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Deep Tuning

Waiting for the GeForce 6800 Ultra to appear in shops, I purchased a Sparkle SP-8835 graphics card on the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT chip (revision 1.0 of the product, that's why the standard frequencies were 390MHz GPU and 680MHz memory). The board carried 2.8ns memory chips from Hynix and this fact gave some hope for high overclocking results.

That turned to be true and my sample reached the tremendous 480/955MHz frequencies with its standard cooling system. Still, I thought that was not enough and took up the card seriously. My tuning was targeted specifically at the maximum score in 3DMark 2001 SE, but the performance grew appropriately in other 3D applications.

This article is written in the chronological order as I was making modifications to my graphics card. This makes it simpler to track the effect of each particular change. Each section contains a diagram which shows the frequency gain. It also mentions the state of the card after each particular mod since modifications were made at different times and it was not always possible to compare data we got under different conditions. I tried to provide the most comprehensive information, though.

The reader is supposed to have acquainted himself with the “NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 XT FAQ: All You Need to Know About It” and to know the particulars of the card he’s going to mod. That’s why I don’t repeat the info given in the FAQ.

This guide applies to all graphics cards with the GeForce FX 5900XT GPU that follow NVIDIA’s reference design. I know of two exceptions only:

  • the graphics card from Palit uses an original PCB design and the guides to Vgpu and Vmem modding don’t work with it;
  • the 1300 series graphics cards from Gainward use the FX 5900/5900 Ultra reference design and you volt-mod them following the standard guides for such cards.

Besides the GeForce FX 5900XT proper, other “cut-down” versions of the FX 5900 based on the same PCB design are modded identically. For example, Prolink PixelView FX 5900 LE, ASUS V9950SE and V9950GE and others.

Disclaimer

First of all, I refuse to give any warranties whatsoever. This guide is a description of modifications successfully made to the construction of the graphics card by the team of ModLabs.net. Each mod was tested and helped to increase performance. However, we cannot promise you that you will be as successful (well, our card went to repair shop after all, too). We don’t accept any claims concerning damage to your card after the modification – such problems imply your own mistakes. The author and ModLabs.net are not responsible for any damage inflicted by repeating of what this guide describes.

Then, our disclaimer about volt-modding at large:

Attention! Volt-modding, if recognized, makes all warranty obligations void. So you should do everything neatly to be able to unsolder all back again in case of the card’s death.

You should take up volt-modding if all the following items are true:

  • you are definite about how you will do it;
  • you are very definite about why you will do it;
  • you have soldering skills;
  • you are not afraid of losing the warranty;
  • you have squeezed the maximum out of your computer, but want more;
  • all other methods of overclocking the graphics card are exhausted.

Besides volt-modding, there are other modifications in the guide, so some additional words seem necessary. Any physical modification of a graphics card like the removal of the frame or the gluing of heatsinks on the memory chips will also void the warranty of the manufacturer and seller if it is impossible to return the original look to the product. So you do everything at your own risk. Good luck!

 
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