Here at FiringSquad we’re always eager to overclock the hardware that we receive for testing. Whether it’s a motherboard, CPU, or video card, we’re always looking to push the boundaries of performance, and overclocking is often the best way to accomplish this. So when we were unable to overclock the ATI RADEON 9500 PRO board we reviewed last month, we were quite disappointed.
Sure, we loved the performance of the RADEON 9500 PRO at stock clock speeds, after all the RADEON 9500 PRO offered performance that was more than a match for NVIDIA’s GeForce4 Ti 4200 (its intended competition), in fact we found it to be a superior solution to NVIDIA’s current flagship, the GeForce4 Ti 4600. But, the enthusiast side of us wanted to see just a bit more.
What really got us though, was just the week before publishing our RADEON 9500 PRO review we’d heard so much about its overclocking potential. Representatives from Sapphire spoke of it as if it were the second coming: they said it was not only capable of dusting GeForce4 Ti 4600, when overclocked it became quite a competitor to RADEON 9700! When we asked them how high the RADEON 9500 PRO could be clocked they wouldn’t give us any definite figures, but they did indicate that it was just as robust at overclocking as the RADEON 9700 PRO. Knowing we had so much overclocking potential just out of our reach was downright frustrating!
Overclocking the RADEON 9500 PRO
Fortunately, all that has changed. Thanks to the efforts of one inquiring ATI owner, Kip Hardina (warp11) RADEON 9500 PRO owners can now overclock their boards! The procedure isn’t as painless as adjusting a slider however, end users will have to download and install Kip’s warp11 BIOS. We can verify its integrity however, Kip emailed the file to us Wednesday afternoon and we’ve been running it practically nonstop since then. Over the course of countless 3DMark runs the system has locked up once, but other than that it has been rock solid.
For installation instructions we highly suggest you follow the steps outlined in the Rage3D forums
. First, backup your original RADEON 9500 PRO BIOS to a bootable floppy disk. Then go ahead and flash your RADEON 9500 PRO BIOS with the warp11 BIOS (9500WARP.bin) that enables overclocking (Kip suggests using ATIFlash Version 2 for flashing your RADEON 9500 PRO BIOS). 3DChipset.com
is currently hosting the BIOS
and the flash utility in one convenient zip file that we suggest you pick up.
Again, flashing your video card’s BIOS is not for the faint of heart. If unsuccessful, it can ruin your video card. Fortunately it isn’t a difficult thing to do, but you will need a basic amount of DOS knowledge as well as familiarity with BIOS flashing in general. Backup your original BIOS beforehand and use the atiflash –f –p 0 9500warp.bin (those are all zeros and not the letter o) command to enable overclocking. Then, once you’ve updated to the warp11 BIOS, you can use the latest version of a third-party overclocking tool such as Rage3D Tweaker or Powerstrip to overclock your RADEON 9500 PRO card. If things do go wrong, keep in mind that flashing your BIOS will void your warranty. Don’t hold us, 3DChipset.com, or Kip liable for ruining your video card. You’ve been warned.
To answer the question we know you’re all dying to ask, we were able to successfully overclock our RADEON 9500 PRO board to a core clock of 355MHz and a memory clock of 315MHz! That’s an increase of 23% and 14% respectively! Read on to see how the RADEON 9500 PRO performs at those clock speeds!