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How-to: Change your ATI Graphics Card fan speeds in OS X

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I finished my G5 Mod and at the same time installed a new video card, a Gigabyte HD 6850. With very little tinkering I had everything up and running -- two displays on the DVI ports, no video issues at all. However, I noticed my case was loud. I thought it just might be the G5 mod not insulating sound well -- it's full of holes! The original G5 is loaded up with various shields, fans, and other doodads to keep it quiet. Not a stripped down G5 mod.

A little research taught me that there's really no way to control fan speed -- and thus fan noise -- in OS X through software like you can through Windows. As far as I can tell, this leaves two options:

1) Replace the GPU cooler with something quieter.
2) Flash the VBIOS of the GPU with new fan settings.


Given that the Gigabyte card ran notoriously loudly, I thought option 1 might be good. I don't need anything fancy -- I don't game, so I won't see very high temperatures. However, a quick look at the best-reviewed cheap coolers taught that it was not worth it. $90 to quiet down a $150 card. No thanks.

So off to option 2.

I found this thread in the Insanely Mac forum: http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/index. ... pic=227787

That guide is a little old and didn't work for me 100%, so here's my own, simpler write-up on how I quieted down my fans and kept the same temperatures.

Software you'll need
1. Windows -- sorry, I know of no way to do this without Windows. They're might be a Linux option, but I didn't look.
2. ATI WinFlash (Windows) -- This program will flash your graphics card's BIOS http://www.techpowerup.com/downloads/21 ... .1.18.html
3. Radeon BIOS Editor (Windows) -- This program will edit your BIOS -- http://www.techpowerup.com/downloads/19 ... v1.28.html

Optional:

4. Catalyst Control Center (Windows) -- you probably have this installed
5. HWMonitor/iStat menus or similar program (OS X) -- use this to check your temps

Files you'll need

Only one file, actually. A copy of your graphics cards BIOS file.

You can get this two ways:

1) Extract it using either WinFlash (this didn't work for me, for whatever reason) or another utility. I have a Gigabyte card, so I used their @BIOS program.

get-vbios.png


2) Download it -- My card (Model number GV-R6850OC-1GD http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004F6GJAU/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=tonymacx86com-20) didn't actually have one available on the GB web site, presumably because they never released an updated BIOS. So I chose option 1.


The process

With software and BIOS file in hand, here's the steps I recommend.

1. Load up HWMonitor or another program that can monitor your temperatures in OS X. Note the temperature at idle. For me, it was 56-58 Celcius. That is apparently pretty normal for a Radeon card. You can google around, but the folk wisdom is that around 60 for idle is fun and up to the 90s is safe under load. Over 100, 110 and you are in danger territory.

2. Boot in to Windows. Don't use Parallels or VMWare -- you'll want direct access to your discrete graphics card, which you can't get through virtualization.

3. Load up Catalyst Control Center. Go to Performance -> AMD Overdrive. Accept the disclaimer. You'll now be able to manually edit your fan speed:

ccc-check-fanspeed.png


Check your temperature and start playing with the manual fan speed. Find a speed where the volume is tolerable. 20% is as low as it would let me go, which I took as a hint.

4. Open Radeon BIOS Editor. Click the Load BIOS button and select your saved BIOS file.

choose-saved-vbios.png


Go to the Fan Settings tab.

rbe-load-bios.png


I clicked "Set all fan settings to recommended values." That toggled my speed settings down by default. Then I clicked the option to set my own fan speed/temperature table. Knowing that 20% fan speed should keep my temperatures safe, I decided that I'd set 20% fan speed for any temperature up to 70 degrees Celsius. I then more or less kept the temperature settings at what was recommended. I really wanted my fan slower at normal idle/low use temperatures.

Click Save BIOS, and save the BIOS file under a new name.

5. Load ATI WinFlash. Click Load Image and select your saved BIOS settings.

winflash-select-new-bios.png


6. Overwrite your BIOS. Once your new BIOS image is loaded, click "program" and let the program do its thing.

winflash-save-the-bios.png



You're done! I booted back into Windows and extracted the VBIOS again using the appropriate utility, loaded the new extracted BIOS into BIOS Editor and checked to make sure the changed were made. They were. Hooray!

Booted back into OS X and the fans were quieter and the temperatures were the same.

You can repeat steps 4-6 as necessary to get settings you're happy with.

While this option is not as nice a solution as having Catalyst Control Panel there to manually override fan speeds, it's -- to my knowledge -- the only real "software" option available for us Hackintoshers.

Good luck!
 
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thelostswede said:
Just be careful when you do this, as if you set the fan speed too low, you could permanently damage your card.

Agree -- you just need to keep an eye on your temperatures. If your temperatures are safe (~60 C), you can have the fans off for all it matters. However, if you're doing anything intensive, temps will jump, and you'll need fans running fast enough to cool them down.

I have a feeling there are a lot of non-gamer Hackintoshers who have overpowered video cards for their needs because they wanted compatibility. I'm in that group.

In any event, the Gigabyte fans (note the plural) run louder than other 6850s, and for most uses, they can probably be toned down -- as they in fact are in Windows by software.
 
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This seems to work but as soon as I get to the login screen for lion
the gfx card revs up the fan regardless of bios settings.

Know what might be the issue?


Thanks
 
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This also happens in windows.
While in DOS fans appear to follow the speed I instructed but when Windows loads fans spin upto about 50%.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.


Thanks

(been playing and the bios seems to have no bearing on the fans behaviour once an os has loaded, for me anyway
would really appreciate any pointers. Thanks)
 
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Same problem here.
As soon as the login screen shows the fans speed up.
 
Joined
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Hello again.


Still having troubles with this. Hope someone can help.


Thanks
 
Joined
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Or can this be manipulated via kexts etc...?

Just clutching at straws.

Thanks
 
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It is possible to get g states ( p states for gfx)on your hack ,do not ask me how to do it ,done it once and cannot remember how to ,but it involves duplicating your AppleGraphicsPowerManagement.kext and editing it on the mac profile you are using ,ie 3.1 ,4.1 etc you have to insert your gfx card id and device no and further down edit the logic control integer from the figure there to the one you want ,thats all i can remember ,and then install the kext and you should have g states

you have to right click :show package contents :and open contents and its the info plist you edit

oh and it was Stingray a mod who told me how to ,my card is nvidia gt430 but i am sure it can be done with ati cards too most profiles have built in by mac 4 speeds
 
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Thanks for the info. Will go down this road and try & find out more.

Thanks again & will post results.
 
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