If it was possible to grant a gamer extra fps for balls and ingenuity, TonybonJoby would have definitely earnt it.
Manufacturers earlier this week have been unveiling their upcoming models for AMD's Radeon RX 500 line, particularly the RX 570 and 580. They're a refresh of the solid RX 470 and RX 480 cards I tested last year, which were solid cards if a little overpriced at launch. (Both cards have dropped under $300 over the last year, incidentally.)
The amount of hype behind AMD's Polaris-based line of graphics cards has been nothing short of monumental. It's not hard to see why. when you promise a VR-ready card that only costs $US199/$US229, people are bound to get excited.
Let's get real. For years, NVIDIA has been well and truly trouncing the pants off AMD. Top end, middle end, bottom end. It didn't matter where you looked, AMD was getting flogged. Team Red tried to hang in there with their 200 and 300 series, but to really justify an AMD buy you needed a solid bargain.
They're still good cards. So people popped the question: what really was the difference between the RX 500 series and the recently-released RX 400 series? As it turns, not a great deal - especially after one bloke found a way to convert his Sapphire RX 480 into a fully functional, stable RX 580.
Sapphire recently published the BIOS for their upcoming RX 580 Limited Edition cards. So over at Techpowerup, user TonybonJoby - whose existing RX 480 came with a dual BIOS, which is really the only reason you would ever feel confident trying this in the first place - decided to download it and flash the new BIOS over his existing card.
Here's a picture of his card before flashing the BIOS:
And here's MSI Afterburner reporting the same RX 480 running as a completely legitimate RX 580:
The benefit, according to TonybonJoby, is a level of overclocking that the RX 480 was seemingly blocked from reaching before. "Before i could not get the card to overclock past 1350MHz on the core. Now I'm at 1411 [MHz]," they wrote.
If you want to download the BIOS for yourself, you can do so here. I'd strongly recommend reading the original thread on Techpowerup. Different GPUs have different voltage controllers, and it's not as simple as downloading a .ROM file and suddenly getting an updated graphics card.
While some users have reported that their cards are working fine post-BIOS flash, others have had some concerning issues:
- Their DisplayPort inputs stopped working
- Their system instantaneously crashes under load
- Their system crashes if they even touch the core clock speeds post-flash, in programs like EVGA Precision X or MSI Afterburner
And then there's the small part where flashing your GPU could turn it into a very fancy paperweight - especially if it doesn't have a dual BIOS feature and things turn sour. And even if it does work, you will 100% void your warranty by trying. You have been warned.
So all in all, this probably isn't an upgrade most people could (or should) take advantage of. But it's cool that the possibility exists, and it's nice to see that people learned from the trailblazers who flashed their RX 480 4GB cards to turn them into RX 480 8GB models.