Everyone loves installing intakes and exhausts. And it’s probably one of those first mods that anyone does to their truck. By doing that, you are increasing the amount of airflow coming in and out of your engine. If you bring in more air, you will also want to bring in more fuel. Throwing additional parts to your truck could cause some performance issues, and you may need to get your GMC Sierra 1500 tuned.
You can take the truck to a tuning shop, or you can simply get the best programmer for GMC Sierra 1500 and do the tuning yourself. If you’re not sure how to pick the best performance programmers, we’re here to help.
Keep reading to explore our top recommendations!
Superchips Flashpaq F5 Tuner is the most-liked and our top pick. This programmer has proven to be the go-to option for most GMC Sierra 1500 owners. We think it can be a great choice for you for improving engine performance for your truck.
Here Are the Best Programmers for GMC Sierra 1500
If you’re thinking of improving the horsepower and torque of your GMC Sierra 1500, you could use the help of the Flashpaq F5 tuner from Superchips.
This programmer has several tune levels for specific vehicle applications. Unlike conventional tuners, this module comes with tunes that are engineered with Sierra owners’ best interests in mind.
With several power levels from tow, performance, to economy, this unit will send the much-needed power to your GMC Sierra in just a few minutes.
We really like how this module can give you complete control of your GMC Sierra. This includes the speed limiter when the cooling fan turns on and the pedal response, which are all customizable at the push of a button. You will appreciate how easy it is to momentarily boost the engine idle rpm, and change daytime running lights configuration.
Another thing that makes this a great option is its internet updateable feature. It was fairly easy for us to update the software using USB. Not to mention that it has good compatibility with other performance upgrades.
- Internet updateable
- Redesigned graphic interface
- Speedometer correction
- Performance tuning
- Active fuel management
- Provides outstanding user experience
- Allows for performance tuning for daily driving
- Has great capabilities of monitoring vehicle parameters
- Can be used with other performance upgrades
- Easy to read as well as clear diagnostic trouble codes
- It doesn’t come preloaded with tuning features
- Doesn’t allow you to get rid of EGR
This is a great tuner out of the box, and we think you will appreciate its capabilities after a few performance boosts.
Overall Rating: 4.4
You probably don’t know much about performance tuners. But the Predator 2 from Diablo is one of the easiest programmers on the market.
This will be an nice upgrade for your GMC Sierra because it will get you enhanced torque, horsepower, as well as a boost in fuel economy. It has a plug-and-play setup, which doesn’t need a genius to operate. All you’ve got to be familiar with is the location of the OBD port in your GM and then follow each prompt for a successful upgrade.
The next thing that we found to be quite impressive about the Predator 2 is its ability to save our Sierra’s factory settings, which means we can revert to stock whenever we want to. Its custom tuning capability is incredible. It’s also preloaded with powerful tuning features, so that’s a bonus.
Another great feature that we love is the ability to disable the AFM when you are going on long highway rides to avoid excessive oil consumption. This way you can avoid engine damage caused by excessive ring and cylinder wear.
- Plug-and-play installation
- High-definition screen
- CMR custom tuning
- 50-state legal
- Save stock tune
- USB compatible for upgrades
- Diagnostic codes
- Installs easily by just plugging into the OBD port
- The five-button interface is easy to use
- Has superior memory with incredible processor speed
- Speedometer correction is easy for tire size changes
- Effective at reading and clearing DTCs
- The cost may be a little bit steep for a tight budget
- Be on the lookout for defective models
We think this is a great module for clearing lag and fixing throttle response. The cost may be high for some people, though.
Overall Rating: 4.3
You can unlock your GMC Sierra 1500 in more ways than one with this great programmer from Power Tune Performance.
There are a bunch of things to like about this programmer. First, it comes preloaded with advanced custom dyno tuner technology, which is good because it helps increase torque and horsepower. Second, the device is super easy to use, all you’ve got to do is plug it into your vehicle’s OBD port. Once set up, the tuner will optimize transmission shifting, air to fuel ratios and ignition spark advance for the ultimate torque and horsepower gains.
This thing doesn’t overwrite your factory data, which means you get to maintain the validity of your warranty coverage. Even if you removed the programmer from your vehicle, no one will know that it was installed in the first place.
Another good thing about this tuner is the full money-back guarantee. In case it doesn’t meet your expectations, you can always request for a refund.
- Dyno-proven technology
- Plugs into the OBD port
- Transmission shifting
- Air to fuel ratios
- Ignition spark advance
- Quick, easy, and very convenient installation
- Boosts torque and horsepower by significant percentages
- Crisper shifting and smoother engagement
- Does a good job of enhancing throttle response
- It’s good at eliminating turbo and engine lag
- It is possible to receive a defective model
This module is uniquely designed to help boost the horsepower as well as torque of your vehicle. We think it will be a good investment.
Overall Rating: 4.2
4. Hypertech 32501 Max Energy Power Programmer
This tuner from Hypertech is another great choice for optimizing the engine tuning of your Sierra for superior power and performance.
This programmer has an impressive and easy-to-operate design, which we really like. The hardware, as well as software, are advanced, providing you with a productive, efficient, and very fast tuner. Setting up this module wasn’t difficult for us—we just relied on the instructions manual and the video tutorial.
We had some doubts, but we ended up appreciating this unit for several reasons. First, we could read and clear DTCs. Second, we were able to achieve our desired shift firmness and automatic transmission shift point adjustments.
One important thing you should keep in mind, though, is that the features provided by this unit depend most on vehicle application. Popular features you should expect from this device include fuel management systems, top speed limiter, and rev limiter.
But here is the thing, you shouldn’t expect a very huge improvement in fuel efficiency.
- Computer programmer
- Performance tuning
- Diagnostic trouble codes
- Rev limiter control
- Top speed limiter control
- Built-in speedometer calibrator
- Shift firmness and shift points
- 50-state legal emission legality
- It allows you to adjust settings
- Going back to stock calibration is easy and quick
- It can read as well as clear DTCs
- Can increase performance by raising engine’s rpm
- Easy, quick, and effective plug and go set up
- Doesn’t incredibly boost fuel efficiency
- It cannot be updated on Mac, only PC
We think this is a great entry-level tuner, which will help you boost some important performance features.
Overall Rating: 4.2
5. Bully Dog 40417 GT Platinum Tuner
Here is another unit that can effectively add horsepower and torque to your GMC Sierra 1500. You can also monitor your vehicle parameters with this module.
The very first thing that stood out about this tuner is the head-up display, which will allow you to monitor over 15 performance parameters while you are driving.
It is quite cool to be able to change which gauges you want your monitor to display. You can monitor everything from mass airflow, intake temperature, speed, coolant temperature, battery voltage, engine rpm, throttle percent, fuel economy, load on the vehicle, barometric pressure, transmission tap, timing, and fuel flow.
You can also monitor the driving coach function on the right-hand side of the screen. This function is a handy tool that you can use to achieve better fuel economy when driving. All you’ve got to do is set a fuel economy goal.
The driving coach will then evaluate your driving style and how fast you accelerate and decelerate. Then it will give you an overall grade for how well you are driving. The better the grade, the better the fuel economy.
We also like how this tuner allows the driver to perform tests on your GMC Sierra to see how the upgrades are improving the horsepower and torque and also improving the 0 to 60 times.
- Full-color display
- Driving coach feature
- Display instant fuel economy
- Display current gear
- Vehicle-specific download
- Easy to install in under half an hour
- Driving coach helps improve fuel economy
- Reads as well as clears diagnostic trouble codes
- Allows for daytime and nighttime driving modes setup
- Monitors as well as displays different parameters
- It’s possible to receive a model with issues
- The tech support may not be the easiest to reach out to
You can significantly improve your driving habits and boost the performance of your GMC Sierra with the GT.
Overall Rating: 4.0
6. SCT 40490 BDX Performance Tuner
The BDX tuner from SCT is a great way to change the core functionality of your GMC Sierra. Precision in your vehicle’s performance has never been easier.
Out of the box, the very first thing that caught our attention was it is incredibly small and portable. You can easily store this in your glovebox. Its small form factor allows you to mount it on the dashboard if you want to use it for monitoring purposes.
Another feature we really like about the BDX is dyno-proven performance. It comes with dyno-proven tune files that have been street-tested. This is good because it helps unlock your truck’s true potential. You can even get the necessary updates you need over the Cloud. All you have to do is connect it to Wi-Fi.
But we think its best feature is its ability to monitor engine parameters while driving. The HD color allows for easy readability. Data logging, on the other hand, allows you to record your vehicle’s performance.
- Dyno-proven performance
- Custom tuning capability
- Cloud delivery
- Data overload feature
- Heads up display
- Ergonomic control buttons
- Fairly easy and quick install
- Delivers custom tunes and firmware updates over Wi-Fi
- Street-tested preloaded tunes for ease of use
- Easy to monitor PIDs while driving in real-time
- Custom tuning gives more programming options
- It may not be the best option for improving fuel efficiency
- The tech support may not be reliable
It may not be the highest performing tuner out there, but we believe this module could really help improve the performance of your truck.
Overall Rating: 4.0
Although it comes last on our list, this performance programmer from Jet is a reliable choice for GMC Sierra 1500 owners.
One impressive feature is the plug-and-play installation. You just have to find your OBD II port and plug in the module to get started. This programmer also has tuning modes, which are very good at improving horsepower and torque percentages.
We installed this tuner on our truck and we were able to modify important parameters, including rev limiter, speed limiter, shift firmness, shift points, ignition timing, and air and fuel ratios. We were also able to turn off the ABS system and correct our speedometer.
- Three performance tunes
- Built-in trouble code scanner
- Correct speedometer
- Modify speed limit and rev limit
- Plug and play design
- Easy, quick, and highly convenient installation
- It’s reliable at improving horsepower and torque
- Allows programming for low, mid, premium fuel
- Correct speedometer when there is a tire size change
- The display is super easy to read and understand
- The functionality of some settings is limited
- It’s possible to receive a used programmer
We think this little guy will do a great job of improving and enhancing some very important performance features of your vehicle.
Overall Rating: 4.0
Things to Consider to Consider Before Buying
Enhancing the performance of your GMC Sierra 1500 may not be as easy as you think. You can only get the most reliable performance improvements if you use the best programmer for GMC Sierra 1500.
Here are the most important things that we think will help you find what you have been looking for:
What Types of Tunes Does the Module Have?
The first and probably the most important thing to consider is the type of tunes that the tuner or programmer comes with. There are two types of tunes you can look for: preload dyno-proven and custom tunes.
Preload Dyno-Proven Tunes
You’ve probably heard of preloaded dyno-proven tunes and you have been wondering what they are.
These are tunes that are created by the calibrators of the programmer and they come preloaded in the device. In other words, you get them right out of the box. A preloaded tune file usually provides you with options for vehicle modifications, such as adjustments for even tire size, gear ratios, and an aftermarket intake to work out issues with the speedometer.
Well-built devices will allow you to load up to 20-plus tuning files from custom tuning dealers or select from the many tuning levels already available in the module.
There are two ways you can load these types of tunes to your device. First, you can download and upload them using your PC. Second, you can opt for a programmer that has Wi-Fi capability for easy, quick, and convenient delivery of the tunes from the cloud.
Custom tunes, on the other hand, are tune files designed by someone and then uploaded onto a tuner or programmer. As the name suggests, a custom tune is specifically written based on your driving preferences as well as modifications to your GMC Sierra 1500.
Unlike preloaded or canned tunes, custom tune files ensure you get the best performance out of your setup. The individual ECU files are calibrated to offer an optimized and unique set of instructions for your engine. This provides great benefits for both economy and performance.
There are basically two ways you can get a custom tune file. One is through mail-order, or you can get a dyno tune file created for your device at a tuning shop.
Monitoring, Data Logging & Diagnostics
Once you have decided on the types of tune files you want your device to have, the next important thing to consider is the functionalities of the module.
In addition to performance tuning, you need to consider a programmer that will make it easy for you to monitor engine parameters while you are driving. This way, you can tell if the performance tuning made any difference. For this purpose, you need a tuner with HD color and a large display for easy readability.
The next important feature, in addition to performance tuning, is data logging capability. Will the unit allow you to record your truck’s performance for reference later on?
Once you have checked those two features, you should also consider diagnostic capability. Can you use the device to read as well as clear diagnostic trouble codes? This will save you a trip to a dealership.
Design and Installation
You may probably overlook this feature, but it is a very important one. You have to select a tuner that has an easy-to-read display. Not to mention that it should have HD color. How the parameters are displayed also matters. So, consider a module that allows you to adjust the display accordingly.
Then take into account the installation. How easy or difficult is it? Is it a plug-and-play setup? We always prefer a plug-and-play installation a do-it-yourself tuning project. All you’ve got to do is locate the OBD II port.
Also, check out the best programmer for 5.3 Silverado.
What is performance tuning?
Performance tuning is the modification of a vehicle to boost its performance features. In other words, it is a reconfiguration of your vehicle’s software to enhance horsepower and torque. In most cases, tuning is done for engine parameters. Some of the things that you can get out of performance tuning, aside from increased horsepower and torque, are smoother response and better fuel economy.
When should I tune my GMC Sierra 1500?
The intervals for tuning differ from one truck to another, depending on what parts you have added to your truck. But you may likely need a tune-up after installing intakes and exhausts.
The best tune-up intervals recommendations, however, are available in your owner’s manual. Your ignition system may need tuning more often if you are the kind of driver who pulls heavy loads or does a lot of stop-and-go driving. You will also know you need maintenance and tuning if your truck stalls a lot.
How much will I pay for a tune-up at a tuning shop?
The cost of a tune-up usually ranges from 40 to 150 USD. But the cost of the performance tuning could increase significantly, depending on what goes into the tune-up.
The winner of this roundup is Superchips Flashpaq F5 Tuner. What makes this the best programmer for GMC Sierra 1500 is the type of tune files it comes with, which are specifically calibrated with the owner’s interests in mind. You should expect great improvement in performance as well as fuel economy.
It comes with the best tune files out of the box. And you can always update the software using USB, thanks to its internet-updatable feature. You also get a redesigned graphic interface for easy readouts, ergonomic buttons for easy operation, and an incredibly fast processor for superior tuning as well as updating speed.