Graphics, Guides, Hardware

Guide: How to Easily Turn Your AMD Radeon 6950 into a 6970

Unless you really like spending extra money on graphics cards for the fun of it, you likely want to maximize the performance of your graphics card. Oftentimes, that is limited to overclocking functions since most cards in a graphics card series usually have different hardware specifications. However, that is not the case with AMD Radeon HD 6950 and 6970. The 6950 and 6970 are made using almost identical hardware, with the sole difference being the lower rated GDDR5 memory in the 6950. The software (BIOS) is what meaningfully separates the two cards.

Unless you want to buy a pre-modded card, we found the best and easiest way to do turn a cheaper model into a higher performing one.

There are two ways to go about this, manually or automatically. I attempted the manual option without success and was forced to use the automatic option.

To do this, I used an XFX Radeon HD 6950 2GB GDDR5:

We detail the manual method on the next page…

Manual Method

Step 1:

Make sure that the position on your HD 6950?s BIOS switch is set to the 1 position (the default position on most cards).

Step 2:

Download ATI Winflash (ATI Winflash is a program for Windows that allows the user to back up, load, and re-flash graphics card BIOS on AMD/ATI cards.)

And then the Radeon HD 6970 BIOS.

(The Sapphire 6970 BIOS are recommended because they function with cards from any manufacturer).

Step 3:

Just in case something goes wrong, back up your HD 6950 BIOS by running ATI Winflash and clicking "Save".

Step 4:

Open up ATI Winflash, then hit "Load Image" and select the HD 6970 BIOS that we are going to use. Make sure to keep Winflash open, do not just press "OK".

Step 5:

Hit the "Program" button in Winflash to begin the flashing process which will reboot your computer.

Step 6:

Check to see if the flashing process worked using GPU-Z (at least version 0.5.0 or it won?t display correct specs). If the process worked correctly, it will display a shader count of 1536 instead of 1408.

In case of an error (which is what happened to me), such as an ID mismatch or "Could not erase ROM", you can try this fix:

– Unpack the Winflash download onto your desktop in a folder called "winflash"?
– Save the 6970 BIOS in your Winflash folder and name it "unlock.bin?"
– Click on your Start menu?
– Type "cmd"?
– Right click the entry and select "Run as Administrator"
?- A black Windows Command Prompt window will open
?- Type "cd %USERPROFILE%desktopwinflash" and press enter
– Type "atiwinflash -unlockrom 0" and press enter. The "0" refers to the first adapter. If you have multiple cards, physically remove all but the one you want to flash? from your computer
– Type "atiwinflash -f -p 0 unlock.bin"? and press enter. It should complete the flashing process with a message saying something with "verified".


However, this particular fix did not work for me, and I was forced to use the automatic method to complete the process. We detail this method on the next page…

Automatic Method

Step 1:

Download this file, as it contains a pack with all the files required and batch scripts to complete the process automatically.

Step 2:

Unpack the zip file and run the extracted file: flash_to_6970.bat

Step 3:

Check to see if the flashing process worked using GPU-Z (at least version 0.5.0 or it won?t display the correct specifications). If the process worked, it will show a shader count of 1536.

Congratulations! You?ve saved yourself a bit of cash and you have a fully functioning Radeon HD 6970. This method has had a success rate of over 95% at the time of this writing. To get further performance out of the card, you can go into the Catalyst Control Center and go
to the Overdrive tab to overclock the card. Increasing the PowerTune slider to about 20% will yield a quite a bit of performance gain in exchange for an almost negligible increase in card temperature.

Also, in case you ever need to replace the BIOS to the original 6950 BIOS, just repeat the manual process we detailed, ignoring Step 3. Then, in Step 4, instead of loading the 6970 BIOS, load your previously saved 6950 BIOS. Alternatively, use the automatic method and run: flash_back_to_6950.bat