It seems all I ever blog about in detail lately are stories about my computer. Still, this could be vaguely useful information for someone so I thought I may as well tell the tale.
It was a few months back that I purchased my new Asus EAH5770 CUcore graphics card from a seller on eBay (but brand new). So when Homeworld 2 kept locking up straight after launching the game with what appeared to be a few graphics artifacts I became a little worried. I had an old NVivia 7900GS that started doing similar things a few years back due to the memory on it dying and as this was an eBay purchase I couldn’t send it back for a replacement like I had that card.
So I started a little online research and a little testing of the card itself using Furmark. The testing soon showed the card got very hot, very quickly (I stopped running the test when temperatures hit 90+ degrees celsius) and the research showed I wasn’t alone in this. Like the guy in this thread I decided the first thing to do was remove the cover over the heatsink fan (which as you can see in the image above is quite substantial). Holding my hand close to the fan certainly didn’t give me the impression that it was shifting much air so it seemed a reasonable step to try and remove any obstructions. Of course removing that involved taking the whole heatsink off and I wasn’t too surprised to find a load of thermal paste in a ridge around the GPU but virtual none on it.
I could have re-spread the paste back to where it should have been but as I had some leftover Arctic Silver lying about I instead cleaned the old paste and put a nice fresh coat of the AS in it’s place. Everything went back together and running Furmark again showed a good 10-15 degree temperature dropped.
Next I downloaded MSI Afterburner, a useful tool for monitoring the health of your graphics card, overclocking it’s settings and most importantly to me, creating a custom profile for managing GPU fan speed. Whilst using that I noticed that the core voltage of the GPU seemed a little high at 1.25V. My research had showed me that the stock voltage for a HD5770 chip was 1.125V. As the card wasn’t overclocked by default I could see no reason for it being this high – and again research showed me I wasn’t the only one with this as the default voltage. So using Afterburner I undervolted the card down to 1.125V. Ran a few tests and it seems perfectly stable and temperatures are much better now.
So for anyone that has this card or is thinking about picking one up (and it is a really good card), keep a few things in my.
1. Remove the fan cover.
2. Check the thermal paste and re-apply if need be.
3. Check the voltage and undervolt (or correct to the proper value to be more precise) if need be.
4. The AMD website may say it needs at least a 450W power supply but I run mine quite happily from an old 380W Seasonic PSU with no problems.
As for my original problem with running Homeword 2, I’m still not sure if that was down to the graphics card or more likely as it seems now, the game just not being very compatible with Windows 7 x64. It stopped doing it whatever the problem was and hasn’t crashed since.