“Upgrade” your AMD Radeon RX 480 to an RX 580 for free

AMD Radeon RX 480 owners have discovered a trick that lets them upgrade their graphics cards to the RX 580.

This is accomplished by flashing the BIOS of the newer graphics card onto the old hardware.

BIOS flashing is a risky and imperfect process, especially when flashing the BIOS of a newer card onto older hardware.

However, hardware enthusiasts have succeeded in upgrading their cards and have noted performance improvements.

The process is made possible by the shared GPU architecture and specifications of the RX 480 and RX 580 cards.

The Radeon RX 580 is built on the same Polaris architecture and manufactured on the same 14nm process node as the RX 480, and was released less than a year after its predecessor’s launch.

Both the RX 480 and RX 580 feature 8GB of GDDR5 memory, 2,304 stream processors, and 256GB/s of memory bandwidth.

The only notable difference between the cards is the increased clock speed and power consumption of the RX 580.

Flashing the BIOS

Flashing a graphics card BIOS is a risky process that can potentially brick your hardware.

We do not recommend that any RX 480 owners attempt to flash their BIOS unless:

  • They fully understand the risk to their hardware.
  • Are “tech-savvy” users who have a strong knowledge of PC hardware.

The TechPowerUp forum user who discovered the ability to flash the RX 580 BIOS onto their RX 480 has a hardware BIOS switch on their board – allowing them to revert to the RX 480 BIOS in the event of a failed flash.

Before attempting to flash the BIOS of any graphics card, it is recommended that you use GPU-Z to make a backup of your graphics card’s current BIOS.

When attempting to flash a new BIOS to your GPU, it is important to remember the following:

  • Ensure your GPU is not overclocked.
  • If possible, disconnect all other graphics cards before flashing your GPU.
  • Make a backup of your old BIOS.
  • Flashing can result in a permanently-damaged graphics card.

The next step is to select a new BIOS to flash to your GPU.

In the case of the RX 480, users have succeeded in using the BIOS for a Sapphire Radeon RX 580 8GB.

RX 480 owners can use the ATIFlash Tool to flash the BIOS of the RX 580 to their older card.

After “upgrading” their graphics cards, users have reported performance gains due to the higher clock speed. Their cards also consume more power and emit more heat.

Radeon RX 480 PCB

The Risks

The risks associated with flashing a new BIOS are not limited to bricking your GPU.

Even if the BIOS flash is successful, the increased power draw and clock speed may prove too much for your RX 480 and cause damage to the hardware.

This could occur if your PCB or GPU chip is not designed to handle the increased power draw specified in the RX 580 BIOS.

If the flash is successful, it is important to compensate for the additional heat output caused by increased clock speeds.

The best option for attempting this upgrade is to use a card with a built-in BIOS switch, in case the new BIOS is not compatible with your hardware.

While the RX 580 “upgrade” is impressive, the potential performance gains – which are slight – are arguably not worth the risk of damaging your card.

Users with little experience or who are uncertain about the risks should not attempt this BIOS flashing trick.

Now read: Biostar unveils world’s first mini-ITX Ryzen motherboards

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“Upgrade” your AMD Radeon RX 480 to an RX 580 for free