We live in an age where the wrench is no longer needed to boost horsepower and torque. With the rise of onboard computer-controlled vehicles, it’s no wonder that aftermarket performance companies have found a way to optimize OEM programming. While generally known as “chips”, these flash programmers and performance modules use customized software to boost performance. Once installed, they ramp up horsepower, torque, throttle response and MPGs. Granted, choosing the right tuner for your ride requires a bit of research, but luckily for you, we’ve assembled this list of top power programmers and performance chips to steer you in the right direction.
This hard-wired tuner and performance monitor features on-the fly adjustments and four different performance tunes — from mild to wild. There’s no need to reboot your ride for a trip to the store or a launch down the strip. And, the full color display keeps you in the loop with live engine data and instant fuel-economy readings. Combined, this makes for a great, hands-on tuning experience.
Perfect for drivers who want to safely add power, throttle, response and mileage to their ride without adding a permanent fixture on the dashboard, this performance module plugs into your ride’s diagnostic port under the dashboard and loads performance software into the computer (ECU). Once the download is complete, simply disconnect the Hypertech Max Energy Programmer and enjoy a revitalized ride. Best of all, the tune stays in place until you decide to change it, so feel free to stow the programmer at home, under the seat, etc.
Simplicity and powerful features are hallmarks of the Superchips Flashpaq Tuner. Perfect for the daily driver and performance enthusiast, it’s easy to use and delivers outstanding performance. Start by plugging the tuner into the diagnostic port under the dash, punch in a little info and tune at will. It’s that simple. Within minutes, your ride will experience a boost in horsepower, torque and, depending on the tune, mileage. Even better, when it comes time for service at the dealership, just use the Flashpaq to restore your ride back to factory mode.
If you’re looking for a tuner with loads of features, a dazzling touch-screen display and great power gains, look no further than the DiabloSport Trinity T-1000 Programmer. Melded to your ride’s mind, this powerful programmer loads custom-designed, go-fast or gas-saving tricks into the ECU. Best of all, the Trinity T-100 displays live sensor data and a virtual drag tree, and logs data through the OBD-II port. One thing’s for sure—with this bad boy in place, you may never look at your instrument cluster again.
Hold massive tuning power in the palm of your hand with this friendly, easy-to-use programmer. Just plug it into your ride’s diagnostic port and use one of the many pre-loaded tunes for a boost in performance. Browse through intuitive menus on the high-resolution color touchscreen to read sensor data and trouble codes, or clear a check engine light. Best of all, the twin 32-bit processors and 1GB of memory allow you to create and store your own custom tunes.
Looking for plug-n-play power? Look no further than this tuner. Just hook the Cortex to your ride’s diagnostic port, punch a few buttons and tear up the tarmac. You get your choice of three built-in programs to work with to tailor your ride’s power level. And, the built-in MSDP link works great with add-ons like gauges, dash displays and other sensors. Throw in the ability to log data, performance times and speeds and you have enough tuning info to blow your mind.
If you’re looking for a clandestine way to wake up your Hemi-powered ride, it’s hard to beat a Hypertech Interceptor Tuner. This unassuming programmer packs a wallop with one goal — to crank your ride’s horsepower level to 11. All you have to do is plug the tuner into the engine harness under the hood, turn the key and blow away the competition. And, the tuner leaves your ride’s diagnostic port open for service.
Tailored to your power options, the DiabloSport in Tune i3 Platinum Tuner allows you to tune more than one vehicle at a time (with a tuning license) and allows mod-specific tuning, working hand-in-hand with CMR. Software-updatable, all you have to do to get your DiabloSport in Tune i3 running is plug it into your vehicle's OBD-II port under your dashboard and you're all set!
If you’re after a low-profile programmer, the Edge Evolution CTS2 Programmer is for you. Available for both gas and diesel vehicles, this versatile programmer corrects your speedometer and offers a fully-customizable screen layout. Adding up to 180 hp and 440 ft-lbs of torque on diesel applications, and up to 50 hp and 50 ft-lbs of torque on gas, this programmer is an easy favorite for performance seekers. Its 5" full-color touchscreen takes up little space inside your cab and its HDMI-style plug makes it extremely convenient to power up and update.
An easy way to crank up your horsepower is by investing in a 49-State Legal SCT X4 Flash Programmer. Pre-loaded with an impressive set of track-tested tunes specific for your application, this programmer allows you to store up to 10 custom tunes and offers an easy-to-read screen with an auto-dimming feature. If you're not usually heavy on your foot, you'll notice an increase on fuel efficiency as well as an enhance throttle response. This smaller design provides a more ergonomic feel when compared to previous models.
As you’ve seen, tuners generally add horsepower and torque with minimal effort. The main differences between these powerful modules are the way they accomplish this task. A programmer that plugs into your ride’s diagnostic port and reprograms the ECU is the easiest way to go but may lack a display to view vehicle information while driving. On the other end of the spectrum are performance modules that tie directly into the car’s wiring harness and correct sensor signals in real-time. One thing’s for certain — if you want a better driving experience, any choice from the above list is a winner. If you have questions or comments about the programmers on this list or want more info from real-world experiences, check out our performance chips review page.