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  • 1997 Ford F350 Chip Test - 7.3L Power Stroke Chip Comparison

1997 Ford F350 Chip Test - 7.3L Power Stroke Chip Comparison

300HP Tuning Options For '94 1/2 To '97 Ford Trucks

Mike McGlothlin
Feb 1, 2010
Photographers: Mike McGlothlin
Recently, we asked four well-known tuners in the 7.3L Power Stroke segment to participate in a long-term study using our '97 F-350 as the test mule. We asked each company for its best calibrations for daily driving, towing, fuel economy, and all-out racing purposes. Our main interest was to test each chip's street manners, drivability, and horsepower. It was impressive to see what each tuner came up with to fit our truck's specific modifications. Read on to see what we thought of each chip's drivability in our truck, as well as how smooth of a power curve each chip helped it make on the dyno.
Photo 2/6   |   1997 Ford F350 Chip Test westech Dyno
1997 Ford F-350
Injectors: Stage 1 from Bean's Diesel Performance
Air Intake: K&N
Exhaust: 4-inch MBRP exhaust with 3-inch downpipe
Transmission: NADP Heavy Hauler E4OD
Fuel Modifications: CPR fuel system from DieselSite
Intercooler: ATS Diesel
Turbo: Stock
High-Pressure Oil Pump: Stock
Tire Size: 305/70R16
Gear Ratio: 4.10
Dyno Testing
* All dyno pulls were made on Westech Performance Group's SuperFlow chassis dyno
* All dyno runs were made on the same 65-degree day
* All dyno pulls were made in Third gear (1:1) with overdrive off
* All dyno pulls began by rolling into the throttle at approximately 45 mph (2,150 rpm)
* SuperFlow's correction factor (STP) was used in our results- SAE numbers would be slightly lower
* Each dyno pull was followed by a short cooldown period in order to substantiate the previous pull
* The same method was used when swapping out chips, and the truck was given 45 minutes to cool down between switching chips
* When chips were swapped out from the PCM, we made sure the keys were out of the ignition
* Both batteries were also disconnected during each chip swap for utmost safety
Total Diesel Performance
One of the premiere 7.3L Power Stroke tuners in the aftermarket is Tony Wildman of Total Diesel Performance. Over the years he's become a heavyweight in the 7.3L tuning world, thanks to his ability to unlock serious power in stock and highly modified trucks. Total Diesel Performance's custom tuning can be had via a six-position TS Performance chip.
Photo 3/6   |   Power built early (at lower engine speeds) in Total Diesel Performance's Extreme setting, and due to the fact that this setting makes power so quickly, we are willing to bet this chip would get the truck down the dragstrip the fastest. Tabletop horsepower range (300 hp or higher): 2,300 rpm to 3,000 rpm. If you want the fastest truck at the track and prefer a touchy go-pedal, Total Diesel Performance will satisfy your needs.
We found the Economy setting to be the best all-around mode to drive in. Low-end power was strong, getting up to speed was effortless, shifts were smooth, and we could tell there was still a good amount of power on tap-especially when passing cars.
Obviously, the Extreme setting was used quite a bit, and it made the truck the most fun to drive. Throttle response on this setting was incredible. Only minimal input was needed to get up to speed, and surprisingly, the truck's idle and street manners were well maintained. Total Diesel Performance gets the nod for making our Power Stroke the most fun to drive.
Brian's Truck Shop
With a reputation for building bullet-proof Ford transmissions, it only makessense that Brian's Truck Shop offers custom tuning for the 7.3L Power Strokes that reside in front of it. Cale Thompson of Brian's Truck Shop began tuning 7.3Ls several years ago and has dialed in some potent Power Strokes, including his own 13.6-second, 500hp rig. Thompson sent us a six-position TS Performance chip with a 125hp Performance setting.
Photo 4/6   |   The 125hp setting on Brian's Truck Shop's chip began making power at higher engine speeds than the other competitors. Peak horsepower was achieved at 3,000 rpm, and the truck was still making 323 hp at the end of the dyno run (3,200 rpm). Tabletop horsepower range (300 hp or higher): 2,600 rpm to 3,200 rpm. If you want to win the dyno day, Brian's Truck Shop will get you there.
Not only did Brian's Truck Shop's 125hp tune make the most horsepower, but it was also well-behaved at idle and had good drivability manners and shift points that kept our Power Stroke in its 1,800-to-3,000-rpm powerband (when rolling into the throttle it was the quickest to downshift). In addition, the truck was virtually smokeless. Brian's Truck Shop is definitely ahead of the curve as far as making modified 7.3Ls run clean.
DP-Tuner has been calibrating 7.3L Power Strokes since 2004, and it has become a household name with '94 1/2 to '03 Ford owners. With a strong background in computer systems, a willingness to perform live-tuning sessions, and the fact that it's the only aftermarket tuner offering a multiple-position switch from MoatesWare, DP-Tuner's F5 chips are in high demand.
Photo 5/6   |   Making outstanding low-end grunt and impressive top-end power, DP-Tuner's 120hp setting made the second most horsepower on the dyno. Peak horsepower was achieved at a low 2,600 rpm, and DP-Tuner's calibration yielded one of the most prolonged powerbands we've seen with a 7.3L Power Stroke. Tabletop horsepower range (300 hp or higher): 2,300 rpm to 3,200 rpm. If you want countless on-the-fly tuning options and great all-around performance, give DP-Tuner a call.
With up to 16 settings available, DP-Tuner gets the nod for offering the largest variety of on-the-fly options.
Thirteen settings were included on our F5 chip to try out, including an impressive drive-thru tune, deceleration tow setting, and a 120hp race option. We spent quite a bit of time in an 80hp Economy setting while cruising around town, and a 60hp Tow setting did a good job of keeping EGT down, especially when driving in high elevations.
Elite Diesel
Best known for making serious horsepower with 6.0L and the new 6.4L Power Stroke engines, Tadd Layton of Elite Diesel Engineering still creates some impressive tunes for the 7.3L mills. Like Total Diesel Performance and Brian's Truck Shop, Elite's custom tunes also come on a TS Performance six-position chip.
Photo 6/6   |   Right up there with the other competitors, Eilte's Max-Power tune didn't disappoint. Horsepower peaked at less than 2,900 rpm and torque peaked at 660 lb-ft. We were surprised the Max-Power tune made such strong numbers while producing considerably less boost than the other chips had (5 psi). Tabletop horsepower range (300 hp or higher): 2,450 rpm to 3,000 rpm. If you're after a great tow tune and want top-notch safety built into your performance settings, we'd go with Elite Diesel.
Elite's performance tunes were well-behaved at idle and were very streetable. Its shift points were firm, yet smooth, and smoke was minimal, too. Elite Diesel's Tow-Power setting is a great daily driver option, capable of solid, in-town acceleration-keeping the truck smoke-free with a very manageable EGT. With state-of-the-art cylinder pressure technology at its disposal, we'd give Elite Diesel the nod for all-around reliability in a performance tune.


Westech Performance Group
Mira Loma, CA
TS Performance
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Elite Diesel Engineering
Pueblo West, CO 81007
Brian's Truck Shop
Lead Hill, AZ 72544
Hoschton, GA 30548
Total Diesel Performance
Fort Worth, TX 76131


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