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ATi \ Nvidia overclocking guide - Ultimate Edition! rev.3

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Another stonking update, the FAQ section makes updating this guide very difficult because of attachments etc, and not having the ability to juggle post positions around makes it even more difficult to keep this guide updated and tidy. Hence the new thread. So, err, don't post anything untill I say I'm done
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post #2 of 17
Thread Starter 
Exactly as the title says, this is a OCing guide for ATi \\ Nvidia graphics cards. There is quite a lot of stuff so instead of just listing it all I'll make various posts from basic techniques to advanced hoodwinking

Well being the first post in this thread as you can probably guess this is the Basic Techniques part of the guide.

What IS overclocking?

^^ I know, I know but some people really are THAT n00bish

Overclocking, to keep it simple, is where a particular component (weather it be a processor or otherwise) is where it is run faster than manufacturer default speeds.

HOW can I overclock?

The most commonly used method is software overclocking.

Where can I get software overclocking utilities \\ what overclocking utilities are best?

Use www.google.com to find these overclockers (saves me linking to them see )

Powerstrip - This is largely free but requires you to PAY in order to activate the more advanced features. Overall I would rate this software 3 out of 10 as its nothing special and does not really do anything more than various other software overclockers do which are 100% FREE Powerstrip works with both ATI and Nvidia cards.

Radclocker - This is quite possibly the most simple free overclocker, it does its job and it does it well. 5\\10 just because its pretty basic. As the name suggests it only works with ATi based cards. This is also FREE!

ATItool - Some people say it's better than Rage3D, I say it's equall, as the name says it only works with ATI cards and yup, it's 100% FREE! 8\\10

Rage3D - This is it, the grand daddy of all ATi software based overclockers, has everything you could possibly want. 8\\10, FREE!

Coolbits\\Coolbits2 - This is a Nvidia software overclocker, its actually a registry hack but you can download a small file that does the registry hacks for you. Its a blindin bit of software and its all you need to overclock any Nvidia based card, 8\\10. Yup this is FREE! too

There are many other software overclockers, i've just listed what I consider to be the best software overclockers.


GAH! I messed around with my ATi\\Nvidia card with one of those software overclockers and my display fuxored up! what have I done!

You overclocked too much, don't panic just reset to default videocard speeds and start again, start by OCing <-(overclocking) the Core first, raise it in no more than 15MHz increments and test with 3Dmark2001SE \\ 3Dmark03 \\ 3Dmark05 \\ Aquamark3 for stability. If the core is unstable the tests will show it either by the display locking up (hit the reset button on your case if this happens) or "snow" being visible (white, random, flickering dots).

Once you have found the maximum stable Core OC its time to move on to the video card Memory. Follow the same procedure as before only if the memory is unstable you will see Artifacts (textures being drawn incorrectly) to correct this simply lower the memory OC.

To further boost performance for your ATi \\ Nvidia card there are 3rd party drivers you can find which not only improve performance but also improve image quality.

For ATI based cards there is no better 3rd party driver than Omega Drivers, these drivers are also officially supported by ATI.

As for Nvidia, you can try Extreme G, NGO or DNA variants. Omega also offers Nvidia based drivers. None of the aforementioned drivers are supported by nvidia.
EDIT! For drivers for the ATI\\Nvidia based cards visit the following sites:

For ATI Radeon chipsets:

ATI drivers -official Catalyst Drivers

For Nvidia based cards:

Nvidia drivers -official Nvidia Drivers

Misc: sites that contain both ATI and Nvidia drivers both official and 3rd party.

Guru3d

Driverheaven -Win9x\\ME\\XP\\2000 based drivers for ATI and Nvidia based cards. Omega Variants.

As people seem to have difficulty finding them on the guru3d site I will
link directly to the Nvidia Starstorm drivers.
Starstorm linky

Quick lowdown on driver types:

Catalyst - Official ATI drivers

Omega - 3rd party drivers for ATI cards, supported by ATI themselves

Forceware - Official Nvidia drivers

DNA - 3rd party drivers for ATI cards and Nvidia cards, crap drivers IMO but listed because they exist in the world...unfortunately

Starstorm - 3rd party Nvidia drivers, not supported by Nvidia themselves.

Omega - this guy makes drivers for Nvidia cards too, not supported by Nvidia.

Well thats it for basic graphics card OCing
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post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Mastered the Basic Techniques? Good.

There isn't much in this category but here we go,

By going to your mainboard BIOS settings its possible to increase your graphics performance. There are various things to adjust, try these one at a time and see if you get a performance boost in benchmarks or not.

Settings to adjust in mainboard BIOS

1. AGP aperature size - changing this to 128\\256MB is a must and will improve performance no question.

2. Fastwrites - this sometimes improves performance but largely does not and instead causes instability, although trying this option with the Radeon 9600pro\\XT is a real good idea.

3. Video BIOS Cachable - again this sometimes improves performance and other times won't, give it a go and see

4. Init Display First - set this to AGP\\PCIE (unless of course you are using a PCI graphics card)

5. AGP Overvoltage - although this won't increase performance raising AGP voltage to 1.6v will provide a better signal hence better image and has been known to prevent "stutter" in games. Do not raise this setting above 1.7v.

6. AGP Transfer Rate - set this to 8x but some mainboards \\ older graphics cards will not support this they will only support to 4x AGP.

7. System BIOS Cachable - some people get better performance with this on, although its actually supposed to slow gaming down a bit, just disable\\enable it as required and see if you get a boost or not

8. AGP Frequency -The default is 66MHz, raising this improves texture loading times across the board (due to faster data speeds and increased available bandwidth over the AGP bus) "safe" settings for this are between 70 - 72MHz (on any mobo chipset) but obviously there are exceptions where they reach in excess of 80MHz, highest AGP frequency I've personally ever seen was 83MHz.

9. PCIE Frequency - The default is 100MHz,raising this improves texture loading times across the board (due to faster data speeds and increased available bandwidth over the PCIE bus) "safe" settings for this are between 101 - 110MHz generally.

10. Memory Timings The obvious one, The tighter the timings the better.

Well I think thats everything for intermediate VC OCing (although this isnt classed as OCing its actually just performance tuning)
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post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Pssst.. got some interesting info here stranger.

With the big dog Graphics cards ( X900 series\\ X850 series \\ X800 series \\ 7800 series\\ 6800 Series \\ Radeon 9800\\pro\\XT and FX5950non ultra\\ Ultra \\ FX5900\\FX5800non ultra \\ Ultra)

There are various Hardware mods you can do to them, for example some 9800 cards will BIOS flash (more on this later) to a 9800pro\\XT as will a 5900NU(non ultra) flash to a 5900ultra \\ 5950NU\\ ultra.

There are also a few exceptions to this rule such as the following, some Radeon 9600pros will be capable of flashing to the XT model just as some Radeon 9500 non pros can be modded to a Radeon 9700\\pro.

Also there are some "cut down" versions of a high level card, these cards are from bad baches of their big brothers (however the 5900XT is just fitted with slower memory and has "thermal throttling" preventing high OCs to 5900+ speeds although there are modded VC BIOSes solving the latter issue) BUT not all the cards are damaged some are perfectly fine just some features have been disabled.

What are these "disabled" features?

Very easy this, these features are where the card has some rendering pipelines and memory bitdepth disabled. A normal Radeon 9700 \\ 9800 (non pro) \\ pro or in the 9800s case XT) has 8 rendering pipelines and 256bit memory these SE cards are as explained damaged baches but not all of them will be bad but as a precaution were thrown into the lower ranks thus only have 4 rendering pipelines and 128bit memory interface enabled there are various ways to re-enable the pipelines and extra 128bit memory on these cards both Software and Hardware, for the Radeon use omega drivers for software as there is a option to install hacked drivers to see if you have a good card or a damaged card, if its dameged it will normally be immediately noticable, if there are any irregulatities simply uninstall the hacked driver and install the standard driver.

For Nvidia cards you can BIOS flash them to see if they are good or bad or try using rivatuner to open up the locked pipes etc.

What is this videocard "BIOS flashing"

Stay with me i'm getting around to it!

As for how to actually Hardware mod your ATi \\ Nvidia card:

Unoid - 9600 Series

Madshrimps - 9800 Series

Techspot -9800 Series

OCfaq 9500\\9700 Series

ixbt-labsl - 9700 Series


Ok here we go! took a while to find this but I finally found a vmod pic for the 5700U


and for all thoughs who want it, a 5950 vmod guide along with a shatload of other vmod guides: xtremesystems

Well thats everything, if I forgot anything i'll edit it and put it in the relavant post.
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post #5 of 17
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This is a section where the very best Graphics card stability testers and benchmark links will go. To start i'll link to the basics which everybody uses and if bigger and badder tests come to surface and I hear about them i'll check them out and if they are good will get added. (don't worry fellas only the best makes it in here )

3Dmark2001SE, 3Dmark2003 & 3Dmark05:

Futuremark

Aquamark3

AM3

Next up is a rather special bit of sofware I found, unlike other tests that are only synthetic benchmarks (virtual enviroment) this software actually renders things using pure Videocard power to give you a result of how it can perform in DX9.

Note to Nvidia users: this piece of sofware although usable on Nvidia cards is not fully compatible with Nvidia cards.

DX9 pure hardware tester:

DX9 pure hardware test
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post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
How To Flash Radeon Based Cards

To flash a Radeon based card you will need to download Flashrom V.2.40 Do NOT use ATI flash.

Windows XP users: Go to "My Computer" right-click your A:\\ drive and select "Format" and check the box saying "create MS-DOS bootdisk"

Windows 9x \\ ME users: Once you have downloaded Flashrom put a floppy in and from MS-DOS prompt at the C:\\WINDOWS> prompt type; FORMAT A: /S hit enter when prompted.

Once the format and copy of the system files have been completed (hence the /S switch) doubleclick the .zip file and open the file onto drive A:\\

Note: Due to MS-DOS filename limits make sure the VC BIOS filename is no longer than 8 charecters long, these 8 charecters do not include the file extension name (eg: .ROM)

Make sure your required VC BIOS is also on the floppy then restart the system with the floppy in the drive.

To see a full list of Flashrom commands after the floppy has loaded type; FLASHROM.EXE you will be required to hit enter once the first page is displayed in order to see the continued commands for various actions. The only commands however you need to know are as follows;

After the floppy has loaded within MS-DOS simply type; FLASHROM -p 0 WhateverTheFilenameIs.rom\\bin

That will immediately flash your VC BIOS without backing up your original VC BIOS. I however strongly advise you do make a copy of your original VC BIOS. To do this after the floppy has loaded from within MS-DOS type; FLASHROM -s 0 original.rom that will make a backup of your original VC BIOS and save it to the floppy as original.rom

Should your VC not like the BIOS you have just flashed it with you will need a PCI videocard. Simply put the PCI VC in and connect your monitor cable to it. If your mainboard BIOS is configured to display AGP and not PCI graphics you will need to clear your CMOS, this is done either by removing the battery from the mobo or via a jumper setting on the mainboard, consult your mobo manual for specific details on which method applies to you.

Once your PCI display is up and you are back within MS-DOS at A:\\ prompt type; FLASHROM -p 0 original.rom that will then re-flash your AGP VC with its original BIOS. Once its re-flashed simply reset the system, enter your mobo BIOS and set it to display AGP graphics before removing the PCI display card.

How To Flash Nvidia Based cards

To flash Nvidia based cards you will need a program called WFFLASH

Follow the same procedure as with the ATI cards. Once everything is copied to the floppy and you are within MS-DOS type the following command;

A:\\ prompt type; WFFLASH nm WhateverTheFilenameIs.rom\\bin - flashes VC with new BIOS and makes a backup of old BIOS to floppy with filename of saveold.rom

Should your Nvidia card not like the new BIOS simply follow the same procedure as above to recover your VC but type WFFLASH nm saveold.rom

Advanced VC BIOS Tinkerings for ATI \\ Nvidia cards

If you are a lazy overclocker and can't be bothered to re-install your VC OC utility and set up your custom refresh rates and VC OC then you don't have to! There are VC BIOS editors that let you change these and set them as default values for your card. For ATI cards there is no better VC BIOS editor than Radedit 1.1D (for Radeon based cards) or Rabit for X850\\800 series

For Nvidia Based VC BIOS editors visit here

Well, there it is, the full lowdown on VC BIOS flashing. The same princables apply when flashing PCIE VCs as when flashing AGP VCs. I'm too good to you lot
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post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Whos in Nvidias corner then?

In the blue corner is the Geforce 7800\\6800 series, the contenders are;

7800GT \\ 7800GTX

GPU:400 - 425MHz \\ 430-460MHz (GTX)
memory speed:1GHz - 1.05GHz \\ 1.2 - 1.3GHz (GTX)
pipelines: 20 \\ 24
256bit memory
256\\512MB DDR3

6800GT \\ 6800Ultra

GPU: 350MHz \\ 450MHz
memory speed: 1GHz \\ 1.2GHz (effective)
Pipelines: 16 (16x1)
256bit memory interface
256MB DRR3

6800

GPU: 325MHz
memory speed: 700MHz (effective)
Pipelines: 12 (12x1)
256bit memory interface
128MB DDR

6600 \\ 6600GT

GPU: 300MHz \\ 500MHz
memory speed:500 - 600MHz \\ 1GHz (effective)
Pipelines: 8 (8x1)
128bit memory interface
128MB \\ 256MB DDR\\3

6200

GPU: 300MHz
memory speed: 500MHz (effective)
Pipelines: 4x1
64 \\ 128bit memory interface
128 \\ 256MB DDR

Note that companies seem to like varying the GPU speed of the 6800 ultra\\7800GTX for some reason, i've seen core speeds ranging from 400MHz to 450MHz and 430\\460MHz for the GTX.

Whos in ATIs corner then?

In the red corner we have;

X1800XL \\ X1800XT

GPU: 500MHz \\ 625MHz
Memory Speed:1GHz \\ 1.5GHz
pipelines: 16
256bit memory (512 ringbus for 512MB variants)
256MB \\ 512MB DDR3

X1600XT \\ Pro

GPU: 590MHz \\ 500MHz
Memory Speed: 1.38GHz \\ 780MHz
pipelines: 12
128 \\ 256bit memory
128MB \\ 256MB DDR3?

X1300

GPU: 450MHz
Memory Speed: 500MHz
pipelines: 4!
128bit memory
256MB\\512MB DDR2

X900XT PE - note other variants of the X900 are due for release also

GPU: 500MHz
memory speed: 1.4GHz
pipelines: 32
256bit memory
512MB DDR3

X800XT \\ PE, X850XT \\ PE (both same card, just different names and marginal clock differences)

GPU: 500 \\ 520MHz
memory speed: 1.12GHz \\ 1.18GHz
Pipelines: 16 (16x1)
256bit memory interface
256MB DDR3

X800XL

GPU: 400 - 432MHz
memory speed: 980MHz
Pipelines: 16 (16x1)
256bit
256MB \\ 512MB DDR3

X800 \\ Pro

GPU: 392MHz \\ 475MHz
memory speed: 700MHz \\ 900MHz (effective)
Pipelines: 12 (12x1)
256bit memory interface
128MB \\ 256MB DDR\\3

X800GT \\ GTO \\ GTO2

GPU: 475MHz \\ 400MHz \\ 400MHz
memory speed: 980MHz (all models) (effective)
Pipelines: 8 (8x1) \\ 12 \\ 16 (via moded BIOS)
256bit memory
128\\256MB DDR\\3

X700 \\ Pro \\ XT

GPU: 400MHz \\ 420MHz \\ 475MHz
memory speed: 600MHz \\ 864MHz \\ 1.05GHz (effective)
8 Rendering pipelines
128bit memory interface
128MB \\ 256MB DDR

X600Pro \\ X600XT

GPU: 400MHz \\ 500MHz
memory speed: 600MHz \\ 740MHz DDR
Pipelines: 4
128bit
256MB DDR

X300SE \\ X300

GPU: 325MHz
memory speed: 400MHz DDR
Pipelines: 4
64 \\ 128bit
256MB


So whos the direct competition then?

X1800 series vs. 7800 Series
X800 \\ 850XT\\PE vs. 6800 Ultra
X800Pro\\XL vs. 6800\\GT
X700\\Pro\\XT\\X800GT vs. 6600\\GT

Note as far as I am aware, when ATi release their 32pipe part(s) they will be named X900 series.
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post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
So now your clued up as to whats what lets get down to the modding. Right now there is the X800Pro VIVO card, this card is in fact built on an identical PCB as the X800XT. So what I hear you say right? the normal X800Pro is built on the X800XT PCB too, well here is the twist, with the VIVO card the other 4 rendering pipelines are just disabled via the cards BIOS, so yes, all you have to do is get yourself a nice shiny X800XT BIOS and flash it onto your X800Pro VIVO card and TA-DA! instant X800XT.

What you will need

Flashrom 2.37
XT BIOS
Catalyst drivers
Rage3D or simalar overclocking tool
VERY sharp knife
Electricians conductive pen

Step one

Test your X800Pro and make sure it can handle default X800XT core \\ mem speeds.

Step two

Remove the ATI drivers and control panel.

Step three

Follow the same procedure as described on how to flashing and backing up an ATI cards BIOS as listed earlier in this guide.

Step four

Uninstall your X800Pro and remove its HSF. Now lets take a look at that shiny shiny core



See that little red box with the line in it? All you have to do to enable the disabled pipes is use an electricians pen and connect thoughs 2 points, BUT, there is some sort of insulation on the points, heres where that sharp knife comes in, scratch away at both the points until you have a clear copper colour coming through, now all you have to do is draw a line with the electricians conductive pen to thoughs points that are now shining through copper, leave it for a few mins to be sure the conductive pen mark is dry then just apply some AS ceramiqe on the core and put it all back together! Done!

Just remember the other pipes are supposedly disabled for a reason and the pipes may well be damaged, if that turns out to be the case just break the conductive pen line to undo the mod and flash back to the X800Pro BIOS.
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post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
Ok here i'll link to the latest and greatest VC BIOS tools and attach my own custom BIOSes i've modified for either better performance, better OCing, or both

ATi Stuff

*Custom BIOS 9600Pro*

BIOS (will work with most 9600XTs) - memory timing adjustments for big OCs. Will only work with cards that have Samsung memory chips rated at either 3.3ns - 3ns - 2.8ns. Any other memory chips are untested on this BIOS and will more than likely not work. Default clocks are 453\\324

Flashrom v2.4
RadEdit v1.1D
BIOSedit v2.7




Nvidia Stuff:

Wfflash v5.6
Omniextreme v1.5
X-BIOS build 520

*Custom BIOS FX5700 Ultra*

Changes since my last BIOS:

* Default 2D clock 300MHz > 350MHz (by popular demand)
* 2D voltage now 1.3v instead of 1.2v (just for all you wanting fast 2D clocks)
* Default 3D clock now 500MHz - for anybody wanting to experiment with their GPU overclocks.
* Fixed issue of 1.5v 3D voltage not always working with a few cards (very few, but meh, i'm a perfectionist )
* BIOS will now work with all FX5700U cards with DDR2
* Default memory speed changed from 900MHz > 950MHz
* Sucessfully changed vidRAM timings should allow for a real good boost to your vidRAM OC, somewhere in the region of 30 - 50MHz on average.

Any problems with these BIOSes let me know

Remember anything you do is AT YOUR OWN RISK! I simply supply the tools for you to get tinkering neither myself nor Maxit are responsible for you blowing your card up!

*edit* Last BIOS I'm going to do for the FX57U, no changes apart from a ramped up GPU - 580MHz, njoy folks!
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post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
X800 \\ X850 series vmods

Here it is, for all you freaks wanting to zap your card with X amount of extra volts for that 10MHz extra

VGPU:
Stock: 1.31V - 1.41V

On good air, don't go above 1.5v on the GPU, Maybe 1.6v, watch temps and judge this for yourselves.

VDD:
Stock: 1.95V - 2.05V

With good RAMsinks going to around 2.25v is ok, if you want to push things right out you'll need a nice 120mm blowing over the card to go 2.45v+

Now for some pics for the Vmod and pencil mod.

VGPU mod:


Vmem mod:


Pencil mod:


and now what ive had quite a few requests for, X800XL vmods i wont bother putting pics in for the vmem mods as ppl can clock insanely high anyway without them, from 980MHz i personally got mine to 1.16GHz, no vmods, and i doubt even vmodding would allow you to go much higher anyway. so for now here are some basic pics for pencil (yes PENCIL!) modding your X800XL core and actually vmodding the core, I found a HB pencil the best to use when penciling, lead doesnt just fall everywhere with an HB, and if you need to remove the lead, just use a rubber. oh and when penciling, if there is a resistor, just pencil over the top of it, and when there is no resistor, make a pencil mark leading from one contact to the other.

ill be adding my own pics when i can borrow a decent digicam as well, for now the tech powerup pics will have to do.

-ed, safe vmod voltages for the XL core thus far are about 1.45v, maybe up to 1.6v, given nm process though dont push beyond 1.52v max at first to see how the core handles.
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