[GUIDE] Installing and Overclocking the AMD Mobility 7970 in the M17x R3,an illustrated guide

Discussion in 'Alienware 17 and M17x' started by SlickDude80, Apr 24, 2012.

  1. SlickDude80

    SlickDude80 Notebook Prophet

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    First off, i want to say that this has been a very fun for me. Since getting the AMD 7970m, there has been a permanent smile on my face. Hope you guys get the same perma smile :D

    Difficulty Level: Moderate
    Tools Needed: Flat Edge Screw Driver, precision philips screw driver, tweezers, a steady hand

    STANDARD NBR WARNING: YOU COULD DAMAGE YOUR COMPUTER BY DOING THIS GUIDE. NBR AND MYSELF AREN'T RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE THAT YOU MIGHT DO TO YOU COMPUTER BY DOING THIS VIDEO CARD UPGRADE. PLEASE ASK QUESTIONS AND TAKE YOUR TIME TO AVOID ISSUES


    1) UNINSTALL ALL VIDEO DRIVERS, RUN DRIVER SWEEPER and CLEAN ALL REMNANTS OF THE PREVIOUS DRIVER. IN DRIVER SWEEPER, ONLY CHECK OFF THE VIDEO DRIVER ELEMENTS OR YOU WILL BE IN FOR A REINSTALL OF WINDOWS. REBOOT. CLICK F2 CONTINUOUSLY TO GET INTO BIOS FOR NEXT STEP

    2) DISABLE THE INTEGRATED GRAPHICS

    Unlike the 6990m that featured manual graphics switching, the 7970m features ENDURO which is AMD's version of Optimus. It is dynamic gpu switching aimed at maximizing battery life.

    At the time of writing, there is no driver support for the 7970m...hence no Enduro. We have to shut off the integrated graphics.

    Using the unlocked version of BIOS A08 (or A04), go to Advanced>Video Configuration, and change Primary Display from SG to PEG, then click on Internal Graphics Device, then IGD again and change from Enabled to Disabled. Save and exit

    Please be careful to NOT choose PCI for Primary Display this will most likely brick your bios requiring a blind flash to restore it

    You can get a copy of the unlocked bios A08 here:
    ALIENWARE 17XR3 UNLOCKED A08 BIOS.rar

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Once rebooted, the computer should be using standard Microsoft video drivers. Shut the computer down.

    3) UNPLUG AC, REMOVE BATTERY, REMOVE BACK COVER

    First Remove battery. Then there are two screws that need to be unscrewed (green circles). Then slide the back plastic panel towards you and lift it off

    [​IMG]


    4) REMOVE GPU FAN and HEATSINK

    Now look to the bottom right side. First remove the cpu fan, unplug the power connector (RED circle).
    Then, unscrew the 3 screws on the fan (GREEN circles). Next, lift up the fan.

    Now it's time to remove the heatsink.

    First, unscrew the 4 screws that holds it snug over the GPU (ORANGE circles). Follow the numbers...1-2-3-4, so unscrew 1 first, then 2, then 3 then 4. This forms an X pattern.

    If this is the first time you've lifted up the heatsink, it won't come up easily. So take a flat head screwdriver and place it a few millimetres into YELLOW SQUARE. Then twist gently. This will lift the heatsink up. Don't push it in too deep or you will scratch the vram chip. This requires patience and be gentle

    Now lift up the heatsink. Please be careful to NOT pull on the heatpipes themselves. I found them to be quite fragile.

    [​IMG]

    5) REMOVE 4 PLASTIC STOPPERS, UNSCREW AND REMOVE VIDEO CARD

    Now we see the video card. In the pic below we see an AMD 6990m.

    You will notice 4 plastic stoppers (RED CIRCLES). Carefully remove these as you will need to transfer them to the 7970m. I used tweezers to pull them off

    Next unscrew the two screws that are holding the video card in place (GREEN circles).

    Now it's time to lift up the vid card. From the BLACK arrow, lift up to about 30 degrees, then pull the card out of the MXM slot (ORANGE arrow)

    [​IMG]


    6) PREPARE THERMAL PADDING ON HEATSINK, THERMAL PAD ON BACK

    ***PLEASE NOTE, IF YOU ARE COMING FROM A NVIDIA 580/675m, make sure you have a compatible heatsink to the 7970m. The New 580m/675 heatsinks are NOT compatible with the 7970m and could cause issues with your card

    I just reused the stock pads. BUT it should look something similar to this. I reused the stock 6990m heatsink as it is identical to the 7970m heatsink.

    The pads should look something similar to this:

    [​IMG]

    BigTony brought up a good point. He originally had a gtx 460m heatsink and there was this black Tape on the heatsink. You have to remove that black tape with a flat edge screw driver. The shape and size of the GPU die on the 460m is different to the 7970m. Take your time and be gentle

    BigT's heatsink, that black tape has to be removed to have perfect copper to GPU die contact:

    [​IMG]

    On the back of the card, please either reuse the large thermal pad found on the back of your existing card or put new thermal padding.

    The pic below is the back of the 7970m, the area (RED RECTANGLE) is the approximate place where the thermal padding goes. A good place to look is on the motherboard, there will be a 90 degree corner printed on the motherboard, that marks the upper corner where the thermal pad should go

    On the motherboard, there should also be some black anti-static tape. This should prevent direct contact of X plate to motherboard (BLACK RECTANGLE)

    [​IMG]

    7) INSTALL VIDEO CARD, INSTALL PLASTIC STOPPERS, PUT THERMAL PASTE ON GPU

    First install the 7970m into the MXM slot. Push it in at about a 30 degree angle, then push it down. BE GENTLE.

    Next screw the card into the motherboard (ORANGE circles)

    Now, transfer the 4 plastic stoppers that were removed from the previous card (RED circles)

    PUT a dab of thermal paste in the center of the GPU die (GREEN circle)

    [​IMG]


    8) INSTALL HEATSINK AND FAN

    Now you want to insert the heatsink. First slide the vent part of the heatsink to the vent port and gently place the heatsink onto the video card.

    when screwing in the heatsink down...make sure you do it in an X pattern to keep the heatsink as flat as possible. Follow the numbering scheme...4-3-2-1.

    Next, place the fan back in the fan slot and screw it in. Make sure you remember to connect the power connector or the laptop won't turn on


    9) TURN ON COMPUTER, INSTALL AMD DRIVER

    Now lets turn on the computer. If the video card works, you will boot into windows and be using the standard Microsoft video drivers. THe card should show up in your device manager as a Standard VGA Adapter.

    Download this driver:
    http://download.benchmark3d.com/AMD/Catalyst/8.951.1/8.951.1-120305.7z

    I want to thank nbr member WILD05KID05 for suggesting this driver. He is an amazing technical resource. Up to this point i had been modifying several whql drivers but they did not work. I couldn't figure it out. Wild saw that the 7900m's required some new strings not found in the existing production drivers. CHEERS Wild! and THANKS

    There are other modded drivers there...one specifically named "7900" which you might try but this is the one that i'm currently using and it works. Please experiment as new drivers become available.

    EDIT: I currently have the 12.7 beta 7900 mod drivers installed and they work great!!!!
    AMD Catalyst 8.981.2.0 12.7 BETA June 26 – 7900 MOD – BenchmarK3D

    After unpacking the drivers...choose custom install. Make sure you install all of the following:

    [​IMG]

    REBOOT.

    THAT'S IT. ENJOY!

    10) OVERCLOCKING :eek:

    WARNING: Overclocking can have adverse effects on your computer if not done right. Please monitor your temps and avoid adding extra voltage to your card

    So you have gone out, bought a shiny new 7970m and you were brave enough to install it. You've turned on your computer and were astounded at the improved performance of your computer.
    And now, you want to see how far you can push the clocks

    Now, finding a way to overclock the 7970m with no official driver and zero app support can be a daunting task. It may be easier as time goes forward, but at the time of writing, you can't overclock this card...OR can you? hmmmmm...only took me a week to figure this out, and now it seems so simple :D

    Download and install MSI AFTERBURNER NOTE: Some have said that version 2.2.2 does not allow them to overclock. So go back to 2.2.0 or 2.2.1. Personally, i'm using 2.2.0
    It has come to light that the reason why the latest MSI afterburner version does not overclock the 7970m is because it is missing the atipldxx.dll file. You can install the latest afterburner file and just drop this file into the root of the install directory and it will work

    Captur.jpg

    In the install dir, find and open up MSIAfterburner.cfg. You will need to open this up as a windows administrator

    Modfiy the following lines:

    UnofficialOverclockingEULA = I confirm that I am aware of unofficial overclocking limitations and fully understand that MSI will not provide me any support on it
    UnofficialOverclockingMode = 1

    SAVE, EXIT

    hit START, and in then type regedit in the cmd line, and hit enter

    [​IMG]

    You want to navigate to the following location:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\Class\{4D36E968-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}

    [​IMG]

    under, you'll see severl sub registry keys starting with 000...for example I have 0000, 0001, 0002, 0003, 0004. These are the ones that you are interested in. If you have more, then you will do the same thing to those as well....

    Click on each numbered key individually and find the and look for a property called ENABLEULPS...and set the value to zero. Double click on it and change the value to zero

    [​IMG]


    EnableULPS may not exist in all the numbered keys, but where it does exist, change the value to zero

    EXIT

    NOW, you have unlocked overclocking for the 7970m

    This is what you see in Afterburner after enabling overclocking, notice the slider and all the room you have???? SICK:

    [​IMG]

    THrough preliminary testing, it appears that upper stable limit on stock voltage is 1ghz core / 1.5 ghz ram

    ENJOY :D :D :D

    HEre is a teaser...GEO's 3dmark vantage run. Now remember, we have no drivers yet....EXCITING TIMES :D :D :D:

    AMD Radeon HD 7970M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7-2920XM Processor,Alienware M17xR3 score: P24757 3DMarks
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2015
    Seraiel likes this.
  2. GeoCake

    GeoCake http://ted.ph

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    Thanks babe. <3
     
  3. long2905

    long2905 Notebook Virtuoso

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    Couldnt be anymore detailed than this! Thanks man!
     
  4. maxheap

    maxheap caparison horus :)

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    Slick, you are a gift of God to humanity.. so wanna rep you :D darned thing doesn't allow me!!!
     
  5. Cereallll

    Cereallll Notebook Consultant

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    Thanks, should help many people as soon as they get their cards... including me

    Now... maybe a walkthrough on where to buy :)
     
  6. wild05kid05

    wild05kid05 Cook Free or Die

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    Pretty neat guide there hehehehe
     
  7. SlickDude80

    SlickDude80 Notebook Prophet

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    Thanks guys!

    I'll keep my ears open for you bro!

    Wild, thanks for dropping in, you are always welcome here, bro!
     
  8. widezu69

    widezu69 Goodbye Alienware

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    Oooh blue PCB. Nice. Great guide. Bidding on a 60Hz display at the moment. If I win at a really low price, I shall join the ranks if I can find a GPU.
     
  9. Rypac

    Rypac Notebook Evangelist

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    Awesome guide Slick!
     
  10. long2905

    long2905 Notebook Virtuoso

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    I tend to remove the whole GPU+heatsink combo and put them in together. That way I can make sure the pads and pastes are placed properly. Is it a bad idea?
     
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