Q6600 bottleneck or other system issue?

I have a Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 2.4GHz (can't overclock, before it's suggested) and have thought for a long time it's been bottlenecking my GTX 560 since in Battlefield 3 it didn't matter if I played at 1024x768 on low settings or 1920x1080 at medium settings, the average framerate would be around 45-50 fps (so since such a huge change in resolution and a decent change to graphic settings had no change on framerate, I figured the GPU is fine).

But lately I've come across a few more things. First of all, it can't even maintain 60 fps in Team Fortress 2 on lowest settings. That seems a bit... wrong. My old MacBook with a Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz and 8400M could play it at 1280x800 on low settings at about the same framerate I'm getting with the core 2 quad & GTX 560. Additionally, come across someone on the Battlefield forums who is playing no problem with a Phenom II X3 @ 2.8GHz (which from benches on the internet appears to be very very close in performance to the Q6600).

So, is there perhaps something up with my system? Specs are as follows:

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 2.4GHz, some Dell motherboard (was a business workstation), 4GB DDR2 memory, 1TB 7200RPM Toshiba HDD w/ 64MB cache, EVGA GTX 560 1GB @ 850MHz, OCZ 600W ModXStream 80+, Windows 8 64-bit

Some things I think I've narrowed down are:

- Not the memory, since I've seen from tests on the internet that differences between 1333 and 2400 memory as well as single-channel vs dual-channel making a negligible difference for gaming, so a few sticks of DDR2 should be fine.

- Not the GPU... It's a GTX 560 lol.

- Not the power supply, there's no crashing or anything

Temperatures seem fine. The GTX 560 is always below 80C. I've ran a 10 minute encoding test to stress the CPU somewhat (running at 98-100% CPU usage) and it maxes at about 75C. Is it possible with an old crummy Dell motherboard that it just can't get accurate temp readings and it's actually much higher? I don't think this is the case, however, since the CPU is not throttling.

Could the motherboard potentially have some issue with PCI-e bandwidth since it's from like 2007 or 2008 so the GPU isn't delivering?

Thanks for any help you can offer. I plan to upgrade anyways within the next couple months but I find it really odd that a Phenom X3 is outperforming it greatly in games and I can't even play TF2...

Also, the Pentium G860 which is slightly worse than the Q6600 in multi-threaded tasks has no problem posting the same framerates as an i5: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-fx-pentium-apu-benchmark,3120-4.html

So I'm really lost as to what the issue is :( I don't have antiviruses running, I've tried a plethora of different drivers, too. Currently using 314.22 because it's the most recent Nvidia driver that's stable for me. Every driver I tried after 314.22 gave me crashes periodically (and since my card is 500 series it really didn't give me any performance gains either since the new ones are for 700 series)

This brings back memories. I had a Q9550, DP45SG Extreme intel mobo with DDR3 and a EVGA GTX 560 OC. As you can see My system was very similar and im going to say this. Yes the Quad core does bottleneck in high CPU demanding games like Battlefield 3. Battlefield 3 was what got me to upgrade because though I could manage 45+ FPS on high, It would always stutter. And thats the chipset/CPU. I was getting 90% usage up to spikes of 100%. 

An i5 or 8350 is all you really need for a solid upgrade. A new GPU is also a good idea though the 560 is still a good GPU.

Its time for an upgrade. The system is still good but for games like battlefield and similar. You will need a better CPU.

Crud, was hoping there was something I could do. Still kind of shocked it's being trumped by a Phenom X3 and Pentium G640 though, both of which are about equal or slightly worse than the Q6600 =(

The 560 will prob last me awhile for a few reasons. First of all I can't afford a decent upgrade for quite some time, and this time rather than buying a mid-range card that will need replacing shortly I'd rather buy something like a GTX 780 or R9 290 and not have to upgrade for longer.

Secondly, I guess I got a lucky card but when I was fooling around with MSI Afterburner I got my GTX 560 to about 1000MHz core and 2300 on the memory working just fine =) right now I'm running it at stock since with the Q6600 there isn't actually a performance difference most of the time but it's nice to know I can OC it nearly 20% :D

What socket is the Q6600?  If you have a decent motherboard, look for the highest end CPU that's supported by your mother board and buy it second hand off someone. Since the Q6600 is kinda old, you should easily find people selling CPUs from it's era for like $40.

Hmm, I'll take a look but it seems like it might be a bit of a waste, since the other poster had the 9550 is 2.83GHz and is newer if I'm not mistaken (45nm vs 65nm) plus slightly better architecture etc. and it's like 25-30% faster than the Q6600 and he said it still bottlenecked noticeably.

I'm confused regarding CPU bottlenecking though. How can a CPU that's twice as good put out upwards of 4x better framerates? My Q6600 caps me around 45-50 fps typically, even if I play on low at 640x480 or med 1920x1080 (as I already mentioned), but an i5 2400 which is only twice as good could easily support an xfire 7950 setup and put out like 200 fps on the same settings. Is there just a certain threshold that once you pass CPU power becomes entirely irrelevant and it's all about the GPU, so if my CPU was like 40% better my framerates would be easily 100% better? Don't fully understand how the bottleneck works (and like I said, still not 100% sure it is the CPU since apparently a Pentium G640 can post as good framerates as an i5 :/)

For every frame the GPU produces, An amount of data is processed by the CPU. Now its not allways the CPU but also the mobo that can bottleneck. There are two different bottle necks and I believe you are having a CPU bottleneck where the CPU is being maxed helping the GPU along while processing other heavy processes in games like Battlefield. Lowering the settings in game will stablize it but basicly the CPU is struggling with handling both the GPU and CPU processes and so the GPU suffers.

The CPU is still good but again if you want to play something like Battlefield, You will need to tone down the settings. Obviously upgrading the GPU before the CPU will just amplify the issues. Just keep that in mind when you upgrade.

When you upgrade. You may get 10-25% performance increase but the main thing is stuttering which it solves.

I'm not having any issues with stuttering fortunately. Ah well, I'll see how Steamroller Athlons perform... if they're any good I'll be upgrading to one o' them within 2-3 months, otherwise I'll have to save up awhile longer for a 3570K

Id recommend going for something like an 8350 or equivalent at the time you decide to buy. Remember the better the chipset and CPU, the longer before you end up with the same issue though there is talk of CPU independent GPU's. Just keep an eye out.

That's interesting, makes more sense to have a CPU on a GPU than vice versa. If I'm not mistaken that would mean you wouldn't be bound to certain chipsets if the CPU was on the GPU, assuming it continued to use PCIe. I'll have to read up on that

Can't go 8350 since I'm going micro. Either have to get a Steamroller FM2+ chip if they're any good or an i5.

I would go i5 then. 4670k is a very good chip. Should last some time.

Yeah given the choice between the two I'd definitely go for a 3570K or 4670K (depending on price. Here most of the time going for a good Z87 platform with the 4670K costs a good $40-50 more than getting the 3570K and a decent Z77 board). If the Steamroller Athlons are under $125ish and have sorted out some of the slow cache latencies and memory performance of Bulldozer and Piledriver along with the 30% IPC improvement, then I'll probably go that route just to save $200 versus going an i5 & ZX7 route, since it will actually take me a number of months (probably 3-5) to save up the extra $200 that doesn't need to be saved for the future or used on rent, food and utilities :P

Just look at the chipsets. I think the features of a chipset is more important than the cpu itself. And again not all mobo's in a chipset are equal.

My last desktop had a Q6600, I overclocked it from 2.4 Ghz to 3 Ghz using this method:


Hmm that's interesting, I'll have to read up more on that. Thanks!

This is from private forum, but I have permission to share here: http://www.theoldergamers.com/forum/laboratory/525790-bf4-q6600-some-spare-time.html#post3970636

I thought this might be very helpful to you.

Thought I would share my experience trying to get a stable fps for BF4 on some old hardware. There is a TL;DR at the bottom.

When visiting my dad's I use his spare gaming rig. The way it works is as I upgrade my system at home I send him my old parts and do the flow on upgrades next time I'm there. In Nov I upgraded his Q6600 GTX560 rig with my old hardware and so this Q6600 became the spare machine.

Here are the initial specs
Gigabyte P35-DS3 MB
Q6600 2.4GHz C2Q G0 Stepping CPU (G0 ones overclock the best)
Noctua Cooler
Initially 2x2G Kingmax 1066MHz RAM

BF4 settings
1920x1080 60Hz
100% res scale
LOW gfx settings
90 FoV

I went through a few iterations checking CPU and GPU utilisation.

Build 1
As per specs above:
CPU hitting 100% all the time
GPU spiking into the 100%
MAx fps in game: 50 with major stutters to the <10 fps range
Not a good experience

Changing the screen res to lower ones did not help the fps at all

Build 2
CPU overclocked to 3.6GHz (temps sitting nicely in the 50 - 60 deg C range)
CPU down at 80% to 90%
GPU hitting the 100% mark much less
in game max fps of 60 but still bad stutters to <10 fps making it a bad experience
I also tried to OC the GPU. It's already OCed and was very hard to get stable so I used the factory gameboost OC provided by ASUS. No real improvement on the fps

At this stage I wondered if disk access and RAM was limiting things so

Build 4
I created a bare bones Win 7 / Origin / BF4 install on a spare 60GB SSD (it all just fits....)
No improvement....but of course it loads faster

So time to do the hard yards and work through the pile of spare RAM modules and see which work and which slots on this board still work. Have done this previously with many issues which lead me to believe slots or modules were faulty but never conclusively. But I pressed on:

Build 5
Added 2 x 2GB Patriot 800 MHz RAM modules to give me 8GB
CPU 80-90%
GPU 70% with no major spiking....!
Max in game fps of 70 with no stutter but with drops to the 45-50 range

Using the BF4 setting editor I locked the max fps to 60 so that the GPU could just concentrate on that and the fps was sitting around 60 all the time with no dips.

I increased the BF4 gfx quality to med and still got a good lock on 60fps. I'll be trying to move to high and change the res scale to see how that impacts also.

Winning Build was:
Gigabyte P35-DS3 MB
Q6600 2.4GHz C2Q G0 Stepping CPU OCed to 3.6GHz
Noctua Cooler
2x2G Kingmax 1066MHz RAM
2x2G Patriot 800MHz
OCZ Agility 2 60GB SSD

BF4 Specs
1920x1080 60Hz
100% res scale
med gfx settings
90 FoV
fps max locked to 60

smooth 60ps gameplay with no stutter

Increasing CPU speed and RAM seems to get the best payback but have not tried increased RAM without the CPU OC so can't say for sure which one is the best.

I'll tinker some more later and report but for now its time to play....

without going too much in the details - you definitely need to overclock this cpu and you will see a noticeable increase in fps... unless the motherboard doesn't allow it....  i had a few core 2 duos and used a q6700 briefly and there was a noticeable difference between stock 2.66ghz and 3.4ghz... you do need a good cpu cooler as well to overclock these highly ... i used a zalman CNPS9500 AT and i think it can even handle 3.5ghz but it will get loudish at that speed under load

I am guessing that the reason you say you cant overclock is because of the dell motherboard... and being a dell motherboard doesnt have any oc options in the bios?

If so then that is a shame, if you have one of the g0 revision q6600 then they have crazy overclock potential.. it would be like getting a new computer.

btw bf4 + frostbite is supposed to be optimized for fast ram (have yet to see any unbiased benchmarks so I cannot say if this is true)

Yeah, Dell motherboard has the most barebone BIOS I've ever seen lol. Pretty much all the options just consist of option A or option B.

I haven't even picked up BF4 yet. Heard it's still riddled with bugs and crashes for many users, on top of that I don't get optimal performance for even BF3 I don't think it's worth sinking my money into just yet. I'm still enjoying the games I have so I'd rather save my dough for the upgrade before the games =)

I'll look up more info on the RAM.. It couldn't hurt to pick up faster RAM when I upgrade since here the dif between 1600 and 2133 RAM is usually less than $10, but I still have yet to see any real world tests showing any significant difference, and many it seemed low latency 1600 gave slightly better results than 2400 RAM (but close enough that it could easily be margin of error).

Thanks for sharing this, I might pick up some more RAM at the next auction (can usually load up on 8GB for $20) and will fiddle around in the settings editor. Really wish I could OC the Q6600, from what I've read online even if it's not a G0 revision (which I don't even really know what that is) they still overclock really easily and 3.2-3.5GHz seems really common.