Maybe an answer to your 5850 overclock questions

So I bought my Gigabyte Ati 5850 a few years ago when it came out. It has been running fine all these times playing almost only WoW and some other games like Battlefield and GtaIV. I've dropped Wow and got back to my 1st game love the 1st person shooter. And of course being a Quake, Farcry and Battlefield fan I bought a copy of Battlefield 3 when it was released.
Battlefield 3 is actually very nice at 1920x1080 without any AA in the automatic game setting and setting A.I. and mipmap to low quality in the AMD CCC reference drivers (while the rest is set to managed by application).
At the same time a friend of mine bought a AMD 6950 GPU and it of course got me wondering if I could get some more eye-candy out of my rig.
So it came and I pushed up the mipmap settings and A.I. to max and noticed BF3 looked way better but I also noticed a slight slowing down of graphics when turning fast.
Now I'm not to much into numbers like fps as long as a game feels good to play. Having the 5850 for some time and also having the opportunity to buy a new GPU make me investigate overclocking.

I'm not completely new to overclocking and did some bios-modding and mhz-boosting in the past. But I'm not a watercooling type of guy and don't feel like buying a after market super cooler.

So now i got my 5850 running 850/1200 (normally 725/1000) like a 5870 without any overvoltage what so ever. Now everybody can do this of course with some tool like Afterburner or what ever. But I found a way that suites me and I wanna let you know about it.

What I found very important was.
- Setting a boundary as how far I was willing to go and what did I really need.
- No overvoltage, no heavy bios-modding.
- Automatic overclocking.
- Save temperatures.

First I did some extensive reading at a lot of forums to learn what this card is capable of. And the first thing I noticed was a lot of info about bumping up the voltage, after market coolers, reaching 1000mhz core and all that kind of stuff, pictures of watercooled rigs included.
In all of this information I noticed that a 5850 car has almost the same components of a 5870 card and should be able to handle the clockspeeds 850/1200 of the 5870.
In all overvoltage discussions it came apparent that clockspeeds above 875/1225 need overvoltage. So I set my goal to 850core/1200vrm.

As it comes to what I need my pc is doing fine for most purposes. Single monitor and my big screen 1080p tv setup as clone for some movie watching or occasional racing game on the big screen. I just need some more power for Battlefield 3 to set the mipmap to high quality in the AMD CCC reference driver. (CCC = Catalyst Control Center)

Software I used to monitor and alter stuff:
GPU-Z; (gpu info/temperature and stuff)
RBE (Radeon bios editor)
Ati Winflash (the name says it, bios flasher)
MSI Kombustor (gpu load program for temperature testing)
notepad (yes the good old notepad, windows 7 x64 is my system)

Software I use to keep everything running:
AMD Radeon reference drivers, CCC (overdrive option is my overclock utility)
Saphire triXX utility (for dynamic fan control, USE V4.01 higher has a bug)
r2 Startup Delayer (very important to startup things in order to work automatic)

The only thing I had to find out myself is using r2 Startup Delayer. The rest you can find with Google as I will explain.

I actually got my first run Battlefield 3 at 850/1200 very fast never knowing about VRM (memory) temperature and stuff. Later I noticed that my 5850 card does not automatically speed up the fan above 31%. As a result I was playing bf3 with gpu at +85°C, vrm at +100°C. Stable but not what I want.
In fact it seems to be that memory faults get corrected in de card and before you notice any artefacts, your vrm chips can burn to death.
So after some reading on the net about 5850 cards:
GPU must not stay at 84°C for longer times (shorter lifespan) and can die at 125°C.
VRM can die at 150°C. Best to keep VRM under 84°C for the lifespan.
The temperatures for those phase-electronic whatever things (3) the same as VRM.

I now got my 5850 running bf3 at 850/1200 with all temperatures around 70°C and the VRM around 75°C with stock cooler fan dynamical at 34-36% speed at full load. GPU burn test of MSI Kombustor (minimized window) goes to gpu 75°C and vrm 80°C and fan automatic spinning up to 40-43%. The fan gets noisy at 43% speed but just about bearable and under normal full game load it stays under 40%. Acceptable to me but of course louder than stock settings.

So here goes.
I use the Overdrive function in de AMD Catalyst Control Center but by default it only goes to 775/1125 overclocking. There is a Youtube movie that explains how to use RBE and AtiWinflash to alter the maximum CCC Overdrive setting.
Search and you will find it.
Make sure you don't have GPU-Z or something monitor your card while flashing. I had a blanc screen for 15 seconds freaking the hell out of me. But gladly the flash went ok. Pffff.
Save to say CCC reads the overdrive from some part of the bios that is not controlling the cards default core/vrm. So without overdrive settings your card will run standard. And you alter your own cards bios so no strange bios is needed.

However. In de same process it can come in to mind to alter the fan settings in the bios also. This does NOT work because AMD CCC driver takes over. I've read modification of fan settings do work for Linux or other OS where AMD CCC driver does not take over. Very unpleasing but I haven't found a solution without software for this.

This is where Saphire triXX utility comes in. Create a fan profile to suite your needs. I have: idle 25%, than from 65°C gpu temp ramp up to 100% at 102°C gpu. This makes the line cross 43% fan at 75°C. Works for me. (I chose 102°C because that was actually a value I read from the bios with RBE.)
TriXX interacts directly with the CCC Overdrive setting so when you start TriXX you'll see te checkbox manual control fan in the CCC Overdrive tab change automatic. So manual fan is actually controlled by TriXX.
And TriXX has a Windows desktop gadget showing all your temperatures and core speeds so no need to have GPU-Z to track any more.

Isn't that great!
Of course you could be ready by now having overclock and auto fan speeds in place. (Be sure to use TriXX v4.01, as it saves your auto fan settings and higher versions not!)

But now it's bug time!!!

The TriXX fan settings offer multiple fan setting increments. 1st idle line, then 2x the option for a ratio, and final a max line. Only use 1 ratio! If you use the second ratio it doesn't work correctly. I first wanted 55to75°C to do 20to40% fan speed and then 75to95°C to do 40to100% fan speed. The bug is TriXX ignores 1 of the 2 so not spinning up or down as you want. Sometimes it does and sometimes not! So move the graph dot at the beginning to your first ratio and leave the last dot (3rd) all the way at the end 100%. It never failed.

And de AMD CCC reference driver (11.x) has a mind of its own.
Dual monitor users like me will experience 1 of your monitors flickering as soon as you ramp up the overdrive setting in CCC. It has something to do with the driver throttling your core/vrm speed to 157/300 when idle. The flickering happens most in Internet Explorer / firefox.

To get rid of "most" of the monitor flickering there is a workaround you can find on the net. It explains how you can create a profile in CCC and "before activating" it altering it with notepad. The core/vrm setting (157/300) is actually in the CCC profile and must be set higher.
Search and you will find.
My only remark is that by activating a profile the CCC driver copies the setting to its own (and I don't know where). So if you modify a profile while already activated it does not take over the changes. You either have to delete it and start over or activate a similar other profile and restart your main one after altering for it to work.
For editing the profile, you can't go higher with initial core/vrm setting than your cards default (725/1000). I've tried higher and it doesn't work (don't know why).

Now for the "r2 Startup Delay" program.
For everything to work flawlessly there is a distinct order of programs to start up. Not all of your programs like virus scanners etc. Just these:
1st. Catalyst Control Center must be fully loaded in the tasktray.
2nd. Your anti monitor flickering CCC profile must be loaded. (can only be loader after CCC)
3rd. TriXXX must be loaded to take control of your fan.

This is where the handy man comes in. (me)

Create a shorcut to TriXX in the program folder where it is installed. In properties set the shortcut to start minimized. No use to set TriXX options to start at boot and triXX won't start minimized if it does not start at boot.

Create the CCC profile, but also (other than what you've found on the net) let the profile start a program; YES the shortcut you have just made for TriXX to start minimized. And of course alter it to stop the monitor flickering bug (for the most part).

So now you have a CCC profile that automatically starts TriXX for you. (Nice isn't it?)

Now the hard part (or the easy part) to start everything automatic at boot.
Install "r2 Startup Delayer". Set in options to delay what ever you want delayed after CCC.exe is completely loaded.
There is a shortcut (automatically made) in your start-menu under Catalyst Control Center of your "CCC anti monitor flicker auto TriXX start profile" you have made. Copy it to the startup folder so "r2 Startup Delayer" can find it.
Set in "r2 Startup Delayer" that only your CCC profile shortcut must be delayed (1 second minimum).

And there you are !!!
Automatic default CCC profile + TriXX fan control at startup of your PC. Don't forget to activate the TriXX desktop Gadget to monitor your stuff.

My last words on this 1.
I know I let you search the web for a lot of procedures you need. It saved me a lot of work yes, not even giving the url's. But the thing is. Overclocking your graphics card and modding the bios is something you really want and not something you just want to try. So this information is meant for people with a bit of experience. And if you know what I'm talking about it will not be hard to find what I suggest in the above.
And maybe you'll find some information and new knowledge during your search I have not mentioned.

Also I am comfortable with my graphics card parts running in the 75°C region. But cooler is better.

So take care. And at the end you can always delete your CCC profile, un-install "r2 Startup Delayer" and turn CCC overdrive off or back to default and you are back on stock core/vrm settings.
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More about maybe answer 5850 overclock questions
  1. nice guide :)
  2. a lot of work and time you put into this and it is good. But I might not have the time to do what you did maybe it might of been better with the links as to help other people to do this. Man I am very impresst with what you did, a lot of people would never had figured this out Hats off to ya
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