For most of the gamers out there, the only way to upgrade their graphics performance is by upgrading the graphics card and other related parts. They expect a better frame rate as well as better performance in return, hoping to run every new game coming in the market is the smoothest way possible. There is no doubt in the fact that it is the easiest and best way to enhance your machine’s gaming performance. But one cannot buy graphics card again and again when a new one is out, it could be a very costly affair. But it is not at all necessary, as there are other methods by which you can enhance your gaming performance and experience. One such method is by overclocking the GPU.
The current graphics cards are manufactured to handle almost everything. But if you are not in a situation to buy a new graphics card and wish to get something more from your existing graphics processing unit. Overclocking is a good solution to this problem. You have an option to overclock your CPU as well as overclock your GPU. We have already covered overclocking of CPU in an earlier post, and here we are going to tell you how you can overclock your GPU. But before we begin with overclocking GPU, let us know why do you need to overclock your Graphics Processing unit?
Why Overclock GPU?
Earlier, people use to think that overclocking is something that could damage your GPU and could only be performed by ultimate computer geeks. Many say that overclocking your GPU could also reduce the lifespan of your overclocked component. But, that happens when you set your setting to the extreme. Pushing it a bit won’t harm your machine. Once you have the voltage as well as your temperature under control, you have nothing to worry.
But before you begin with overclocking, there are certain things that you should take care of. Since overclocking will create a lot more heat and temperature, you must have a good cooling system installed in your PC. Most of the graphics card you get now days already possess a cooling fan or other cooling systems to get the heat out of the overclocked board as soon as possible. If you are not sure or if your machine’s cooling system will be able to handle the overclocked setting or not, it is always better to have a solution in hand.
Since the manufacturers know that more and more users are turning towards overclocking nowadays, they have already build most of the common overclocking tools in the drivers itself. In case you do not have the driver or tools, you can get the AMD tools in AMD Overdrive menu in the company’s Catalyst Control Center suite. Similarly, you will get the system tools utility from the official Nvidia’s site, that will help you to play around with the frequency and other settings very easily for overclocking your GPU.
How to Overclock your GPU
There are many factors that could affect the game performance running on your system. It could include game engine settings, driver version, and optimization, the CPU’s computing speed and the fillrate of your graphics card. However, these settings have very less to do with your GPU’s overclocking. The main factor is the amount of memory that the frame memory buffer is able to afford while displaying any frame on the screen. This includes the resolution of the frame, the texture detail, color intensity and other similar factors. The frame buffer memory of your Graphics card could be increased by enhancing the frequency that your GPU is already running on. You can change the settings to make buffer it a lot more data than before, and even at a faster rate resulting in an overall better performance and gaming experience.
So let us finally move on to the steps that you need in order to overclock your Graphics Processing unit. But have a look at the pre-requisites that you will be needing before you begin the process.
For overclocking your GPU you will need a machine which has a dedicated graphics card installed in it In case you do not have a dedicated GPU in your unit and you run the games on an integrated graphics card, don’t even bother to overclock it. So, if you have an Intel HD graphics or GMA 4500 mhd graphics card, trying to overclock them will damage your machine. So, only Nvidia and AMD dedicated graphics card are eligible for any kind of overclocking process.
Get all the tools that you will require for overclocking. There are many other software on the internet that can help you in the overclocking process. We have mentioned few of them in our tutorial, and you will be able to download them using the links that we have provided in the tutorial itself.
You will also have to unlock your card before you can overclock it. The manufacturers lock down the card before shipping them because they do not want the user to overclock them and damage their machine. We hope you have an unlocked GPU or you can easily do it by searching on the internet.
Note: Before you begin with the overclocking process, you need to know that overclocking your GPU will void your component’s warranty. These settings are applicable on your PC and the manufacturer won’t be responsible for any kind of damage that your machine undergoes during the process. Overclocking will also cause overheating of your machine, so make sure to take appropriate measures to cool down your PC so that all the inner components are properly cooled after overclocking.
To begin with GPU overclocking, you will require a set of tools using which you can test and benchmark your GPU performance. We recommend you to use the MSI Afterburner software for overclocking the Nvidia as well as AMD GPUs. It is true that you should use the software of the manufacturer to which your GPU belongs. But, MSI Afterburner is compatible with both of them as well and offers the users a live monitoring on the screen. Also, you should make it the primary tool that you can use for overclocking. You get easy tools to change the voltage, the core clock speed, fan speed, memory clocking as well as the power limit of your GPU.
Some other software you can go for includes SAPPHIRE Trixx Utility and EVGA Precision X series. Both of these software offer you the same parameters as well as utilities as in Afterburner.
Step 2 is monitoring your GPU performance. After you have downloaded the Afterburner software, install it on your PC and then open it to enable the in-game overlay as well as frame monitoring.
Now, initially, you will have to understand the functioning of your graphics card. You will also have to test how it performs while playing different or the heaviest game. For this, we would recommend you to note down the normal GPU values and then run the heaviest game on your machine. Open the tool again and note down the new readings. Mostly you will get a minimum frame rate of around 15-20 and maximum frame rate of around 60-65, thus giving you an average frame rate of around 35-45 frame per second.
The third step is enhancing the power limit of your GPU. In order to do this, you need to head back to the MSI Afterburner software. The first setting that we are going to tweak here is power limit. There will be a slider that you will have to click and move in front of the “Power limit” tag. You need to take it step by step over the stock setting, which will take your GPU temperature from normal to around 90-95 degrees.
Now since you have your GPU filled with power that it might require which overclocking, start increasing the slider next to “Overclocking” step by step. You should also research about the overclocking settings that fit your GPU over the internet. It is possible that you might get some predefined setting from other users who might have been successful in overclocking similar GPU, that might work for you as well.
After you have increased the clock speed, you need to pump up the memory clock speed as well. You should be able to find stable clock speed at around 225 to 250 MHz. After searching on the internet, we found that on an average, people were able to find a stable memory clock speed around 450 MHz. The Nvidia GPU boost is going to decide how much voltage it will require to run stably.
Now you need to repeat the steps given above again and again and test your system again and again. If you go too above the GPU’s limit, your system will start hanging and heating. You also, need to keep an eye on that so that your GPU does cross its heating limit and gets damaged.
Keep on increasing the clock frequency and memory clock frequency slowly and apply the setting again and again to see your GPU and system’s response. However, there is no way to be completely sure whether the setting you have applied are correct and stable or not. For that, you will have to set your GPU to the most stable setting that you think you have achieved and then do some heavy gaming continuously for few hours. If your settings are stable and perfect, your system will run the games without any hang or stuttering.
If you do not want to do that, there are much software available on the internet that could do the stress testing of your GPU. You can go for either Futuremark 3d Mark benchmark tool named Furmark. It is an easy to use simple software that provides good stress test result for you.
You can also choose 3DMark software, but we would recommend it to those who play with overclock settings a lot. We say so because it is a paid software and is obviously a better option when compared to Furmark. You can also run the testing on the loop using this software so that it could run the Furmark’s test over and over again to test your setting for hours to find the perfect overclocking settings for you.
If you Encounter Fatal Shutdown
It is possible that you might encounter a fatal shut down because of unstable overclocked settings. However, these fatal breakdowns won’t cause much damage to your system. If you face such situation, you just have to shut down your machine and then restart it. However, after restarting, make sure you reduce the settings since the settings that are already set is unstable for your machine as well as GPU.
Saving the Settings
You can easily save the overclocked GPU settings in the form of a profile. The Profile option on the software allows the users to save the stable overclocked settings by a click of just single button. Just click on the Save button to save the preference which you can easily load later by selecting it and then clicking Apply. To delete any save preference, you will just have to right-click on the number to reset it.
There is also an option to set hotkeys to your profile which has been overclocked. Thus, you can save two settings, (we recommend one to be default settings) and the users have an option to switch between the anytime they want. For a 2D object like movies and pictures, you can switch to the default settings. However, you can switch back to the overclocked settings while playing heavy games.
Overclocking the GPU or CPU might look risky to most of the users and obviously it is the most dangerous way to get some extra juice out of your GPU. But it is also stupid to waste hundreds of dollars to get a bit more from your GPU. Overclocking is not wrong, and definitely, you should learn to overclock your GPU and other components to extract every last drop of power from them for a better gaming experience.