RX 480 spiking when idle in MSI afterburner

Daniel Thomas

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I just got my RX 480 on a sale last Friday on Amazon, and I couldn't pass it up. Removed my GTX 950, and added this card expecting much better performance in games, but I've noticed in some cases performance is actually worse. My system specs are as follows:

RX 480 MSI Gaming X 4GB
AMD FX8320e OC'd 3.8Ghz
Kingston Hyper X Fury 8GB DDR3 1866Mhz
ASUS M5A78L-M
EVGA 500W 80+ PSU

So performance is very variable per game. For example, in Mirror's Edge Catalyst and Star Wars Battlefront I can not maintain 60+FPS. In both games my frame rates are more like 60's down to the low 30's, and its worse in Mirror's Edge for some reason because at medium settings it will hardly even touch 60FPS. Which in both games my 950 had no issues hugging that 60FPS line, give or take. However, in other games like Hitman, Call of Duty Black Ops 3 (a broken game) I hardly get any noticeable drops, and if I do its no where below 50. Also, in Rise of the Tomb Raider when I try to run with DX12 the gaem crashes, and in DX11 the game runs better than my 950, but worse because it will consistently bounce between 28 to mid 50's.

So I'm not sure if its a bottleneck or what because also when idle my GPU graph is really strange. My core clock, mem clock, and usage will sharply spike up and down very frequently when I'm hardly even doing anything. Temps are fine because GPU never goes above 70 when gaming, but when ever playing games the core and mem clock will flatten out, so I'm not sure what to think of everything else.

I thought maybe OSD's like CAM where the issue, but doesn't quite seem to be the case. I've been playing Titanfall 2 since its free to play this weekend, and last night it ran relatively fine. Today I started playing again, and I had all kinds of hitching, and it was hard to play. Not quite sure what to make of this.

Check graph out here:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0ByVaAh8XUj63UmhUWjl0e...
 
programs running in the background, including monitoring programs can and will cause the CPU frequency and usage to bounce. This happens on all PC's not just yours. even if you do not have any programs running like monitoring programs the usage will still bounce due to the OS running background programs. an example of this ins checking for OS updates, Application updates especially from windows store ect..

GPU activity (usage) will depend on how difficult the frame is to render that it is currently working on. The hard it is to render the more usage the graph will show. The easier it is to render the less usage it will show. Everthing depends on the workload that the GPU is under.

The difference between the GTX 950 and the RX 480 is that the AMD GPU isw more powerful so it doesn't need to work as hard to render the same frame that the GTX 950 did. this will show up as less usage.

The way to tell if the CPU is affecting the GPU because it is a bottleneck is to watch the usage of the CPU and GPU at the same time. IF the CPU usage is at 100% and the GPU usage is at 40-50% then the CPU is your bottleneck.
 
1. Link no workie ...

2. I agree with Techpowerup

https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/MSI/RX_480_Gaming_X/28.html

In my opinion, this is thus far the only RX 480 that looks like it can compete with the GTX 1060 and its custom designs.
So I would not expect heat to a be a problem here . While the reference designs get up into the mid 80s, the MSI 480 Gaming X sits at about 73C. Have you checked for throttling using GPuz / Furmark ?
 
first off your motherboard (ASUS M5A78L-M) can not handle an 8000 series CPU unless it is a 95W version without throttling issues due to voltage regulation overheating. Start looking here also for this issue to ensure you are not having this problem.

When you changed cards did you wipe out all of teh Nvidia drivers? Then install the newest AMD Driver?

As for the clocks bouncing up and down this is the GPU recognizing a 3D application needs processing and the clocks switch from 2D clocks to the Higher 3D clocks. This is what you are seeing in the graph. Nothing to worry about.

 


Going off topic... but to make things accurate...

1. The charts you linked to don't have the 1060

2. No one is interested or talking about reference cards, the card in question is an AIB card from MSI

2. This should put it to rest. The reference 1060 is, on average, 10.2% faster then the reference 480 (97% / 88%)


3. The difference in OC headroom is vastly different and has been since the 7xx series.

MSI 480 OCs 12.2% over reference 480 (83.6 / 74.5)
https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/MSI/RX_480_Gaming_X/26.html

MSI 1060 Gaming overclocks 17.7% over reference 1060 (101.1 / 85.9)
101.1 comes from https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/MSI/GTX_1060_Gaming_X/27.html
85.9 comes from https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/MSI/GTX_1060_Gaming_X_3_GB/29.html

1060s Reference 97% rating x 1.177 OC = 115.17%
480s Reference 88% rating x 1.122 OC = 98.74

Based upon the average performance in TPUs Game Test Suite, outta the box, the MSI 1060 Gaming 6GB is 10.2% faster than the MSI 480 8GB Gaming at 1080p. When both cards are overclocked, the gap widens to 16.6%.


Going back on topic:

4. The reason TPU says that the MSI 480 is the only one that manages to compete with the 1060s however goes beyond fps. The heat / power issues with the reference 480s are well known. Most AIB cards didn't do as well as might be expected. My comments were not as much related to the relative fps performance of the 1060 / 480 but to the fact that the MSI 480 gaming does not suffer from the power / heat / noise issues of most 480 competitors. This is why TPU singled this card out specifically.

Nearly all board partners have thus far either struggled to properly configure their fans or come up with a cooling solution that successfully manages to deal with the heat output of AMD's RX 480 GPU. MSI's RX 480 Gaming X, however, acts like most other MSI Gaming cards; unpack it, install it into your case, install the drivers, and you're done. No matter which game you throw at the card now, its noise levels are a quiet 31 dBA, which is still noticeable, but better than what most people expected custom RX 480 cards to deliver after the recent reality check.

Such an increase in power results in equally increased heat output, which means more work for the cooler. But since the MSI RX 480 has good temperatures and noise, there is no problem there. MSI has also upgraded the power input configuration to a single 8-pin, which seems to be an obligatory move for all custom RX 480 designs. It's also good to see that they upped the board power limit to make full use of that configuration to 225 W.

....this $25 increase [over the reference design] is not unreasonable if you consider how much better the MSI RX 480 Gaming X performs [over the reference design] in every single test in this review. In my opinion, this is thus far the only RX 480 that looks like it can compete with the GTX 1060 and its custom designs.
So, again, the reason I referred to the more efficient, quieter and cooler 1060 had little to do with fps but with heat, efficiency, noise and power delivery. The reference 480s were exceeding electrical specs pulling too much power thru the PCI slot which resulted in some strange things. The reference 480s were running at 84C ... meanwhile the MSI runs at 73C at 31 dBA , so with the MSI 480, it should behave much like the 1060 in that it doesn't have then problems typically associated with the reference 480s and even many AIB cards

However, as good as the the MSI 480 is, it still pulls about 200 watts in typical gaming compared with the MSI 1060s @ 120 watts.... That equates an extra 80 watts of PSU power and an extra 140mm case fan to handle the needed extra power and move the extra heat. The MSI 1080 is 75% faster for the same power consumption. So the only thing that comes to mind is that case ventilation or inadequate PSU power is the cause of the problems described because the MSI 480 Gaming is free from the problems typically associated with other 480s.
 

Daniel Thomas

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So basically your saying I just need to get a new case?
 


That is not what it is saying. What it says is that the 480 produces a lot of heat and you need to accommodate for it.

Please look into the CPU throttling the core speeds. The reason for this, even more so now that you have a 480, that your motherboard does not have any VRM cooling on it. Now add the fact you overclocked the CPU, which will cause that motherboard to throttle due to VRM over heating, and the added heat from the 480 you have a really good recipe for voltage throttling. Even though your Chip is supposed to be a 95W chip overclocking it makes it draw more wattage so you are at least back up to the 125W if not more mark. I can not stress enough how much this can effect your GPU along with other things.

Also please list the full system specs; CPU: known, GPU: Known, MB: Known, PSU? Case? extra fans? HDD/SSD's: not necessary for this issue.
 

Daniel Thomas

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Well, I've been thinking about getting some VRM heatsinks to cool them better, and also a new case. It isn't the first time I've heard my case has poor airflow. I've been looking into a couple for awhile not quite sure which to get. Also PSU is already listed, and my case is this Xion Performance mATX USB 3.0 Tower Case Black/Blue XON-310_BK. I've had it for about over a year, my PC has changed a lot since I first got it.
 


I am saying that I don't know what is causing it because the "usual suspects" (known issues with various other 480 designs) don't apply to the MSI 480 Gaming. Without knowing case, case fans, fan speeds, orientation, did you change fan curve, PSU model (EVGA 500 is not a model) as well as voltages on PSU rails when under load (HWinfo)

Guru3D recommends a 450 watt OSU if you are not overclocking. You have a 500 ... perhaps a weak 500. Your CPU is overclocked and that CPU is a big power drain and can pull up to 340 watts by itself. Looks like you should be about 175... they have the card pulling 168 watts but TPU shows it at 200 watts

http://www.anandtech.com/show/8864/amd-fx-8320e-cpu-review-the-other-95w-vishera/2

You should also try and get ya hands on one of these to see what PC draws when under max load.:
 

Daniel Thomas

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EVGA doesn't give some of their PSU's model names. If you look up EVGA 500watt power supply you will see the one I have, and also its 80+ certified like I posted above. Also, isn't the 8230e suppose to have a lower power drae than its none e counterpart? So, are you sure about the 340w draw by itself? I had a A10 7870K APU before, and that just drew around 125W or something like that, and it has a GPU built in since its an APU.
 

Daniel Thomas

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Nevermind, I see what your talking about. Although, my power supply should be fine, I've tried a slightly higher rated EVGA power supply before back when I had my 7870K + 950 ( I had a similar issue), but that didn't change anything, so I took it back. I know I have different parts now, but I'm not sure if power is an issue like your inferring because I should have enough.
 
The lower draw, 95W versus 125W, is due a better binning. they keep the chips that run stable at the lower voltage for the "e" series. Now once you start raising the voltage to increase the the clock rate this goes out the window because the CPU is now drawing more voltage than it would at stock. Have a good look at the link Jack posted and pay attention to the chart provided. you will see the correlation between voltage and draw.

 


start by running a CPU stress test (Intel Burn Test) with AMD Overdrive open on the CPU tab. Watch the thermal margin and core speed. Once the thermal margin reaches 0°C the CPU will start to throttle due to heat.

If the core speeds start going down and the thermal margin is above 0°c then you have VRM throttling. This will point to heat or voltage issues with the CPU.
 
your CPU is throttling due to voltage. Heat sinks may help some but also adding air flow past those heat sinks will help. Also remove the Overclock, that board is not meant for overclocking at all. This is another reason why your throttling due to voltage.
 

Daniel Thomas

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Ok, so then what would be the point in getting the heatsinks if I need to remove the OC? I thought the point in getting heatsinks added to the VRM's were so you could have more voltage overhead to OC. I talked with a guy on another thread a while back, and we were talking about OCing my CPU he said that getting heatsinks should allow me to OC the chip higher, or at least to 4.0Ghz. So you're saying the heatsinks aren't going to make much of a difference?
 
OK to be clear on this. The Asus M5A78L-M motherboards have a Voltage Throttling issues with the 8 core AMD 8000 series CPU's at stock settings. This is because they draw so much wattage to operate. NOW, adding the heat sinks to the mosfet's will only help stop this at stock settings BUT anything over is a gamble because of the needed wattage draw.

If you want to overclock get a better motherboard, one with a minimum of 8+2 power phases and has good VRM heat sinks already installed.

Basically you bought a Ferrari and are driving on trails in the woods with it. Short cuts can cost money in the end and you have one example. You bought one of the cheaper budget boards but purchased a high end CPU for it... ever hear of the big block V8 motor that was stuffed in a Chevette? Well that is what we have here.

what can you do? spend $10-$25 on heat sinks and surly run at stock speeds and maybe slightly over. OR you could purchase a different motherboard that can handle overclocking, as long as you have a good CPU cooler, and overclock as much as it can handle limited by cooling.

EDIT: IF you are limited to only a micro ATX form factor then you will likely be limited to 4+1 phase designs. a quick look on newegg reveals that to get a newer motherboard "cheap" that has descent cooling and support for the 8000 series is very limited but htis one should serve you needs with a mild OC. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157582
 

Daniel Thomas

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Ok, well I'm definitely going to look into getting a new case first more than anything else. If the heatsinks added on help me keep my clocks stable where they are at now, then I won't complain. I'll either upgrade to Zen later, or just get an Intel CPU. I just got this because my previous APU was holding back my 950, and now this CPU is holding back my 480, so I might just end up building on overkill PC in the future, and stick with what I've got for now. I want to add some more RAM, and an SDD sometime soon, but after the new cases I'll just build an entirely new rig again. I've gone through so many system changes in the past year its kinda funny.
 

Daniel Thomas

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So I added the heatsinks last night, and I've been monitoring the performance of the GPU while idle, and I've notice an improvement. While before the graph would go crazy when just doing nothing now its flat most of the time. I haven't tested stability of the CPU clocks, but I'm assuming there should be some improvement there too. Now I still get spikes in the core and activity when doing stuff like web browsing, haven't tested games yet even though in most games the graph was flat anyways, but I'm assuming I might see less drops simply because the unstable voltage isn't causing the clocks to drops. So when I get on a game that has unstable performance later tonight I'll let you know how it turns out.
 
Please check the CPU core clocks because this was the issue to start with so this is where you need to test to see if the change helped. Please test like I mentioned earlier in this thread to check for core clocks dropping.
 

Daniel Thomas

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So I did what you said, and I test the CPU with current OC and Vcore OC with an Intel burn test, and I was watching AMD overdrive, and your right. It still drops down to 2.8Ghz. So I decided to test with stock Clock and stock voltage of 1.1, and it stayed the same relatively speaking, it would drop to 3.1 every now and then. Although I've also been monitoring my GPU graph, and its even better, but activity still spikes all over the place, and sometimes the memory spikes. The only thing that is really more stable that wasn't before is the core clock. So I'm wondering if there is something else going on?
 
GPU usage will bounce around depending on how much it is needed at the moment. The Core clock on the GPU should stay at the above its base clock rate while 3D rendering is being used.

The Core clock will have a higher "boost clock" that it will use depending on temperature of the GPU. This will bounce up and down depending on level of usage and temperature.

The Core clock will have a low value if the GPU is only needed for 2D applications. Most easily seen when the system is idle.

The memory clock will have a low value if the GPU is using 2D clock speeds. But when the GPU is needed for 3D rendering the clock will raise to it's highest setting. IF this bounces it is because the GPU is changing between 2D and 3D clock speeds. Using a browser and some monitoring programs can cause the clock speeds bounce.
 

Daniel Thomas

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I'm aware of majority of what your talking about, but the weird thing is this stuff happens when I'm idle too. Like for example, my core clock is usually always at the the boost with some variance, and the activity is very variable. Like going from 100 one sec, down to 9 to the next, and the up to 70 two seconds later, and down to 10, and then sometimes it will smooth out for a minute or so. It seems kinda unpredictable and not controlled like it should be. I thought activity was supposed to be a relatively small range, and when doing heavy work loads like 3D rendering it should stay around 100? I was playing SW;Battlefront about 20 mins ago, and the activity would spike very frequently. Like when idle, but way more, and I'm guess that just has to do with my CPU bottleneck, or maybe something with the game its self, but its just a problem I didn't have when I was using my 950 with this CPU in this game in particular even. I'll test some other games as well, but its of course not the same case with all games just certain ones.
 
programs running in the background, including monitoring programs can and will cause the CPU frequency and usage to bounce. This happens on all PC's not just yours. even if you do not have any programs running like monitoring programs the usage will still bounce due to the OS running background programs. an example of this ins checking for OS updates, Application updates especially from windows store ect..

GPU activity (usage) will depend on how difficult the frame is to render that it is currently working on. The hard it is to render the more usage the graph will show. The easier it is to render the less usage it will show. Everthing depends on the workload that the GPU is under.

The difference between the GTX 950 and the RX 480 is that the AMD GPU isw more powerful so it doesn't need to work as hard to render the same frame that the GTX 950 did. this will show up as less usage.

The way to tell if the CPU is affecting the GPU because it is a bottleneck is to watch the usage of the CPU and GPU at the same time. IF the CPU usage is at 100% and the GPU usage is at 40-50% then the CPU is your bottleneck.
 

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