Hump Wiggles – I got the FireGL V5200 Softmod to work!

Again, don’t just read this blog because you have a MacBook Pro Core Duo and you want to make it act like a FireGL V5200, read it because you care.  Seriously, I got the ATI Moiblity X1600 to softmod into the FireGL Mobility V5200 following a myriad of somewhat unintelligible instructions from the internet (I think I get points for reading both Chinese and Italian posts which referenced this mod).

The driver I ended up using was from the actual AMD/ATI official site but it was an older version, 8.353.1.1000 to be exact – from 5/8/2007.  There is a chance that the newer ones will work but you have to do a patch using RivaTuner 2.11 using one of the patch scripts I found and my concern was that the older scripts would somehow not work with the newer drivers.  So yeah, you run the copy/pasted patch script on the driver you downloaded and you modify one of the setup files within the installation to allow the “MacBook Pro Mobility V5200″ to appear as an option and actually talk to the correct address in the system.  From there you should run “Driver Sweeper”, uninstall all existing video drivers, and reboot and hopefully it goes to a safe mode VGA driver.  At this point you’ll try and install the thing.  It worked on my 3rd or 4th try finally using the new ATI driver, so go figure.

The good news is SolidWorks runs a whole lot better with the FireGL driver and the Instant 3D stuff works as well, Window XP’s video is a whole lot snappier.  Now if only I had that older Broadcom Chipset so my signal strength in XP would come back..

Airport Extreme! Broadcom! Oh my!

So, if you don’t care about wireless data connections and or OS X & XP you should ignore this post. I recently did a little 802.11n upgrade to my aging Core Duo Macbook Pro and I bought an “official” Apple 802.11n Airport Card that has 2 antenna wire inputs. It’s chipset is the Broadcom BCM4328. My Apple System Profiler polls this as Broadcom BCM43xx 1.0 (5.10.38.9) and in Windows XP it clearly shows up as the BCM4328. Now, shouldn’t this be all good? Well sort of, there have been some problems.

Under OS X 802.11n (ie Airport Extreme) works like gang busters over the Time Capsule but it seems my 802.11g performance has taken a huge hit. And under XP SP3 both my g/n performance has degraded. So what’s the deal? Well it seems I should’ve gone with an older version of this chipset.

Apparently the BCM94321MC aka the Dell 1500 Part Number NJ449 was the original version, which worked well for people under Tiger. There obviously are other options, but the key here was the 4321 chipset as opposed to the newer 4328 chipset. So what’s the issue? I don’t know. I imagine the XP drivers aren’t fully up to date. And I also imagine 802.11n MIMO works better with 3 antennas which is why the newer Core 2 Duo machines come with the 3 antenna input Atheros wireless cards. Can I add a third antenna wire and put in the Atheros? I don’t know. Should I sell the one I installed and try the $30 Dell 1500 NJ449? I would say yes.

Another issue that has developed is that with around 15% battery the wireless card will go dormant and not startup again without a reboot. Nice. Whatever, I suppose I cannot complain too much. It mostly works.