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geoffco

Frustration - any ideas appreciated

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Hi folks,This is probably the most confusing and irritating FS/PC problem I've ever found: Basically, my system gives really rubbish FPS most of the time but just sometimes it's really good - and this is loading the SAME test flight (Aerosoft BAe146 at FiSD freeware Helsinki Vantaa gate 126 with default fair wx and time set to midday).In more detail:> AMD Athlon X2 4800+ (2.8GHz) Air Cooled, nVidia 6800GT AGP 256Mb, IDE HDD and 2048Mb DDR at 166MHz 2.5-2-2-6 -> FPS ~ 10> Change HDDs to pair of 150Gb WD Raptor 10kRPM SATA -> FPS ~ 10 (unchanged)> Change PC case and add liquid cooling. Increase processor OC to 3.0GHz but other settings unchanged -> FPS ~ 6-7 > Reinstall Forceware drivers (93.82) -> FPS ~ 11-12> Re-start computer -> FPS ~ 6-7 (several restarts and tests)> Full defrag (O&O Access) and checkdisk -> FPS ~ 11-12 GOOD :)> Re-start computer -> FPS ~ 6-7 (several restarts and tests) AGAIN!! x(> Change to nVidia 7900GS+ AGP 512Mb (it was on order with the other stuff but arrived later) and install Forceware -> FPS ~ 13-15 and more than 10000 in 3DMark03 WOW!! :-cool> Re-start computer -> FPS ~ 6-7 NOOOOOOOO! :-mad> Checkdisk on system disk but not FS disk -> NO CHANGE> Defrag system disk -> FPS still rubbishOther Tests:> Low frame demand scenery (small airport etc) -> FPS > 20> Rebuild FS9.cfg and run test situation -> NO CHANGE> Turn off all antialiasing etc -> NO significant CHANGE> Test at another high demand airport (UK2000 EGLL - full traffic) -> FPS of 8-9 when poor in test and FPS 11-12 when working well. ie better than EFHK when bad but worse when all working !?This is where we are just now. I really can't understand what is going on! It seems that something to do with the smooth running of FS is being lost / corrupted / fragmented when the machine reboots. If anyone has any ideas of things to change / test etc they would be much appreciated!Frustrated!Geoff

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Hi Geoff, that system should indeed eat FS9 for breakfast. What's your perf on RW34 at KSEA in a default AC? Perhaps turn off clouds/weather so we can get compareable results? You mentioned a pair of HDs, how are they setup? How many RAM modules? Have you tried changing your OS' power profile to 'Always on'? Tried disabling CnQ in bios? Multithreading enabled in the GPU-driver? A utterly silly question of course but just to exclude a possibility, mainboard drivers installed? Sorry for bombarding you with questions instead of replies... :-) Good luck and kind regards Jaap Edit, a word about your display config would be helpful too. Cheers

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Hi Jaap,Thanks for your help, I had a few ideas with those. I can give you the following info:>What's your perf on RW34 at KSEA in a default AC? Perhaps turn>off clouds/weather so we can get compareable results? I get 15-16 FPS (12:00local, summer, no wx and no traffic)>>You mentioned a pair of HDs, how are they setup? Standalone. One has system and programs while the other has FS9 and a few other things. The pagefile is on the system volume.>>How many RAM modules? 2 x 1024Mb in correct slots. Set at CPU/18 = 166.7MHz and timings are 2.5-2-2-6. This is roughly the same as my old system...>>Have you tried changing your OS' power profile to 'Always on'?>Tried disabling CnQ in bios? Yes and Yes>>Multithreading enabled in the GPU-driver? Yes>>A utterly silly question of course but just to exclude a>possibility, mainboard drivers installed? Ok - this is an interesting one. The drivers appear to be there but I read something in my graphics card manual that implied that I should re-install them after the card since I had a VIA chipset.However, I am unable to update the drivers with new ones from VIA as each time I get an "Error: -1612 The installation source for this product is not available. Verify that the source exists and that you have access to it."I have searched the net for this and find that others have had the same problem but so far I didn't find someone who also had a solution (or at least one they posted)...>Edit, a word about your display config would be helpful too.Display configuration is 1 x LG 23" TFT widescreen running in VGA mode at 1920x1200. Changing the resolution or any of the graphics driver settings has only a minimal effect on the FS problem.It really seems like the computer is not using the graphics card properly at all. Very strange!GeoffEDIT: Does a repair install of XP clean out all the 3rd party drivers and stuff - that might be where I go with this tomorrow if I don't think of anything else!

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An Update:Last night after a flash of the BIOS to the latest version and also a minimal defrag of both drives I had a working system. In fact it was working better than I have ever seen:12000+ in 3DMark0320FPS at KSEA with 100% AI and some clouds15FPS at my Helsinki test flight>Not wanting to believe it all just yet I shut down FS and restarted it. It still had the high FPS - good.>Then I put the computer in Standby mode. Brought it out of standby and ran FS again. All still as before so still good...>I shut down the computer normally and then started it up. Ran FS and the FPS was back down to the poor levels of earlier! UNBELIEVEABLE!>I restarted the computer just to try again but the problem was not solved.This really looks like something FS related is getting corrupted / fragmented upon system shutdown. I'll try another defrag tonight and see if it works again after that... Does anyone have any idea what could cause file damage like this during shutdown? Geoff

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Hi Geoff, Frankly put - particularly if you have the famous Via 8237 (or something alike) southbridge plus considering your large resolution - I would get a s939 nForce4 mainboard and a better GPU. If FS9 is all you use, a 256MB adapter is fine for single monitor setups. A.m southbridge isn't too good with SATA drives AFAIK. Your drives easily 'outpace' what that southbridge can do. Hope this adds to thoughts, kind regrads Jaap

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Well - I'm not going to change the GPU anytime soon - the 7900GS+ is (I think) about as good as I'll ever get on AGP and it's new so I'd rather not dump it! I think my motherboard has had it! Since my last post things have gone from bad to worse:Now the machine boots slowly and every time there are 100-200 files corrupted. Windows does not work properly - most services fail to start. I would run a repair install but so far I have been unable to get my SATA drivers to be recognised by the installation - I think my floppy drive (or the controller) is inoperative.I will try booting my old IDE drive as the primary and re-cloning it to the SATA... If that fails I will try a new board... Looking an nForce rather than VIA since all I get from them is pain!GeoffPS> I'm glad that building my own PC is SOOO much more fun than buying a built system - grump!!>Hi Geoff, >>Frankly put - particularly if you have the famous Via 8237 (or>something alike) southbridge plus considering your large>resolution - I would get a s939 nForce4 mainboard and a better>GPU. If FS9 is all you use, a 256MB adapter is fine for single>monitor setups. >>A.m southbridge isn't too good with SATA drives AFAIK. Your>drives easily 'outpace' what that southbridge can do. >>Hope this adds to thoughts, kind regrads >>Jaap

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Ok so I think I have a better idea of what is failing - although I don't know why yet!A few weeks ago I cloned my system disk from an IDE to one of my SATAs in the new (problem ridden) build. That disk was not erased / thrown out etc - you can have no idea of how pleased I was to remember that possibility!!!! So now I am running the machine from it again so I can see the two WD Raptors and test them... I backed up everything that matters from the disks to an external drive and started testing with the WD Diagnostic tool from their website.> It appeared to recognise both disks and all seemed fine... but no, there was something strange - the disk size was reported as over 1000Gb - would be nice but I don't believe it!> Checked the SATA drivers - OLD - 2003 or something! Replaced with some from my backup system - 2005. (didn't have network at this point)> Diagnostic tool sees disks at right size but thinks they both have the same serial (not equal to either real serial no.) and diagnostic fails to read them.> Set up network again - updated to 2007 driver. Now diagnostic sees drives. Tested one and it passed but the second could not be read. Looked more closely - still got strange serial numbers!> Sent email to WD support - awaiting reply.> Meanwhile, throughout all of this, Windows sees the disks fine and can access the files on them! Any idea why the WD tool can't see them while the OS can!?!?I now think the problem is somewhere between the motherboard SATA, the SATA cable (and I can replace those tonight but that would be too easy) and the drives themselves... Alternatively the power supply but then it's a 600w Thermaltake so I would have thought it could handle it....Aaaaaaargghh!Geoff

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Hi Geoff, not nice to hear. I dearly hope you have a good data backup. My advise about the mainboard & GPU was considering your OP, where you mentioned a 6800GT. Not a great GPU for 1900x IMO. Another problem is, there hardly are quality AGP mainboards around anymore... The emphasis of course on 'quality'. Think you're right to exclude the PSU. Good luck and kind regards Jaap

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As I have to keep track of a lot of data at work, I'm reasonably good at keeping backups - if I have to dump everything I will at worst only loose a couple of files! The last thing to try before I dump the Mobo and reinstall the whole lot is to bring the drives to another SATA enabled machine to test them there. Also, I'll have a really good hunt around the web for any other peoples problems with Raptors on the A8V - I'm getting more and more convinced that my SATA controller is "unwell". Finally, I'll test with some other memory to exclude them (although they pass Memtest86 over 24hrs no problem)!Cheers for the help,Geoff

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It's working at last...The conclusion I came to was that my SATA controller was not happy so I thought that this might be related to the overclocking I had done. But it had been tested... and tested and then tested some more so I was confused!I had a backup of my primary disk available so I completely re-built from that. I bit the bullet and bought Acronis Trueimage10 and DiskManager to do this - the former to clone the partition and the latter to then resize it since no amount of tweaking would get Trueimage to do that! On the first re-start FS performed well but then after shutting down and starting again, the problem returned. After three shutdowns I was seeing significant data corruption so clearly the system was still not happy.Because the machine had passed prime95 / Memtest / Sandra-BurnIn and scored really high on Futuremark (as high as 12000 once) I had assumed that this configuration was stable... But perhaps not...So I pulled back the speeds from 3.0GHz (250x12, RAM at CPU/18 = 166.7MHz) to 2.8GHz (255x11, RAM at CPU/17 = 165MHz) which had been stable on this machine for nearly a year - albeit much hotter than now. Started the system and fixed the messed up files before testing in FS - all good and FPS of 10-15 in my most machine demanding scenery areas and a comfortable 20-25+ at most places. Re-started a few times and there were no problems! Just because I can't resist playing I upped the clocks to 2.90GHz (252x11.5, RAM at CPU/18 = 161MHz) and re-tested... Everything works and FS is stable at reasonable framerates for hours! I also tried ramping the clocks to 3.0GHz just using ClockGen while running FS and there was NO difference in framerate in the loaded areas!Sorry for the long and rambling thread but I just thought I'd write it all down here that so that in the future, another "me" with similar problems can read it and perhaps gain something from it! The conclusion here is that less is more!Cheers,GeoffPS: The Futuremark score must be unreliable as far as FS is concerned as now I only get 5700 points but nearly double the FPS in the game!!PPS: Suppose I could look into getting some faster RAM and then the dance can begin once again ;)

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Less is more sometimes... :-) So absolutely totally true, Geoff. Thanks for the extensive feedback. I would not have thought OC-ing would have an influence on the data bus. Maybe the higher temps in May/June played a role as well? Very interesting... Cheers and kind regards Jaap

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... and the reason that Futuremark tests are now looking so rubbish when the system is working well: The screen refresh rate is set to 60Hz on my monitor (70Hz and 75Hz look awful for some reason) so somewhere along the line my graphics card / driver has realised this and a frame-lock of 60fps is being applied to everything. That of course includes the benchmarks which rely on raw framerate for comparison! I didn't set it - I don't know of any option to set it manually - it just happened.That clears up the last mystery for me in all this!GeoffEDIT - Duh! Yes I did - It's called vertical sync!!

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