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Although upgrading khổng lồ a brand new graphics card is arguably the best way lớn improve sầu your PC’s 3 chiều rendering ability, you can eke out a little more performance from your existing card with overclocking. Much lượt thích a CPU, a graphics card contains chips that with the right tweaks can work harder và faster. That can mean better benchmark results & higher frames per second in your favorite games.

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Although still a little intimidating và certainly not friendly lớn your graphics card’s temperatures, learning how lớn overclochồng your GPU is easier today than it’s ever been. You just need the right tools, the right steps, & plenty of patience.

A word of warning

Overclocking anything, be it your CPU, graphics card, or memory, has inherent risks. They are relatively low, but they are important to lớn consider so that you’re well informed before starting. Overclocking anything involves the process of forcing it to lớn perform at a faster rate than it was manufactured lớn bởi vì so. That means you are pushing it harder và by working faster, it will get hotter và it may become less stable. That could result in crashes in the short term & over the long term, could reduce the lifespan of your particular hardware.

There’s a chance that overclocking your hardware may void your warranty too. Many manufacturers allow it, as graphics cards will throttle up và down during general usage anyhow. However, serious tweaks lượt thích playing with voltages or flashing your graphics card’s BIOS are more likely to impact any warranty you have. The best bet is lớn double check with your manufacturer whether what you’re doing affects the warranty before beginning.

Although we will do our best khổng lồ guide you along the path to lớn a faster, more powerful graphics thẻ, Digital Trends accepts no liability for any problems you run into lớn with your hardware along the way.

Overclocking a graphics card is also only recommended for desktop PC users. Although in some cases you can overcloông xã máy vi tính GPUs — including Intel HD chips — it’s not usually recommended due lớn temperature concerns.

Step 1: Get ready

Before you can actually get started overclocking your GPU, you need lớn get everything ready. The first step, if you don’t know already, is figuring out which graphics thẻ you have sầu. To bởi so, you can take a look at the thẻ itself, or the packaging if you still have it. If that doesn’t work, right-cliông chồng your desktop & click either the Nvidia or AMD graphics settings liên kết, followed by “My Rig” or “System,” respectively.

If you’d rather use a manufacturer agnostic solution, GPUZ can tell you everything you need lớn know about your graphics card.

Once you know exactly which graphics thẻ you’re running, you should update lớn the lathử nghiệm graphics drivers. You can find those on Nvidia và AMD’s websites. Upgrading them will likely require a reboot, so make sure lớn come baông xã lớn this guide when you’re done, or read on before continuing.

Before starting the overclocking proper, you’ll also want khổng lồ download some useful tools to lớn help you along. First, you’ll want to download the overclocking tool we’re going to lớn be using for this guide: MSI Afterburner. Although AMD has its own Wattman alternative và there are several other popular third-tiệc ngọt tools, Afterburner works for just about every graphics thẻ & offers a full suite of features.

You’re also going khổng lồ need a benchmark to chạy thử the stability of your new graphics thẻ. A proven, lightweight benchmark is Unigine’s Valley. We also lượt thích Furmark for its built in temperature readout, but it’s more of a synthetic demo. If you have sầu any games with built in benchmarks you may want khổng lồ have those installed & to hvà, so that you can see what effect your new overclocks have on performance.

If you haven’t cleaned your PC in a long time, this is also a good time to lớn vày so, as any extra dust in your system can heavily contribute lớn GPU temperature spikes during overclocking. It’s not a mandatory step but is certainly advisable before you get started.

Step 2: Establish baselines

The next step in your overclocking journey is establishing baselines. You want to lớn know your system’s standard clochồng speeds (for both the core & memory), as well as its standard operating temperatures (both idle và load) and its standard performance.

To find out those figures, cthua thảm down any applications that are already running và startup MSI Afterburner. Although you can customize the look of Afterburner to lớn how you see fit, lớn make sure we’re all on the same page about the location of different elements, locate the cog “Settings” button & clichồng it. Use the top-tab navigation arrows and select “User Interface.” Then in the “User interface skinning properties” heading, use the drop down lớn select “Default MSI Afterburner v3 skin,” & click “OK.”

If you need to, use the temperature settings lớn convert readouts khổng lồ Celsius or Fahrenheit depending on your preference.

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The graphs on the right-hvà side will tell you most of what you need to know at this point. The top one is for your graphics card’s core temperature. It can run anywhere up khổng lồ 176 degrees Fahrenheit without much difficulty, but anything beyond that gets dangerous for your hardware & can result in crashes or even damage, so it’s important to be aware of your GPU’s temperature at all times during overclocking và subsequent testing.

The other figures to lớn be aware of are core cloông xã và memory cloông chồng. Those are the figures that we’re going khổng lồ be tweaking during overclocking. The “Min” numbers on those graphs are the idling speeds, while the “Max,” figures are the ones that your graphics card will typically use when it’s working hard at rendering a game or benchmark. That’s what we want to lớn raise to improve sầu performance.

The final number(s) khổng lồ find out before we start overclocking for real, is an idea of your graphics card’s performance. Run the Valley benchmark you downloaded earlier using the “Extreme HD” prephối, or with everything at maximum chất lượng, fullscreen, and at “System” resolution.

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Note: Press “F9” during the demo to lớn begin the benchmark.

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If you want to note down some additional performance numbers before beginning, you may also want lớn run Futuremark’s 3Dmark, or any modern game with its own built-in benchmarking utility, like Shadow of Mordor or Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Step 3: Slow and steady

Overclocking might be easier today than ever before, but that doesn’t mean you should rush inlớn it headfirst. Overclocking is most successful when you take your time & take precautions along the way. Make sure that during your baseline benchmarking that Afterburner’s temperature graph doesn’t show any dangerous peaks. Anything over 176 degrees Fahrenheit would suggest your cooling isn’t svào enough for overclocking.

Also make sure that in the Afterburner window the “Apply overclocking as system startup,” box isn’t ticked. That forces your newly designated clock speeds to lớn startup with Windows & you don’t want that until you have found a stable overcloông chồng.

If you have some temperature headroom, start up the Valley áp lực testing application again, but this time run it in “Windowed” mode. In the Afterburner window, raise the power limit to its maximum percentage — that lets your GPU draw as much power as it needs for the settings you put into it and avoids any automated throttling. It will not affect the voltage put through your chips.

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Make sure Valley is running và return lớn the Afterburner window. Using either the slider or by typing in the number yourself, raise your clock speed by 10MHz. Once that’s done, reopen the Valley window & watch for any visual “artifacts.” These are visual signs that your graphics chip is working too hard và can manifest as tiny blocks of miscolored pixels, or large shard-lượt thích bands of color. If you don’t see any of those after a minute or two, return lớn the Afterburner window and repeat the process.

Repeat that time và again until you see artifacts, or until Valley itself crashes. If you push things too far, you may see a blaông chồng screen as your graphics driver crashes or your entire system reboots. Don’t fret, you just went too far. Dial things bachồng a couple of steps (20Mhz or so) and run Valley again. This time let it run through a couple of loops. If everything is stable you’ve sầu found a safe maximum for your GPU.

Once you have sầu found the limit for your core, note down that value, rephối the cloông chồng lớn its default and perkhung the same process on the memory cloông chồng. This time you’re looking for artifacts that represent as solid blocks or blobs of color. Again, once you’ve reached the limit, roll back a couple of steps & perform a longer stability demo. Once you’ve sầu found your limit, note it down và rephối everything.

Step 4: Bring it all together

Now that you have sầu your individual maximums for both core and memory clocks, it’s time to combine them. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able khổng lồ use the full maximum overclochồng for both at the same time, as both put additional bức xúc on your graphics card, but it’s possible. Your best bet is lớn start at the bottom again though & raise both values together. Know what the maximum is & be ready for artifacts và crashes as you approach it. As before, once you find the limit, roll bachồng a step or two & perform longer stability tests. You can then raise one or the other individually if you like, to see if either, in particular, was the cause of the stability issue.

Once you have sầu your stable dual-maximum overclock for both core and memory, it’s time to perkhung some real stability testing. Let the Valley thử nghiệm run through several times in a row, play some games for a few hours — và keep a keen eye out for problems. If you encounter any, scale back the clocks a single step & start again.

Although this process can seem arduous, it’s the final big step in making sure your system can run at these clocks all day, everyday. Once you’ve sầu found it, you can — if you lượt thích — use Afterburner khổng lồ trigger these settings every time your PC boots up.

You now have sầu a permanent GPU overcloông chồng. To find out how much of an improvement you’ve sầu made, run all of your gaming benchmarks again & see what your new scores are compared lớn the old ones.

Hopefully, that boost should keep you gaming at your favorite resolution và detail settings for longer. At least until the GPU prices come down.

What about voltage?

One of the ways in which you can increase stability và viability of some core clocks is by increasing the voltage pushed through the chip, otherwise known as Chip Core Voltage và abbreviated in Afterburner as “mV.” Increasing voltages is disabled in Afterburner by mặc định as it has a much greater impact on your system than other settings. Increasing voltages can reduce the lifespan of your graphics thẻ & even damage it irreparably if used irresponsibly. It can also lead lớn a large increase in the amount of power your graphics card draws, reducing the card — và by extension, your system’s — efficiency.

Although Afterburner has its own limits that are unlikely to allow you to lớn găng your card too much, because every card is different, if you want to lớn try out mV adjustment, bởi a quichồng Google search for your particular thẻ lớn find a safe limit. You can enable voltage adjustments in the Afterburner settings menu.

With that said, use it much the same way you would frequency adjustments. Raise it in small amounts to see if it allows for a more stable overcloông xã — or increased clocks. Watch your temperatures closely & if you encounter any problems, scale it baông xã. Make sure to demo for stability as you did with all previous changes.


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