BIOS modding for GPU OC fun and profit!!

Discussion in 'Dell XPS and Studio XPS' started by seeker_moc, Sep 30, 2010.

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  1. seeker_moc

    seeker_moc Notebook Virtuoso

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    Updated 03 May 2015
    I no longer own my XPS 16, nor do I monitor this thread. I'll still try to help if you PM me, but I haven't done any BIOS Modding for a couple of years now.

    Intro

    Based on the fun we had here XPS 16 GPU Overclocking, and thanks to the help of nando4 over on this thread How to Overclock ATI 5650 and the folks here Tool to Insert/Replace SLIC in Phoenix / Insyde / De1l / EFI BIOSes I've been able to mod the Studio XPS 16 BIOS to accommodate a permanent GPU overclock.

    The advantages of an overclocked video BIOS over a software overclock is higher stability, no longer requiring a software OC program running, and retention of PowerPlay functionality, so your GPU will only overclock at full load, leaving power and heat saving idle clocks as stock. A BIOS OC also functions under Linux, unlike most software overclocking tools.

    Changes to mod BIOS format

    There are some changes to the modded BIOSes I've made below. Most significantly, I am now uploading the unpackaged BIOS files, and the BIOS flashing utilities separately. This will remove the need to first downgrade your BIOS, so now only one flash is required. Just make sure that in the "Advanced Settings" menu of the WinPhlash tool, you uncheck the 'Flash only if BIOS version is different' box.

    BIOS GPU Overclocking

    At the bottom of the page are the modded BIOSes organized by model. Because I've changed the format of the modded BIOSes, ones that I've made so far are not included in this list, though the links to them can still be found throughout the thread. To start, I've created some mildly OCd BIOSes for people that don't want to do any testing. For those of you that have done testing, and have some good clocks you want made, just post the settings you want and I'll make one for you. Requests are welcome.

    If you don't know much about overclocking, or you want some good overclocking testing procedures, take a look through these threads: How to Overclock the ATI 5650, XPS 16 GPU Overclocking, and of course this thread itself.

    Besides just increasing the clocks, I can also adjust voltage both higher and lower (though this is dangerous and use at your own risk, as there's no way to test out changes with software before making them semi-permanent in the BIOS), and even decrease clocks if cool and silent are your goal.

    For reference, these are the stock sets of clocks/voltages for the 4670 and 5730. I can change any combination of these clocks/voltages to anything you want:

    GPU / vRAM / Voltage:

    5730

    100 150 0.9
    100 300 0.9
    300 300 0.9
    375 400 0.9
    400 800 0.95
    450 800 0.95
    550 800 1
    650 800 1.1

    4670

    220 300 0.9
    300 300 0.9
    300 500 0.9
    300 400 1
    450 600 1
    300 800 1.2
    400 800 1.2
    675 800 1.2

    In all of the BIOS mods included below, only the max clocks are changed unless otherwise noted.

    Due to throttling issues, all mod BIOSes will include the 4670 vBIOS from version A09 (1645) or A07 (1647), as it has the highest temp threshold before throttling, reducing its occurrence. Unlike with the 5730, there were no changes between the 4670 vBIOS A09 and A12 except for the temp threshold, so you won't be missing out on any new features/optimizations.

    More than just overclocking! Unlocked BIOS menus for 1645 and 1647 including thermal control options.

    Thanks to the help of Kizwan at this thread Acer laptop Phoenix BIOS mod requests, the new mod BIOSes will include a significantly expanded unlocked BIOS menu, which allows us to change more BIOS settings, most significantly the ability enabling Intel VT-d technology for those interested in virtualization, ability to disable the HPET, and the ability to control many other options. If you find these extra options helpful, please send some rep points Kizwan's way. Below are some screen shots of the new unlocked BIOS options.

    Unlocked BIOS menu screenshots

    1645 BIOS version A13.5W/L

    For the 1645, all new requests will be posted as BIOS A13.5W. All A13.5 BIOSes include:

    Based on BIOS A13
    • Unlocked Menus
    • A09 4670 vBIOS
    • CPU Microcode updated from v3 to v4 (like a CPU driver update)
    • Patched DSDT fixing multiple ACPI errors
    • DSDT is optimized for Windows users by default (A13.5W) (minor changes)
    • A Linux optimized version is also available by request (A13.5L) (major changes)
      1. Fixed HPET
      2. Fixed _BCQ function
      3. Fixed PCI-E
      4. Others

    Getting the most out of overclocking / keeping your laptop cool

    If you want to get maximum clocks out of your laptop, keeping temps down is key. If you haven't already, I'd suggest upgrading your thermal paste, and (SXPS16) removing the dust filter from the intake fan. These two mods will drop your temps by around 10C. There is lots of information on these subjects in this thread, and elsewhere on the XPS board.

    Also, I'd recommend you visit this thread (or one like it for your model) and upgrade all your drivers Latest Driver & Software Updates for Studio XPS 16.

    BIOS Flashing Tools

    WinPhlash 64-bit

    WinPhlash 32-bit

    Phlash for DOS

    Modded BIOSes

    1645

    View my folder at mediafire:
    1645 Mod BIOSes - MediaFire

    1647

    1647_A10_5730_725_900-4670_750_900.zip

    Unlocked BIOS menu options / stock clocks:
    Dell Studio XPS 1647 A10 MOD_FIXED.rar

    1640

    Sorry 1640 owners, after several tries, I have been unable to create a mod BIOS that will successfully flash on your systems.

    New XPS 14/15/17 series

    I'm able to unpack the Phoenix BIOS, but I'm having trouble getting NiBiTor to recognize the Nvidia vBIOS to edit it. It's still possible, but we'll need to wait for a new version of NiBiTor to recognize the mobile 4xx series GPUs (I haven't checked up to see if the new version works or not yet...)

    This also only applies to the 1st Generation XPS15/17, not the Sandy Bridge models. The 15/17R2 models use the new UEFI, not a traditional BIOS, so the modding tools I use don't work for them (yet).

    Warning

    There is a (minor) risk any time you flash your BIOS. This is done at your own risk, and I will not take responsibility if your laptop is bricked by the upgrade. Many people in this thread have used my BIOS mods without any problems, but this doesn't mean it can't happen.

    That said, if you do brick your laptop, it's not the end of the world. Most modern laptops have a "Blind Flash" capability, so even if it bricks, there is a way to recover without needing a new motherboard. I have bricked my XPS 16 before trying out something new (don't worry, nothing I'd ever release here), and was able to recover using the below tools fairly easily. Though one thing the instructions fails to mention is that you need a 32-bit computer to create the rescue disk, it will not work with 64-bit windows. Instructions for using the tool are here: Bricked XPS 1645, Help!, though the link to the tools in that thread are dead. An active link to them is here: http://dev.phoenix-consultancy.nl/dell/20100327_Dell_Studio_XPS_Bios_Tools.zip (thanks to Mitchell2.24v for hosting them).

    Final words

    If any of you have any suggestions for improvement, or see anything I've missed, please let me know. Have fun overclocking!!
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015
  2. gpig

    gpig Notebook Deity

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    Does this permanently set the clock speeds or just the ATI Powerplay clocks? It would be really awesome to just change the ATI Powerplay clock speeds, since Rivatuner already has the functionality of changing your clock speeds in the Registry, and still staying there after Rivatuner is removed, if desired. Seems like Rivatuner is a better combination of ease of use, stability, and safety.
     
  3. seeker_moc

    seeker_moc Notebook Virtuoso

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    Yes, this mod only changes the max clocks, leaving powerplay fully functional. It will still undervolt / underclock itself at idle or reduced loads, saving power and heat. That's another big advantage over using a software OC, which locks your GPU at max speeds at all times. I could even lower the idle or reduced clocks further than they already are, but I'm hesitant to mess with any voltages, so I don't know how much of a difference it would make.

    I just ran 3DMark06, and got 9329 marks with a max GPU temp of 64C (while running 3DMark06). Furmark absoulte highest GPU temps to be posted soon, but I highly doubt they'll be any different than the 79C max I hit with the software OC.

    Edited original post to reflect this info...
     
  4. bipul_fx

    bipul_fx Notebook Evangelist

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    This is very interesting!!!

    My GPU has maxed 81C and its still in the stock Thermal Paste. Idle GPU temp is 49C, too bad.

    I think I will try to change the thermal paste first then flash this modded BIOS.

    BTW in a short span you have contributed alot to this forum and you are a Geek!

    ++Rep to you friend :)
     
  5. Brendanmurphy

    Brendanmurphy Your Worst Nightmare

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    Just did this mod and almost had a heart attack. Use winplash to downgrade to a08. And if froze at block 26. Of course i was about to drop to the floor. Let it sit for 10 minutes no change. So i took the risk of unplugging it and had the crisis usb ready. Turned it on no problems flash the A11 mod and its fine. Im surprised. But i still feel my heart beating out of my chest
     
  6. seeker_moc

    seeker_moc Notebook Virtuoso

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    Well as long as it worked... Strange that it froze on you, though I'm glad it was from the downgrading, and not my mod :p . I think that because it erases and re-writes one block at a time, even if there's an error during the flash, it shouldn't be disastrous.

    How's the OC working out for you so far?
     
  7. error-id10t

    error-id10t Notebook Consultant

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    Very nice work, I hope you get some data from 4670 users also so a similar one could be made for them.

    I know you mentioned you didn't want to play with the volts, but this is an area where it could take this a step beyond anything possible before. I remember unclewebb made a little program showing the Volts down at 0.9 when Mhz lowered and at 1.2 when at middle/peak (state 0,1,2 respectively I think).

    BTW: crazy 3dMark score you've got compared to mine back when I was still playing around trying to max this. Even though you've got a newer GPU and WLED instead of RGB, it's like we're talking about a totally different system.. though I'm still happy, I'm all for getting the most out of this within limits/safety.
     
  8. gpig

    gpig Notebook Deity

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    Well now that I know it just changes the PowerPlay values, that's awesome, although I personally will stay away from using a modded BIOS.
     
  9. seeker_moc

    seeker_moc Notebook Virtuoso

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    The stock A11 has 9 possible GPU/RAM/voltage settings to choose from for the 5730 depending on the usage, ranging from 100/150/0.9 volts to the normal 650/800/1.1v

    For the 4670 it has 16 possible values ranging from 220/300/0.9v to 675/800/1.2v These are the automatically changing values already included in the unmodified stock BIOS.

    One strange thing to note is that with the 5730, default clocks are the max ones (650/800/1.1), and it then underclocks on demand. With the 4670, the mid-range 400/800/1.2 is the default, and it will either over or underclock depending on the situation.

    I could mod a bios for 4670 users. I'd just need to know the stock BIOS they'd like me to base it on, a set of clock/mem settings that most agree are safe.
     
  10. Brendanmurphy

    Brendanmurphy Your Worst Nightmare

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    Mod has raised my temps about 3c. I want a program that can control fan speed. The fan is only running at 30% according to gpuz. I think i might apply new thermal paste once i get some money
     
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