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The complete guide to overclocking your GPU

by Yasir Khan
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Feeling your beast card is starring to slow down? Or maybe you don’t get that sweet constant fps you got before. New titles are coming and game requirements are going higher than ever. The problem is not everyone has abundant of cash lying to upgrade their GPU’s every once in a while. Some of us have to stick with our graphics card for longer periods. Now you need performance but don’t want to upgrade so what do you do? One way you can get better performance through your old GPU is overclocking.  

Requirements

MSI Afterburner for overclocking 

Unigine Heaven for benchmarking 

Games with built-in benchmarks 

Cleaning before going for an overclock

If your card is quite old, chances are it is long due to get cleaned. When you first open the case, make sure no cables are coming in the way of the fans. If the card is full of dust, use a can of compressed air to get the cleaning done. 

Outgamers will not be responsible for any damage you do to your card by either cleaning or overclocking. 

Is your PSU ready for overclocking? 

Have a look at your PSU and make sure it can handle the extra load overclocking will put on it. If your current build spares only about 50-100 watts then you will need to upgrade your PSU. Your PSU would still work with an overclock but stability problems can occur and with anything related to the power supply, it’s best to take no risks.  

Upgrade your Graphics drivers

Now go ahead and check if your GPU is running on the latest drivers. Newer drivers increase stabilities and bugs fixes which would take out many hard to pinpoint problems out when we will be overclocking. There are also motherboard firmware updates that you should look into too as they further increase stability. 

Required Software

GPU overclocking is a lot easier and simpler than CPU overclocking. CPU overclocking requires you to overclock through the motherboard bios whereas your graphics card is overclocked in Windows through desktop software. Although there are software that are specific to certain manufacturers to overclock your GPU, most people tend to trust a few packages that are known among the community. These trusted software have been around for a while and work with most graphic cards.  

MSI Afterburner

The complete guide to overclocking your GPU

Afterburner is easy to use and is one of the first places to start when you begin overclocking. You get a built-in temperature graph, current clock speed, and voltage monitoring.   

Now you will need to types of benchmarks to test your current hardware’s performance. One of these benchmarks will be a synthetic benchmark while the other will be a benchmark from a game. 

In this guide, we will be using the Unigine Heaven benchmarks for synthetic testing. 

Starting to overclock

To begin, proceed to max out your voltage. Now this would mean 5-10% more power on some cards while 25% more power on others. GPU’s tend to perform better when you max out the voltage. However, keep an eye out on for temperature as it can go high with increased voltage.  

Modify fan speed

Since overclocking will make your card run hotter, it’s better to tune your fan speed too. Generally maxing out fan speed won’t cause much problems or maybe it would be better to aim for 40% fan speed. You want your GPU to run as cool as possible to avoid any thermal throttling and affecting your OC results. 

Overclocking GPU memory

You would want to increase your memory clock in increments of 25mhz. Run benchmark in the background on loop and watch out for artefacts or if the system becomes unstable. Once you find out that unstable point, decrease 25 Mhz from your clock and reboot your PC. Then let the benchmark to run for 10-15 minutes, and if you see no more artefacts, decrease 25mhz more from your memory clock to leave room in case of instability. 

Overclocking GPU core speed

Before beginning to overclock GPU core speed, take your memory clock back to stock settings. The memory clock will be applied again but at the end. Increase your clock in 5-10MHz increments while the benchmark runs on a loop in the background. Keep increasing until you find that unstable point ( you might see screen flashing or stuttering). Even if your PC crashes, there’s nothing to worry just reboot the PC decrease the clock and work on till you reach that stable point.

Once you reach the stable point, reboot your PC and let the benchmark run on loop for about 10-15 mins. If you see that everything is stable, remove 10-25MHz from your clock to leave a stability margin. 

Wrapping it all up

Now you have found points of stability for both your core and memory overclock. You need to know that GPU’s vary in terms of what they need. Some cards need more memory for better performance while others need more clock speed to perform better. Test out what your card needs and prioritize it over the other. If your card performs better with higher memory clocks than prioritize it and vice versa. 

Beware of Furmark, OCCT

You may have seen some people using either Furmark or OCCT for benchmark testing. These benchmarks are known as “power virus” benchmarks and put an unrealistic load on your GPU. 

All done!

How much performance a graphics card can offer after overclocking varies from card to card. Generally, you can expect a 10-15% performance increase. Also, keep in in mind that if your PC runs stable now that doesn’t mean it’ll be stable after long hours of intensive gaming. If it does crash, just turn down those clocks. One last thing is to keep an eye out on temperatures, as they are likely to increase during an overclock. 

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