ATI Graphic card overclocking.....All info you need.

Discussion in 'Videocards - AMD Radeon' started by funkymonkey, Jan 4, 2004.

  1. funkymonkey

    funkymonkey Ancient Guru

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    Hello everyone.
    For past few days i have seen a lot of people asking about how to overclock ATI cards and what to use to do the same.
    Well I personally got tired answering every single one so decide to write this article which i think will answer most of your questions.:p
    This is gona be big so i have given bold headtopics. You can directly start reading from desired section.

    Types of overclocking

    Overclocking a Graphic card involves 2 things
    1. Overclocking your GPU.
    2. Overclocking RAM on the card.

    When you overclock the GPU you increase the frequency at which your core is gona work. ANd when you overclock the RAM its the same thing, the frequency at which ram works is changed. Its observed that overclocking the RAM usually helps more than overclocking the GPU. The obvious reason is when you overclock the RAM the bandwidth availabe on the card increases.

    Before you overclock

    Always keep in mind that any kind of overclocking involves risks. You simply dont get everyting without giving nothing away. If dont without taking proper care you well might end up frying your card.
    Officially it does void warranty when you overclock but you can as always work around this problem by taking some simple precausions which i will tell ya along this article :p

    Does choosing a perticular card makes difference in overclocking?

    Yes its very important to check few things before you buy the card which you intend to overclock. Choose a card with better cooling solution if you dont wana change the cooling solution yourself. But dont spend too much on a card just for cooling solution. you might end up paying less if you do it yourself. (checkout last topic in this article).
    Check out the memory chips used on the card. Prefer cards with Samsung or Hynix memory.
    There are many versions of card which are very confusing like 9600 non pro, 9600 pro, 06--XT, 9600 pro EZ.
    Always check the clock and memory speeds of cards you intend to buy and double check it.
    Forums like these are very useful place to get this information..

    What you need to overclock ATI card?

    You need some guts and following tools.

    1. Rivatuner : A nice tool which lets you overclock and also tweak your graphic card. It can be found in download section here at guru3d at www.guru3d.com/files
    You can also use 1 more very popular tool called rage tweak which can be found at www.rage3d.com

    2. Bios Files : Well some of older cards like 9700 np 9500 had their bios locked so it was not possible to overclock them. But there were people who broke this code and released unlocked bios files.
    The whole collection of ATI BIOS and BIOS FLASH UTILITY can be found HERE
    Newer cards like 9800XT/Pro, X8XX series dont have their bios locked.
    UPDATE : I JUST NOTICED THAT THE SITE ABOVE HAD UPDATED ITS FILES AND HAS REMOVED README FILE FROM THE BIOS FLASH ZIP FILES WHICH USED TO CONTAIN README FILES. SO I AM WRITTING THE BIOS FLASH STEPS FOR YOU. I PERSONALLY USED ATIFLASH AND FOLLOWING METHOD IS NEEDED TO FLASH YOUR BIOS USING ATIFLASH(ALL VERSIONS)
    1. MAKE A DOS BOOT DISK. IN WINDOWS XP GO TO MY COMPUTER>RIGHT CLICK THE FDD ICON AND CLICK FORMAT AND CKECK THE BOX "MAKE BOOTABLE DOS DISK"
    2. UNZIP THE ATIFLASH ZIP FILE AND COPY ALL FILES IN IT TO YOUR FDD. ALSO COPY THE BIOS FILE TO THE FDD
    3.BOOT TO DOS USING THIS FLOPPY
    4. FIRST SAVE YOUR ORIGINAL BIOS FILE. IT WILL BE NEEDED IF YOU DECIDE TO REFLASH YOUR ORIGINAL BIOS. TO DO THIS TYPE FOLLOWING AT A:>

    atiflash -s 0 backup.bin

    or

    atiflash -s 0 backup.rom

    THIS WILL SAVE YOUR BIOS FILE ON FDD WITH NAME BACKUP.ROM

    TO FLASH THE CARD WITH NEW BIOSFILE TYPE

    atiflash -p 0 biosname.rom

    or

    atiflash -p 0 biosname.bin

    THE .BIN OR .ROM EXTENSION DEPENDS UPON THE EXTENSION OF FILE YOU DOWNLOADED

    remember "0" in all above commands is zero and not O.


    How should you overclock your card? and what is safe overclock with your card?

    Do not make mistake and directly overclock your card by 50 MHZ. This is common mistake made by many people. Also many people ask what is safe overclock range for my card? There is no perticular answer to this question. Every card is different and has different overclocking potential. Follow the following procedure to get the best overclock with your card with what cooling you have for now.

    1. Increase your core and memory speeds by 5 Mhz each atmost at a time.
    2. After you overclock run a benchmarking software like 3dmark2001 or 3dmark2003 or software like "rthdribl"( this is my personal choice as this really pushes the card to max but will only run on Dx9 cards) or some graphic intensive game for 5 minutes.
    3. If you dont see any screen courruptions, small black triangles, white or black dots and artifacts then it means this speed is ok for you.
    4. Again increase your clock and memory speeds by 5 MHz and again run the benchmark or game.
    5. Keep doing this until you get system crash or lockdown or artifacts/white-black dots, scren courruption. This is the absolute limit og your card.
    6. When you see these symptoms reduce your clock and memory speed by 10 Mhz.
    7. Now try just overclocking RAM and not the core again in steps of 5Mhz until you get artifacts or above symptoms.
    8. when you get artifacts again reduce the memory speed by 10Mhz and this is your final safest settings.
    9. Always run your card atleast 10Mhz slower than the speeds at which you get artifacts.
    10. If ram dosent overclock more the you may try same thing with core only keeping RAM speed constant.

    Is extra cooling needed if I overclock?

    Its not nacessary but recommanded. Have a good airflow in your case. A fan blowing air directly on card always helps.

    What about replacement cooling for my card?

    If you really want to get 100% from the hardware you just bought you might want to consider alternate cooling solution. ATI stock coolings are not really ment for overclocking.
    There are few really good cooling solutions out there.
    One of them is Ventec Iceberq 4. While this is good for 9500 pro/non pro, 9600 non pro/pro/xt I wont recommand it on high end cards like 9700 pro or 9800 pro/XT.
    FOr these High end cards prefer one of the most popular one Artic cooling VGA SILENCER. you can check it out at Here.
    Do remember adding Ramsinks does help on ram overclock. Some good readymade one are populat Tweakmonster Ramsinks or in case of VGA silencer you will need low profile ocz ramsinks

    Remember If you attach your ramsinks using epoxy like Artic silver thermal adhasive the joint is permanent and cannot be removed, so when it comes to RMA your card you wont be able to get any warranty benifits. You can use thermal pad which can be taken off but using thermal pad is the worst way to attach ramsinks

    You can also buy some readymade kits. here is a very good link for kits like these
    http://www.imageevent.com/marginjohn/viperjohn
    Now thats what you call some kick @$$ cooling ;)


    Never throw away original Heatsink Fan.

    You can also cut the AMD HS into small pieces of size of ram chips.

    Now to some serious overclocking and cooling
    If you have some experience of overclocking and feel confident enough to move one here comes some serious overclocking.

    Before I move on to this there is small thing you can do. If your bios support it try increasing AGP voltage ( AGP VDDQ ) This helps to get little bit more overclock out of the card.

    If you do feel like you have reached limits of your card and still want to overclock more the watercooling is a way to go. Watercooling increase the possibility of overclock by almost 30% more overclock than air cooling.
    Also remember that watercooling also runs card a lot cooler resulting in increase life of your hardware.
    You can use watercooling just for your videocard. You will need a good waterblock. And the best one are Maze4GPU waterblock by dangerden which can be found at www.dangerden.com. The other good one is Swiftech.

    There are also voltmods you can do but requires knowledge in electronics and some soldering experience.
    Search vmod for your card in www.google.com

    Also here are LINKS FOR VMODS That i found.

    9800XT VMOD

    9800 pro/np VMOD


    A section at XS dedicated to vmods: http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=85

    Vmod archive : http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=28754

    Here are links for 9500 pro vmod
    Thanks for yojimborobert for these links. He successfully vmoded his 9500 pro and here is link to his thread.




    Rage 3d threads on voltmodding 9500 pro:http://www.rage3d.com/board/showthr...readid=33662647
    http://www.rage3d.com/board/showthr...oltmod+9500+pro
    http://www.rage3d.com/board/showthr...ht=volt+mod+gpu
    A guy's website with helpful pictures: http://zacharyaus.freecyberzone.com/photo.html

    9800 pro to 9800XT bios Flashing
    A guru3d member xafier has flashed his 9800 pro to 9800xt successfully and has written a nice article on this. Anyone interested in doing this bios mod have a look HERE



    Links
    Information
    www.guru3d.com

    www.extremeoverclocking.com

    www.rage3d.com/board

    Where you can purchase cooling solutions

    www.coolpc.com.au

    www.frozencpu.com

    Any additional Link suggestions welcomed



    That raps up this article.
    Any additions,feedbacks and suggestions to this article is welcomed and i will try to keep this updated. And do not feel free to point out any mistakes in this article.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2005
  2. Twinke Masta

    Twinke Masta Guest

    all i can say STICKY TIME!
     
  3. b0rna

    b0rna Member Guru

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    GPU:
    Powercolor 4870 512 DDR5
    YA THIS IS WHAT EVERY FORUM HERE IS MISSING STICKY STICKY
     
  4. funkymonkey

    funkymonkey Ancient Guru

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    thx for supporting this for sticky.......
    I am planning to update this in say 3-4 days with some technical info about extreme overclocking ( water + tec ).
     

  5. FusionBoi

    FusionBoi Guest

    definatly need to sticky this, well done.
     
  6. SL-spirit

    SL-spirit Master Guru

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    Hi, I am getting a new PC which is given below. I am getting Gigacube 9800 PRO 128MB DDR XTREME graphic card with it. I don't know whether I could overclock it or not. So can anyone tell me whether I could or not???? Please reply it as soon as possible because I might probably get it this or next week.

    Thanks.
    @@@_.::!(2Pac)!::._@@@

    .::Specs::.

    CPU: Pentium 4 2.6GHz 800FSB HT

    Mobo: ASUS AS-P4P800

    RAM: CORSAIR PC3200 512MB 64Mx64 184 DIMM

    Video Card: Gigacube 9800 PRO 128MB DDR XTREME

    HDD: Barracuda 120GB 7200RPM

    CDRW/DVD ROM: LITE-ON 16x48x24x48x DVD+CDRW

    Floppy Drive: FDD Panasonic 1.44MB

    Speakers: Logitech LT-Z340 (2.1)

    Case: Antec "LANBOY" TruBlue350 *(with 350W PSU)

    Keyboard and Mouse: Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop

    Monitor: LG 17" Flatron T710B

    Case Fans: ANTEC 80mm Blue LED Fan, ANTEC 80mm Red LED Fan - Both

    Scanner: Canon lide20 scanner

    Web Camera: Logitech ClickSmart® 310

    Windows: Windows XP Home Edition .::Specs::.
     
  7. Twinke Masta

    Twinke Masta Guest

    of course any video card shalt not to be left @ stock! by the way VERY nice screen name i love it and i love Tupac! just get a 2Pac Avatar by the way ;)
     
  8. David Deed

    David Deed Don Alfa Terga Inconiti

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    this will be a short term sticky, and we'll see the populatrity
     
  9. madh52

    madh52 Member Guru

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    great article FunkyM!!

    One question: I have rage3d and it allows me to OC the core and the memory (3dmark03 also runs faster) .. but you said 970pro cards are bios locked;

    this means:

    1)my card has for the first time in the world a 9700pro unlocked bios :)

    2) my card brand (powercolor) is one of the few brands wich sell unlocked 9700pro cards..other brands have locked bios..

    3) the bios is not (completely) unlocked..

    4) I should try again overclocking, this time leaving the BEER in the fridge!
     
  10. madh52

    madh52 Member Guru

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    ..another question: is better rage3d or rivatuner?

    as far as:
    -tweaking
    -OCing
    -global
     

  11. funkymonkey

    funkymonkey Ancient Guru

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    rivatuner has more functionality than rage3d.
    Some prefer rivatuner and some people prefer rage tweak.
    Rivatuner also has ability for low level setting changes.
     
  12. funkymonkey

    funkymonkey Ancient Guru

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    nothing is wrong with your card.
    9700 pro were unlocked( if i remember correctly :D ). thanks for noticing that.:p
     
  13. [SHS.Donny]

    [SHS.Donny] Guest

    Don't forget Radlinker, for simple overclocking it is fine. And it comes with the Dna drivers!
     
  14. funkymonkey

    funkymonkey Ancient Guru

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    Radlinker is a good tool but it has many issues with its latest release.
    The clock setting issue is driving many people nuts.
    one guy was very lucky at rage3d. radlinker made hi card run at 834Mhz.
    fortunately his pc locked and didnt caused much damage.
    Thats why i didnt included it in this article :)
     
  15. Da{N}ka

    Da{N}ka Master Guru

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    SLI XFX GTX285 Black Ed.
    On the ATI BIOS page that you just mentioned, which is the best utility to flash the cards with? (bottome page http://www.ocfaq.com/softmod/bios.php )

    Flashing Utilities

    Flashrom v2.23
    Flashrom v2.17
    Flashrom v2.15
    Atiflash v1.5
    Atiflash v1.3
    Atiflash v1.0


    (in my case is a FireGL 8800 but I belive should be not model dependant , or am i wrong?)
     

  16. funkymonkey

    funkymonkey Ancient Guru

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    ATIFLASH 1.5 or 1.3.
    Use any one of them.
    I have personally used it and it works.
    also i found that they have removed readme file from their zip files.
    I have edited the original thread with the instruction on how to flash the card using atiflash.
     
  17. madh52

    madh52 Member Guru

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    hi Fmonkey! I have actually installed Rage 3d, tweaked every single game I have and I feel very good with it.. is aniway better to install the rivatuner?

    Should I unistall rage 3d before?

    And -argh!!- will I loose my rage3d settings, so I have to do again plenty of work to set my tweaks again after reinstalling rage 3d??

    I am dubbious because in the rivatuner faq it talks a lot about Nvidia cards, and a very little about ATI.. :(
     
  18. funkymonkey

    funkymonkey Ancient Guru

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    rage3d is nice tool.
    If you have any profiles configuered then dont bother installing rivatuner.
    It also has facility to change low level driver settings.
    Rivatuner is more functional though with better user interface.
    And specially i love twicking ability of rivatuner with opengl and D3D settings changing.
    If you are happy with rage3d dont change it.
    Rivatuner supports ATI cards too.
     
  19. madh52

    madh52 Member Guru

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    ok thanks!
     
  20. madh52

    madh52 Member Guru

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    GPU:
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    Someone told me that is more important to oc the ddr than the core.. is it true??

    which's the best way to Oc the DDR of my Powercolor radeon9700PRO ??

    are they good in your opinion for overclock?Because I wouldn't like to get an huge watercooling system to cool only my card if then i'll have slow performance the same due to un overclockable ddrs.. do you suggest me to still buy a water coolingsystem??
     

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