Transforming a Radeon 9500 into a Radeon 9700

It is possible to transform your 3D video board based on the Radeon 9500 chip from ATI into a Radeon 9700 through a small modification of a resistor on the video processor.  Radeon 9700 is one of the fastest video chips on the market.  The price difference between a video board using Radeon 9500 and a board using Radeon 9700 is  almost USD 100!

The Russian site Overclockers.ru discovered that the Radeon 9500 chip from ATI does not have any internal difference to the Radeon 9700 chip. The extra features present at the Radeon 9700 chip are also present inside the Radeon 9500, it is just that they disabled by the hardware, through a small resistor on the body of the processor.

It is very important to notice that only the Radeon 9500 models that have 128 MB of 256-bit DDR-SDRAM memory may be modified.  Inferior models, having 64 MB or 128-bit memories, do not allow their transformation into a Radeon 9700.

To transform the Radeon 9500 chip into a Radeon 9700, you have to take two steps.  First, make the modification in the chip.  Second, make an upgrade in the BIOS of the video board to a modified version of the BIOS which makes the board believe it is now a Radeon 9700.

The modification of the chip should be made by removing the heat dissipator of the video board. Position the video board in such a way that the ATI logo on the chip is upside down.  See the series of small resistors on the left side of the chip.  The resistor located on the extreme left is the one that should be modified.  The resistor is originally connecting the pins marked 2 and 3 in our picture.  All you have to do is, using conductive paint, to make the connection between pins 1 and 2. This conductive paint is sold at electronic supplies stores (stores that sell components such as transistors and integrated circuits) and is usually used to repair damaged tracks on printed circuit boards.

Transforming a Radeon 9500 into a Radeon 9700

Figure 1: Details of a Radeon 9500.

After making that modification, the next step is to make the BIOS upgrade of the video board, available at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/download/software/flash.zip. After uncompressing that file in a directory in your hard disk, execute the Drdflash file. That will create a clean boot floppy. Next, copy all files that were on Zip file to the floppy disk.  Boot the computer using the floppy disk, and at the DOS prompt, type the following command to make the upgrade of the BIOS: 

atiflash -f -p 0 oc9500.bin 

If you want to undo the upgrade of the BIOS later, or in case something goes wrong, use the command below to restore the old BIOS:

atiflash -f -p 0 original.bin

Tests carried out by the team responsible for the site X-Bit Labs show that the performance of the Radeon 9500 increases 40% with that modification (measured using Quake III).

Keep in mind that the modification suggested in this tutorial voids the warranty of the equipment.

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Author: Gabriel Torres

Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.

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