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Why is my GPU usage low in BF3?

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#1
I have to confess. I have been a n00b and went for a Crossfire setup. The worst decision I've made with PCs. Micro-stuttering is a b*tch. Thought it won't affect me. But no, everybody falls into the same trap. Reviewers should do a better job than just showing the FPS count, and showing the apparent FPS by whatever calculation necessary.

I am pretty much only playing BF3 (MP - 32, 48 or 60 players ) these days. Whenever I am going below 60fps, micro-stuttering becomes noticeable. Afterburner is saying it is at high 50's, but it feels like 25fps. I am a sniper, and it makes my head ache when I try to focus on a target (when fps drops below 60fps that is)

Micro-stuttering is there, and there is no way to triumph it. But why does it dip below 60fps? These cards are unlocked, albeit only having 1GB of frame buffer per card. I know, 1GB might not be enough for BF3, but still...

Most of the times when the framerate is low, afterburner is showing bad GPU utilization on each or second card. When it is above 90%, it is silky smooth, not because it gets rid of micro-stuttering, but because the FPS is so high that the effect of micro-stuttering goes unnoticed.

Does anyone know why the GPU utilization drops below 90%? It can go as high as 98% on both cards at one instance. I was playing a MP game few minutes ago and the utilization dropped down to 50% on each card and it was stuttering as HELL!

I am using 12.3 drivers with cap1. tried 12.1 and 12.2 with caps and all and it is still behaving the same. 11.12 wasn't this bad. perhaps i should go back to it and see?
 
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#2
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#3
First of all, you'd be a "noob" if you dropped $600 on some overpriced flagship card as opposed to getting similar performance for cheaper by running crossfire (which a true noob wouldn't even know was possible).

Other will pipe in with their experiences but I really don't understand why some people get such horrid microstuttering and I can't say I ever noticed such a thing with 4850 then 6850 crossfire. Though that may not actually be your true issue.

What resolution is that 27" and what are your graphics settings? You may very well be running out of VRAM with just 1GB. Would not cause "microstutter" but definitely low fps and overall sluggish feeling.

At 1200P with 4X MSAA and Ultra except shadows I use damn near my whole 1530MB. Note MSAA uses a lot of memory and also affects performance pretty horridly on AMD cards, unfortunately.
 

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#4
Dual 6950's here, none of these problems. Stop using Afterburner with Crossfire, perhaps that will help.

Wrigley, i think some peopel are calling poor performance microstutter. I've said in the past there needs to be a distinction made about what Microstutter is, but no one listened. Oh well.:roll:

Actually, I can safely say that 1 GB cards, or 4 GB of ram, is not enough for BF3 with anything over medium.
 
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#5
I want to suggest that he monitor his vram but whenever I tried with my 6850s the numbers in GPU-Z made no sense and something was apparently not functioning correctly. Has this been rectified yet or does Afterburber work better? Using the latter to monitor my GTX 480 via OSD in-game and it works great. So helpful to see I'm actually using "1507MB" or whatever the case may be. I have yet to go over the 1530 I have and the game does not ever feel like it's struggling anymore. And I am running on higher settings on a card that is technically a tad slower than my old Crossfire set up. VRAM, man, VRAM. And, yes, more than 4GB system ram though that is not an issue for OP he has 16GB.
 
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#6
Did you follow this when you reinstalled your drivers?
http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/showthread.php?t=52502

Sounds like the trouble, to me. Both my 5870s are always around 98% when playing BF3, and no micro stuttering.
i pretty much do that every time.

went back to 11.12 with cap3 and it was solved for the most part. the utilization was about 97% most of the times. but i still get a 10fps drop in apparent fps as per the microstutter calculation program. (where did i get it from? cannot remember, but you have to measure frame times with FRAPS, and then load the csv file into it and then it calculates the apparent fps)

average fps = 85fps
apparent fps = 76fps

First of all, you'd be a "noob" if you dropped $600 on some overpriced flagship card as opposed to getting similar performance for cheaper by running crossfire (which a true noob wouldn't even know was possible).

Other will pipe in with their experiences but I really don't understand why some people get such horrid microstuttering and I can't say I ever noticed such a thing with 4850 then 6850 crossfire. Though that may not actually be your true issue.

What resolution is that 27" and what are your graphics settings? You may very well be running out of VRAM with just 1GB. Would not cause "microstutter" but definitely low fps and overall sluggish feeling.

At 1200P with 4X MSAA and Ultra except shadows I use damn near my whole 1530MB. Note MSAA uses a lot of memory and also affects performance pretty horridly on AMD cards, unfortunately.
27" is 1080p.

you know what? a single card running at 35fps is WAAAY smoother than these running at 50fps or so. completely destroys the purpose of CF imo. i am getting a 7970 the first chance i get after selling these two. i only need a fix till then.

Dual 6950's here, none of these problems. Stop using Afterburner with Crossfire, perhaps that will help.

Wrigley, i think some peopel are calling poor performance microstutter. I've said in the past there needs to be a distinction made about what Microstutter is, but no one listened. Oh well.:roll:

Actually, I can safely say that 1 GB cards, or 4 GB of ram, is not enough for BF3 with anything over medium.
perhaps, but then again, it used to work just fine most of the times until recently.

and why does it feel smoother on a single card at 35fps?
 
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#7
and why does it feel smoother on a single card at 35fps?
What single card was this? And was it the same settings you run at now? I really think you're getting hung up on pre-conceived "problems" with Crossfire when your main problem(s) lies elsewhere. Microstutter does exist (and apparently can also happen with single card btw) but it's not as bad or as common as some seem to think. If it were no one would run multi-GPU. And, again, while not having as much experience with multi-GPU setup as some I never saw it myself.

Yes absolutely you'd have a better experience with a 7970 starting with the fact that it's got 3GB vram. Not the fact it's a single GPU (which is always ideal, sure, but I'm pretty confident that it's not your root problem). You'd almost surely have a much better experience with two 2GB 6950s...
 

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#8
and why does it feel smoother on a single card at 35fps?
Added input latency and extra CPU loading from the driver managing two cards. THAT is not an issue..just how Crossfire is. Once you get over 60 FPS, and stay over 60, it should not be as noticible.

BTW, I usually play BF3 with stock CPU, and stock VGA, with no shader unlock. I'm playing a mix of high and ultra with 2xAA, and it's smooth as butter. I end up on the top side of the server score quite often, so it's not affecting my gameplay, either.

Personally, the issues you describe are PERFORMANCE problems. Try lower details, or something, but like I said, without 2 GB cards, and 6 GB of ram or more, BF3 plays like poop. 6-series Crossfire is LOADS better than 5850 Crossfire, even though performance is fairly close...because of the added framebuffer and better scaling.

Anyway, if I can play on FX-8150 at stock, and a single 5850, and not have any issues(medium or lower), I'm gonna suggest you try that first...unless you are having other problems?

But don't get me wrong..I hear ya on the frustration side of things...running multiple cards sure can be a pain.
 
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#9
What single card was this? And was it the same settings you run at now? I really think you're getting hung up on pre-conceived "problems" with Crossfire when your main problem(s) lies elsewhere. Microstutter does exist (and apparently can also happen with single card btw) but it's not as bad or as common as some seem to think. If it were no one would run multi-GPU. And, again, while not having as much experience with multi-GPU setup as some I never saw it myself.

Yes absolutely you'd have a better experience with a 7970 starting with the fact that it's got 3GB vram. Not the fact it's a single GPU (which is always ideal, sure, but I'm pretty confident that it's not your root problem). You'd almost surely have a much better experience with two 2GB 6950s...
single card = crossfire disabled.

i quite understand the difference between stuttering and microstuttering. stuttering happens due to lack of RAM or something else, and microstuttering happens on multiGPU setups. and it is not fixable as per AMD and nVidia technicians as of yet. people who are saying they don't see microstuttering are either running over 60fps or so that it is not noticeable, or they don't have to concentrate on a specific target so hard (i.e. sniping). i don't give a damn if i am not playing as a regular soldier. you can always spray and pray you'd hit. right?

either way, 11.12 seems to have solved the problems. and possibly quitting Afterburner helped a lot too. i didn't drop below 60fps in the last game i played. but have to tell, there were only about 30 players, not a massive 64 player game.
 
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#10
Dual 6950's here, none of these problems. Stop using Afterburner with Crossfire, perhaps that will help.

Wrigley, i think some peopel are calling poor performance microstutter. I've said in the past there needs to be a distinction made about what Microstutter is, but no one listened. Oh well.

Actually, I can safely say that 1 GB cards, or 4 GB of ram, is not enough for BF3 with anything over medium.
i dont often disagree with you dave but here i must, my sigrig with a 5870 and 5850 waterblocked and doin a 1Ghz a piece dont micro stutter on ultra and i get 80 fps with vsync off 60 steady with it on , i think an ssd with the game On helps in this scenario ,plus Ocín the snot out of everything and a balanced system:D

OP try enforceing Vsync off in driver
 
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#11
Dual 6950's here, none of these problems. Stop using Afterburner with Crossfire, perhaps that will help.

Wrigley, i think some peopel are calling poor performance microstutter. I've said in the past there needs to be a distinction made about what Microstutter is, but no one listened. Oh well.:roll:

Actually, I can safely say that 1 GB cards, or 4 GB of ram, is not enough for BF3 with anything over medium.
Also a Dual 6950 user without any microstutter though I use Afterburner for my overclocking and still have no problem with microstutter even on maxed Ultra, albeit with dual 2GB cards.
 
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#12
try using the command render.perfoverlayvisible 1 and see if that helps narrow down the problem, should show you how the cpu and gpu is coping when your fps dips.

It never affected me but didn't lots of people suffering from stuttering fix it by disabling hyper threading on i7's like you have. worth a go
 
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#13
After burner actually causes issues with punk buster and can result in performance issues while playing, google punk buster and after burner there is a fix
 
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#14
And on a second note I've noticed if I don't play a certain resolutions one of my cards drops to about 20-30 percent. I see more fps at 1920 x1200 vs lower resolutions as one card runs at max the other basically idles
 
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#15
try using the command render.perfoverlayvisible 1 and see if that helps narrow down the problem, should show you how the cpu and gpu is coping when your fps dips.
what does it actually show? i cannot figure out the graphs.

edit: figured out what those graphs mean. i don't see anything abnormal with the settings. seems everything is just fine. i reinstalled 12.3. removed afterburner. everything seems just fine, but sudden fps drops below 60fps are infuriating.
 
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#16
Yeah this graph isn't the most intuitive; I quote:

It shows you the frame render time for the GPU and CPU so the lower the better. Also if the CPU graph is below that of the GPU then you are GPU limited and vice versa.

The ideal case would be GPU and CPU in sync and below 16ms, so you have >60 fps.
Also you want more of a constant thin "flatline" if possible. A jaggedy graph shows performance is unstable and all over the place. Which is exactly what you'll see duting those FPS tanks. I still vote more vram so sure get the 7970 when you can. I could not be happier with this $200 GTX480 in BF3, let me tell you (but thats not really germaine outside of the fact I have enough video memory for my res and settings now).
 
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#17
i haven't had time to play with the settings, but if this is mostly related to 1GB frame buffer per card, I think lowering texture quality from Ultra to notch or two down should fix this eh? lowering or disabling AA should help, but i already don't use MSAA.