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Overclocking Radeon 6950 - what's the best you can get?

Discussion in 'AMD / ATI' started by jonathan1107, Mar 17, 2011.

  1. jonathan1107

    jonathan1107

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    Hey you guys, quick question:

    What's the best way to overclock a Radeon 6950 ?. I've read A LOT about it on the web to get the best overclock. I've read about the 2x 6pin connectors which are different from the 1x 6pin and 1x8pin of the Radeon 6970...

    Apart from that, both cards are identical appearantly. I've heard stuff about diff mem timings. So far, the best I've achieved is to get my radeon to work around 890 mhz and 1390 mhz speeds... with the unlocked shaders.

    I get a great performance in most games... but I'm tryin to get ready for the future. I might go crossfire soon, but for now, I've heard so much weird stuff about the radeon 6950 cards that I'm a bit confused.

    I hear some people install the ASUS bios in order to get "smart doctor" software workin their card. I've seen these CRAZY speed limits in "smart doctor" which seem to go around 2000 mhz sometimes and I was like "what the heck"... Surely this is not achievable with a 6950 with 1.175 max voltage... Then I've read that some people get 1.3v using the "ASUS" configuration I just mentionned.

    I'd like a few pointers please. Feel free to direct me to a RELEVANT web link if you ever have some reading suggestions.
  2. inferKNOX

    inferKNOX

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    To mod original 6950 BIOS to have unlocked shaders, look here: How to enable additional shaders on Radeon HD 695...
    To bypass CCC limits look here: http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/showthread.php?t=141858
    To get MSI AB that works with 6950, look here: http://event.msi.com/vga/afterburner/download.htm

    There are many concerns that the 6970 BIOS may be risky. You can take the risk, or simply unlock the shaders which seems to most to be more risk free.
    Smart Doctor is mainly to remove Catalyst Limits, which the RacerX tool will do, I'd recommend A/Burner to OC after bumping limits with RacerX tool.
    I personally don't like tampering with voltage because of lifespan concerns, so if you look at my specs, you will see my OC so far on stock 6950 voltage (1.1V). Some are getting better, some worse.

    Hope that helps.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2011
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  3. slyfox2151

    slyfox2151

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    for a start, not all video cards are good for overclocking... some are just better then others, ( im sure you already know this just making sure :p )


    i use Afterburner for all my video card overclocking needs, it will usualy allow you to tweak the volts as well as frequency.



    i would never touch the memory timings on a video card, the clock rate however is fine to overclock.





    as for the Asus bios, i assume it just lets you move the sliders further, it will let you set the core clock to "2000" MHZ.... but it will instantly crash at that speed.... what it does let you do however is move beyond the limits if your software doesnt let you overclock past say 850mhz.... (if the slider max's out there)






    just be careful with Volts and heat, both of witch can damage or kill your hardware. i dont know the max safe volts of your card, but try to keep temps below 95c. the further down the temps the better.
  4. jonathan1107

    jonathan1107

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    Thx guys for the info... It's just that even with unlocked shaders and overclocked (a little bit) radeon 6950... I still get around 40-50 FPS at Very high settings with 2xAA (in dragon age 2)... which is good... but as soon as I wanna raise the AA to 4x, it drops to 30 FPS and to 20 FPS when at 8x AA...

    When I raise my clock speeds to 950/1450 (which is pretty high with unlocked radeon 6950) I see a small FPS raise (about 5 FPS) and I figured with further overclocking (be it via software or ASUS smart doctor...) I might get a 15 FPS gain...

    Obviously if money wasn't a problem I'd get another 6950 and just crossfire and "there ya go" problem solved but...

    My other question was this: I've been following so many steps when I got unlocked shaders that I have a hard time figuring out if I actually have the 6970 bios or just the unlocked shaders...

    Is there a way to find out whether or not I have the 6970 Bios (or just the unlocked shaders) ???
  5. m4gicfour

    m4gicfour

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    You can download GPU-Z, use that to dump your BIOS and then use RBE to get the info. Bit of a convoluted process, but it works. Both software tools are available to download from TechPowerUP's download servers, if you weren't already aware.

    Also, I should note, don't use RBE to modify your BIOS unless you know what you're doing. Flashing an incorrect BIOS or a BIOS with an incorrect setting can brick your card.
    [​IMG]
    Click on the DUMP BIOS icon in GPU-z, and save the BIOS to desktop (or anywhere, just remember where you put it)

    [​IMG]
    Next, start up RBE and open the BIOS file you just saved. The Card ID is in the right hand side.
    Please note, this value is mainly just a text string. It doesn't do anything but tell the driver what card is installed, and hence can *potentially* be innacurate.
    Anyway, it should say Radeon 6950 and the vendor, and there you have it.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2011
  6. jonathan1107

    jonathan1107

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    I already have GPU-Z but I don't know what RBE is... I'm decent at overclocking everything else in my computer, but I just caught up with the graphical technology lately when I built my new rig with the 6950 in it...

    What would be the exact steps:
    Use GPU-Z to dump the BIOS? What does that involve? and how do I do it?
    After that, what method am I to use with RBE?

    I have this impression I might be gettin instabillity because of my BIOS but it also might just be because of my actual overclock... After getting the unlocked shaders, it is a tedious job to find the exact Mhz/Mhz speed that provides both performance and stability without excessive heat...
  7. TimoX New Member

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    Unfortunately, as others have pointed, these cards can be a bit of a pain sometimes to dial in due to internal throttling.
    Also, once you hit a certain point, higher clocks may be "stable", but won't really net any more performance, just added heat. I've even seen the occasional drop in score with higher clocks. A voltage bump can help that sometimes though.

    Your best bet is to choose several different benchmarks, plus a couple of games, and start keeping track of scores/fps.
    So far I've run this 6950 to 980/1475, (1.25v) but I find that for the most part, 925/1350 (1.2v) works well and is plenty fast.
    I do use AB to set my custom fan profile though and don't have CCC running at startup. My idle is about 39, with max temps at 55ish when gaming.


    Oh, and so far RBE will only adjust voltages, don't mess with clocks or fan stuff.
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  8. jonathan1107

    jonathan1107

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    Why is it that you use AB to have a custom profile when you could use CCC's manual fan?

    And by AB... I take it you mean Asus Bios right? Does that mean you use the 6970 AB bios right?

    I'm also very surprised to see that you have 55ish max temps when gaming... I easily keep around 70c at 880/1375 mhz on Dragon Age 2 with very high settings and 2xAA EVEN if I have my CCC set to manual fan at 55%...

    What are your thoughts??
  9. jonathan1107

    jonathan1107

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    and another quick question: How come it takes 1.25v for a radeon 6950 to reach 980/1475 when it only takes 1.175 for a radeon 6970 to reach 950/1450...?
  10. m4gicfour

    m4gicfour

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    Sorry, I should have specified, this is what I was responding to:

    You can definitely do overclocking with RBE as well, but do it with software (ex. MSI Afterburner) first, find out what your good settings are, then edit your BIOS to those settings with RBE, and flash it. Then you don't need any software anymore, the card will be overclocked by default. This method is nice, but more dangerous than software overclocking since changes made are semi-permanent. (Changes are permanent so long as you don't re-flash the original Bios to the card; which is also why you should always keep a copy of the stock BIOS if you ever do any tinkering with BIOS flashing of GPUs)



    Dumping BIOS is simply making a copy of BIOS. Nothing is changed. I wrote out the steps to do it, click the spoiler.

    Flashing (or programming) of the BIOS is when the changes are applied to the card. I'm not telling you to do that at all. Do your research before you ever even attempt it, and know the risks.

    EDIT - I should also mention, on dual GPU cards, there are actually TWO bioses, which makes using the bios flash method much more complicated.

    Oh yeah, and RBE=Radeon Bios Editor.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2011
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  11. jonathan1107

    jonathan1107

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    I have another question: How can I find out whether I have the 6950 bios or the 6970...? Should I look at the GPU-Z BIOS VERSION number or is that number going to be the same as 6970 bios if I have unlocked shaders ???
  12. m4gicfour

    m4gicfour

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    :banghead:
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  13. jonathan1107

    jonathan1107

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    lolzzz don't get pissed just yet... I was just thinking this might be a faster way. Now would you please tell me if I can indeed rely on that bios version number or if I should still go for the more "convoluted" process you mentionned earlier ?
  14. m4gicfour

    m4gicfour

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    Yes, you probably could if you knew the original version string of your BIOS, or how to decode ATi's numbering system, and then you'd only have to worry about any way your AIB (Sapphire, Gigabyte, etc) may alter that system. :laugh:

    Convoluted might have been a bit of a hyperbole. Really, you just click on the icon in GPU-z, and save the file, open it with RBE and the first page shows Vendor ID and Card ID in plain english ;)
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  15. inferKNOX

    inferKNOX

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    @jonathan1107: you need to actually take the advice given to you, these guys know what they're talking about.
    RBE = Radeon BIOS Editor
    AB = MSI AB = MSI Afterburner

    Also, I think you might be sort of looking at unrealistic expectations out of your card. You want to play DA2 without a serious performance hit with high AA? That might be asking a bit much out of your product there. Alternatively though, try disabling AA in the game, the open CCC > Gaming > Enable Morphological AA. As I understand it, that gives the equivalent of SSAA x4 with a much lower performance hit, so it might work better for you.

    A simple way to see what BIOS you have is to check the default clock of the card in GPU-Z, if it is 880Core & 1375Mem, then it's 6970, if it's 800Core & 1250Mem, it's 6950, if shaders are 1536, shaders are unlocked, if less, then they're locked.

    To answer your question about why it takes less voltage to get a higher clock on 6970, that's probably because the 6970 GPUs are higher binned than 6950 GPUs. As slyfox2151 said, "not all video cards are good for overclocking... some are just better then others."

    To answer why it's good to use AB, ie, MSI Afterburner; it's because with AB you can set a heat-to-fanspeed curve that will increase the speed of your fan automatically according to the temperature of your GPU.

    @TimoX, your temperatures are quite stunning to me too. Our idles are the same, but your max temps are the equivalent of when I play videos in KMPlayer (which uses GPU acceleration). I level out at ~65°C max when gaming, but with taxing things like Kombuster, I hit 67°C.
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  16. jonathan1107

    jonathan1107

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    Thank you guys so much for all the info... As you might have noticed... I'm no expert with the Graphical aspect of overclocking... I'm far better with everything else overclocking... I had some catching up to do...

    Thx for your patience. I'm about to Reflash my card back to its original bios... Then I will proceed to unlocking the shaders (without flashing in the 6970 bios) which I believe cause the card to try and use the 6970 mem timings on the card... WHICH I BELIEVE is the reason for all my abnormal heat...

    Keep in mind tho that Dragon Age 2 seems to be making my card overheat much more than other games... Most of my games will reach the 60ish, and that is with the fan at 50% (set to man in CCC)

    Once I have my shaders unlocked I will be installing RBE and either trixx or AB MSI to get that fan curve you guys are talking about. If I am correct, once I have done all this, I should be able to up the voltage of the card a little through RBE. What about my mhz/mhz???

    Should I play with those in CCC, even when RBE and trixx or AB MSI are running. Or am I to use another 3rd party app to play with the speed of the card???

    what will CCC overdrive look like if I only unlock the shaders?
  17. redeye

    redeye

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    i'm using a sapphire card, and TRIXX...

    I'm using TRIXX on my SAPPHIRE card, allows for great fan control... in my experience. and it is true about greater OC's producing the same result, so checking for a linear performance increase is what you are after... (or should be).

    I do find it odd , that when my 6950 is running under the "6950" bios,(on the desktop) it seems slight bit snappier than running under the flashed 6970 bios. (on the desktop).
    Perceptions, perceptions.
  18. jonathan1107

    jonathan1107

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    Alright, I've got some news and would need a little bit of step by step info for the next part

    I've sucessfully flashed my card back to 6950 bios... Then I've unlocked the shaders.

    I now need to understand a bit more clearly what I'm to do with RBE and Trixx (or AB MSI) in order to achieve what timoX mentionned earlier... I quote him :

    "So far I've run this 6950 to 980/1475, (1.25v) but I find that for the most part, 925/1350 (1.2v) works well and is plenty fast.
    I do use AB to set my custom fan profile though and don't have CCC running at startup. My idle is about 39, with max temps at 55ish when gaming.
    Oh, and so far RBE will only adjust voltages, don't mess with clocks or fan stuff.
    "

    He says to use RBE only for voltage... But I've opened the program for the first time today... and I noticed it looks like speeds are adjustable and the "fan curve" seems to be an option too...

    So what do you guys suggest? Now that I've got the correct bios and unlocked shaders, can you give me some pointers as how to use RBE and other software to get a decent overclock (which will not hurt my hardware too much)

    I don't mind the "noisy" fan if it keeps my hardware from damage. But if you think certain voltages or certain settings will damage the card no matter how high I set the fan, let me know.

    Again, thx a lot for all the help. appreciate it
  19. TimoX New Member

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    OD will look the same, use gpuz to confirm the higher shade count.

    And yes, these guys have covered things well, so follow what they say. :)


    Exactly! Thanks inferKNOX :)

    it can be as simple as just a bad paste job on the heatsinks, or like with CPU's, some OC better, some use less, some use more voltage.
    Also, at a certain point is the diminishing return, like any OC. eventually it takes a huge voltage boost to get barely any extra speed, which in real word usage equates to nothing but added heat and stress, and a few points in some useless benchmark. :laugh:

    I don't like using CCC/OD since I prefer to be able to set a higher overclock, but let the fan ramp up better, as opposed to one loud, stuck speed.
    I started out with CCC, but I got tired of the useless errors it logs (aceeventlog), and the extended time it takes to load, just so anytime I want a gaming OC, I click a saved profile and be stuck with a solid fan speed.

    Once I make my adjustments in there I keep it disabled from startup and use AB.
    For now I don't even have that running at startup, since it loads quick, and I can do a quick profile change.


    I attached a pic of my fan profile. It gets fairly aggressive, but during gaming I don't even notice it, and it's still quieter than my 4870x2 was.

    Attached Files:

  20. TimoX New Member

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    Do NOT touch the fan or clock adjustments.
    You won't get back into windows without a bunch of work.
    the driver reads the signature in the BIOS, and if it doesn't match, no bootie into windows.:laugh:

    As for the voltages, on the clock settings tab, click the gpu register button to change voltages, NOT the drop downs under the clocks.
    one of them, usually vid 3 or 4, if you have it will be the one to change.
    it should be at 1100 right now.
    To start, you could go 1175 (6970 default) and see how the card runs, and how the OC's go, then later, decide if you want to go higher.
    gpuz won't change, since it's not reading off the card, but AB will show the changed voltage.
  21. inferKNOX

    inferKNOX

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    @jonathan1107: To flash to your original BIOS you must:
    1) Shutdown
    2) Change the switch on the graphics card to the other BIOS (which cannot be flashed)
    3) Boot up and save the BIOS using GPU-Z (look at post #5)
    4) Mod the saved BIOS using the tool I linked to in post #2
    4) Without shutting down, change switch on graphics to the BIOS you edited before (flashable one)
    5) Flash the modded BIOS over the edited BIOS.
    - you will now have the original BIOS with unlocked shaders only.

    Comments on other things you said:
    Higher heat is from higher voltage set in 6970 BIOS (1.175V) compared to 6950 (1.1V).
    RBE is not installed, it is a stand-alone program you use to edit BIOS files only.
    Rather install and use MSI Afterburner to adjust voltage and clock speed for the core and memory after you have flashed to the modded BIOS as I said above, instead of thinking about editing BIOS voltages using RBE.
    CCC will look just the same with the modded shader 6950 BIOS, and no, don't use it to OC, use MSI Afterburner, you won't need anything else.
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  22. jonathan1107

    jonathan1107

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    Thx a lot, so just to make sure I understand what u said:

    My next steps are :

    A) change my mhz/mhz speed IN RBE.... correct?
    B) Change my Card voltage in RBE (I'd like some more details on this... I'm used to CCC voltage modifications and RBE has diff voltages for like 5 diff clocks... clock 0, clock 1 and so fourth... Could you send me a pic of your RBE voltage configuration?)

    C) Set up a fan profile (or fan curve however you'd like to call it) I'll use ur screenshot... :O) thx again for that

    That pretty much covers it right?
  23. jonathan1107

    jonathan1107

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    Thank you Knox, lol I feel like such a noob lolzzz :OP

    Alright, so what settings would you suggest in MSI afterburner? (speedwise and mem wise... altho I don't like playin with the memory timings and such that much, I fear that could harm my card...)
  24. inferKNOX

    inferKNOX

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    Afterburner does not change timings, it only allows you to change mhz/mhz, as you put it, & GPU voltage.
    If you not sure, don't use RBE, stick with Afterburner only.
    <- Look at my system specs to get an idea of working speeds.

    I'm leaving work for home now (no net at home), & Sabbath is almost here in my timezone so I won't be online (I'm SDA).
    So see you everyone....
  25. jonathan1107

    jonathan1107

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    alright thx for everything

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