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Unlocking 6950 into 6970

So much like unlocking AMD Phenom II Dual and triple core cpu’s, you can unlock certain ATI 6950 video cards into working 6970 beasts!

So which one are they? I am not 100% sure which cards do, and which ones do not. The general guide line has been that ONLY reference based cards that have the dip switch for dual bios can. However, some reports not ALL cards that meet these requirements will be able to. Also, just because a particular model is known to be unlockable, does not guarantee it will function properly with unlocked stream processors.

But the process is fairly painless once you know the procedure and have the files. I will warn you that this could ultimately cause hardware damage to your video card, and other computer components, and render warranties void. This is 100% (like everything I post) is at your own risk. I put extra emphasis on this because a 6950 is not a cheap card, and there is a fairly high risk that you may brick it.

But here is the information. I did not write these files or instructions, and I have not tried them. I have had close friends try it (with success) and are very happy with the results.

Here is a small bit of the article that has links and detailed instructions on the procedure. The full article has additionally instructions if something goes wrong, and some pretty pictures.
Unlocking the additional shaders is done by flashing the card with a HD 6970 BIOS. You can find a few in our VGA BIOS collection. Any of these BIOSes will work on any reference design HD 6950 card. You could use the ASUS BIOS which comes with higher clocks & Overdrive limits and enables voltage changes via SmartDoctor, or stick with one of the reference BIOSes in case you are afraid the clocks might be too high.

I will describe the method for flashing from within Windows, which is safe enough on these cards because of the dual BIOS feature that enables easy recovery.

  1. Grab ATI Winflash from here (32 & 64-bit).
  2. Download HD 6970 BIOS. The Sapphire one I linked to will work on all reference design cards from any vendor.
  3. Make sure the BIOS switch on the card is set to the 1 position (pictured further down if you don’t know where it is).
  4. Run ATI Winflash, click Save to save your BIOS, so you have a backup in case something goes wrong.
  5. Load the HD 6970 BIOS into Winflash by clicking Load Image, followed by Program.
  6. Let the flashing process complete and reboot your system.
  7. Check the shader count using GPU-Z, it should show 1536. Make sure you use version 0.5.0 or newer, the official 0.4.9 version does not support HD 6900 Series properly. If you see a shader count of 1600, your GPU-Z version is outdated.
  8. To ensure maximized performance open Catalyst Control Center, go to the Overdrive tab and set the PowerTune slider to the +20% setting. The “Testing” section of this article has more data on that.
  9. Check stability in Windows desktop applications and games.

If you get an error like ID mismatch or Could not erase ROM, then you’ll have to do some extra work in a Windows command prompt (or DOS): Run atiwinflash -unlockrom 0 followed by atiwinflash -f -p 0 bios.bin where bios.bin is the path and filename of the HD 6970 BIOS you downloaded.

Have fun, and happy gaming!

  1. cialis on Sunday 30, 2011

    Hi there! Where can I find additional sites about this?

    • fyfester on Sunday 30, 2011

      The website article that was linked in this posting is one of the original sets of instructions for doing this modification. Since, there have been many new articles on other websites explaining how to do this modification using new non-reference video cards. However it is best to look up modification instructions for your non-reference video card as there may be other steps or caveats that a general article could not cover.

  2. Gipsy on Sunday 30, 2011

    I’m agree with you.