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Old 05-26-04, 04:33 PM   #1
jimmor
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Smile Basic FX59xxx bios changes

Guide to Modifying bios of Nvidia FX59xxx Series VGA Card.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This Guide is written in a way that should allow any layman with no bios design experience to make selected changes to a bios file, which can appreciably improve the performance of a 59xxx series vga card.

I will start with a simple cautionary warning to all who think that bios modding appears very straight forward and thus holds no threat to them.

The major, but least understood, problem with modifying a bios and flashing, is that going too extreme may stop your card posting during computer bootup. It may not be a bad bios, just a bad flashing of your card which stops it posting. But if it happens, then maybe only a professional with the right tools may be able to recover the situation and reflash your card to a working state.

Just a small warning to everybody wanting to play about with bios modding -----> Do something wrong, doesn't have to be more than a binary digit out of place or a bad flash and you could be looking for that professional bios fixer, or another card.

So be careful out there !!!

The FX5900nu, FX5900u and FX5950u cards are basically to same design and therefore bios's are generally interchangeable, and likewise any modified versions. The newer FX5900XT type (inc SE/LX/SP etc) however is somewhat different and cheaper design of card, and its bios, although interchangeable with other XT's, is not useable with the original 59xx cards. When proposing bios changes it is therefore considered best to treat them separately.

However a number of the performance inducing changes included in the guide, derive from using some of the beneficial parameters from a XT bios with those of higher card bios, and vice versa.

The Ray Adams X-Bios Editor v103.520 is recommended for all bios changes as it includes a good Hex Editor, and more importantly it will add a correct CRC bit to ensure a successful flash. For flashing, it is recommended that nvflash.exe v4.41 be used, as it is a program I have used with complete success hundreds of times.

For the purposes of this Guide, none of the ASUS 59xx bios's set to only run in 3D mode are considered applicable, as GPU and Memory initialisation and table structures are different from all others bios's.


1. FX5900nu, FX5900u and 5950u.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(a). SPEEDS.
~~~~~~~~~~~~
The first important thing about GPU and Memory speeds is to identify how to find and read them. All speeds are stored as 8 bit binary words which are derived from a hex conversion of the speed required.

Typical stock speeds of 300/400/850 mean,

2D speed is 300MHz.
3D speed is 400MHz.
Memory speed is 850MHz, (actually 425, only given as 850 for DDR Memory).

In simplistic terms, a binary word for speed is derived by multiplying the speed value by 100, converting to Hex, transposing the last and first two digits of Hex value and adding four zero's to the end.

2D speed = 300x100 = 30000 = 7530 Hex = 30750000 bin word (or 30 75 00 00)
3D speed = 400x100 = 40000 = 9C40 Hex = 409C0000 bin word (or 40 9C 00 00)
Mem speed = 425x100 = 42500 = A604 Hex = 04A60000 bin word (or 04 A6 00 00)

To find any GPU or Memory speed in a bios just look for the 8 bit binary word that represents it, ie for 300MHz look for "30 75 00 00", and change it to any other 8 bit binary word. It is important to look for the 8 bit binary value rather than just the front 4 bit word, as that particular 4 bit sequence may exist in a number of places as programming code, and could cause serious problems if changed.

The GPU and Memory speed tables are located near the end of the bios file and are structured as three closely located tables starting with 2D, then Throttling and finally 3D. Each table consists of nine 8 bit binary words, the first bin word being for GPU speed followed by eight 8 bit words for Memory speed. Throttling is set at 375MHz regardless of GPU 2D/3D speeds, And Memory speed is set the same for all Tables.

Using the above example of 300/400/850 shows,

2D Table (300/850),
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
30 75 00 00 04 A6 00 00 04 A6 00 00 04 A6 00 00
04 A6 00 00 04 A6 00 00 04 A6 00 00 04 A6 00 00
04 A6 00 00

Throttling Table (375/850),
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
7C 92 00 00 04 A6 00 00 04 A6 00 00 04 A6 00 00
04 A6 00 00 04 A6 00 00 04 A6 00 00 04 A6 00 00
04 A6 00 00

3D Table (400/850),
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
40 9C 00 00 04 A6 00 00 04 A6 00 00 04 A6 00 00
04 A6 00 00 04 A6 00 00 04 A6 00 00 04 A6 00 00
04 A6 00 00


The Throttling function is only applicable to 3D Mode and can thus be effectively disabled by setting speed to same as 3D. This is what was done by manufacturers of some FX5700u bios's I have checked. However, remember to also raise GPU throttling volts to cater for raising speed to that of 3D.

Another way of removing throttling, is to use a ASUS 5900u or 5950u bios as they operate in 3D all the time and appear to have no throttling mode. However, setting the "Force constant performance level" option of Rivatuner RC15 to "performance 3D" only runs a vga card in 3D and also disables Throttling.


(b). GPU VOLTS.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Closely following the three speed tables, is a Lookup Table for setting GPU volts of the 2D, Throttling and 3D modes. The main parts of the table are typically laid out as a 18 Bit binary string as follows,

03 00 07 78 04 82 05 8C 06

The first three 2 bit values of the string describe structure, where the "03" shows that the table has three choices, and the "07" indicates each choice can have a max of 00 to 07 (or 8) possible volts levels; in this instance equating to the range 0.8 to 1.5v in 0.1v steps.

The three 4 bit binary words following the "07" show the actual values set for this bios, where the first two bits of each 4 bit word is only an indicator of volts expected (found by converting to decimal/100), and the next two bits of each 4 bit word actually set the GPU volts level.

To select GPU volts, the driver compares a Performance Level Volts Indicator (PLVI) value, which is found immediately after the memory timing string for a given mode, with the first 2 bit part of each 4 bit binary word in the lookup table, and selects the first one which is EQUAL or GREATER in value. To ensure proper operation with the above example table, the PLVI values would be expected to be set at 78 for 2D, 82 for Throttling and 8C for 3D modes.

Using the above GPU volts table example,

(hex 78)/100 or 120/100 = 1.2 = volts level 04
(hex 82)/100 or 130/100 = 1.3 = volts level 05
(hex 8C)/100 or 140/100 = 1.4 = volts level 06

This shows that GPU volts in 2D as set by level 04 is 1.2V, and in Throttling mode as set by level 05 is 1.3V and finally 3D as set by level 06 is 1.4V. You can however interchange any of the 4 bit values, and thus set 2D GPU volts at 1.4V if desired.

The highest available 07 volts level is used in a 5950u bios, for setting GPU volts at 1.5v, in order to run at higher speeds. And when present, is represented by "96 07" in the "3D" position of the table. Although not normally used by either 5900nu,5900u bios's, there is no reason why either can't have the GPU volts set at the 1.5v level of a 5950u.

Therefore in total, a 5900nu, 5900u or 5950u bios can be modified to make GPU volts in 2D, Throttling and 3D modes anywhere from 0.8 to 1.5v (volts levels 00 to 07).

Also, the lookup table structure allows the scanned number of functional, or mode, choices to be increased or decreased by changing the first "03" value. Increasing it to "04", for example, enables a new GPU volts choice of 1.5v to be achieved by simply adding "96 07" into the table; or maybe a new 1.1v choice by adding a "6E 03".

However, because of how the Driver scanning and selection process works, it is necessary that the lowest volts choice be at the table start, and thereafter in ascending order up to the highest choice being at the end. And, not adhering to this rule can cause real problems. For example, if you set the low end of the table at the highest value of "96 07", then no matter what PLVI value is set in a bios, the driver will always select "96" and thus set GPU volts at 1.5 for all modes; simply because the Driver looks for first value that is equal or greater than PLVI.

And it is important that once the table structure is fixed, including number of choices and values offered, the PLVI value for each given mode must also be updated accordingly.


(c). MEMORY LATENCIES.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Almost as an extension to each of the three speed tables, and for the sake of simplicity, is a 28 bit binary string for controlling memory timing. A typical sequence for a 5900nu bios is "040205150017000E000707030403", whereas a 5950u can be "04030517001A000F000808040503".

Changing this string to "040204110013000B000606030404", which is typical of the tighter timing control of a XT type bios, can give some performance improvement. The change must be done to the binary sequence which runs concurrent to each of the three speed tables. A byproduct of the tighter timing can be a reduction of up to 5% in the ability to overclock memory speed.

Nearer the end of a bios file is a table of memory latency values, made up of eight 8 bit binary words. Normal values for a 5900nu are "07 00 0F 43", where both 5900u and 5950u are "07 03 0F 43". Some trials have shown that improved performance can be got by reducing the 43 to 40. The change must be made to each of the eight binary words in the table.

For cards with 128Mb memory, some extra performance can be gained by changing every "07 03" sequence to "07 00". Making a final latency of "07 00 0F 40".



2. FX5900XT/SE/LE/LX/SP etc.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(a). SPEEDS.
~~~~~~~~~~~~
Changing speeds in a XT types bios is the same as above for 5900nu, 5900u and 5950u bios's.


(b). GPU VOLTS.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Closely following the three speed tables, is a Lookup Table for setting GPU volts of the 2D, Throttling and 3D modes. The main parts of the table are typically laid out as a 18 Bit binary string as follows,

03 00 03 78 01 82 02 8C 03

The first three 2 bit values of the string describe structure, where the first "03" shows that the table has three choices, and the second '03' indicates each choice can have a max of 00 to 03 (or 4) possible volts levels; in this instance equating to the range 1.1 to 1.4v in 0.1v steps.

The three 4 bit binary words following the second '03' show the actual values set for this bios, where the first two bits of each 4 bit word is only an indicator of volts expected (found by converting to decimal/100), and the next two bits of each 4 bit word actually set the GPU volts level.

To select GPU volts, the driver compares a Performance Level Volts Indicator (PLVI) value, which is found immediately after the memory timing string for a given mode, with the first 2 bit part of each 4 bit binary word in the lookup table, and selects the first one which is EQUAL or GREATER in value. To ensure proper operation with the above example table, the PLVI values would be expected to be set at 78 for 2D, 82 for Throttling and 8C for 3D modes.

Using the above GPU volts table example,

(hex 78)/100 or 120/100 = 1.2 = volts level 01
(hex 82)/100 or 130/100 = 1.3 = volts level 02
(hex 8C)/100 or 140/100 = 1.4 = volts level 03

This shows that GPU volts in 2D as set by level 04 is 1.2V, and in Throttling mode as set by level 05 is 1.3V and finally 3D as set by level 06 is 1.4V. You can however interchange any of the 4 bit values, and thus set 2D GPU volts at 1.4V if desired.

Other than some manufacturers initial entry XT cards based on a 5900nu, there is no direct readaccross to a 5950u GPU 1.5v option. A simple check could be that if the lookup table sequence in a original XT type bios indicates 07 volts levels, then it may be 1.5v capable, whereas if it only shows 03 levels it is not.

A XT type bios can still however be modified to set GPU volts in 2D, Throttling and 3D modes anywhere from 1.1v to 1.4v (volts levels 00 to 03).

Also, the lookup table structure allows the scanned number of functional, or mode, choices to be increased or decreased by changing the first "03" value. Increasing it to "04", for example, could enable a new GPU volts choice of 1.1v to be achieved by simply adding "6E 03" into the table.

However, because of how the Driver scanning and selection process works, it is necessary that the lowest volts choice be at the table start, and thereafter in ascending order up to the highest choice being at the end. And, not adhering to this rule can cause real problems. For example, if you set the low end of the table at the highest value of "8C 06", then no matter what PLVI value is set in a bios, the driver will always select "8C" and thus set GPU volts at 1.4 for all modes; simply because the Driver looks for first value that is equal or greater than PLVI.

And it is important that once the table structure is fixed, including number of choices and values offered, the PLVI value for each given mode must also be updated accordingly.


(c). MEMORY LATENCIES.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Almost as an extension to each of the three speed tables, and for the sake of simplicity, is a 28 bit binary string for controlling memory timing. A typical sequence for a 5900XT bios is "040205110013000B000606030404".

Changing the sequence to "0301040C000F0009000505020303" has shown to give some performance improvement. This particular string was found using a Prolink FX5900XT GL. The change must be done to the binary sequence which runs concurrent to each of the three speed tables. A byproduct of this tighter timing can be a reduction of up to 3% in the ability to overclock memory speed.

With the exception that memory latency in a XT bios may be at "07 03 0F 03", changes are the same as for the 5900nu, 5900u and 5950u above. So, in this case the last "03" in each of the binary words would be changed to "40"

For cards with 128Mb memory, some extra performance can be gained by changing every "07 03" sequence to "07 00". Making a final latency of "07 00 0F 40".




@ jimmor v2.3c
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BFG 6800GS (16x1,6vp) @ 300/430/1200.

Driver, 82.12 :-
Aquamark3, 75039
Codecreatures1, 90.8
3Dmark05 v120, 6195
3Dmark03 v360, 14334
3Dmark06 v102, 2949
3Dmark2001se v330, 23793.

Last edited by jimmor; 10-26-04 at 06:43 AM.
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Old 05-26-04, 05:11 PM   #2
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Default Re: Basic FX59xxx bios changes

good read !
thank you for the info.

I was told not to flash my bfgfx5900xt oc to an 5950 ultra bios
if the pcb was p177, I wasnt told why though, and the pcb # is p 177h-4n.
Not sure if that'll mean anything to you or not?

Could you possiably enlighten me?
Thanks!
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Old 05-26-04, 05:39 PM   #3
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Default Re: Basic FX59xxx bios changes

Quote:
Originally Posted by cstring
good read !
thank you for the info.

I was told not to flash my bfgfx5900xt oc to an 5950 ultra bios
if the pcb was p177, I wasnt told why though, and the pcb # is p 177h-4n.
Not sure if that'll mean anything to you or not?

Could you possiably enlighten me?
Thanks!
your card may flash fine with a 5950u bios ?? Not all XT type cards are manufactured to the same design, and it has been found over time that some can be flashed successfully with a 5950u bios ? But obviously because of certain constraints in the XT card, it will never work anywhere near the performance of a 5950u !

The original and main reason a XT card wont flash with a5950u bios is because its memory stock speed is 950MHz and there is no way a XT's memory chips with a spec of 2.8ns and rating of 714MHz is going to like the 5950u 950MHz level ?? Which is why quite some time ago, I made available a number of 5950u bios's with underclocked core and memory speeds, specifically for the purposes of XT owners trying just such a flash.

Some newer XT type cards actually have excellent 2.2ns memory chips fitted. If your card has these faster chips and are lucky enough to successfully flash with a 5950u bios, then performance comparable to a 5950u can be achieved.

But for most XT owners, the best way forward is usually to introduce some of the bios changes I have outlined and just overclock both core and memory ?

EDIT:

all XT type cards use PCB types p177 and the original 59xx series cards used p172 types. And as I said, a lot of XT type cards won't work with 5950u bios and some have.

Theres a huge thread over a Guru forum which may show you someone who has flashed your card to a 5950u ??

http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?threadid=85394
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The more I know, the more I know I don't know

Intel P4 3.2 @ 3.85GHz (ASUS P4C800E-Deluxe)
BFG 6800GS (16x1,6vp) @ 300/430/1200.

Driver, 82.12 :-
Aquamark3, 75039
Codecreatures1, 90.8
3Dmark05 v120, 6195
3Dmark03 v360, 14334
3Dmark06 v102, 2949
3Dmark2001se v330, 23793.

Last edited by jimmor; 05-27-04 at 04:05 PM.
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Old 05-26-04, 06:40 PM   #4
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Default Re: Basic FX59xxx bios changes

Great ! Thank You again!
You filled in the blanks to many questions I had.
I prefer to research before I do any mods.
You saved me a ton of reading, I will browse though the guru3d forum before
attempting flash with 5950u, just to be safe.
I did know that I would never achieve 5950u performance with this memory
from your thread @ guru3d.
Wished I'd have done more searching before I bought.
Although I'm not totally down on this card, I guess I just expected BFG to go
that extra mile (faster memory).
But they do have the best warranty.
Thanks again.
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Old 05-26-04, 07:26 PM   #5
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Default Re: Basic FX59xxx bios changes

Nice Guide, Jimmor. Many Many Thanks.
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Old 05-26-04, 08:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: Basic FX59xxx bios changes

jimmor, WOW !
I followed your instructions and used the latency 40
on a modded bios I made from X-Bios Editor.
The latency put me up to 803 on the memory, stable no artifacts.
My memory bandwidth was 23584 now , thanks to your latency instruction
its at 25696.
What a difference that made!

I coudnt get it stable before the latency mod.
THANK YOU!
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Old 05-26-04, 08:31 PM   #7
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Default Re: Basic FX59xxx bios changes

I'd like to comment on that Fahim.
Obviously unwinder is into a power trip.
Trying to TROLL jimmor.
Otherwise he would have sent jimmor a PM and not
brought his arguement into a public messaging board trying to make
himself godlike.

Posting that here, where jimmor has HELPED people
when he didnt have too, is really tacky!
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Old 05-27-04, 02:41 AM   #8
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Default Re: Basic FX59xxx bios changes

Its ok, jimmor is really doing great for us. I'm just worried abt my 5900xt, as if volt mod will done any damage to the card, nothing else.
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Old 05-27-04, 03:58 AM   #9
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Default Re: Basic FX59xxx bios changes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fahim
Its ok, jimmor is really doing great for us. I'm just worried abt my 5900xt, as if volt mod will done any damage to the card, nothing else.
the only voltmod you have to worry about with your card, is the hardwired voltmod by soldering resistors accross the core and memory regulators !! Not everybody gets this right, and cards have actually been killed this way !

however if you are careful, then make sure you don't set GPU volts higher than 1.6V in 3D. Its not necessary to go any higher and you are going to cause a lot of extra heat which must be removed, or your card is just going to continually overtemp ! Also, don't try to increase the memory volts, as it won't achieve much, other than, if you go slightly too high, killing memory chips !

And for your information, there are no voltmodded bios's that can harm your card ? All my bios mods were done in such a way that it will either work for your card or do nothing ! And because of the design of most XT type cards it unfortunately means it will do nothing !!!! It will however work 100% with all the original XT type cards that were based on the 5900nu design !!

Also, interestingly and/or maybe just a placebo effect; when I gave many XT owners voltmodded and non_voltmodded bios's, most of them gave feedback that the voltmodded version worked best ??
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Intel P4 3.2 @ 3.85GHz (ASUS P4C800E-Deluxe)
BFG 6800GS (16x1,6vp) @ 300/430/1200.

Driver, 82.12 :-
Aquamark3, 75039
Codecreatures1, 90.8
3Dmark05 v120, 6195
3Dmark03 v360, 14334
3Dmark06 v102, 2949
3Dmark2001se v330, 23793.

Last edited by jimmor; 05-27-04 at 04:38 AM.
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Old 05-27-04, 07:33 AM   #10
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Default Re: Basic FX59xxx bios changes

Jimmor, I need you help. Please comment on this idea:

01. By changing all 3x8 memory frequency values, I can change memory frequencies for all 3 modes - 2D, Throttling & 3D. But, if I leave memory frequencies from 1-st block untouched, and change values only in 2-nd and 3-rd (3D) block, theoretically memory will be overclocked only in 3D and throttling modes. Is it right???

02. Throttling can be disabled by changing core frequency value in 2-nd block the same as in 3D mode (3rd block) right??

03. If 2nd idea is correct, then i can set 2nd block suppose 475MHz for throttling & set 3D clock to 500MHz. In this way performance drop will not be much and card will be safe.

Jimmor, please, comment on my ideas.
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Old 05-27-04, 07:39 AM   #11
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Default Re: Basic FX59xxx bios changes

Quote:
Its ok, jimmor is really doing great for us. I'm just worried abt my 5900xt, as if volt mod will done any damage to the card, nothing else.
You shouldve just asked that then.
Common sense tells me that jimmor is right.
Simply because I didnt see 1 post saying anyones card was damaged.
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Old 05-27-04, 09:05 AM   #12
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Default Re: Basic FX59xxx bios changes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fahim
Jimmor, I need you help. Please comment on this idea:

01. By changing all 3x8 memory frequency values, I can change memory frequencies for all 3 modes - 2D, Throttling & 3D. But, if I leave memory frequencies from 1-st block untouched, and change values only in 2-nd and 3-rd (3D) block, theoretically memory will be overclocked only in 3D and throttling modes. Is it right???

02. Throttling can be disabled by changing core frequency value in 2-nd block the same as in 3D mode (3rd block) right??

03. If 2nd idea is correct, then i can set 2nd block suppose 475MHz for throttling & set 3D clock to 500MHz. In this way performance drop will not be much and card will be safe.

Jimmor, please, comment on my ideas.

In theory, your first idea of setting the 2D memory at a diff speed from all other modes should work. However I suspect that during games etc, with system continually switching back and forth between 2D and 3D modes, that you will find all memory speeds will be set by the driver to either the 2D or 3D value ? I have already tried this, then run many tests, and it happened to me ! In my case, I only did it from interest, and when it didn't stay set I didn't really care ? However it was a period when I was also trying many diff drivers ---> so who knows ??? Try it yourself and see, It won't do any harm to your card !!!!!

Your second idea is essentially correct !! Throttling is not disabled by setting it to 3D speed ! It just means that if triggered during a game or high stress graphics activity, nothing much graphically speaking should happen since the core speed won't change ! But if you keep stressing your card to a level that continually triggers the throttling function, which is usually when overclocked/overstressed too far, then other artifacts/glitches/lockups may happen ?? The moral being, regardless of whether throttling is suppressed, never overclock your card too far or overstress/overtemp it ???

and third idea is fine ! But as I said above, watch that you don't overstress or overtemp your card ? The 500MHz you are running your card at is a good bit higher than a real 5950u and it is fitted with much better heatsinking/cooling than your card; and its not there just because it looks good ?

EDIT:

also, when using bios mods to overclock your card remember to make sure the driver_coolbits and Rivatuner overclocking facilities are not selected as either will try to override the bios at bootup !!!
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Intel P4 3.2 @ 3.85GHz (ASUS P4C800E-Deluxe)
BFG 6800GS (16x1,6vp) @ 300/430/1200.

Driver, 82.12 :-
Aquamark3, 75039
Codecreatures1, 90.8
3Dmark05 v120, 6195
3Dmark03 v360, 14334
3Dmark06 v102, 2949
3Dmark2001se v330, 23793.
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