked up a steal of a deal on an XFX Core Edition 550w PSU for $25 after rebate, so I'm not done working on the card, but since I originally used an XFX 650w Black Edition PSU for my testing, I KNOW the PSU was not the issue with the card.

    I am planning on pulling the heatsink and re-doing the thermal pads as well as the TIM, and if I get daring might try a voltmod on the card. Voltmod is a last ditch effort though, as the last thing you want to do with these cards is to add more heat to them. I can't even find an Accelero cooler for it now, but when you could find one expect to pay $100 for it.
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

  12. #12
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    Round 2 with the 4870x2 card. I don't give up easily !! All parts that I ordered showed up yesterday, so I replaced the fan, replaced all thermal tape on the VRAM and VRMs and re-did the thermal paste using good stuff on both GPU cores.

    The original card in place just to test it and see if the sellers diagnosis was accurate:


    Time to start removing all of that heatsink !


    A naked 4870x2 !!! The card simply overwhelms the stock heatsink when it heats up:


    Can't imagine this helped airflow at all:


    Reassembled, and ready yet again to test the difference that fresh TIM and thermal paste can do, as well as a new fan:


    So far, so good. The temps dropped dramatically, all the way from 89° at idle to 68° at idle. Now recall that I had temps even lower before this cleanup, down to 58-60, but that took a big bump in fan speed from 40 to 55. I'm at the default fan speed of 40, letting the thermal paste and TIM cure and bond for a day.

    Only odd thing is I cannot manually adjust the fan speed with the 13.9 Catalyst CC. When I reboot the PC, I lose the option under 'Gaming-> AMD Overdrive'. Its .. gone !?! I have to reinstall the driver for the option to reappear. Even so, setting the fan slider to 50 does not show that it ramps up to 50. GPU-Z also reports it still running at 40. Maybe time to give ATI Tool a try and see if that will manually adjust the fan speed.

    Note that I haven't tried to play any games yet. This is what caused the card to fail before so I am not by any stretch assuming this card is 'cured' of its curse. I will give it a try tomorrow and see what happens when it ramps up the heat to play a game.
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

  13. #13
    Cain's Lair General K PhaNTOM's Avatar
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    89 at idle? Turn on a game and you can cook on it.

  14. #14
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    OK, I figured out why I could not see the 'AMD Overdrive' option under the Catalyst Engine software .... good ol' Windows UAC !!!! Disabled that and I now have access to the manual fan speeds and memory and core clocks (not that I would touch them on this card - in fact I tried to DOWNclock it before I sunk $$ into the new parts for it). Its now running at a staggeringly low idle temp of 42° (yes, down from 89° !!!) and I only upped the fan speed from 40 to 45%. I at first doubted that temp, but both AMD Catalyst and GPU-Z report it at that temp.

    At 89° as I received it, this card didn't have a lot of headroom until it hit its peak of 125° and the VRMs would quit working and reboot the card and/or PC. After a day of curing for the paste and TIM, I think I have it ready to fire up a game and see what it will do. Even at 45%, the fan is putting off some noise, but I have 7 fans in the case, including 2 80mm, so it has NEVER been a quiet rig.

    LatestTemps.PNG
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

  15. #15
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    Sapphire does the best cards for AMD/ATI. I would recommend them.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by majinsnake View Post
    Sapphire does the best cards for AMD/ATI. I would recommend them.
    Funny how you mention Sapphire, and my only previous experience with Team Red was with that Sapphire 6950 Toxic that was DOA. I like Sapphire cards overall, but still side with eVGA when it comes time to open up my wallet. It's a bad time to be buying an AMD card due to the miners snapping them up so fast, but I see an end to that madness in the next year, if not sooner.
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

  17. #17
    Moderator Life Time Member Duke{CLR}'s Avatar
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    Nothing like a good cleaning an some new thermal compound, make me think that I should try a bit of this with my twin 470s.


    Killed by CLRs since 2004. WOOT!
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by WalkinTarget View Post
    Funny how you mention Sapphire, and my only previous experience with Team Red was with that Sapphire 6950 Toxic that was DOA. I like Sapphire cards overall, but still side with eVGA when it comes time to open up my wallet. It's a bad time to be buying an AMD card due to the miners snapping them up so fast, but I see an end to that madness in the next year, if not sooner.
    I had a pair of Sapphire 6770s 128-bus width cards. They worked well, and even when I sold them to move to a single card (XFX 7870). Later, I thought my XFX card had died on me. It turns out my computer case was warped, and the card would not seat properly in the slot. Coolermaster CM-690 II case. It was not until after I bought an EVGA card - Geforce 760 GTX 4 GB card that I learned my case was warped.

    XFX still allows me to return the XFX card, but now I know the card still works. I plan to put my third party fan on it (Acelero Twin Turbo), so I can sell it Ebay. I had trouble trying to put the original fan / heatsink back together.
    Last edited by majinsnake; 11th Mar 2014 at 07:35 PM.

  19. #19
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    Well, I knew it was not gonna be temps that caused this card to fail again, so I ran the Unigine 'Heaven' benchmark on it with hopes it was cured.

    It was not. Another lockup and dropped video.

    I looked the card over when I had the heatsink off and found what I think to be a heat damaged PCB right by the top left VRAM chip - very hard to see with phone pics, but its a discoloration of the PCB on the lower right of the chip in the center:


    Oh well, it seems to be fine in 2D and in games that don't stress the GPU very hard. I'm not done yet - I'm going to try and disable the second GPU core (altho the damage looks to be to traces on GPU1) and rule that out.
    If it doesn't work, I have another project card lined up after this one - an eVGA 460 2Win card is next on the repair bench.
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

  20. #20
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    It's way too quiet in this forum, so I came back to annoy anyone who will listen to my rantings. After my 4870x2 disappointment, I ended up picking up a HiS 6970 for a song and a dance, and it too had issues with overheating. I am currently working on fixing that - the TIM was absolutely shot, so I pretty much did the same routine as the 4870x2 - replace all TIM and GPU thermal paste with the GOOD STUFF - Fujipoly Ultra, which runs about $25 for a 5"x5" pad.

    Check out how badly the TIM was on the 6970:

    BadTIM.jpg

    Having decided that buying problematic cards was probably no longer a good buying decision, I splurged on a working 7970 card last week. This one was a Powercolor model, garden variety, not a Gigahertz Edition, but it was only $155. Now with the newer AMD cards dropping fast in price, it may not sound like a good deal, but the buyer chipped in an Intel 80GB SSD for free as well, so I once again made an attempt to use an AMD card in my main rig. Got the card Monday - tested and benched it all evening, and it never broke a sweat pushing pixels to my 44" Eyefinity dual panel display.

    Powercolor7970.jpg

    This is an upgrade to my GTX580, and while it may not seem like a large jump, the 1.5GB of VRAM on that card is starting to be an issue. I am playing Company of Heroes 2 exclusively, and the 7970 handily beats the GTX580 and even the 680 enough to justify the $115 I paid for it (after subtracting $40 market value for the price of the Intel SSD). Oh, that SSD shows a 99% health rating and a lifetime of 9+ years via SSDLife Pro !! Not bad.

    Anybody else rolling with an older gen AMD card ?? The Radeon 280 is pretty much a rebadged 7970, but I couldn't find any 280s near that price point I paid. They really do have issues with the TIM and thermal paste failing prematurely, at least in my small sampling of AMD cards that I have gotten ahold of.
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

  21. #21
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    Last update on this, as I was able to solve the card overheating issues. And I'll bet you $5 you never would have guessed what was causing it !! Wait for itttt .... waaait forrrr ittt ....



    My second display !!


    I have identical 22" LCD panels in an Eyefinity display, one hooked up directly to the video card via DVI, and the other running from the video card (using a DVI->VGA dongle) into a 4 port VGA KVM, and then into the monitor via DVI. It turns out that when you are running a second display and the properties of the display to not match, this will occur, as the card is not able to enter into it's 2D idle mode and instead runs flat out at its highest speeds. According to AMD, it's a feature not a bug.

    When I am running Eyefinity, the card climbs to around 80c AT IDLE ... Using Win key+P I can disable the second display, and IMMEDIATELY the temps drop down to mid 40s. No ideal workaround yet, but I can either drop display #2 or purchase a DVI KVM (Good God they are pricey !!) and run the second display natively via DVI again.

    So I now have a functional 6970 card (bought for only $50) and the 7970, which does NOT have the same problem that the 6970 has using the EXACT same driver and the EXACT same hardware - I just swapped cards to test things. The 7970 idles at around 38c hooked up to both monitors. I'm still in shock after retiring the GTX580 and going AMD on almost all of my rigs. After 15+ years of buying exclusively Nvidia, I think I could be considered an Nvidiot
    Oh if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world ? - Harry Chapin

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