People Have Converted Their Radeon RX 480 4GB Cards Into 8GB Cards

One of the stranger rumours that had cropped up following the launch of AMD's latest and greatest new graphics card was that people had found a way to convert the cheaper 4GB version of the RX 480 card into the more expensive 8GB model.

It's not gossip anymore; there's a way to do it.

The trick that made all this possible was, ironically, AMD themselves. When they sent out review units of the RX 480 to the press, all the samples had 8GB of onboard GDDR5 memory. But because the RX 480 was being sold in 4GB and 8GB variants, reviewers needed some way to test the card's baseline performance.

We didn't receive one, but over in Europe select members of the press were given a special BIOS. That BIOS could be used to flash the RX 480 sample from an 8GB to the base settings of a 4GB. So, naturally, people asked: if you can flash an 8GB card to 4GB, would the reverse be possible?

Under most circumstances, it wouldn't. The 4GB models of the RX 480, in a normal world, would only ship with four 1GB memory chips on board, compared to the eight on the 8GB version. Flashing the BIOS would do bugger all, because the memory simply wasn't there.

That was, of course, until people bought retail 4GB RX 480 cards. Which happened to have eight 1GB memory modules.

TechPowerUp wrote earlier this morning that they have successfully got an "AIB partner-branded retail 4GB Radeon RX 480" reporting and running as an 8GB card. They downloaded the BIOS from the 8GB review unit they got from AMD using the ATIFlash program, which was then flashed onto their retail 4GB card.

"To confirm that this mod works, we first tested our 8 GB review sample with its untouched 8 GB BIOS, and used that as control. Next, we tested the retail 4 GB card with the BIOS it shipped with. Lastly, we flashed this 4 GB card using ATIFlash with the 8 GB BIOS, which we extracted from our 8 GB card using ATIFlash. We ran "Call of Duty: Black Ops III," on the three. This game can consume dedicated video memory beyond 4 GB at 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160).

To make things a little more relevant to Australians: the cheapest 4GB versions of the RX 480 are currently selling for $319 at PC Case Gear, although it says the card is currently "sold out". The 8GB models, meanwhile, start from $369.

So the question is: if you can simply buy a reference 4GB card and unlock another 4GB of memory through flashing the BIOS, why would you ever bother buying the 8GB models at all? It's not a completely safe process, though. To make sure your card has eight memory modules, you'll have to unscrew everything, break the seals and your warranty. On top of that, you'll need to know how to use ATIFlash (something AMD certainly won't approve of).

And don't forget, this comes off the back over concerns about the RX 480's power usage.

I've been told AMD are in the process of getting a statement, but it's not known whether it'll address just the power usage or if it'll tackle the latest drama as well. Either way, I'll update the post once that arrives.


Comments

    Great for buyers, but this is a major fuck up by AMD. If you don't mind voiding the warranty, take advantage of this for sure.

      Either a fuckup... or brilliant marketing...

        Hehe, was thinking the same. There was more than one CPU in the past where Intel and/or AMD werent overly agressive about shutting down these loopholes. Simple philosophy, its more sales, and as the manufacturing process would be pretty much the same for each one, not something THEY lose money on.

        I assume the main thing that makes a board with 8 x 1Gb RAM a 4 Gb version is that its towards the end of the die run, so theres no reason to think it cant handle the push to 8Gb. The redundancy with those 'lower' cards is still so ridiculous its almost a lock they are just erring on the side of caution.

        It'd be terrible marketing if it were deliberate. It would mean they've undercut their own product, which probably has razor-thin margins to begin with. They'd have gotten more marketing buzz if they'd just said outright "yeah we're doing 8GB on a sub-$300 card, suck on that Nvidia".

          Maybe, but if you created more 4gb cards than 8gb cards, let leak that the 4gb could be flashed to perform the exact same, suddenly the cheaper option becomes more viable etc. You've just created an alternate product at a cheaper rate people are more than likely to flock to :)

          Yeah exactly. Hardly clever marketing when customers resize they've been charged $60 extra for a card that only differs in a BIOS update.

          I'm skeptical of all of this. Are all 4G cards confirmed with 8G of chips or just one or two reports?

            Surely the partner companies would notice something like that straight away (and not do it, since it's their money spent on the extra memory). Perhaps it only applies to cards from AMD directly?

            Quite possibly just a batch of them made this way so that reviewers could test the 4GB version and AMD didn't have time to get 4GB cards out there.
            In the initial ramp up to production it probably makes sense to do this, but I can't see it continuing for long. Or as mentioned that some of the 4GB cards are ones where the second bank of 4GB was unstable, no different to intel cutting cores on CPUs etc.

    Haha, good ole AMD. Reminds me of the old days.

    "We're running out of low cost, dual core CPUs"

    "Hmmm... Just grab some of those new 6 core CPUs, deactivate 4 cores and the L3 cache, and then sell those"

    Interesting, it could be that cards with problems in the extra 4GB are gimped to only run with 4GB.

    Also, will *someone* please benchmark the card with applications?? I can understand the gaming sites not doing so, but no-one is. Gaming isn't the only use for these cards, we use 4 GPU setups for graphics work in software like Resolve, PFClean, 3D Studio etc.

    I got my RX480 yesterday, and I did a quick benchmark and it is faster than the Titan X with Davinci Resolve 12.5, which most likely means it is also faster than the 1070, which is huge news if that performance holds up with other OpenCL applications.

    Last edited 06/07/16 1:46 pm

      Im buying a new pc with a new videocard in like 4 weeks time... I'm gonna need some more info from you if possible?????

        Compute performance tends to be very application-sensitive, but hashing algorithms tend to be a good neutral test. This site has some comparisons between the RX480, GTX970 and GTX1070.

        TLDR: the RX480 is roughly on par with the GTX970 for hashing compute performance.

          Well, so far the 480 is a few percent faster than the Titan X in PfClean, Davinci Resolve and our internal dust-busting software.

          We are getting massivley better perfomance than the 970 and 980 in CATIA and Solidworks, where the 480 is 50-80% faster than the 980!
          We will be testing our 3D rendering software later in the week.

          Resolve 12.5 Studio, X99 Motherboard, 12 core Xeon.

          Blur:
          09 Nodes: RX480:24fps TitanX:24fps
          18 Nodes: RX480:20fps TitanX:16fps
          30 Nodes: RX480:13fps TitanX:11fps
          66 Nodes: RX480:6fps TitanX:5-6fps

          TNR:
          1: RX480:24fps TitanX:24fps
          2: RX480:18fps TitanX:17-20fps
          4: RX480:9fps TitanX:11fps
          6: RX480:7fps TitanX:8fps

          As you said, it all depends what software you run, I'd expext AutoCAD to not be as kind to the AMD, but for nearly everything we run, it outperforms everything up to the Titan X, which is great, especially for software that lets us run 4 cards.

          Hashing algorithms are interesting from a raw perspective, but ultimately useless as a metric, as it is how fast the software you use is the only thing that matters.
          It will be interesting when AutoCAD etc. move from DX11 to DX12 to see if the performance shifts in regard to various cards performance.

          Last edited 06/07/16 6:51 pm

      @poita, the guys over at Tom's had a look at pro app performance:
      http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/amd-radeon-rx-480-polaris-10,4616-8.html

    So... Why even bother selling the 4gb one in the first place, for a cheaper price? Wouldn't it make sense to just use the 8gb bios and sell them at the higher price? Am I missing something here?

      Yeah I would just scrap the 4GB card and only sell the 8GB at $340 or $350 and everyone would still buy it no worries.

    ok so due to the binning process, all the cards are made with 8gb, (cheaper to manufacture in bulk all the same rather than some with less GDDR) it just happens that the "4gb cards" had issues running the full 8gb so they disable half of it and sell it as such. I would bet that the reliability of these "unlocked" 8gb would be sub par in terms of memory stability

      This. Surely the 4gb versions are flashed to only use half the modules because there's at least one bad module among the disabled ones. Turning them back on seems like a recipe for failure long term.

      Last edited 07/07/16 8:26 am

    Why would you bother saving $50 to void your warranty just too see if it has 8gig, with no guarantee it will. Then risking the possibility of bricking it doing a flash. Seems like a big gamble to make. I would rather just spend the extra $50.

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