Tuesday, July 5th 2016

AMD Retail Radeon RX 480 4GB to 8GB Memory Unlock Mod Works, We Benchmarked

Earlier this week, we heard reports of some early adopters of the 4 GB variant of AMD Radeon RX 480 claiming that their cards shipped with 8 GB of memory physically present on their cards, but their graphics card BIOS somehow prevented the GPU from addressing more than 4 GB of it. In its Reddit AMA, the company presented a vague answer to the question of whether such 4 GB cards are moddable to 8 GB by flashing it with the BIOS of the 8 GB variant, by stating that the ability to mod is restricted to review samples. This is both true and false. Short answer: retail 4 GB RX 480 can be flashed to 8 GB, and the modified card perfoms on par with the 8 GB variant.

AMD sent out review samples of the 8 GB variant, and to enable reviews to also put up reviews of the 4 GB variant, it sent a special BIOS that converts the 8 GB card to 4 GB, by reducing its address-space and memory clocks, perfectly simulating the 4 GB variant. AMD's claims of 4 GB cards with 8 GB physical memory being restricted to review samples was proven false when early adopters of retail 4 GB cards discovered eight Samsung 8 Gbit memory chips on their card amounting to 8 GB. We currently have an AIB partner-branded retail 4 GB Radeon RX 480 card which we bought online (invoice posted), and which we're using to prepare our 4 GB RX 480 review. We first discovered that our 4 GB retail card had the same exact Samsung 8x 8 Gb chips (including the same bin, specc'd for 8 Gbps) as the 8 GB card. We flashed this card with the 8 GB card's BIOS, and were successful in doing so. The trick here is to extract the BIOS of the 8 GB card with ATIFlash 2.74 and then transplanting that BIOS onto the 4 GB card. The 8 GB card BIOS image which we used, can be found here. Use at your own risk.
To confirm that this mod works, we first tested our 8 GB review sample with its untouched 8 GB BIOS, and used that as control. Next, we tested the retail 4 GB card with the BIOS it shipped with. Lastly, we flashed this 4 GB card using ATIFlash with the 8 GB BIOS, which we extracted from our 8 GB card using ATIFlash. We ran "Call of Duty: Black Ops III," on the three. This game can consume dedicated video memory beyond 4 GB at 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160).

The 8 GB control and the modified 4 GB to 8 GB card performed on-par with each other. The 8 GB control card produced 24.6 fps, the 4 GB to 8 GB modified card produced 24.7 fps. The 4 GB card with its original retail BIOS produced 23.3 fps. To make sure that each GPU runs at a predictable GPU frequency (usually thermal and power limit reduces clocks), we've set both fan and power target to maximum, which results in a constant frequency of 1266 MHz on both cards.
Also, to prove that the game-test (COD: Black Ops III) was able to consume more than 4 GB of video memory on the modified card, as it does on our 8 GB control card, we observed the "Memory Usage (dedicated)" graph of GPU-Z. The modified card was indeed able to address >4 GB of video memory on the card, just as it does on the 8 GB card.

In conclusion, flashing the reference 4 GB Radeon RX 480 to 8 GB works, if you're sure your card has 8 GB of memory physically present. Sadly the only way to know for sure is disassembling your card, which will definitely break some seals and void your warranty. You also need to be sure how to use ATIFlash correctly.
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110 Comments on AMD Retail Radeon RX 480 4GB to 8GB Memory Unlock Mod Works, We Benchmarked

#1
$ReaPeR$
nice!! this should start the lottery..

ps. the 4 extra gigs dont make much of a difference from what i can see..
Posted on Reply
#2
proxuser
lol time to flash titan x bios to 980 :D

card is still too weak to my taste. not really interested getting 4gb more vram because it's already low end card.
Posted on Reply
#3
natr0n
This is one scenario where you can literally "download more ram" via bios mod/update.
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#4
xvi
TPU sure loves finding mods for AMD cards.
..and I sure love TPU for it. :D

Is this your doing again, W1zard?
Posted on Reply
#5
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
xvi said:
TPU sure loves finding mods for AMD cards.
..and I sure love TPU for it. :D

Is this your doing again, W1zard?
Yes, all the heavy lifting was done by W1zzard. I made the writeup.
Posted on Reply
#6
W1zzard
xvi said:
TPU sure loves finding mods for AMD cards.
..and I sure love TPU for it. :D

Is this your doing again, W1zard?
I can't claim credit for that, there have been reportings before of the fact that the 4 GB card comes with 8 GB VRAM.
As far as I know I'm the first to have tested it, and successfully.
Posted on Reply
#7
G33k2Fr34k
proxuser said:
lol time to flash titan x bios to 980 :D

card is still too weak to my taste. not really interested getting 4gb more vram because it's already low end card.
What do you mean by too weak? It's a pretty hefty card for $200.





Posted on Reply
#8
the54thvoid
Why even bother releasing a 4GB card if it's the same 8GB card? AMD scamming people again to buy 8GB cards.

AMD really ought to learn - but good luck to those that flash from 4 to 8Gb! :toast:
Posted on Reply
#9
Dj-ElectriC
the54thvoid said:
Why even bother releasing a 4GB card if it's the same 8GB card? AMD scamming people again to buy 8GB cards.
:toast:
AMD really ought to learn - but good luck to those that flash from 4 to 8Gb!
BIOS locking saves money early in production. you use the same line to make both versions.
Thats exactly why early HD 6950 were also able to unlock into HD 6970s
Posted on Reply
#10
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
This is a pretty nice hidden bonus for savvy technically minded buyers. Reminds me of the 9800 SE I bought in the heady days of 2003. This had 4 of the 8 pipelines enabled, but there was a softmod driver available for it to unlock the other 4, which worked perfectly. There was also a hardmod explained on TPU, which I did eventually. Thing went like a rocket with all 8 pipelines enabled. :D

It wouldn't surprise me if AMD release a new BIOS to fix the excess power issue which also stops the mod from working. Then again they might not, because they really need to push up sales, so this trick could have been deliberately put in for enthusiasts to discover.
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#11
john_
So the AIBs think that no one will buy a 4GB card at $199 when there is an 8GB card at $239. I can't find any other reason for not producing enough cards with only 4GBs on them.
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#12
Tartaros
qubit said:
This is a pretty nice hidden bonus for savvy technically minded buyers. Reminds me of the 9800 SE I bought in the heady days of 2003. This had 4 of the 8 pipelines enabled, but there was a softmod driver available for it to unlock the other 4, which worked perfectly. There was also a hardmod explained on TPU, which I did eventually. Thing went like a rocket with all 8 pipelines. :D
Also the 9500 to 9700 mod. That was glorious.
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#13
ironwolf
Any known list out there that confirms which make/model of 480 do indeed have the extra RAM on them?
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#14
dorsetknob
"YOUR RMA REQUEST IS CON-REFUSED"
news of this SHOULD BOOST SALES which can only be good for AMD
Posted on Reply
#15
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
This is probably only going to be true of reference cards which aren't going to be around very long. The same trick likely won't work with non-reference cards (AIBs will not install the extra chips).
Posted on Reply
#16
zAAm
I'm guessing this is good news for owners with multiple cards in crossfire. Not sure if it would make a lot of difference for single card user resolutions. Speaking of which, are we going to see a full review of a 4GB sample of the RX480 soon?
Posted on Reply
#17
Thunderclap
Well at least it wasn't some BS that was actually gimping the card. Looking at you, GTX 970.
Posted on Reply
#18
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
Tartaros said:
Also the 9500 to 9700 mod. That was glorious.
Oh yeah, I remember that. :)
Posted on Reply
#19
RejZoR
the54thvoid said:
Why even bother releasing a 4GB card if it's the same 8GB card? AMD scamming people again to buy 8GB cards.

AMD really ought to learn - but good luck to those that flash from 4 to 8Gb! :toast:
This has to be the worst scamming scheme then. AMD sells you a cheaper 4GB card that you can flash to a 8GB card for free. Oooooook...
Posted on Reply
#20
NaXter24R
You don't need necessasy to remove the cooler. Just try with a program called memoryinfo. Those memory modules should be: Samsung K4G80325FB-HC25
Posted on Reply
#21
-The_Mask-
W1zzard said:
I can't claim credit for that, there have been reportings before of the fact that the 4 GB card comes with 8 GB VRAM.
As far as I know I'm the first to have tested it, and successfully.
Thx Wizzard and yes you're the first afaik.
Posted on Reply
#22
GhostRyder
This is too funny, its another one of those early hidden gems for the reference cards like in the good ole days. I am sure this will only be for a short time of course.
Posted on Reply
#23
geon2k2
RejZoR said:
This has to be the worst scamming scheme then. AMD sells you a cheaper 4GB card that you can flash to a 8GB card for free. Oooooook...
Probably in the future they do intend to have 4GB worth of chips on the card, however for now in order to be able to sell for a lower price and not to affect the sales of the 8GB version, they did this bios trick.

I think its utterly stupid from their part ... they could just sell the 8GB variant and let people wait for the 4GB for the time when it will come.

If they never intend to make a 4GB version then this is another story.
If they wanted more money for the same card, they could have done the nvidia move and have a founders edition, which brings nothing extra but it is more expensive.
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