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Beginner's Guide To Tweaking/overclocking Your Graphics V3

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Well, I've decided to rewrite the entire guide after a lot of testing and (admittedly) swearing on my part. This is the final revision onto how to get the best out of your graphics card.

 

Kudos to everyone that's helped out or supported this thread.

 

The old link is still here: http://www.atomicmpc.com.au/forums.asp?s=2...;c=7&t=3253

 

Alright, let's smash straight into it...oh cock...

 

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THE ATOMIC GUIDE TO TWEAKING, OVERCLOCKING AND FLASHING YOUR GRAPHICS V3 - THE UBER REDONE EDITION INCLUDING CROSSFIRE/SLI!

 

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The usual warning : I'M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS. THIS IS JUST A GUIDE, NOT A TUNING BIBLE FOR YOUR GRAPHICS CARD. All cards will have different headroom and/or driver specific problems. Please take all precaution of backing up everything before even attempting anything described here.

 

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Tweaking your video card guide

 

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Motherboard settings

The motherboard settings doesn't apply a lot of help but every frame helps out?

 

AGP Aperture size

This old setting allows the graphics card to access the RAM on the motherboard should the RAM on the graphic card run out. Very rarely do you need to use this setting as most graphics will not exceed 512MB unless in extreme graphical settings such 8xAA and 16xAF. In AGP motherboards, this might be the helping hand you need. For that case, it's best to set the setting to a maximum of a quarter of your total RAM so 512MB in a 2GB system. Bear in mind that some graphics cards don't like this setting such as the 9600Pro so be careful in adjusting this setting.

 

PCI-e Frequency

This rarely needs to be set but in some specific cards, this can easily give you a great boost. Most motherboards usually can give you a little leeway before crapping out completely here. Some even deliberately do it such as the nForce 7*0i/a series and as well as the AMD 780 and above chipsets. For the setting, raise the frequency by 1MHz and see if the board craps out. Usually the limit will be 125MHz maximum with some crapping out at 106MHz on the budget chipsets to 128MHz on the 790i chipset. Of course, if your board has the ability to automatically adjust, use that instead.

 

UMA memory size

This only applies to integrated graphics and with the introduction of good integrated graphics on motherboards these days, I do believe I should address this one. What happens is that the motherboard will set aside a portion of the memory to the graphics core. The memory speed will be based on the speed of the RAM stick itself. In most cases, the guideline is that 128MB is usually sufficient for XP based machines and 256MB for Vista based machines. The reason is that Vista uses the graphics more strenuously than XP so that's why I've doubled the memory size for Vista. However, this is assuming that you have at least 2GB for the machine. If you have less, then you'd better go out and get more RAM ASAP...

 

That's all for the motherboard ATM. Some of you might be wondering why I removed the previous GFX link width and the like. That's because most boards can usually switch between the links electronically easily without any user interference.

 

Now, let's get into where you'll be doing most of the tweaking these days. The OS...

 

 

The OS environment

This is where most of your tweaking will be done if not all of it.

 

NOTE: I'll be focusing on Windows here. Linux players are rather hard to do here but you'll probably be better off getting a guide on Linux here.

 

If you are using the generic Microsoft driver or WDDM, then you need to frigging update to the latest drivers ASAP!

 

Get the drivers at either:

nVidia: nVidia download site

ATI/AMD: ATI/AMD Game site

 

I cannot stress this enough that if you do find any problems regarding stability or glitches in the latest graphic drivers, roll back and install the second latest drivers. If need to be, keep testing till you find a driver that's stable and good enough for you. Not all drivers behave the same for everyone so there's another note to note down.

 

Generally all nVidia drivers are under the format of xxx.xx whilst all ATI drivers are under the format of xx.xx.

 

NOTE: For those that are using older cards, please refer to the release notes of the graphics drivers to see whether or not your card is supported. You may need to use a much older driver as support for these cards may have stopped completely.

 

Apart from the official drivers, you may have heard about modified drivers. These drivers are actually just the official drivers but tweaked to give better performance in image quality or stability. These drivers are generally rare to find due to the massive task of editing and compiling the driver data packs.

 

At the moment, there's only one major force in modified drivers.

 

Omega drivers

The Omega drivers are the alternative to the ATI and nVidia drivers. For nVidia users, these drivers are optimised further with extra image resolutions and as well as image tweaks for both Direct3D and OGL. For ATI users, the drivers gets rid of the slow and clunky CCC and replaces it with ATI Tray Tools instead. Oh, plus it adds the usual tweaks for image and stability. As of current, SLI/Crossfire need the official drivers to activate. The Omega drivers can't do this yet from current knowledge

 

NOTE: If you are using Windows XP or older, I do suggest you take a look at these drivers. Since support for XP and older has been dropped on some drivers, these drivers might be the key if you're wanting the latest drivers.

 

You can get these drivers at:

Omega driver site

 

 

Onto the drivers themselves

On the desktop, right-click anywhere on the desktop and you should find a tab called Properties. All official nVidia and ATI drivers usually add in another tab for their control panel (usually called nVidia or ATI Control Panel)so click on that instead. If you have a shortcut to the driver's Control Panel on the desktop, double click on that instead. Anyway, here you can see what resolution you have ATM and other various options but the tab we're most interested in is the Manage 3D settings. Head on over there.

 

Here, you'll be able to control what directly happens when a game or benchmark is happening. In most cases, you shouldn't need to adjust any settings in here as you can usually control it in game/application via the options menu. However, if you're not particularly happy with adjusting in the option menu, you can manually override it here. There should an option to adjust the global settings and as well as the settings for a particular application. So why should you need to adjust how the game/application looks on screen? Well, it's quite long and complex in which I'll give the idiots version below.

 

Every game/benchmark application consists of hundreds of still pictures that is moving at a constant speed to give off the illusion of movement to our eyes. Do this fast enough and it seems that another world is moving in front of our eyes. Our eyes are trained to usually 60 frames per second. This means that anything less than that is not ideal for us. But you'll need to pay attention also to what quality you want the games to be running at. The best balance is to have a decent framerate (above 60fps preferably) and decent quality. In most cases, the drivers tend to choose the Balanced option in which it allows the application to decide what is best. However, if you're inclined for more/less performance, you can tell the drivers to manually override with more or less quality as you prefer.

 

Now, you'll notice that there are several settings such as Ambient Occlusion or Maximum pre-rendered frames. But we're interested in two things called Anti-Aliasing and Anisoropic Filtering. I'll explain them below.

 

Anti-Aliasing is a technique that minimises the appearance of pixels on a screen. If you balloon a picture on a screen, you'll notice several hard edges of these pixels. What Anti-aliasing does is smooth out or blur these edges so that the edges doesn't stand out. You can read more here:

Anti-aliasing

 

Anisotropic Filtering is another technique used for textures. In a game there is hundreds of textures, on the character, on the floor, everywhere. However, constantly replicating this textures takes a lot of work so what the graphics card does is determine what is the best colour to a certain integer/float number and use that instead. You can see this when you stand and look at something very far away. Chances are that it looks dead ugly, right? Here's where Anisotropic filtering comes into effect. What the graphics card does is addresses quadrilateral shaped and angled areas of a texture image. A sharper image is accomplished by interpolating and filtering multiple samples from one or more MIP-maps to better approximate very distorted textures. This is the next level of filtering after trilinear filtering. While it will create the best looking images it comes at a serious price and should only be used when your system can handle it.

 

You can read more on what is Anisotropic filter here:

The Naked Truth about Anisotropic Filtering

 

For these two filters, you need to judge when it is best to use it and how much is to be applied. Usually, I'd keep it on the Application preference. On how much you need to do for both, then you need to figure that out. The rule of thumb is that 4xAA and 4xAF would be the best for any card. If the card cannot handle it, then scale back accordingly until framerates pick back up.

 

Vertical Sync - One final option we will discuss is the Vertical Sync or V-Sync on some drivers. What V-Sync does is that the driver tells the video card to hold a completed frame in a frame buffer until the display is finished drawing the current rendered frame on the screen. This forces the video card to match its display speed to that of the monitor. This should be disabled by default for CRTs due to their high refresh rate. For older LCDs, then this might be a way to reduce refresh lag from the display. Some problems that arise from this 'lag' is tearing and ghosting of the previous frame. Only enable this if your monitor cannot handle the high framerates. One trick to get steady frames is to use triple sampling + V-sync as Atomic did do an article about. What happens is that instead of 2 frames being held back, the video card holds back 3 frames, resulting in a smoother framerate. Most current drivers have the option to do so under advanced settings usually. If you do not see this, then you may need third party applications such as ATI Tray Tools or similar to enable this option.

 

Driver profiles - Now, there should be a drop down menu that should contain a lot of video games that some of you might know of or know. If there isn't, then there should be a tab that does this. Now, you'll be wondering what is this. This is called a profile. What this does is that whenever a game with this profile is called up, the drivers will instantly be set to all the options in that profile. This is what's called optimisation. Every single game has it in order to get the maximum out of these games and a source of cheating for both sides.

 

For nVidia, this is usually games that are not in the TWIMTBP (The Way It's Meant To Be Played) program. For ATI, this is usually games for OpenGL or games that are unfavourable to them. Anyway, you shouldn't worry about this unless you have a game that refuses to run whatsoever. For this, you can force that game to run this profile instead. If you can't find one, one particular cheat is to look online and see which game will run under another game, usually one that has a similar engine or just tweaked to make it work. This I won't guide you through as there are countless of posts online into how to do this.

 

Crossfire/SLI specifics

The last thing I want to address here is regarding those who have Crossfire/SLI systems. Usually you don't need to tweak ANYTHING in the drivers as it is assumed that it'll automatically default to specific standards. However, there is a danger if you start mucking around with presets.

 

With SLI, you don't need to tweak anything unless you don't see any improvement when you're in a specific game. But should you need to do it, then go here: How to add/tweak a SLI profile

If you don't see your favourite game there, then you might need to load a custom profile to do this. There are guides out on the Internet in how to do this.

 

Crossfire now has the ability to have application profiles which are bundled separately from the drivers. This can be downloaded on the ATI driver site here: Crossfire driver profiles

Usually, you can create profiles but I do not have the know-how to do so. Please google it or ask elsewhere.

 

Alright, we've done all we could for the OS. Now, let's dive into the games themselves.

 

The Game environment

This is practically the second place to call up tweaking your frame rates. The games calls on the driver which loads all the applicable instructions to the graphics to process. Of course, you can force many things to help speed up your frame rates. There are too many options to consider here but I'll run you down in the basics only.

 

Resolution

Resolution would play a big part in the game. Some usually have the option of 1024*768, 1280*1024, 1600*1200 etc. This is the size of the screen you want covered by the game. By increasing the resolution, you are not only increasing the viewing area in the game but also increasing the strain on the video card as it has to draw more of the area seen. Drop this down a notch if you feel that your card is struggling. For widescreen people, then you might need to enable widescreen for this to work possibly.

 

Texture Quality

This option usually controls how much depth or feel the object will have on the screen. Usually it'll be configured for your graphics card but if you want to get more frames, then drop this option down a level.

 

Shaders Quality

This controls the use of refraction of the textures, so mainly the use of light on an object. As with the texture quality, it is configured for your graphics card but as above, drop it down a notch if it feels slow.

 

Shadows

Obviously, this controls how much shadow is to be used. Usually low to medium will have some shadow but it won't be that detailed as compared to high or extreme which will make the shadow almost real. Some games will have the soft shadows option. Soft shadows are the king of shadows as these are simulated in real time. However, these drain the graphics like no tomorrow. So for this, disable soft shadows and as well as drop the shadows to a level you're comfortable at.

 

Water Effects

Some will come with a water effects tab which controls how detailed the water will look wet. Sometimes, this is a big drain on some games so disabling this or turning it down helps out.

 

Anti-Aliasing

Remember what I said before about Anti-Aliasing. Well, the trick here is to enable only so much that your frames doesn't drop below 60fps. To find out your fps, there should be a command line for that in the game engine. Otherwise, use FRAPS to do so.

 

Anisotropic Filtering

As above practically.

 

Ambient Occlusion

This is starting to be a new option under some games so I'll need to describe this. What happens under ambient occlusion is that under things that are far away, the light is reduced so that it looks softer compared to the foreground. In other words, it's similar to when looking at a far away object without a telescope, your eye can only see so much light. Everything else tends to blur and be slightly darker. With this setting, it can have a distinct effect when viewing objects that are far away to look hazy and less defined. But with any quality settings, this is a drain on frames. So leave it off if you need the extra frames but for some games, this is quite essential to look realistic.

 

Shader Model

Some of the more recent gaming engines would have been updated with the latest Direct X for this to work. In some games, the developers have included the option to run your games in a much older Direct X environment. Switching to much older Direct X environments may benefit older cards as they may not have features that support the newer Direct X. Currently, there are 5 mainstream Direct X environment. The current Direct X is v11 which considered Shader Model 5. This is currently implemented in Windows 7 and Vista. The next one down is Direct X v10/v10.1 which is Shader Model 4. The next is Direct X v9.0c which is considered Shader Model 3 and 2. The next one is Direct X v8.1 which is considered Shader Model 1.1 and finally Direct X v7.0 which is the oldest Shader Model v1.0.

 

Usually newer hardware can run Shader Model 5 and 4 very well. Only cards older than the ATI Radeon X*00 and as well as the nVidia FX5*00 would run at Shader Model 2.0. Anything older than the above would have to run at their optimal Shader Model, usually 2.0 or 1.0. I only change this as a last resort as there may be other things that could help framerate, one which is coming up next.

 

Read here over what benefits Dx9 vs Dx8.1 vs Dx7 have:

Half Life 2 GPU Roundup Part 2 - Mainstream DX8/DX9 Battle

Read here over DX10 vs DX9:

BioShock DirectX 10 vs DirectX 9 Performance and Image Quality

 

Render engine

Now, this is a new section that I'll post up due to the use of dual engines, especially the Half-Life series.

 

In some rare (but not uncommon) cases, the developer may have added in an extra rendering engine such as OpenGL as a precaution. OpenGL is another rendering layer that's similar to DirectX. If you want to read more, go onto Wikipedia or Google and search it up.

 

If the above doesn't help, then it may be best that you switch the engine to the alternative. In some cases, OpenGL is much more better in getting frame rates as compared to DirectX. nVidia cards will benefit from this due to extra driver optimisations for OpenGL. ATI users might want to stick to DirectX.

 

Well that's it for tweaking. I've listed some other tweaking programs that might help you out.

 

MSI Afterburner (nVIdia/ATI) @

http://event.msi.com/vga/afterburner/download.htm

 

CoolBits(nVidia) @

http://downloads.guru3d.com/download.php?det=815

 

RivaTuner(Nvidia/ATI) @ http://www.guru3d.com/

 

Powerstrip (Nvidia/ATI) @

http://www.entechtaiwan.com/

 

TechPowerUp's GPU-Z (highly informative tool for video cards!) @

http://www.techpowerup.com/gpuz/

 

 

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Overclocking your video card guide

 

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Overclocking is considered the fine word for taking the card beyond its manufactured limits. It's that challenge of getting more for less.

 

WARNING: OVERCLOCKING IS A RISK. THERE IS A CHANCE THAT YOU CAN PERMANENTLY DAMAGE SOMETHING HERE. IF YOU CANNOT RISK IT, THEN DON'T DO IT!

 

All the stock drivers have some form of an overclocking tool included in the drivers. For nVidia, you can also use Rivatuner as above whilst for ATI, you can use ATITool located here:

http://www.techpowerup.com/atitool

 

Regarding Overdrive which is on the ATI drivers and as well as the AMD Overdrive utility, it is a mixed bag really. Sometimes, it's a hassle-free and easy program whilst it can be a hair tearing inducing blob of code. I really do suggest you use ATI Tool as it's rather easy and doesn't need .NET v3.0 to run :D

 

In overclocking, you need to see some benefit from all your hard work. For this, you need some program that can stress the video card to its limit. Games are good for this but can be tedious when you are constantly quiting and reopening the game for this.

 

For this, many games today have something called a benchmark demo. This is usually a preset demo for the video card to bench against others. There are dedicated benchmark programs such as the infamous 3DMark series and as well as Aquamark 3.

 

What benchmarks you use is up to you, but I've chosen Counter-Strike: Source's video benchmark and as well as 3DMark06 for the benchmarks here.

 

Listed below are a set of benchmarks you can use.

 

3DMark series: http://www.futuremark.com/

 

Aquamark 3:

http://downloads.guru3d.com/download.php?det=673

 

An excellent site for game benchmarks:

http://www.hocbench.com/

 

Now that you have the tools necessary, let's start.

 

Memory, Core and everything between

The CORE : Also known as the CLOCK or GPU, the Core doesn't seem to take as kindly to being pushed higher than its default settings as the memory on a video card. Heat is the main adversary in your quest to push the core speed higher on a video card. To combat this, the only way is to pretty much find a decent aftermarket cooler for graphic card.

 

The MEMORY : The memory on a video card is a little kinder to the overclocker, usually able to be pushed further than the clock speed. There's a few things to keep an eye out for when pushing your memory speed up. The first is its "ns" value, for example 2.8ns or 3.3ns. Simply put, the lower the number, the better the transfer rate of your ram as the ns rating refers to the timing of the ram in nano-seconds. Use the following formula to work out what the Mhz speed of your ram is:

 

1000 / ns rating = mhz speed.

 

The SHADERS: For all current nVidia cards from the Geforce 8*00 series to the latest GTX2*0 series, you'll probably encounter this clock. Now, this is actually the speed of the shaders. These usually run a lot faster than the core as these are kept separate. Think of it as a HyperTransport link for GPUs. Usually you can overclock these but you have to be careful as these are much harder to regulate.

 

Beginning your overclock

First things first, run the FULL benchmark of the game or the benchmark program to get the score or frames per second (fps) for your card at its default settings. This will give you an idea of what you're improving on. Note this down somewhere.

 

Before running any benchmarks, make sure of the following

 

1. That you have the latest drivers for your video card.

2. Your motherboard drivers/BIOS are up to date.

3. That you have all service packs and hot fixes for your O/S

4. That you have optimised all BIOS/Display properties settings or have everything at default (If

you're unsure of how to do this, please check everything up there before this section for further information!).

5. You have closed ALL applications not required to be running. For example, ICQ, MSN or Outlook.

 

Now that you've run your default tests, jump into your overclocking program. If you have your 3rd party utility open, or even if you're using the driver tools through display properties, you should be presented with two slider bars, one for the clock and one for the memory. Welcome to the place where you'll do most of your fiddling.

 

So do you just move the sliders to the absolute end and click "APPLY" and then you have the best graphics card on the face of the planet? Hell no. What you would end up with is a melted glob of silicon dripping over your motherboard. The best and safest way to overclock is in increments. I'm talking about tiny increments, like 10mhz at a time. Some people would say 15mhz at a time, but really 10mhz will give you a more detailed idea of when you hit your overclock ceiling (when bad things start to happen).

 

Start by bumping your core speed up by around 10mhz and applying the change. Now open your benchmark and run it. It'll be here that you'll start to notice where your video is pushed too far. Run it and check for artefacts. (Artefacts are glitches in the rendering of scenes and objects during benchmarking/gaming. They indicate that the graphics hardware is clocked to high and may be overheating. If you start to see objects wildly distorted or polygons where they shouldn't be, it's probably the core being pushed too far. If you see white dots flickering all over the screen, it's more than likely to be the memory running too high).

 

If however, the benchmark returns to the desktop straight into the test or the computer BSOD (Blue Screen of Death), then it's most likely something has gone wrong somewhere else.

 

Once you've reached a safe limit with the core speed and you've run the benchmarking tool a few times, leave the setting where it is and move onto the memory. Repeat the same steps until you hit the ceiling for your ram modules. Repeat the same thing again with the benchmarks. Well that takes care of the overclocking section.

 

 

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Flashing your video card guide

 

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WARNING: I will not take ANY responsibility if you damage or fruck up your video card. If you have a video card that you don't want to risk for this, THEN YOU SHOULDN'T DO THIS. OTHERWISE, READ ON FOR YOUR OWN RISK!

 

Okay, it seems that graphics manufacturers have sometimes provided a nice surprise for a few of us gamers when we replace the standard cooler with something more beefier. What I mean is that sometimes, the core of the video card isn't the core we expect. I'll outline the various mods with flashing your video BIOS.

 

Video...what

Yes, all video cards has BIOSes. Didn't see that coming, did you? Well, these BIOSes are special as they contain all the neccessary data only for the video card. It usually contains stuff like the chipset voltage, core speeds, memory speeds and the stuff similiar to our motherboard BIOSes.

 

Because of this, there are dedicated video card flashing programs out there. Please read this article first about video BIOS flashing:

Guide to Video Flashing

 

And this is a list of the various video BIOS flashing programs:

ATI: Downloads for ATI BIOS flashing

nVidia: Downloads for nVidia BIOS flashing

 

In very rare cases, there are BIOS out there that enhances these video cards, just like a BIOS for motherboards. With that I'll outline all possible mods these days for the various video cards...

 

 

9800Pro -> 9800XT

If you bought a 9800Pro during the middle of 2004 to early 2005, chances are that you actually have a 9800XT. The reason is that 9800Pros were in high demand and many manufacturers had trouble trying to keep up demand. With that, they used the 9800XT cores in place of the 9800Pro cores and sold them off as 9800Pros. The only way to find out if you have a 9800XT core is to take off the cooler and look. If you have a R360 core, then you have a 9800XT core.

 

Okay, congrats if you have a R360 core. With that, go here:

Radeon 9800Pro to 9800XT Mod Guide Rev. 6.0 and follow the instructions to enable your 9800XT ;)

 

 

6800LE AGP -> 6800 with 16 pipelines

Some people in this forum has told me that it is possible to flash the AGP 6800 or a AGP 6800LE with the full 16 working pipelines instead of 12 or 8 before. However, the catch is that only Asus and Leadtek are the only ones that are capable of doing this mod. It seems that the pipelines are SOFTWARE locked through the video BIOS instead of being hardware locked.

 

Also, morgoth pointed out that there are some rare cards called the 6800GE that are actually 6800s but with GDDR3 RAM which means that you can do the same mod and get an instant 6800Ultra. I haven't heard of this card being sold here in Oz. But I have heard that some cards were being sold in Taiwan and Hong Kong. So if you must, you can go to these places and search around for one.

 

 

X800Pro VIVO (first generation) AGP -> X800XT

In the early days when the X800Pro was released, some found out that it was possible to enable the 4 pipelines in a X800Pro so that it performs the same as a X800XT which gave it an instant boost in some games. To do this, you need to have an early 2005 X800Pro that has a ViVO. In other words, you need to have a X800Pro that has a yellow connector for the audio out.

 

NOTE: All current X800Pros now have these pipelines HARDLOCKED. Which means, the cores are not the same as the X800XTs so you cannot perform the mod. Though some people have tried it, there is a chance that it works but have some limiting performance in it.

 

Once you have one of these cards (which rare now), you unlock it via the floppy via this website:

Guide to Video BIOS flashing

 

Or you can do it via Windows through some applications which you can read via the same website, just a bit more down the page.

 

 

X800GTO/X800GT -> X850XT

Okay, due to the release of the X1800 series, ATI had a jackload of X850 and X800XL cores remaining. So in order to sell these, ATI locked parts of the pipelines and released it as the X800GTO or X800GT. However, some manufacturers, such as Sapphire and Connect3D, just used a modified BIOS to make the X850 into a X800GTO. Of course, this means that you can easily get a X850 via flashing the video BIOS. The only cards that can do this are the Sapphire X800GTO^2 or the Connect3D X800GTO. Powercolor also has their limited release X800GTO16 which already has the 16pipelines enabled.

 

Follow this guide if you have either the Sapphire or the Connect3D.

X800 GTO and GTO² to X850 XT Mod

 

NOTE: The Connect3D ones have a 50-50 chance of being modable as some X800GTOs uses X800XL cores which might have been damaged during the manufacturing process. Also, Connect3D also started to HARDLOCK the pipelines out. So that means no instant X850 for you :(

 

 

Geforce 6800GS AGP -> 6800GT

In an interesting twist, it seems nVidia also pulled another surprise with the 6800GS. It seems that this particular core is just a 6800GT but with a pixel pipeline and a vertex pipeline turned off. This may explain why the GS can match and sometimes out perform the GT.

 

The only way to find out is to follow this guide here:

Mod your 6800GS AGP to Ultra Extreme with coolermod!

 

NOTE: You may go further and turn it into a fully functional 6800Ultra by following the guide a little further. However, the writer does acknowledge that there is a risk in killing the card. Please be careful when doing this mod.

 

 

X1800XT PCI-e -> X1800XT PE

These rare cards are usually have the ATI reference board B version. Usually the difference compared to the A revision is that some of the power components is switched around and a different layout of the board in general. But if you must, then I highly recommend that you use a O/Cing tool to do this. If it can go above 700MHz core and 800MHz memory in 3D mode plus 594MHz core and 700MHz memory in 2D mode, then download a X1800XT PE BIOS and flash with these values in it. Go here to d/l XT bios:

Video BIOS Collection

 

 

X1900XT PCI-e -> X1900XTX

Okay, there are reports that the XTX is just a speed increase from the XT. This means that you could get a XTX from a XT. I have seen reports of successful flashes to these speeds. The only way to get to XTX speeds is to see whether the XT can handle the extra 25MHz core and 50Mhz memory clock. If it can then, then it is possible to do the flash. It's best that you use the XTX BIOSes here:

Video BIOS Collection

 

Once again, I highly stress that you use a O/C tool to do this, rather than flashing a BIOS. mark84 has noted to me that the X1900XTs are just XTX that cannot run stably at the recommended speed for the XTX. Hence the crippling of the core and memory speeds.

 

Here's a guide about overclocking X1900XT cards (thanks mark84):

ATI X1900 and X1800 Series Overclocking Guide

 

Another point that has been made is that some X1900XTs uses specially binned Samsung’s K4J52324QC-BJ12 GDDR3 RAM modules. However, there are some X1900XTs that have Samsung’s K4J52324QC-BJ11 which are the same RAM as the X1900XTX. So in theory, this means that it is possible to overclock the XT to XTX level. In order to do this, you must remove the cooler and take a look at the RAM modules itself. If the RAM modules have K4J52324QC-BJ11, then this X1900XT can be overclocked to XTX levels and possibly to where the X1900XTX overclock limits are. If not (ie uses K4J52324QC-BJ12 RAM modules), then you might have a chance to overclock it to the XTX. (thanks morgoth for this fact!)

 

NOTE: In regards to the X1900 Master cards for Crossfire, I do believe it's best you overclock these instead of flashing the BIOS. The reason is that these have separate DEVICE IDs which mark them out separately so don't, whatever you do, flash the BIOS for this.

 

 

Radeon HD 2900Pro -> HD 2900XT

With nVidia totally owning the field in the budget high performance area, ATI/AMD had released a very rare HD 2900Pro as a stop gap solution against the Geforce 8800GTS 320MB card. So in order words, the HD 2900Pro is a HD 2900XT but with a slower core + memory speed. A bargain for the poor I suppose. Just make sure you download the right BIOS for the video card but usually all are very similar as they did come out of the same factory.

 

NOTE: From what I've heard about these cards, they are just HD 2900XT cores that cannot run stably at the recommended XT speeds. Hence the crippling in both clock speeds and as well as memory. However, do take note as some HD 2900Pros are being fitted with 256MB of RAM as compared to the 512MB RAM usually on XT boards. With this, you cannot flash the BIOS to make an instant HD 2900XT. You must overclock the card should this be the case.

 

 

nVidia GTX 465 -> GTX 470

With the Radeon 58X0s taking up the performance crown, nVidia pulled a surprise here. It seems that some manufacturer are actually selling GTX 470s as GTX 465s. However, don't think you can easily grab a 465 and start flashing that way. There are several things to keep in mind here.

 

1) The GTX 465 must be using a GTX 470 board.

2) All 10 memory modules in the GTX 470 board must be present. If one of the modules are missing, then it is still a GTX 465.

 

If you are a lucky recipient of one, then you need to get hold of a GTX 470 BIOS and as well as nVflash. Boot into DOS and follow the instructions into flashing with nVflash. If all goes to well, then it should unlock into a GTX 470. You still need GPU-Z to confirm the change has taken place.

 

AMD Radeon HD 6950 -> HD 6970

It seems that the extra BIOS for the two cards seems to be only a ploy for AMD. Some people are commenting that the current 6950s are just 6970s but with the BIOS switching off the extra shaders. From this case, we can determine that the 6950s are not as common as the 6970s in terms of binning. It is noted that the chances of a 6970 core for your 6950 is quite high as several people have noted. However, I must warn that this is not foolproof and that you need to understand the risks involved.

 

If you want to try, please follow the instructions under here: AMD 6950 to AMD 6970

 

 

So far, these are the only cards that I know of that can be modable. Other cards such as the 9500 to 9700 are already on the web somewhere. Just have to Google it. If you have a card that is flash modable, then post back in here and I'll add it up.

 

 

Oh noes! I downloaded the wrong BIOS and fucked everything up! What should I do???

Well, you are a twit if you did that! Chances are that you can reflash it back to the original BIOS. The most common result of wrong BIOS flashing is that the computer will not display anything, not even the BIOS checking. Some cards have the ability to reflash back to the original BIOS (see Abit's Fata1ity cards...) or have backups. Whatever the case may be, you'll need a floppy drive or a USB key with the original video BIOS and the flasher itself. That is usually the best case scenario. Another way, you need the original BIOS of the video card and a spare video card. Boot up the PC using the spare card which will reset everything back.

 

After that, you need to reflash it back with the original BIOS via a floppy or USB thumb drive.

 

If you are one of the exceptions that totally fucked it up, then you got no chance at all. You can try to get it RMA'ed but that's just stupid or you just have to hope that your birthday/Christmas/Chinese New Year comes round fast...

 

 

 

That's all for this guide. Any problems about it, post a reply for it :)

Edited by sora3

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Nice and helpful indeed, just need to update the formatting now so it's V3 friendly :)

Much like I need to do in my thread.

 

+1 for sticky

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Hahaha, yeah.

 

V3 does make things a lot easier to format compared to the old 2.6. I'll redo all the format now anyway :D

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lol im running a low profile 8500GT passive cooled at nearly 550Mhz 3d core (it used to be 450Mhz) i know the card is still crap but it still plays games. the tempretures used to be 50 degrees idle 65 under load (without the fan i added to my case) and O'Cd with the fan there 1 degree higher. lol. im going to add my old custom made coolers from my normal (not low profile) 8500GT and put them on the low profile one and see if i can get it running betterly . (lol ill laugh at it if it will reach 650Mhz)

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had to make a post since its almost been a year since someone else did haha good job sora3!!!

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had to make a post since its almost been a year since someone else did haha good job sora3!!!

Its stickied not like its going anywhere. Which begs the question why?

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had to make a post since its almost been a year since someone else did haha good job sora3!!!

Its stickied not like its going anywhere. Which begs the question why?

 

trademart here we come

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Some more info to add to the flashing section HERE. (Flashing GTX465 to GTX470)

Edited by mark84

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Interesting. Thanks for the info mark. I'll update that now. I'm assuming that the 470 is low demand compared to the 465 that this happens.

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Well, I've decided to rewrite the entire guide after a lot of testing and (admittedly) swearing on my part. This is the final revision onto how to get the best out of your graphics card.

 

Kudos to everyone that's helped out or supported this thread.

 

The old link is still here: http://www.atomicmpc.com.au/forums.asp?s=2...;c=7&t=3253

 

Alright, let's smash straight into it...oh cock...

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

THE ATOMIC GUIDE TO TWEAKING, OVERCLOCKING AND FLASHING YOUR GRAPHICS V3 - THE UBER REDONE EDITION INCLUDING CROSSFIRE/SLI!

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

The usual warning : I'M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS. THIS IS JUST A GUIDE, NOT A TUNING BIBLE FOR YOUR GRAPHICS CARD. All cards will have different headroom and/or driver specific problems. Please take all precaution of backing up everything before even attempting anything described here.

 

-----------------------------------------------------

 

Tweaking your video card guide

 

-----------------------------------------------------

 

Motherboard settings

The motherboard settings doesn't apply a lot of help but every frame helps out?

 

AGP Aperture size

This old setting allows the graphics card to access the RAM on the motherboard should the RAM on the graphic card run out. Very rarely do you need to use this setting as most graphics will not exceed 512MB unless in extreme graphical settings such 8xAA and 16xAF. In AGP motherboards, this might be the helping hand you need. For that case, it's best to set the setting to a maximum of a quarter of your total RAM so 512MB in a 2GB system. Bear in mind that some graphics cards don't like this setting such as the 9600Pro so be careful in adjusting this setting.

 

 

PCI-e Frequency

This rarely needs to be set but in some specific cards, this can easily give you a great boost. Most motherboards usually can give you a little leeway before crapping out completely here. Some even deliberately do it such as the nForce 7*0i/a series and as well as the AMD 780 and above chipsets. For the setting, raise the frequency by 1MHz and see if the board craps out. Usually the limit will be 125MHz maximum with some crapping out at 106MHz on the budget chipsets to 128MHz on the 790i chipset. Of course, if your board has the ability to automatically adjust, use that instead.

 

UMA memory size

This only applies to integrated graphics and with the introduction of good integrated graphics on motherboards these days, I do believe I should address this one. What happens is that the motherboard will set aside a portion of the memory to the graphics core. The memory speed will be based on the speed of the RAM stick itself. In most cases, the guideline is that 128MB is usually sufficient for XP based machines and 256MB for Vista based machines. The reason is that Vista uses the graphics more strenuously than XP so that's why I've doubled the memory size for Vista. However, this is assuming that you have at least 2GB for the machine. If you have less, then you'd better go out and get more RAM ASAP...

 

That's all for the motherboard ATM. Some of you might be wondering why I removed the previous GFX link width and the like. That's because most boards can usually switch between the links electronically easily without any user interference.

 

Now, let's get into where you'll be doing most of the tweaking these days. The OS...

 

 

The OS environment

This is where most of your tweaking will be done if not all of it.

 

NOTE: I'll be focusing on Windows here. Linux players are rather hard to do here but you'll probably be better off getting a guide on Linux here.

 

If you are using the generic Microsoft driver or WDDM, then you need to frigging update to the latest drivers ASAP!

 

Get the drivers at either:

nVidia: nVidia download site

ATI/AMD: ATI/AMD Game site

 

I cannot stress this enough that if you do find any problems regarding stability or glitches in the latest graphic drivers, roll back and install the second latest drivers. If need to be, keep testing till you find a driver that's stable and good enough for you. Not all drivers behave the same for everyone so there's another note to note down.

 

Generally all nVidia drivers are under the format of xxx.xx whilst all ATI drivers are under the format of xx.xx.

 

NOTE: For those that are using older cards, please refer to the release notes of the graphics drivers to see whether or not your card is supported. You may need to use a much older driver as support for these cards may have stopped completely.

 

Apart from the official drivers, you may have heard about modified drivers. These drivers are actually just the official drivers but tweaked to give better performance in image quality or stability. These drivers are generally rare to find due to the massive task of editing and compiling the driver data packs.

 

At the moment, there's only one major force in modified drivers.

 

Omega drivers

The Omega drivers are the alternative to the ATI and nVidia drivers. For nVidia users, these drivers are optimised further with extra image resolutions and as well as image tweaks for both Direct3D and OGL. For ATI users, the drivers gets rid of the slow and clunky CCC and replaces it with ATI Tray Tools instead. Oh, plus it adds the usual tweaks for image and stability. As of current, SLI are enabled on the nVidia drivers whilst ATI still needs the original drivers for Crossfire to work.

 

NOTE: Currently, the Omega drivers only work for the DX10 generation of ATI (namely the HD 2X00/3X00 series and below) whilst nVidia's are only based on the 169.25. It would be wiser to use the official drivers instead. Also, if your current card is not supported in the current driver revision, I would highly recommend you to check them out.

 

You can get these drivers at:

Omega driver site

 

 

Onto the drivers themselves

On the desktop, right-click anywhere on the desktop and you should find a tab called Properties. All official nVidia and ATI drivers usually add in another tab for their control panel (usually called nVidia Display or ATI Control Panel)so click on that instead. If you have a shortcut to the driver's Control Panel on the desktop, double click on that instead. Anyway, here you can see what resolution you have ATM and other various options but the tab we're most interested in is the Performance and Quality Settings. Head on over there.

 

Here, you'll be able to control what directly happens when a game or benchmark is happening. There are two tabs we're interested here and that's the Direct3D and OpenGL tabs. There should various drop down tables and a slider with performance on one end and quality on the other. The slider is what we'll deal with ATM. At the end of the slider, there should be a moving image that will change when you move the slider to the right or to the left. This shows the change in what your games/benchmarks will look like. However, in moving towards the quality side, you'll start to incur something called a frame rate penalty. What is that you might ask?

 

Well, every game consists of hundreds of still pictures that is moving at a constant speed to give off the illusion of movement to our eyes. Do this fast enough and it seems that another world is in front of us. Our eyes are trained to usually 60 frames per second. This means that anything less than that is not ideal for us. But you'll need to pay attention also to what quality you want the games to be running at. The best balance is to have a decent framerate (above 60fps preferably) and decent quality. For most, the Balanced option will suffice. But for those that might be inclined to sacrifice quality for speed, go for the Performance end. For those that care the quality down to the final pixel should choose the Quality end.

 

Now, you'll notice that there are two extra things called Anti-Aliasing and Anisoropic Filtering. I'll explain them below.

 

Anti-Aliasing is a technique that minimises the appearance of pixels on a screen. If you balloon a picture on a screen, you'll notice several hard edges of these pixels. What Anti-aliasing does is smooth out or blur these edges so that the edges doesn't stand out. You can read more here:

Anti-aliasing

 

Anisotropic Filtering is another technique used for textures. In a game there is hundreds of textures, on the character, on the floor, everywhere. However, constantly replicating this textures takes a lot of work so what the graphics card does is determine what is the best colour to a certain integer/float number and use that instead. You can see this when you stand and look at something very far away. Chances are that it looks dead ugly, right? Here's where Anisotropic filtering comes into effect. What the graphics card does is addresses quadrilateral shaped and angled areas of a texture image. A sharper image is accomplished by interpolating and filtering multiple samples from one or more MIP-maps to better approximate very distorted textures. This is the next level of filtering after trilinear filtering. While it will create the best looking images it comes at a serious price and should only be used when your system can handle it.

 

You can read more on what is Anisotropic filter here:

The Naked Truth about Anisotropic Filtering

 

For these two filters, you need to judge when it is best to use it and how much is to be applied. Usually, I'd keep it on the Application preference. On how much you need to do for both, then you need to figure that out. The rule of thumb is that 4xAA and 4xAF would be the best for any card. If the card cannot handle it, then scale back accordingly until framerates pick back up.

 

Vertical Sync - One final option we will discuss is the Vertical Sync or V-Sync on some drivers. What V-Sync does is that the driver tells the video card to hold a completed frame in a frame buffer until the display is finished drawing the current rendered frame on the screen. This forces the video card to match its display speed to that of the monitor. This should be disabled by default for CRTs due to their high refresh rate. For older LCDs, then this might be a way to reduce lag from the display. Some problems that arise from this is tearing and ghosting of the previous frame. Only enable if your monitor cannot handle the high frames. One trick to get steady frames is to use triple sampling + V-sync as Atomic did do an article about. What happens is that instead of 2 frames being held back, the video card holds back 3 frames, resulting in a smoother framerate. ATI users can use ATI Tray Tools for this whilst nVidia may need to use of Powerstrip or something similar.

 

Driver profiles - Now, there should be a drop down menu that should contain a lot of video games that some of you might know of or know. If there isn't, then there should be a tab that does this. Now, you'll be wondering what is this. This is called a profile. What this does is that whenever a game with this profile is called up, the drivers will instantly be set to all the options in that profile. This is what's called optimisation. Every single game has it in order to get the maximum out of these games and a source of cheating for both sides.

 

For nVidia, this is usually games that are not in the TWIMTBP (The Way It's Meant To Be Played) program. For ATI, this is usually games for OpenGL or games that are unfavourable to them. Anyway, you shouldn't worry about this unless you have a game that refuses to run whatsoever. For this, you can force that game to run this profile instead. If you can't find one, one particular cheat is to look online and see which game will run under another game, usually one that has a similar engine or just tweaked to make it work. This I won't guide you through as there are countless of posts online into how to do this.

 

Crossfire/SLI specifics

The last thing I want to address here is regarding those who have Crossfire/SLI systems. Usually you don't need to tweak ANYTHING in the drivers as it is assumed that it'll automatically default to specific standards. However, there is a danger if you start mucking around with presets.

 

With SLI, you don't need to tweak anything unless you don't see any improvement when you're in a specific game. But should you need to do it, then go here: How to add/tweak a SLI profile

If you don't see your favourite game there, then you might need to load a custom profile to do this. There are guides out on the Internet in how to do this.

 

In regards to Crossfire, I do not recommend you mucking around with the Catalyst A.I. The Catalyst A.I is there to manage all your profiles without resort to saved profiles as of nVidia. But if you do disable it, then you're also disabling Crossfire as well. And that's not something you want to do with your new $5000 rig right? Also, the current Catalyst team are also providing new game profiles for Crossfire which helps.

 

Alright, we've done all we could for the OS. Now, let's dive into the games themselves.

 

The Game environment

This is practically the second place to call up tweaking your frame rates. The games calls on the driver which loads all the applicable instructions to the graphics to process. Of course, you can force many things to help speed up your frame rates. There are too many options to consider here but I'll run you down in the basics only.

 

Resolution

Resolution would play a big part in the game. Some usually have the option of 1024*768, 1280*1024, 1600*1200 etc. This is the size of the screen you want covered by the game. By increasing the resolution, you are not only increasing the viewing area in the game but also increasing the strain on the video card as it has to draw more of the area seen. Drop this down a notch if you feel that your card is struggling. For widescreen people, then you might need to enable widescreen for this to work possibly.

 

Texture Quality

This option usually controls how much depth or feel the object will have on the screen. Usually it'll be configured for your graphics card but if you want to get more frames, then drop this option down a level.

 

Shaders Quality

This controls the use of refraction of the textures, so mainly the use of light on an object. As with the texture quality, it is configured for your graphics card but as above, drop it down a notch if it feels slow.

 

Shadows

Obviously, this controls how much shadow is to be used. Usually low to medium will have some shadow but it won't be that detailed as compared to high or extreme which will make the shadow almost real. Some games will have the soft shadows option. Soft shadows are the king of shadows as these are simulated in real time. However, these drain the graphics like no tomorrow. So for this, disable soft shadows and as well as drop the shadows to a level you're comfortable at.

 

Water Effects

Some will come with a water effects tab which controls how detailed the water will look wet. Sometimes, this is a big drain on some games so disabling this or turning it down helps out.

 

Anti-Aliasing

Remember what I said before about Anti-Aliasing. Well, the trick here is to enable only so much that your frames doesn't drop below 60fps. To find out your fps, there should be a command line for that in the game engine. Otherwise, use FRAPS to do so.

 

Anisotropic Filtering

As above practically.

 

Shader Model

Some of the more recent gaming engines would have been updated with the latest Direct X for this to work. In some games, the developers have included the option to run your games in a much older Direct X environment. Switching to much older Direct X environments may benefit older cards as they may not have features that support the newer Direct X. Currently, there are 5 mainstream Direct X environment. The current Direct X is v11 which considered Shader Model 5. This is currently implemented in Windows 7 and Vista. The next one down is Direct X v10/v10.1 which is Shader Model 4. The next is Direct X v9.0c which is considered Shader Model 3 and 2. The next one is Direct X v8.1 which is considered Shader Model 1.1 and finally Direct X v7.0 which is the oldest Shader Model v1.0.

 

Usually newer hardware can run Shader Model 5 and 4 very well. Only cards older than the ATI Radeon X*00 and as well as the nVidia FX5*00 would run at Shader Model 2.0. Anything older than the above would have to run at their optimal Shader Model, usually 2.0 or 1.0. I only change this as a last resort as there may be other things that could help framerate, one which is coming up next.

 

Read here over what benefits Dx9 vs Dx8.1 vs Dx7 have:

Half Life 2 GPU Roundup Part 2 - Mainstream DX8/DX9 Battle

Read here over DX10 vs DX9:

BioShock DirectX 10 vs DirectX 9 Performance and Image Quality

 

Render engine

Now, this is a new section that I'll post up due to the use of dual engines, especially the Half-Life series.

 

In some rare (but not uncommon) cases, the developer may have added in an extra rendering engine such as OpenGL as a precaution. OpenGL is another rendering layer that's similar to DirectX. If you want to read more, go onto Wikipedia or Google and search it up.

 

If the above doesn't help, then it may be best that you switch the engine to the alternative. In some cases, OpenGL is much more better in getting frame rates as compared to DirectX. nVidia cards will benefit from this due to extra driver optimisations for OpenGL. ATI users might want to stick to DirectX.

 

Well that's it for tweaking. I've listed some other tweaking programs that might help you out.

 

MSI Afterburner (nVIdia/ATI) @

http://event.msi.com/vga/afterburner/download.htm

 

CoolBits(nVidia) @

http://downloads.guru3d.com/download.php?det=815

 

RivaTuner(Nvidia/ATI) @ http://www.guru3d.com/

 

Powerstrip (Nvidia/ATI) @

http://www.entechtaiwan.com/

 

TechPowerUp's GPU-Z (highly informative tool for video cards!) @

http://www.techpowerup.com/gpuz/

 

 

-----------------------------------------------------

 

Overclocking your video card guide

 

-----------------------------------------------------

 

Overclocking is considered the fine word for taking the card beyond its manufactured limits. It's that challenge of getting more for less.

 

WARNING: OVERCLOCKING IS A RISK. THERE IS A CHANCE THAT YOU CAN PERMANENTLY DAMAGE SOMETHING HERE. IF YOU CANNOT RISK IT, THEN DON'T DO IT!

 

All the stock drivers have some form of an overclocking tool included in the drivers. For nVidia, you can also use Rivatuner as above whilst for ATI, you can use ATITool located here:

http://www.techpowerup.com/atitool

 

Regarding Overdrive which is on the ATI drivers and as well as the AMD Overdrive utility, it is a mixed bag really. Sometimes, it's a hassle-free and easy program whilst it can be a hair tearing inducing blob of code. I really do suggest you use ATI Tool as it's rather easy and doesn't need .NET v3.0 to run :D

 

In overclocking, you need to see some benefit from all your hard work. For this, you need some program that can stress the video card to its limit. Games are good for this but can be tedious when you are constantly quiting and reopening the game for this.

 

For this, many games today have something called a benchmark demo. This is usually a preset demo for the video card to bench against others. There are dedicated benchmark programs such as the infamous 3DMark series and as well as Aquamark 3.

 

What benchmarks you use is up to you, but I've chosen Counter-Strike: Source's video benchmark and as well as 3DMark06 for the benchmarks here.

 

Listed below are a set of benchmarks you can use.

 

3DMark series: http://www.futuremark.com/

 

Aquamark 3:

http://downloads.guru3d.com/download.php?det=673

 

An excellent site for game benchmarks:

http://www.hocbench.com/

 

Now that you have the tools necessary, let's start.

 

Memory, Core and everything between

The CORE : Also known as the CLOCK or GPU, the Core doesn't seem to take as kindly to being pushed higher than its default settings as the memory on a video card. Heat is the main adversary in your quest to push the core speed higher on a video card. To combat this, the only way is to pretty much find a decent aftermarket cooler for graphic card.

 

The MEMORY : The memory on a video card is a little kinder to the overclocker, usually able to be pushed further than the clock speed. There's a few things to keep an eye out for when pushing your memory speed up. The first is its "ns" value, for example 2.8ns or 3.3ns. Simply put, the lower the number, the better the transfer rate of your ram as the ns rating refers to the timing of the ram in nano-seconds. Use the following formula to work out what the Mhz speed of your ram is:

 

1000 / ns rating = mhz speed.

 

The SHADERS: For all current nVidia cards from the Geforce 8*00 series to the latest GTX2*0 series, you'll probably encounter this clock. Now, this is actually the speed of the shaders. These usually run a lot faster than the core as these are kept separate. Think of it as a HyperTransport link for GPUs. Usually you can overclock these but you have to be careful as these are much harder to regulate.

 

Beginning your overclock

First things first, run the FULL benchmark of the game or the benchmark program to get the score or frames per second (fps) for your card at its default settings. This will give you an idea of what you're improving on. Note this down somewhere.

 

Before running any benchmarks, make sure of the following

 

1. That you have the latest drivers for your video card.

2. Your motherboard drivers/BIOS are up to date.

3. That you have all service packs and hot fixes for your O/S

4. That you have optimised all BIOS/Display properties settings or have everything at default (If

you're unsure of how to do this, please check everything up there before this section for further information!).

5. You have closed ALL applications not required to be running. For example, ICQ, MSN or Outlook.

 

Now that you've run your default tests, jump into your overclocking program. If you have your 3rd party utility open, or even if you're using the driver tools through display properties, you should be presented with two slider bars, one for the clock and one for the memory. Welcome to the place where you'll do most of your fiddling.

 

So do you just move the sliders to the absolute end and click "APPLY" and then you have the best graphics card on the face of the planet? Hell no. What you would end up with is a melted glob of silicon dripping over your motherboard. The best and safest way to overclock is in increments. I'm talking about tiny increments, like 10mhz at a time. Some people would say 15mhz at a time, but really 10mhz will give you a more detailed idea of when you hit your overclock ceiling (when bad things start to happen).

 

Start by bumping your core speed up by around 10mhz and applying the change. Now open your benchmark and run it. It'll be here that you'll start to notice where your video is pushed too far. Run it and check for artefacts. (Artefacts are glitches in the rendering of scenes and objects during benchmarking/gaming. They indicate that the graphics hardware is clocked to high and may be overheating. If you start to see objects wildly distorted or polygons where they shouldn't be, it's probably the core being pushed too far. If you see white dots flickering all over the screen, it's more than likely to be the memory running too high).

 

If however, the benchmark returns to the desktop straight into the test or the computer BSOD (Blue Screen of Death), then it's most likely something has gone wrong somewhere else.

 

Once you've reached a safe limit with the core speed and you've run the benchmarking tool a few times, leave the setting where it is and move onto the memory. Repeat the same steps until you hit the ceiling for your ram modules. Repeat the same thing again with the benchmarks. Well that takes care of the overclocking section.

 

 

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Flashing your video card guide

 

-----------------------------------------------------

 

WARNING: I will not take ANY responsibility if you damage or fruck up your video card. If you have a video card that you don't want to risk for this, THEN YOU SHOULDN'T DO THIS. OTHERWISE, READ ON FOR YOUR OWN RISK!

 

Okay, it seems that graphics manufacturers have sometimes provided a nice surprise for a few of us gamers when we replace the standard cooler with something more beefier. What I mean is that sometimes, the core of the video card isn't the core we expect. I'll outline the various mods with flashing your video BIOS.

 

Video...what

Yes, all video cards has BIOSes. Didn't see that coming, did you? Well, these BIOSes are special as they contain all the neccessary data only for the video card. It usually contains stuff like the chipset voltage, core speeds, memory speeds and the stuff similiar to our motherboard BIOSes.

 

Because of this, there are dedicated video card flashing programs out there. Please read this article first about video BIOS flashing:

Guide to Video Flashing

 

And this is a list of the various video BIOS flashing programs:

ATI: Downloads for ATI BIOS flashing

nVidia: Downloads for nVidia BIOS flashing

 

In very rare cases, there are BIOS out there that enhances these video cards, just like a BIOS for motherboards. With that I'll outline all possible mods these days for the various video cards...

 

 

9800Pro -> 9800XT

If you bought a 9800Pro during the middle of 2004 to early 2005, chances are that you actually have a 9800XT. The reason is that 9800Pros were in high demand and many manufacturers had trouble trying to keep up demand. With that, they used the 9800XT cores in place of the 9800Pro cores and sold them off as 9800Pros. The only way to find out if you have a 9800XT core is to take off the cooler and look. If you have a R360 core, then you have a 9800XT core.

 

Okay, congrats if you have a R360 core. With that, go here:

Radeon 9800Pro to 9800XT Mod Guide Rev. 6.0 and follow the instructions to enable your 9800XT ;)

 

 

6800LE AGP -> 6800 with 16 pipelines

Some people in this forum has told me that it is possible to flash the AGP 6800 or a AGP 6800LE with the full 16 working pipelines instead of 12 or 8 before. However, the catch is that only Asus and Leadtek are the only ones that are capable of doing this mod. It seems that the pipelines are SOFTWARE locked through the video BIOS instead of being hardware locked.

 

Also, morgoth pointed out that there are some rare cards called the 6800GE that are actually 6800s but with GDDR3 RAM which means that you can do the same mod and get an instant 6800Ultra. I haven't heard of this card being sold here in Oz. But I have heard that some cards were being sold in Taiwan and Hong Kong. So if you must, you can go to these places and search around for one.

 

 

X800Pro VIVO (first generation) AGP -> X800XT

In the early days when the X800Pro was released, some found out that it was possible to enable the 4 pipelines in a X800Pro so that it performs the same as a X800XT which gave it an instant boost in some games. To do this, you need to have an early 2005 X800Pro that has a ViVO. In other words, you need to have a X800Pro that has a yellow connector for the audio out.

 

NOTE: All current X800Pros now have these pipelines HARDLOCKED. Which means, the cores are not the same as the X800XTs so you cannot perform the mod. Though some people have tried it, there is a chance that it works but have some limiting performance in it.

 

Once you have one of these cards (which rare now), you unlock it via the floppy via this website:

Guide to Video BIOS flashing

 

Or you can do it via Windows through some applications which you can read via the same website, just a bit more down the page.

 

 

X800GTO/X800GT -> X850XT

Okay, due to the release of the X1800 series, ATI had a jackload of X850 and X800XL cores remaining. So in order to sell these, ATI locked parts of the pipelines and released it as the X800GTO or X800GT. However, some manufacturers, such as Sapphire and Connect3D, just used a modified BIOS to make the X850 into a X800GTO. Of course, this means that you can easily get a X850 via flashing the video BIOS. The only cards that can do this are the Sapphire X800GTO^2 or the Connect3D X800GTO. Powercolor also has their limited release X800GTO16 which already has the 16pipelines enabled.

 

Follow this guide if you have either the Sapphire or the Connect3D.

X800 GTO and GTO² to X850 XT Mod

 

NOTE: The Connect3D ones have a 50-50 chance of being modable as some X800GTOs uses X800XL cores which might have been damaged during the manufacturing process. Also, Connect3D also started to HARDLOCK the pipelines out. So that means no instant X850 for you :(

 

 

Geforce 6800GS AGP -> 6800GT

In an interesting twist, it seems nVidia also pulled another surprise with the 6800GS. It seems that this particular core is just a 6800GT but with a pixel pipeline and a vertex pipeline turned off. This may explain why the GS can match and sometimes out perform the GT.

 

The only way to find out is to follow this guide here:

Mod your 6800GS AGP to Ultra Extreme with coolermod!

 

NOTE: You may go further and turn it into a fully functional 6800Ultra by following the guide a little further. However, the writer does acknowledge that there is a risk in killing the card. Please be careful when doing this mod.

 

 

X1800XT PCI-e -> X1800XT PE

These rare cards are usually have the ATI reference board B version. Usually the difference compared to the A revision is that some of the power components is switched around and a different layout of the board in general. But if you must, then I highly recommend that you use a O/Cing tool to do this. If it can go above 700MHz core and 800MHz memory in 3D mode plus 594MHz core and 700MHz memory in 2D mode, then download a X1800XT PE BIOS and flash with these values in it. Go here to d/l XT bios:

Video BIOS Collection

 

 

X1900XT PCI-e -> X1900XTX

Okay, there are reports that the XTX is just a speed increase from the XT. This means that you could get a XTX from a XT. I have seen reports of successful flashes to these speeds. The only way to get to XTX speeds is to see whether the XT can handle the extra 25MHz core and 50Mhz memory clock. If it can then, then it is possible to do the flash. It's best that you use the XTX BIOSes here:

Video BIOS Collection

 

Once again, I highly stress that you use a O/C tool to do this, rather than flashing a BIOS. mark84 has noted to me that the X1900XTs are just XTX that cannot run stably at the recommended speed for the XTX. Hence the crippling of the core and memory speeds.

 

Here's a guide about overclocking X1900XT cards (thanks mark84):

ATI X1900 and X1800 Series Overclocking Guide

 

Another point that has been made is that some X1900XTs uses specially binned Samsung’s K4J52324QC-BJ12 GDDR3 RAM modules. However, there are some X1900XTs that have Samsung’s K4J52324QC-BJ11 which are the same RAM as the X1900XTX. So in theory, this means that it is possible to overclock the XT to XTX level. In order to do this, you must remove the cooler and take a look at the RAM modules itself. If the RAM modules have K4J52324QC-BJ11, then this X1900XT can be overclocked to XTX levels and possibly to where the X1900XTX overclock limits are. If not (ie uses K4J52324QC-BJ12 RAM modules), then you might have a chance to overclock it to the XTX. (thanks morgoth for this fact!)

 

NOTE: In regards to the X1900 Master cards for Crossfire, I do believe it's best you overclock these instead of flashing the BIOS. The reason is that these have separate DEVICE IDs which mark them out separately so don't, whatever you do, flash the BIOS for this.

 

 

Radeon HD 2900Pro -> HD 2900XT

With nVidia totally owning the field in the budget high performance area, ATI/AMD had released a very rare HD 2900Pro as a stop gap solution against the Geforce 8800GTS 320MB card. So in order words, the HD 2900Pro is a HD 2900XT but with a slower core + memory speed. A bargain for the poor I suppose. Just make sure you download the right BIOS for the video card but usually all are very similar as they did come out of the same factory.

 

NOTE: From what I've heard about these cards, they are just HD 2900XT cores that cannot run stably at the recommended XT speeds. Hence the crippling in both clock speeds and as well as memory. However, do take note as some HD 2900Pros are being fitted with 256MB of RAM as compared to the 512MB RAM usually on XT boards. With this, you cannot flash the BIOS to make an instant HD 2900XT. You must overclock the card should this be the case.

 

 

nVidia GTX 465 -> GTX 470

With the Radeon 58X0s taking up the performance crown, nVidia pulled a surprise here. It seems that some manufacturer are actually selling GTX 470s as GTX 465s. However, don't think you can easily grab a 465 and start flashing that way. There are several things to keep in mind here.

 

1) The GTX 465 must be using a GTX 470 board.

2) All 10 memory modules in the GTX 470 board must be present. If one of the modules are missing, then it is still a GTX 465.

 

If you are a lucky recipient of one, then you need to get hold of a GTX 470 BIOS and as well as nVflash. Boot into DOS and follow the instructions into flashing with nVflash. If all goes to well, then it should unlock into a GTX 470. You still need GPU-Z to confirm the change has taken place.

 

 

So far, these are the only cards that I know of that can be modable. Other cards such as the 9500 to 9700 are already on the web somewhere. Just have to Google it. If you have a card that is flash modable, then post back in here and I'll add it up.

 

 

Oh noes! I downloaded the wrong BIOS and fucked everything up! What should I do???

Well, you are a twit if you did that! Chances are that you can reflash it back to the original BIOS. The most common result of wrong BIOS flashing is that the computer will not display anything, not even the BIOS checking. Some cards have the ability to reflash back to the original BIOS (see Abit's Fata1ity cards...) or have backups. Whatever the case may be, you'll need a floppy drive or a USB key with the original video BIOS and the flasher itself. That is usually the best case scenario. Another way, you need the original BIOS of the video card and a spare video card. Boot up the PC using the spare card which will reset everything back.

 

After that, you need to reflash it back with the original BIOS via a floppy or USB thumb drive.

 

If you are one of the exceptions that totally fucked it up, then you got no chance at all. You can try to get it RMA'ed but that's just stupid or you just have to hope that your birthday/Christmas/Chinese New Year comes round fast...

 

 

 

That's all for this guide. Any problems about it, post a reply for it :)

 

As a newbie, this is a goldmine. Thank you so much for this really hot distillation of video card alchemy. better than anything I've seen and I really look around alot. This is understandable to average guys like me--I super appreciate it. Personally, I think you are a raving genius for sorting this all out!!

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It seems that the 6950s can be made into 6970s. I'll post the info into this matter.

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Nice guide for starters, but a little outdated on the front of GDDR.

Modern graphics cards use a form of "safety net", where, if you overclock your memory too far, instead of getting those white pixels, or noise on the images, the speed automatically (and transparently to the user) falls back to a generic number, or constantly cuts off (like the REV limiter in your car).

 

The outcome is that you never see any signs of failure on your screen, rather only a point, after which, the performance starts dropping instead of increasing.

 

This is the critical question: What is the fastest way of determining what that point is, without having to run a benchmark every time you change your memory clocks?

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