I am, today - 1st of September 2012, as of an hour ago (from starting to write this), finally, at ease. My frustration has finally ended, at least on some scale, and I can finally breathe easily. The cause of my frustration I will explain in a moment, but I want to first say something. I want you to read this piece through, and convey what’s written here to anyone who will need it. I will try to my best effort to post this piece in every nook and cranny, every dark corner of a random forum and any website I might have used over the years in fruitless events to solve my problems with the soul purpose to help out unfortunates such as myself. I’m not doing it for fame or fortune or any kind of self gratification, I’m doing it since... since I know how horribly annoying it is and I don’t wish this fate upon anyone.
About two years ago, I had to buy a new computer, and since my grandfather has passed several months prior to that, he has left each of his grandchildren a very respectable amount of money. This sum was to be used for something fun and joyful (to counteract death mind you), and so I decided to splurge and indulge myself in the best of the best, instead of buying a standard computer for a reasonable price like I normally do. It is important to note that I’m a gamer, so I needed a strong computer.
So I called up my tech savvy friends and had them activate market research mode. A few days later I had a rough sketch of the best parts available and a hefty yet acceptable price point for my new gear. If you know a bit about computers you know the most important parts for gamers are the CPU and GPU - the processor, and graphics unit. Respectively, these two parts are also the costliest.
To take you back two years, probably the best CPU at that time was a killer Intel i7 920 2.67GHz, a true quad core badass. For GPUs there were several options, but what seemed to be the best was the ATI Radeon 5800 HD series. They certainly cost the most out of pretty much everything offered at the retailer I was using so that should be a sign as well. Some time later my computer came and boy was I joyous.
Over the years the comp held up very nicely as I ran AAA titles and graphic guzzlers (did anyone say Crysis?) on the highest of resolutions and options. Don’t get me wrong, computers fuck-up, and trips to the lab did occur, but I was content. To tell one such tale - my computer would crash sometimes when in game or overworked. Turning on air conditioning helped and I kept checking the temperature of the parts to see how things affect the time of the crash. Eventually, I was out of options and had to send it to the lab. Two weeks later I got a call - the power supply was bad and crashed when asked for too much. I was happy to finally find the problem and was kind of shocked it wasn’t a faulty GPU
That wasn’t all though. I had problems with specific games. They would just stutter and had drops in FPS and all kinds of specific issues. I always checked the specific games and some of them had all kinds of offers for fixes. Some worked and helped, some didn’t. Some games were playable and some I simply passed up.
Then I finally got it at some point. The ATI card. Drivers, that was the problem. It turns out ATI cards, though built well in terms of hardware, are rather terrible in terms of software. This stems from several reasons. One would be that current gen consoles work on Nvidia technology and games that are designed for consoles and ported to the PC usually work bad with ATI cards.
All that is good and nice, but it’s not the pinnacle of my frustration.
I’m involved with eSports and if you’ve ever heard the term you probably know that people enjoy streaming. I want to stream, and just like we’ve said before, if I don’t know how, I go online and check. I started my journey to streaming with guides that explain the entire process. All kinds of different programs were downloaded, a plethora of settings adjusted and changed and many, many, many attempts to stream different games were held.
The process was not easy or welcoming, and has yielded mediocre results. Countless times I’d give up only to return weeks later to try again for whatever reason. What baffled me the most is how my computer was stronger than most computers that I heard about and were successful. Why doesn’t my comp handle it? Why do I get low FPS and it’s jittery, why do I have to compromise on quality and convenience to push out an ok looking product?
Our story is close to an end and it ends in a rather cliche tone - a knight in shining armor. Or should I say clad in bubble wrap? My computer is currently running with a GeForce GTX 275. I got it from a friend who just bought a new card and didn’t need his old one. This card is supposedly weaker than my ATI card. It’s build isn’t outstanding as it squeezes less quality for more power (and more noise), but it also costs a bit less.
Guess what? Everything works better. I uninstalled the ATI drivers and installed fresh Nvidia drivers and it just runs. Old games revisited work smoothly, like Darksiders (one or two) and streaming - just works. When running Dota 2 with my old card I got about 90 average FPS. After activating Xsplit - the program used for streaming, the FPS went to a jittery 30-40, with dips into the 20 zone. Now I get about 100 average and with Xsplit active it’s at a comfortable 80.
This makes a lot more sense because streaming takes a toll on the CPU and not the GPU. That’s why I found it so weird that the GPU was the problem. My CPU or GPU never worked too hard in the past and yet I got terrible FPS for what seems to be no reason. Now I know it’s the drivers that were the problem. It’s sad that everything runs better with a card that should be “slightly worse”.
I can now finally relax since there’s no random things that don’t work for no reason. If my experience helps one person or prevents one person from making a mistake then I’m happy. I want to note that this isn’t suppose to be a bash on ATI, but just a telling of my experience. It’s sad that the drivers on the cards are so bad when the hardware is usually great. If you look up any list of “The Best Affordable Graphic Cards” you’ll usually see a lot of Radeon and a little bit of GeForce. ATI offer a good range at great prices, but those bad drivers just ruin the experience.
Personally I doubt I’ll buy a Radeon card ever again, but only time will tell. For now I’m using this old Nvidia card and I intend to use it for as long my friend allows me to keep it. Ya one of its slots might be VGA and not DVI but that doesn’t matter much, and ya it might make an awful amount of noise compared to my previous card which was wispy quite, but hey it works better. I might just start streaming soon.
Man it does make a lot of noise.