Video Card BIOS Upgrade
By Gabriel Torres on November 26, 2004
Few users know it, but the video card has a BIOS too, which just like the motherboard BIOS can be updated. It is in the video card BIOS that the manufacturer fixes bugs in the video card or in the graphic chip that may have been discovered after the launching of the card on the market. Thus, keeping the video card BIOS updated allows you to have your system as stable as possible, away from bugs that can hamper the operation of your PC, especially bugs that may appear during a game.
The updating of the video card BIOS is not that mysterious, all you have to do is visit the video card manufacturer's site and download the software required to make this update (generally in an area called support, downloads or BIOS). But there is an important detail. The card manufacturer is not usually the chip manufacturer. Thus, you won't find this update at ATI's or NVIDIA's site; you have to visit the card manufacturer's site (Sapphire, Gigabyte, Inno3D, HIS, Tyan, Connect3D, MSI, ABIT, ASUS, FIC, etc). The only exception is card with ATI chips which have really been manufactured by ATI. If you bought a generic inexpensive video card and don't know its manufacturer, you have to use the card's FCC ID code. You can discover the card manufacturer through this code, found in a tag glued to the board. Then you visit http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/page/fcc, enter the code in the form and the system will tell you the card manufacturer.
This tip is not useful for computers with on-board video. In that case, since the video is produced by the motherboard, the video BIOS is conjugated with the motherboard BIOS, and you just need to upgrade the motherboard BIOS to keep your PC updated.
Boosting Your Video Card
The video card BIOS is where three interesting pieces of information are recorded: the card graphic chip, the graphic chip clock, and video memory clock. With this, you can: modify the clock values of your video card and do your card BIOS upgrade. Doing this your video card will work at a higher clock (overclock) forever, enhancing its performance in 3D games. You can also do the overclock through software (using PowerStrip, http://www.entechtaiwan.com), but in this case you need to run the software whenever your turn on the computer to configure the overclock again, because when you turn it on, the card reads the values that are in its BIOS, which, in case you don't do the BIOS upgrade with the modified values, will be factory values. But PowerStrip may be interesting to detect the maximum overclock you get with your card, to program your video card BIOS with the maximum values you get.
For boards using NVIDIA chips you should use the program http://www.x86-secret.com/Download/rvbsetup.exe to change the BIOS data. For cards using ATI chips, the program is http://www.softpedia.com/public/scripts/downloadhero/12-1-33 /. Use the program to read your video card BIOS, change the data, and do the upgrade.
If you don't want to take any changes doing such modifications, you may also download ready BIOs from the Internet (BIOS in which such modifications were done and tested by other users). For instance, at http://softmod.ocfaq.com/bios.php you find an extensive list of BIOS for video cards that use ATI chips and at http://www.mathiau.com/files/index.php and http://www.x86-secret.com/articles/nvbios.htm you find BIOS of video cards that use NVIDIA chips. Besides, in some cases it is possible to transform a chip into another one, a faster one. This can be done because some simpler chips are actually more complex ones, working at a lower clock and in which extra features have been disabled. With these modified BIOS you may able such features and, thus, transform your card into a more powerful one.