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Beginners Guides: Overclocking the Videocard

Beginners Guides: Overclocking the Videocard - PCSTATS
Abstract: It's possible to overclock a videocard just as you might a processor, for quicker speeds and better gaming. In this guide we will explain how to do just that, step by step.
 89% Rating:   
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCstats Sep 08 2006   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCstats

A Word About Flashing a Videocard's BIOS

In addition to overclocking, there is one more (potentially risky) measure that may be taken to increase a video card's performance: flashing the BIOS of the video card with that of another type.

Before an operating system like Windows XP loads and the software drivers take control of the video card's functions, the video BIOS initializes the card. As soon as it receives power from the motherboard, the BIOS activates the card and identifies itself to the motherboard BIOS.

At this point, the graphic processor and video memory clock speeds are also set by the BIOS, though these may be overridden by the drivers or other utilities once the operating system has loaded.

In the current age of the unified video driver, where manufacturers like ATI and Nvidia provide a single set of drivers for all their video products, the way the video drivers interact with a card also depends on how the card is identified by the BIOS. Thus, 'new' features can be activated by using a different BIOS on the same graphics processor.

It's important to note that not every video card can use or gain any benefit from this procedure. The most common reason to flash the video BIOS of a given card is created by the artificial product divisions that ATI and nVidia often build into their GPU cores. Different 'tiers' of either company's products often use the exact same GPU, but use different BIOS settings to inform the drivers as to what core and memory clock speeds to use. The BIOS/driver combination can also disable or enable certain features of the graphics processor.

A great example of this practice is found in some of ATI's 9800 series graphics cards. Certain 9800 Pro cards, especially those with 256MB of onboard memory, actually use the faster 9800 XT GPU but are software limited to the 9800 Pro's slower stock speeds. Flashing one of these cards with the BIOS image of a 9800 XT would not only increase its default speed but also unlock certain driver features such as thermal monitoring as well.

If you are interested in the idea of flashing their video card's BIOS and want to explore the topic further, read over PCstats' guide on the topic.

Be sure to view the companion guide to CPU, memory and motherboard overclocking for an equally easy and free way to boost a computer system's gaming performance!

If you have any comments or questions, please post them in the PCSTATS Forums or drop us a line at the Feeback page. Find out about this and many other reviews by joining the Weekly PCstats.com Newsletter today! Catch all of PCstats latest hardware reviews right here.

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Contents of Article: PCstats
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Overclocking the Videocard
 Pg 2.  Nvidia vs. ATI and Overclocking
 Pg 3.  Nvidia Overclocking
 Pg 4.  How to overclock nVidia cards with Coolbits
 Pg 5.  Overclocking an nVidia card with RivaTuner
 Pg 6.  Rivatuner Overclocking Continued
 Pg 7.  Nvidia Overclocking Complications: Thermal Throttling
 Pg 8.  ATI Videocard Overclocking
 Pg 9.  ATI Overclocking Continued
 Pg 10.  Low Level Overclocking
 Pg 11.  — A Word About Flashing a Videocard's BIOS

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