modding a graphics card

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modding a graphics card

Postby psilocybin » Sun Nov 27, 2011 10:03 pm

so I'm getting a new laptop soon, and it comes with a gtx 460m graphics card. I noticed while looking at its benchmarks (http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/gpu.p ... e+GTX+460M) that the gtx 460, the desktop version of the same card, has a benchmark score of about double. that made me wonder what the differences were, in terms of hardware design, between the two.

I'm guessing the only difference is clocking speed, where the mobile version has its clock cut in half to save power and keep cool... is that the only difference? if so, how difficult would it be (for someone with a moderate technical background and way too much spare time) to "convert" a mobile version to a desktop version? I'm thinking it would require me to either change the multiplier in the firmware (so customized firmware or drivers), or to change out the crystal oscillator and supporting capacitors. I've never done any overclocking before, so these questions may be basic.

on a related note, I was wondering about expanding the graphics card RAM. my version of the 460m comes with 1GB gddr5, where more expensive versions have 1.5 GB. I know on a lot of devices like this the PCB has traces to support extra chips, so the only difference between one version and the other may be that the cheaper one just has a chip missing (and maybe a different firmware driving the RAM controller). so if you could get the same chip, assuming the model number isn't machined off or unavailable to the public, you could expand the RAM on a cheaper graphics card to give it the same capabilities of the more expensive version.

has anyone ever heard of anyone doing this? note that I'm not really considering doing this as I have no desire to turn an expensive graphics card into a paper weight, this is mainly an intellectual exercise.
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Re: modding a graphics card

Postby psilocybin » Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:47 pm

okay, so after looking around a bit it appears that many people overclock their gpu's, and that there is specialized software to help you do that (I'll post links if anyone wants, or you can just google "overclock gpu"). so I might actually consider doing this, assuming that the only disadvantages are shorter battery life and possible overheating (I'm assuming that's the case because I think that the only difference between the 460 and the 460m are clock speeds, if anyone knows different please tell me). I'm thinking one major issue could be power consumption, I'm not sure if the plug-in supply could handle the gpu at full power. of course, I plan on turning the gpu off anytime I am going off battery power. it'll be a while until I can really mess with this, but if I do I'll update this thread if anyone's interested.
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Re: modding a graphics card

Postby psilocybin » Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:22 pm

...and I just checked the specs of the 460 vrs the 460m, and it turns out that there are actual differences in the hardware besides just clock speeds, so some of my assumptions above are incorrect. it makes me wonder why they gave them the same model number. I might still try overclocking, I will just lower my expectations as to the results a bit.

what I said about the memory chips seems to be true, but I'm not going to try that because I don't want to risk soldering to the graphics card.
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Re: modding a graphics card

Postby Thor » Fri Dec 09, 2011 12:43 am

Well I can tell you from my experience in hardware that extra traces might not mean extra support. It could mean a few things, and possibly future feature support, but not always; could be r&D related, ground trace related, or simply was laid out that way for design reasons (probably going back to R&D reason). Enough shop talk. My point is just don't add anything to empty solder pads without schematics.

I've been clocking my radeon 5670 with mixed success. Mine is a desktop version, and has a fan on it, which can be adjusted. I'd play with the card first by seeing what you can achieve by changing settings on it. try Voltage, mem speed, timing, etc, 1st, Then maybe solder it.

*Sometime the card manu will have warez for OC'ing it, or there is a program that you mentioned that does this. I can't remember the name right now. I looked into it when I was on a Bitcoin venture...
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Re: modding a graphics card

Postby psilocybin » Fri Dec 09, 2011 1:09 pm

*Sometime the card manu will have warez for OC'ing it, or there is a program that you mentioned that does this. I can't remember the name right now. I looked into it when I was on a Bitcoin venture...
http://www.overclock.net/t/112/guide-to ... g-your-gpu

any one of these? on that note, any success with bitcoin? I looked at that, was thinking about writing a pipelined sha-256 hash processor for an fpga, but I calculated it out and it didn't seem like I would get very much out of it. bear in mind that I'm just working with a low-end fpga on a dev board (spartan-2e). I might do the project anyway, just to keep my vhdl sharp, but as far as money goes I don't think it's worth it.
Well I can tell you from my experience in hardware that extra traces might not mean extra support. It could mean a few things, and possibly future feature support, but not always; could be r&D related, ground trace related, or simply was laid out that way for design reasons (probably going back to R&D reason). Enough shop talk. My point is just don't add anything to empty solder pads without schematics.
That's interesting, thanks. Yeah, I assumed it might be that easy because I've seen blank IC traces on many boards before, and I've heard about hacks where the hardware of a cheaper system was pretty much identical to a more expensive one, like people turning a low-end oscilloscope into a more expensive one by just cutting a trace or adding a resistor. That would be awesome if it were that easy, but you're probably right that the engineers weren't that lazy.
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