Summary: If you've read our previous RADEON 9700 articles, you probably know by now just how robust it is at overclocking. So when we couldn't overclock the RADEON 9500 PRO, we were incredibly disappointed. But thanks to the efforts of Kip Hardina, ATI's RADEON 9500 PRO can now be overclocked! Is it just as capable an overclocker as the RADEON 9700 PRO? Find out in today's article!
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 PROFortunately, 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!
SIDEBAR: Remember, the RADEON 9500 PRO sports the 8-pixel pipeline architecture
from the RADEON 9700 series while the RADEON 9500 only has four
3DMark 2001 - DirectX 8
Overclocking the RADEON 9500 PRO yielded us an additional 13% in 3DMark 2001SE at 1280x1024, the overclocked card comes within 4% of a stock RADEON 9700.
RADEON 9100 moniker
Serious Sam 2 - OpenGL
We see a nice 7% performance improvement in Serious Sam 2 at 1280x1024x32 as a result of overclocking, that figure jumps to 13% at 1600x1200. ATI’s RADEON 9700 series still remains on top though, the overclocked RADEON 9500 PRO card trails by seven percentage points at 1600x1200.
RADEON 9500 PRO, it's an excellent overclocker and they'd rather see
consumers spend that money on RADEON 9700 PRO, which can be overclocked
Quake III - High Quality
The margin between the RADEON 9500 PRO at stock speeds versus overclocked increases in Quake 3, at 1280x1024x32 a 15% gap exists. Once the resolution is cranked up to 1600x1200, that lead increases to 17%. Again, the RADEON 9700 and RADEON 9700 PRO still come out on top, but the overclocked card is able to close the margin a little.
Comanche 4 demo
Comanche 4 is rather CPU-limited, making it less suitable than the previous benchmarks for judging performance, but you can still see some gains once you crank up the screen resolution (8% at 1600x1200).
some pretty good things about it
Unreal Tournament 2003 - flyby
Unreal Tournament 2003 - botmatch
We’ll hold our thoughts to just the UT flyby demo scores, as those are the main figures we’re interested in looking at here. Once again we see a double-digit performance increase once the RADEON 9500 PRO is overclocked, but it just isn’t enough to overtake the regular RADEON 9700. While the RADEON 9700 sports a 256-bit memory interface (that offers it 17.6GB/sec bandwidth) the RADEON 9500 PRO’s 128-bit interface just can’t provide enough bandwidth to allow it to keep up with the RADEON 9700 at high resolutions. The RADEON 9700 also has a whopping fill-rate advantage over RADEON 9500 PRO.
cards based on ATI cores!
Jedi Knight II – High Quality
Like Comanche 4, Jedi Knight II is highly CPU dependant, which is why you don’t see a large difference between the two RADEON 9500 PRO configurations at lower resolutions. At 1600x1200 however, the margin opens up to 11%.
Quake III – High Quality
The overclocked RADEON 9500 PRO offers a 16% performance improvement over the stock RADEON 9500 PRO at 1280x1024, which increases slightly at 1600x1200.
Quake III – High Quality
yesterday? Pretty short huh?
Quake III – High Quality
by now, it looks like we'll have to wait until 2003.
Unreal Tournament 2003 Flyby
Unreal Tournament 2003 Botmatch
Here’s where the first big surprise comes in, the overclocked RADEON 9500 PRO is actually able to overtake RADEON 9700 in testing with Unreal Tournament 2003 once anistropic filtering and anti-aliasing are enabled. Considering the RADEON 9700’s enormous fill rate and memory bandwidth advantage, we were pretty shocked to see this!
First off, all enthusiast RADEON 9500 PRO owners owe Kip Hardina a word of thanks. His 9500WARP BIOS enables’ overclocking on the RADEON 9500 PRO as well as the RADEON 9700. Apparently, if it were up to ATI, the only card owners that would be overclocking their video cards would be RADEON 9700 PRO users. The rest were left out in the dark. Kip’s BIOS performs 100% as advertised and, if installed properly, won’t compromise the reliability of your video card. Kudos to Kip for making all this possible.
UPDATE 12/21/02: We originally stated that the 9500WARP BIOS also works on the RADEON 9700 (non-PRO), that is incorrect. Kip is currently hard at work on overclocking BIOS updates for the RADEON 9000, RADEON 9500, and RADEON 9700 (all non-PRO), so owners of those cards will soon have Kip to thank as well.
Once overclocked, the RADEON 9500 PRO becomes an even more remarkable performer. The entire GeForce4 series is left in the dust, and in some cases we’ve seen that RADEON 9500 PRO is capable of outperforming a vanilla RADEON 9700! ATI must have felt that an overclocked RADEON 9500 PRO would have been too tempting for most gamers to pass up, hurting RADEON 9700 sales. There’s no doubt that this has certainly happened to some extent with GeForce4, although we do feel that this argument applies more to the RADEON 9700 rather than the RADEON 9500 PRO, as its 128-bit memory interface holds it back in many tests.
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