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ATI Radeon 9550 Overclocking and BIOS modding FAQ Guide

Discussion in 'AMD / ATI' started by ReconCX, Mar 30, 2005.

  1. ReconCX New Member

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    Alright, I've decided to make a FAQ guide for the ATI Radeon 9550 for overclocking and BIOS flashing because I think about a hundred people ask about this everyday. Please post your suggestions, Q & A so I can revise this and keep it up to date. Thanks!

    ATI Radeon 9550 Specifications (ATI Standard)

    # 4 parallel pixel pipelines
    # 2 programmable vertex shader pipelines
    # 128-bit dual-channel DDR memory interface
    # AGP8x/4x
    # Support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 programmable vertex and pixel shaders in hardware
    # 2x/4x/6x Anti-Aliasing modes
    # 2x/4x/8x/16x Anisotropic Filtering modes

    Standard clockrates are 250/200x2*.
    Variants include 128MB/256MB RAM and 64-bit memory.

    *GeCube 9550XT's are overclocked by default.

    Question #1 - How do I overclock my ATI Radeon 9550?

    By far, this is the question that is asked the most. Simply download ATITool and use that!

    Question #2 - Why can't I overclock my 9550?

    There is a driver lock in the ATI drivers that prohibits the card from being overclocked. Everytime an attempt is made, the drivers defaults back to original clock speeds. You have three options here. First, you can download softmod drivers. Second, you use ATITool's disable overclock lock option (in settings). Third, you can flash your 9550 BIOS into a 9600 where the overclock isn't disabled.

    Question #3 - How do I reflash my 9550?

    Go HERE.

    Please test your card to see if it can run at 9600Pro speeds first (400/300x2) beforehand or you MAY wind up with a paperweight!

    Question #4 - Does XXXX BIOS work with my card/Which BIOS works with my card?

    I really get tired of this question because it gets asked over and over again. It's a hit and miss chance, one BIOS might work with yours and not work with someone elses. Manufacturers change things through revisions be it memory, architecture, or materials. Somethings may work with yours while others don't. Get yourself a PCI VGA card and download a bunch of BIOS. Backup your own BIOS first and then go at it. You may get lucky, or you may not.

    Question #5 - Should I get better cooling?

    You should ALWAYS get better cooling if you're going to overclock. Especially if your 9550 features only a cheap aluminum heatsink! Arctic Silencers are a good choice. For more extremes, get the Zalman ZM80D + OP1 combo.

    Question #6 - How fast can I get my card going/What can I expect?

    As fast as it goes without producing artifacts in ATITool. Like I've said many many times, you get what you pay for. If you buy a cheap $50US 9550, then you're gonna get cheap results. Why? Because manufacturers cut corners then. They use cheaper PCB's (less layers), cheaper resistors and capacitors, slower memory, redesigns that vary from the standard.

    For memory, you can calculate theoretically how fast your card can go. For example, 5ns RAM: 1000/5ns = 200. That's 200mHz is your "theoretical" speed. That doesn't mean you'll get to it, it also doesn't mean you can't surpass it. That's what it's suppose to be able to run at. And since it's DDR SDRAM, then it is written as 200x2 (dual) which is 400mHz effective.

    My personal best is 500/333x2.

    Question #7 - What kind of RAM do I have?

    Look on your graphics card. Look at your RAM chips. Then look at the model number that is displayed. Then GOOGLE that and you'll find what type of memory you have. Remember, Google is your friend!

    W1zzard also made this nice table of memory types that you can compare to as well.

    Question #8 - Which is better? Flashing or overclocking?

    Overclocking is best considering the risks involved: First, overclocking doesn't void your warranty like flashing does; Second, it's easier; Third, there's much less risk in killing your card than it is with a bad flash.

    Overclocking is recommended for the cheaper 9550's where you just can't squeeze that much out of them... For the rest of you guys with the better ones, read on:

    Through my experience with my 9550, I came across several things that will increase your performance more than just overclocking will. It seems in the 9600Pro BIOS, the memory timings are more aggressive which allows for better performance. Also, it seems that voltages are increased as well (unconfirmed). I was able to overclock more with a 9600Pro BIOS than with a 9550 BIOS (both with the SAME memory timings).

    Thus are the benefits of each, it's up to you to decide. Just, when you're flashing, ALWAYS ALWAYS have your original BIOS saved and have a PCI VGA card!

    Non-flashable brands: ASUS, GeCube, Gigabyte


    -Revision 01-

    Question #1 - How do I find the maximum clock speeds on my 9550?

    It is recommended that you run ATITool's "Find Max" function for 6 hours (3600 seconds). This will give you the best stable clock speeds.

    However, some people report this as not too reliable so the way I personally do it is manual adjust the clock speeds, then "scan for artifacts" and if none are detected then run several hours of 3dMark 2003. If no problems arise, rinse, lather, then repeat.

    Question #2 - What are artifacts/How do I know if I found an artifact?

    I asked the same question before I started overclocking my card. Artifacts are graphical glitches caused by hardware malfunction either by heat or incompatible hardware/software (such as BIOS modding). You'll know it when you see it. It could be simply bad pixels (different colors, inverted), geometric errors (extended shapes, abnormal models), or a completely fuzzed out screen. Clipping in games isn't an artifact, that's just bad programming. :D


    -Appendix 01-

    Example Radeon 9550/Radeon 9600Pro Memory Timings (May Differ)

    Write Latency tWL = 1.0/1.0
    CAS Latency tCL = 4/4
    RAS to CAS Read Delay tRcdRD = 5/4
    RAS to CAS Write Delay tRcdWR = 3/2
    Row Precharge Time tRP = 5/4
    RAS Latency tRAS= 10/9
    Row Activate to Row Active Command Time tRRD = 4/3
    Read to Write Turnaround Time tR2W = CL+3/CL+3
    Write Recovery Time tWR = 3/3
    Write to Read Turnaround Time tW2R = 2/2
    Write to Read Turnaround Time for Same Bank tW2Rsb = Use tWR Rule/Use tWR Rule
    Read to Read Turnaround Time tR2R = 2/2
    Memory Refresh Rate MemRR = 24/24
    Refresh Row Cycle Time tRFC = 17/15
    Shift of RBS Signal for Read Data tRBS = CL+3.5/CL+3.5
    Shift of ERST Signal for Read Data tERST = CL+0/CL+0
    Shift of QSREQ Signal tQSREQ = CL+0/CL+0
    Shift of OE Signal for Write Data tDQM = WL-0.5/WL-0.5
    Shift of OE Signal for Write Data Strobe tDQS = WL-0.5/WL-0.5
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2005
  2. Nergal New Member

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    gj m8 by making this:D

    and I believe you can add ASUS to that list of non-flashable,
    unless someone proves me wrong?

    this post should be a sticky:)
     
  3. ReconCX New Member

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    Thanks, yea, hopefully, this will cut down on the amount of repetitive questions people post about the 9550, or at least keeps it focused in one thread so it's not spamming the forum...

    bump, can a mod please sticky this?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 29, 2006
  4. Rule-R

    Rule-R New Member

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    If im gonna OC my Asus 9550GE, should i buy additional cooling for it? So i might overclock it some more than below the max? And if so, what cooler shouldi use? An Arctic? I read many topics that some coolers arent fitting on an 9550 or on an 9550GE. What is the best to buy? And should i stick some Northbridge Heatsink - Aluminium 37x37x47 mm ZM-NB47J at the chips? Or is a cooler enough for it?

    Ahh well those heatsinks arent gonna work i guess lol
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 29, 2006
  5. ReconCX New Member

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    in order to fit one of those coolers, your HSF must be clipped onto the card itself through two pins/screws. If it's just pasted on with thermal compound then better cooling won't work.

    ADDITIONAL COMMENT:

    You mean i need to remove the stock cooler from my 9550GE, and put on for instance a zalman which i hold together with 2 clips/screws?

    Isnt artic cooling better, or is that working with pasting it on the chip?

    Im a nOOb as this thing...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 29, 2006
  6. Rule-R

    Rule-R New Member

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    I got the card, ran atitool.

    Max Core: 417
    Max Mem: 275x2

    These settings togheter gave artifacts.

    Put it on 400/250x2 and no artifacts. Maybe with better cooling more result.
    And again? what cooling is good and does fit on an ASUS 9550GE/TD?

    3dmark 2001 SE results:

    1152x864x32 no AA stock: 6068
    1152x864x32 no AA 400/250x2: 7205

    1024x768x32 no AA stock: 6503
    1024x768x32 no AA 400/250x2: 7435

    Any requests about diff settings.. be my guest.
     
  7. ReconCX New Member

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    those clocks aren't bad, good on the mem and core is pretty high up.

    I posted memory timings for the 9550/9600pro. I wrote this a while ago but I feel it would be more convenient to add it here as well...
     
  8. Rule-R

    Rule-R New Member

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    Yeah but remember.. all is still stock.. no heatsinks or better cooling.. This, the extra cooling, could boost the performance some more yknow..

    3dmark 2003 v360 on default 400/250x2: 2734
     
  9. ReconCX New Member

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    you could if you want. I recommend some ramsinks then, tweaking the BIOS mem settings might work too... you could try a better cooler but i'm not sure about investing in an AS or ZM though... anyone got a second opinion?
     
  10. Rule-R

    Rule-R New Member

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    mem settings tweaking? like how? I mean: i could get somewhat higher with atitool and tahn change the powercolor 398/203x2 bios with rabit to that value. I need to see or i can overclock it some more to evantually change it again .. (changed it to 400/250x2 allready)
     
  11. zAAm

    zAAm

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    ReconCX, what brand memory do you have on your dataland?

    btw, my memory timings are much more aggressive than what you posted:

    Write Latency : 1
    CAS Latency: 3
    RAS to CAS Read: 4
    RAS to CAS Write: 2
    Row Precharge: 5
    RAS Latency: 8
    Row activate to row command: 3
    Read to write turnaround: CL+3
    Write Recovery time: 2
    Write to read turnaround: 2
    Write to read turnaround for same bank: Use tWR Rule
    Read to Read turnaround: 2
    Memory Refresh Rate: 17
    Refresh row cycle: 14
    Shift of RBS signal for READ: CL+3.5
    Shift of ERST signal for READ: CL-0.5
    Shift of QSREQ signal: CL-0.5
    Shift of OE signal for Write Data: WL-1
    Shift of OE signal for Write Data Strobe:WL-1

    Is that the reason why I can only get to 260MHz on the memory you think?
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2005
  12. zAAm

    zAAm

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    Getting rid of that epoxied HSF's

    There's a way to take off that thermal epoxy so that you can attach another cooler in anyway if there's at least two holes in your card. ;) What you do is:

    Instructions
    1) Put your card in a zip-lock bag,try to get most of the air out and seal it shut.
    2) Put the zip-lock in another bag (shopping plastic bag or dispenser bag), again while trying to get most of the air out of the bag, tie the open end shut and tape it so that no air can enter or escape. (This is very important! You want as little as possible condensation so your card doesn't by any chance come out looking like an icicle! :( )
    3) Put the whole thing in the freezer ( :D )
    4) Wait about 2 hours
    5) Take it out of the bag, and then with a butter knife, GENTLY pry the heatsink off the chip. (Use a credit card to shield the components of the board against the leverage)
    6) Your HSF should pop off, leaving the GPU clear. (Otherwise use acitone to clean off the remaining goop)
    7) Your card is now ready for another, better cooler to be attached! :D

    That's that!
    Hope this might help some people?
     
  13. Rule-R

    Rule-R New Member

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    I didnt take a real good look @ my cooling but what i do know is that it is an active cooler, attached with 2 screws.. so prolly an other cooler will fit on it, though my question still is: what cooling is itting right. Coz everywhere i come i read some coolers dont fit on the 9550/9550Ge Can anyone tell me if they have experience with this and what cooler DOES fit..
     
  14. ReconCX New Member

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    On my Dataland, I got 2.8ns Hynix memory. What vid card do you have?

    LOL zaam. that's a lengthy procedure. I just kinda *ripped* mine off ^_^
     
  15. W1zzard

    W1zzard Administrator Staff Member

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    nice thread - stickied

    keep the input coming ... some good ideas here ..
     
  16. zAAm

    zAAm

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    Uhm, a Gigabyte 9550 128bit 256MB with 5ns Hynix RAM (with damn passive clunk of metal and no ramsinks :( But I'm thinking of getting a Thermaltake Giant3 with copper ramsinks btw you think it's a good buy?). I was wondering if it might not be the timings of maybe Gigabyte boards that makes them so incompatible with other BIOS's?? Probably not, but it's worth a thought. And yeah, I guess you COULD just rip it off, but there are cases where the top half of the GPU kinda came with the heatsink, so it's all up to you?? :D
     
  17. Rule-R

    Rule-R New Member

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    Just this: My core oc with atitool quit @ 417, and my mem @ 274x2.
    What im gonna try now is:

    (Adviced when first doing this is using atitool find max'es to know or it can handle the speds mentioned.)

    Download the PowerColor 9600pro 398/203x2 bios. ( Suggestion, dont use the sapphire 398/250x2, it hung on me for some reason.. GeCube has bios with same settings suggestion also .. dont try it.. might give same problems. Sounds crazy but i think this one has its acces timings set right fast.. faster than the other ones.)

    Edit it with RadEdit and put the speeds @ 405/265x2.

    Put Flashrom on a diskette plus the stock and the 9600 bios.

    Using this command line: flashrom -f -p 0 *****.bin (***** must be something like 9600s s for sapphire or p for powercolor.. this must be a short name coz DOS doesnt regocnize long names)

    It should give a beeping sound when its done..

    Close down pc.. w8 for like 10 or 15 seconds.. and start it up again..

    When it gives artifacts... (like it did with me on the sapphire one) follow same procedure BUT: *****.bin must be stock.bin. (a dumped stock bios by atitool maybe?) do this real quick and you wont have to get your pci card.. if it does go blank. Go get ya an PCI card :D, as i didnt need that could some1 give me more info on this?)

    I didnt try to get higher clockings from my card with atitool yet cause my hd's arent recognized by now :eek:, so i need to clear that and than try it again..

    My card: Asus 9550GE/TD ( GE = Gamers Edition ) with 4.0ns from Samsung
     
  18. Rule-R

    Rule-R New Member

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    Maybe i can get more out of it coz the timings and all are better set on an 9600pro bios..

    I will give the results asap.
     
  19. ReconCX New Member

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    if you managed to flash to a 9600pro, it should overclock a few more mhz...
     
  20. Rule-R

    Rule-R New Member

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    New Results.

    After a bit tweaking and oc'ing i found out that i could set my bios ( PowerColor 9600Pro 398/203x2 Samsung 4.0ns ) @ 405/256.5x2.

    After i flashed it i tried to get the mem and core somewhat higher. It didnt accept on going higher on the mem, but i managed to get the Core @ 409.5.

    So Its running @ 409.5/256.5x2. This is an increase of 63.8% @ the Core, and 28.25% @ the Mem.

    I ran 3dmark 2001 SE again and had this score:

    3dmark 2001 SE default: 7468. ( Celeron B Tualatin 1300 @ 1500 )

    Im planning on getting ramsinks and a better cooling, untill that time i will give the 3dmark 2003 and 2005 points.
     
  21. GoLLuM4444 New Member

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    I think there's a typo in there about voiding warranty ;). Glad you see you did this in the end. It was getting kind of annoying answering all those questions over and over again. Thanks.
     
  22. ReconCX New Member

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    what do you mean? does it not void the warranty?

    yea, typing the same answers over and over again started getting on my nerves...
     
  23. GoLLuM4444 New Member

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    I think flashing does but overclocking doesn't void the warranty. Is that not what you were trying to say?
     
  24. ReconCX New Member

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    hmmm. maybe i should reword it to make it more clear...
     
  25. GoLLuM4444 New Member

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    Better. :)
     

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