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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been really impressed with the get up and go of the RL since purchasing this past May. But of course, I have read and seen all of the stories here of others getting theirs tuned and picking up even more HP and torque. So after getting acquainted with the tune options available for the RL it looks like the most popular without going full on mods are the Trifecta and RPM tunes.

I was originally intrigued by the the GMPP tune as it came from GM and I would assume there would be low risk, but it seems to be now obsolete and really serves no other purpose now that the car is well outside of warranty. Trifecta appears to be the tune of choice for most here and over at the Solstice forum. The basic is priced well and the tune is very comparable if not better to the GMPP tune. I have also looked at the RPM stage 1 tune as a comparison. I haven't found as much on the RPM tune as I have for the Trifecta, from what I can tell RPM has changed it's name over the years and that's possibly why the disbursement of information. I've seen a few more negative reviews of RPM which has me a bit more skeptical, but it seems their tune may offer more performance. Side note I also really like the look of their charge pipes as a future mod, although I have also seen these are more cosmetic than performance driven.

So with that being said, what is really the better tune? Or am I asking the proverbial "what's the better oil" question?
 

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Whatever one you chose it will require re tuning after the charge pipes are changed. I got the Trifects Basic because the only difference for the money was if you wanted a re-tune. The basic doesnt come with a re-do. BUT I didnt intend to make any mods so that was fine with me. If the mod is only cosmetic then why do a retune and the expense that takes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Whatever one you chose it will require re tuning after the charge pipes are changed. I got the Trifects Basic because the only difference for the money was if you wanted a re-tune. The basic doesnt come with a re-do. BUT I didnt intend to make any mods so that was fine with me. If the mod is only cosmetic then why do a retune and the expense that takes.
I've been on the fence about the charge pipes as I wouldn't mind dressing up the engine a bit and also gaining some performance if they in fact do. I have read a few statements that the OEM charge pipes are quite capable and the aftermarkets are more for show. I'm opening myself up for recourse, but I haven't done enough research to know if this is true or not of course. I know RPM's stage 2 requires you to have at least replaced the charge pipes, but I also wasn't sure if this was also just clever marketing. I'm pretty happy with the stock set up mechanically and it's appearance, but I can't help but be enthralled with adding another 30-50 HP with a tune.
 

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Charge pipes will not make much of a difference in a stock motor. The stock intercooler will be the choke point. But if you have stage 2 cams, ported head, high flow cat etcetera and raised your rpm limit to 7200 and beyond, it will make a difference in the upper rpm range.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Not a believer in charge tubes making a bit of difference. Other than cosmetic.
Charge pipes will not make much of a difference in a stock motor. The stock intercooler will be the choke point. But if you have stage 2 cams, ported head, high flow cat etcetera and raised your rpm limit to 7200 and beyond, it will make a difference in the upper rpm range.
I have read similar before and had come to my conclusion that the charge pipes would not make a difference if I stayed with a basic tune. So considering that if I do nothing other than change charge pipes at all in the future, is there any advantage to going with either tune company?
 

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is there any advantage to going with either tune company?
I know that trifecta's tune basically locks your ecm, you cant edit any setting with hptuners unless you overwrite the whole tune, loosing it in the process. Not sure what rpm does in this case.
And not sure whether you want to fiddle around with any settings in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I know that trifecta's tune basically locks your ecm, you cant edit any setting with hptuners unless you overwrite the whole tune, loosing it in the process. Not sure what rpm does in this case.
And not sure whether you want to fiddle around with any settings in the future.
I'm not planning on doing anything else in regards to other tunes after the retune. Is there any issues with GM after the Trifecta retune if I need them to do fix anything with their tech2?
 

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If you hang onto the programs Trifecta sends you, you will always be able to reinstall the tune, or the original that you downloaded before you installed the tune...."you did download and save it, didnt you?"....is always the first question when someone bitches that their tune is corrupted. Always save a backup so you can go stock.
 

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I'm not planning on doing anything else in regards to other tunes after the retune. Is there any issues with GM after the Trifecta retune if I need them to do fix anything with their tech2?
I wouldn't think so otherwise there would be lots of complaints, if you don't intend to fiddle around with the ecm later then go right ahead.
 

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I'm not planning on doing anything else in regards to other tunes after the retune. Is there any issues with GM after the Trifecta retune if I need them to do fix anything with their tech2?
That will depend on what you need them to do. If there is a problem that could be related to the tune they likely will not touch it, but any general component troubleshooting will not be affected.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks all, it doesn't sound like it would be too much of an issue then with GM later on just in case.
So what are the realistic HP/lb numbers between the two tunes and the actual boost PSI? It seems over the years this has been debated quite a bit on the forum, but I imagine by now there should be some consensus.
 

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Lots of questions so I will address the big question about the difference in tunes then go over the specifics below.

The reason it is called a tune is because tuning a car is like tuning a guitar, you see where it is at, make an adjustment, and repeat until the car or guitar is doing what you want it too. With a guitar, you strum a sting and compare the sound it makes to a given frequency (what most call a "note") and adjust the tension on the string until the sound from the string matches the correct frequency. The tension on the string is NOT the tune, its tension (getting the tension right is the tune), but we call it being "in tune" anyway.

Car programing is the same way. You scan the car reading the data from the sensors, look at that data to see where the ECM's calibration (the string) is off, then make changes in the calibration file (the tension on the string) to make it better, then upload that new calibration file to the ECM and start all over again. That is tuning a car. The tangible product that you get is a new calibration file. This is important to understand.

With GMPP (which is still worth while if you live in CA since it is the ONLY tune that is CA smog compliant) and Trifecta, you ARE NOT getting a "tune". What you are getting is a calibration file that has been changed from stock to activate certain features (like no lift shift), disabled others (learn down feature), and ups power level usually through boost control. This calibration file is the same no matter your car or where you live. It is a safe tune that will work on any stock or near stock car that is better than OEM. The calibration file was developed on other cars and the company selling it just sends it out to anyone who orders it. This is often called a "canned" or "off-the-shelf" tune.

RPM (and DDM, and PAW, and Hahn) actually TUNE YOUR car. They will send you a laptop, have you scan the car as you drive around, have you send them that scan, then send you a new calibration file to upload and repeat. They keep doing this until your ECM is performing optimally. In the end you still just have a new calibration file, but this one was developed for your car specifically, in your conditions.

Generally, most people consider an actual tune superior to a canned tune. You get more power because it is specific to your car and not something generic meant to work with many cars without having verified the tune is "safe" via scanning after the fact (since they are meant to be "load and go"). However, a canned tune is the safer bet since if there are issues with it, you would see a lot of folks having issues with it. A true tune is only as good and as safe as the tuner. If the tuner pushes the envelope or isn't as good as another tuner, you may have issues.

I had RPM tune my car and they did a great job. I have heard though that they have changed tuners and I have no experience with him if that's true. PAW is currently working ln my tune since I am using a ton of their parts. I am happy with them.

I know RPM's stage 2 requires you to have at least replaced the charge pipes, but I also wasn't sure if this was also just clever marketing.
Because RPM always tunes your car, the stage 2 tune doesn't require charge pipes, stage 2 IS the charge pipes. Their stages are upgrade stages. Stage one may be JUST a tune, stage 2 is a tune and charge pipes, stage 3 is a tune. charge pipes, and a big wheel turbo (I think these are their stages). The stages are about what upgrades you get with it...not the tune specifically since the tune will be optimized by how the engine runs after the new parts are on.

Charge pipes will not make much of a difference in a stock motor. The stock intercooler will be the choke point.
The OEM intercooler may be the failure point too. We have seen stock intercoolers fail and leak after having an aftermarket tune put on the car...even the GMPP tune.

I know that trifecta's tune basically locks your ecm, you cant edit any setting with hptuners unless you overwrite the whole tune, loosing it in the process. Not sure what rpm does in this case.
And not sure whether you want to fiddle around with any settings in the future.
I don't know how RPM does it for others, but they used HP Tuners with mine and didn't lock it so I could make changes later if necessary. Martin Scott knows me fairly well so it may be different for others.

So what are the realistic HP/lb numbers between the two tunes and the actual boost PSI? It seems over the years this has been debated quite a bit on the forum, but I imagine by now there should be some consensus.
30-40 Wheel HorsePower (WHP) is not out of the question. Some claim to have seen a 95 WHP bump from just a tune. Keep in mind there is a difference between WHP and BHP. BHP is horsepower at the flywheel and is what you see from manufacturers...such as the stock 260 hp rating from GM on the Redline, that's 260 BHP. The Redline guys say they get about a 14% power loss through the drivetrain. This would result in about 225 WHP. So when you see the GMPP tune picking up "30 hp going from 260 to 290" they are talking about BHP, not WHP. That works out to about 243 WHP or a 18 WHP gain. Most claim about 300-310 BHP from the Trifecta which works out to be 258-266 WHP. I dynoed at 266 whp with my big wheel turbo 2.4 and could slowly pull away from a Trifecta Redline with intake, charge pipes and exhaust. Not quickly, but a slow, steady crawl. So that number seems about right.

In general, most car communities ONLY talk in WHP because it is measurable and verifiable relatively easily on a chassis dyno. If someone says "I dynoed at 450 hp", they are talking WHP. For whatever reason, this community uses both and there is no pattern as to when someone is using one or the other so always ask if the number they are giving you is WHP or BHP.

Don't worry about boost levels. Most tuners will max out the OEM turbo (called the K04) on this platform which is about 24 psi. 21-22 is more than safe and anything over 25 your are making LESS power than if you ran lower than 25 psi. NOW if you go to a different turbo than the stock on, it's a different story. I have the PAW WR-4 on my 2.4 turbo now and it running at 15 psi is making A LOT more power than my K04 Big Wheel turbo at 15-16 psi.

Hope this helps.
 

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You can also purchase the custom tune through trifecta. You datalog and send it in and the update and send another tune.

They can update for any mods you make. It's not a bad deal. Also if you get their canned tune you can upgrade later to the custom tune just by paying the difference.
 

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Oh also, for trifecta t upped my boost to around 22-23 psi which caused havoc with my stock map sensor. In higher rpms at wot my ecu would jump from 12 degrees of advance to 6 and back a bunch of times.
I'm thinking it was because the old map sensor couldn't go passed 21psi? So the ECU was left trying to search for the proper tube without knowing the correct boost.

I tried with two different stock map sensors and same thing happened. Then got the GM Stage 2 map sensors for the gmpp tune that can read boost numbers higher than 23psi and (knock on wood) it hasn't done that since just pulls straight through.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Lots of questions so I will address the big question about the difference in tunes then go over the specifics below.

The reason it is called a tune is because tuning a car is like tuning a guitar, you see where it is at, make an adjustment, and repeat until the car or guitar is doing what you want it too. With a guitar, you strum a sting and compare the sound it makes to a given frequency (what most call a "note") and adjust the tension on the string until the sound from the string matches the correct frequency. The tension on the string is NOT the tune, its tension (getting the tension right is the tune), but we call it being "in tune" anyway.

Car programing is the same way. You scan the car reading the data from the sensors, look at that data to see where the ECM's calibration (the string) is off, then make changes in the calibration file (the tension on the string) to make it better, then upload that new calibration file to the ECM and start all over again. That is tuning a car. The tangible product that you get is a new calibration file. This is important to understand.

With GMPP (which is still worth while if you live in CA since it is the ONLY tune that is CA smog compliant) and Trifecta, you ARE NOT getting a "tune". What you are getting is a calibration file that has been changed from stock to activate certain features (like no lift shift), disabled others (learn down feature), and ups power level usually through boost control. This calibration file is the same no matter your car or where you live. It is a safe tune that will work on any stock or near stock car that is better than OEM. The calibration file was developed on other cars and the company selling it just sends it out to anyone who orders it. This is often called a "canned" or "off-the-shelf" tune.

RPM (and DDM, and PAW, and Hahn) actually TUNE YOUR car. They will send you a laptop, have you scan the car as you drive around, have you send them that scan, then send you a new calibration file to upload and repeat. They keep doing this until your ECM is performing optimally. In the end you still just have a new calibration file, but this one was developed for your car specifically, in your conditions.

Generally, most people consider an actual tune superior to a canned tune. You get more power because it is specific to your car and not something generic meant to work with many cars without having verified the tune is "safe" via scanning after the fact (since they are meant to be "load and go"). However, a canned tune is the safer bet since if there are issues with it, you would see a lot of folks having issues with it. A true tune is only as good and as safe as the tuner. If the tuner pushes the envelope or isn't as good as another tuner, you may have issues.

I had RPM tune my car and they did a great job. I have heard though that they have changed tuners and I have no experience with him if that's true. PAW is currently working ln my tune since I am using a ton of their parts. I am happy with them.



Because RPM always tunes your car, the stage 2 tune doesn't require charge pipes, stage 2 IS the charge pipes. Their stages are upgrade stages. Stage one may be JUST a tune, stage 2 is a tune and charge pipes, stage 3 is a tune. charge pipes, and a big wheel turbo (I think these are their stages). The stages are about what upgrades you get with it...not the tune specifically since the tune will be optimized by how the engine runs after the new parts are on.



The OEM intercooler may be the failure point too. We have seen stock intercoolers fail and leak after having an aftermarket tune put on the car...even the GMPP tune.



I don't know how RPM does it for others, but they used HP Tuners with mine and didn't lock it so I could make changes later if necessary. Martin Scott knows me fairly well so it may be different for others.



30-40 Wheel HorsePower (WHP) is not out of the question. Some claim to have seen a 95 WHP bump from just a tune. Keep in mind there is a difference between WHP and BHP. BHP is horsepower at the flywheel and is what you see from manufacturers...such as the stock 260 hp rating from GM on the Redline, that's 260 BHP. The Redline guys say they get about a 14% power loss through the drivetrain. This would result in about 225 WHP. So when you see the GMPP tune picking up "30 hp going from 260 to 290" they are talking about BHP, not WHP. That works out to about 243 WHP or a 18 WHP gain. Most claim about 300-310 WHP from the Trifecta which works out to be 258-266 WHP. I dynoed at 266 whp with my big wheel turbo 2.4 and could slowly pull away from a Trifecta Redline with intake, charge pipes and exhaust. Not quickly, but a slow, steady crawl. So that number seems about right.

In general, most car communities ONLY talk in WHP because it is measurable and verifiable relatively easily on a chassis dyno. If someone says "I dynoed at 450 hp", they are talking WHP. For whatever reason, this community uses both and there is no pattern as to when someone is using one or the other so always ask if the number they are giving you is WHP or BHP.

Don't worry about boost levels. Most tuners will max out the OEM turbo (called the K04) on this platform which is about 24 psi. 21-22 is more than safe and anything over 25 your are making LESS power than if you ran lower than 25 psi. NOW if you go to a different turbo than the stock on, it's a different story. I have the PAW WR-4 on my 2.4 turbo now and it running at 15 psi is making A LOT more power than my K04 Big Wheel turbo at 15-16 psi.

Hope this helps.
Thanks Robo, as always a well thought out and complex answer. I appreciate how RPM has broken out what you get with their tune (eg. up to 21 PSI boost, etc) and then the increases with the stage 2 (eg up to 24 PSI boost, etc) which appears they offer as a kit or just a tune if you have done the mods yourself separately. The individual tune is appealing and I appreciate the approach, but I also was concerned with the increased chance something may be set incorrectly by whoever is doing the tune. Compared to the canned tune from Trifecta it seems to be tried and trued for our cars. It's a one size fits most approach, but after this much time I would assume they have worked out the bugs. At this point I feel fairly confidant I have no desire for additional mods after the tune, but as with all things that's subject to change.
You can also purchase the custom tune through trifecta. You datalog and send it in and the update and send another tune.

They can update for any mods you make. It's not a bad deal. Also if you get their canned tune you can upgrade later to the custom tune just by paying the difference.
This is comforting if I do decide later to make some modifications.
Oh also, for trifecta t upped my boost to around 22-23 psi which caused havoc with my stock map sensor. In higher rpms at wot my ecu would jump from 12 degrees of advance to 6 and back a bunch of times.
I'm thinking it was because the old map sensor couldn't go passed 21psi? So the ECU was left trying to search for the proper tube without knowing the correct boost.

I tried with two different stock map sensors and same thing happened. Then got the GM Stage 2 map sensors for the gmpp tune that can read boost numbers higher than 23psi and (knock on wood) it hasn't done that since just pulls straight through.
Thanks for this information as well. I was hoping to stick with the stock MAP sensors since I wasn't planning on additional mods and both companies show that the stock ones function with their tunes so this may be some more pondering to consider.
 

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I have the stock MAP and the canned Trifecta tune. I get 23 psi boost. And it took no additional hardware.
 
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I have the stock MAP and the canned Trifecta tune. I get 23 psi boost. And it took no additional hardware.
The stock MAP sensor is rated 2.5 bar, or (nominally) 22 psi of boost. You don't really know how exactly much boost you are getting, and neither does your ECM. It usually works, but it is not ideal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
The stock MAP sensor is rated 2.5 bar, or (nominally) 22 psi of boost. You don't really know how exactly much boost you are getting, and neither does your ECM. It usually works, but it is not ideal.
This is a good explanation John, I was hoping that since these companies market their tunes as compatible with the stock MAP sensors (2.5 bars) they had figured out that the sensors had some reliable wiggle room in their readings and were just rounded down to the nearest nomenclature. Obviously GM engineers would be much more cautious in their approach and their warranties and they would error on the side of caution to lessen possible litigation's and instruct the use of the 3 bar sensors capable of up to 30 PSI. So if the Trifecta tune does exceed 21 PSI to the user stated 23 or 24 PSI than you have a possible unreliable delta of 2 or 3 PSI. RPM markets their stage 1 tune as up to 21 PSI, but markets their stage 2 as up to 24 PSI both with the option of maintaining the stock MAP sensors. Is the consensus that these are being marketed as "up to" as a caveat knowing that the MAP sensors and conditions may vary and the only reliable way to ensure your actual PSI is to upgrade to the 3 bar sensors?
 

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Performance of the MAP sensors (and all sensors for that matter) is very ambiguous at the extreme edge of their range, which is why they are not used there for critical control functions.

A 2,5 bar sensor should be good for 22 psi of boost, but Summit Racing lists one as "good for up to 25 psi of boost". The math doesn't work for me, but there it is.
 
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