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Modders just gave old Nvidia GPUs a big upgrade

MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti ARMOR 11G OC review
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

Modders have just given Nvidia’s RTX 20-series and GTX 16-series GPUs a big upgrade. The mod is called NvStrapsReBar, and as the name suggests, it adds Resizable Bar (ReBAR) support to older Nvidia graphics cards.

ReBAR is an essential feature on modern GPUs, supported by Nvidia and AMD, and explicitly required for Intel’s Arc graphics cards. However, it wasn’t introduced until AMD’s RX 6000 and Nvidia’s RTX 30-series graphics cards. Developer Terminatorul has devised a solution by modifying the UEFI of your motherboard.

Features like ReBAR are enabled by a BIOS file on your video card. Called a vBIOS, this basic program gets the card operating and communicating with your motherboard, and it notes certain perimeters like the GPU’s maximum clock speed. The problem is that vBIOS files are digitally signed and encrypted — you can’t mess with them without some serious modding.

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Terminatorul’s solution doesn’t mess with your vBIOS. Instead, it’s focused on your motherboard’s UEFI. The basic process works like this — you make a copy of the BIOS file on your motherboard and add the ReBAR driver to it. Then, you need to reflash the BIOS on your motherboard before running a program from within Windows, where you can set parameters like the BAR size. On the official GitHub page, detailed instructions are available.

Although this mod is a big development for older Nvidia GPUs, it’s not free of issues. Because the mod goes through your motherboard’s UEFI, you’ll need to disable ReBAR and start the process over again if you swap GPUs. In addition, new versions of the mod require you to reflash your BIOS. There’s also the issue with Nvidia’s support for ReBAR. Unless explicitly supported, you’ll need to use the Nvidia Profile Inspector to enable the feature on a per-game basis.

Even with those problems, the mod is working. Terminatorul has been collecting community reports since December of last year, and they’ve gathered quite a list of supported configurations.

If you’re sitting on a GTX 16-series or RTX 20-series GPU and want to give the mod a shot, you can download everything you need from GitHub. Keep in mind that messing with a BIOS file and reflashing carries some risk of bricking your motherboard, so only attempt the mod if you’re confident in this type of modding and willing to accept that risk.

For most people, the mod isn’t worth it. From our testing of ReBAR on Nvidia GPUs, there are only a handful of games that see a meaningful performance benefit.  Even among games that see an improvement, it’s usually only a small performance boost. If you’re looking to upgrade your PC gaming experience, a new graphics card is probably your best bet — our list of the best graphics cards can point you in the right direction for an upgrade.

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Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
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