Overclocking GPU is the number one way to enhance your computer’s graphics on a budget. Of course, you can go for an upgrade to the latest Nvidia or AMD models, but they don’t come cheap. So, to boost your PC performance for an ultimate gaming experience, you must learn how to overclock GPU.
GPU overclocking has been gaining heat for quite some years now. And why not? The stuttering and lagging of rendering processes, 3D animation, or a new game that you’ve been waiting for is frustrating!
What Is GPU Overclocking?
GPUs come with preset settings by a manufacturer that favors durability. In terms of performance, that means the hardware components on a graphics card can deliver much higher processing speeds than they are limited to. And GPU overclocking is unlocking that reserved potential.
Overclocking GPU memory or the core clock speed is what allows you to access that extra speed. And unlike the old days, you can overclock a graphics card with various overclocking software in the market.
That’s probably all about what overclocking is in layman’s terms. But you may still wonder what does overclocking GPU do or should I overclock my GPU in the first place. And for that, we’ve covered every aspect of your concerns in the guide below!
Is Overclocking Safe and Worth it?
How to make games run faster, improve FPS, and optimize a PC are the questions that play with every gamer’s head. But how far can you really go with enhancing your PC’s performance without upgrading the hardware and causing some serious harm?
Overclocking GPU is much safer than it used it be a few years back. As mentioned above, the old way of using shunt mods and manually removing voltage restriction was no less than playing with fire. It offered considerably small rewards against pretty high risks.
Even though GPU overclocking is safer and simpler today, you still risk losing your hardware warranty. After all, you are pushing your GPU beyond its predetermined limits, and that may reduce its life. This is why it is recommended to overclock an older or used GPU.
However, since the newer graphics card relies on many sophisticated fail-safes for modern silicon, you have quite some room to play around in. To answer your “Should I overclock my GPU?” question, it’s about how much graphical performance you need.
If you’re a Minecraft enthusiast, you can boost FPS without making any software or hardware changes. You can simply allocate more RAM to the game or download Optifine for an ultimate gameing experience.
Preparing to Overclock Your GPU
Before your excitement carries you away, you must prepare your PC for GPU overclocking to see some solid changes. While overclocking a graphics card is fairly simple, it’s safer to keep all the tools you need at a click’s distance.
Firstly, you’ll need three types of GPU overclocking software to lay a stable foundation. Software that lets you adjust GPU memory and clock speed, stress test software, and thermal check software.
If you’re using MSI Afterburner, you’ll find that it has a built-in temperature check utility as per our guide. However, third-party thermal-check software that can be minimized is more reliable when overclocking a GPU.
Here are the tools that you’ll need to overclock GPU:
Overclocking Software (MSI Afterburner)
MSI Afterburner is the most popular and the best GPU overclocking software around today. It allows you to adjust GPU core clock speed, memory, and voltage from a single interface. Before you question how to overclock GPU with MSI afterburner, you’ll be delighted to find a dedicated section for that later in the article.
You can download the software from the MSI Afterburner official website here. The interface has an attractive skin easily accessible mods clustered together. MSI afterburner supports nearly all Nvidia and GeForce graphics cards and has a feature to automatically overclock your GPU known as OC Scan. (Only available on newer MSI Afterburner versions)
Stress Test Software
While it is all attractive to boost PC performance and FPS for an ultimate gameing experience by simply tweaking your GPU, it is not always stable. The instability of your graphics card is not usually noticeable initially. But when you put it under stress by gaming for a couple of hours, you may encounter crashes.
And to avoid system crashes in the middle of games, you’d want to make sure whether your GPU can handle the new overclock settings or not. For that, you need a stress test utility!
UNiGiNE heaven benchmark test is a top recommended option for testing your graphics card. It renders high-definition virtual-setups to help you identify a safe GPU temperature and clock speed.
Whenever you overclock a GPU to optimize your PC for gaming, you abandon the ideal factory settings. And that only means more crashes and reboots. However, you need to find a sweet spot of settings for GPU overclocking, and that’s, requires patience!
You have to tamper the clock speed, GPU temps, memory, and voltage many times before you see things fall in place. And after every round of alterations, you need to benchmark your PC to make sure it will work.
So, saying that overclocking a GPU is easy is true, but quick? Not quite!
Update System Software and Drivers
Lastly, you need to make sure you’re running the latest version of system software and drivers. Moreover, having the latest motherboard and BIOS settings is a plus when stepping into overclocking a GPU.
Most of the GPU overclocking software out today is optimized for the latest hardware and software settings. Running an older version of drivers and system software may limit your modification capacity. Or, you’ll have a series of compatibility issues headed your way.
How to Overclock GPU? Guide
With the tools and precautions clear, you’re now set to overclock your graphics card. Here is how to overclock GPU using a mix of the tools mentioned above:
Benchmark Graphics Card
You’ll require the Heaven benchmark tool quite often during GPU overclocking. First of all, benchmark your computer with stock settings to have a ground-point to relate to later on. Write down the information or take a screenshot for reference.
During GPU overclocking, you should take a benchmark test after every alteration you make. This allows you to ensure whether the new suggested settings are stable or not. Also, it helps you keep safe GPU temps so that you do not harm the hardware.
Overclock GPU Chip
After the benchmark test, with a baseline for comparison, now launch the MSI Afterburner and let the magic begin.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the offered control, but you want to break it down into steps. For starters, set the temperature bar at maximum and raise the core clock gradually. A 10% increase in the core clock is usually a safe number to rely on.
Re-run the Heaven benchmark test and see if you spot any glitches or crashes during the rendering. If not, you have room to overclock your GPU even higher. Repeat the process until you start noticing prominent glitches. Then step down the settings even slower to reach a point of maximum possible performance.
Note: If you don’t spot any changes, you might be running an older version of system software and drivers, or your GPU needs upgrading.
The next step in line is to overclock GPU memory. As necessary as it is, it doesn’t usually make a massive difference for games. Except for when the games rely heavily on preloaded structures and packs.
The dialing up process for GPU memory is the same as the GPU core clock, safer to do it with 10% increments. Increase the capacity gradually until you encounter a stopping point, then dial back.
What you need to keep in mind while overlocking GPU memory is that it may act differently with different games. It may optimize and boost PC performance for some games, but for others, you’ll have to dial back near the built-in settings.
Adjust Power and Thermal Settings
If you don’t already know how to check GPU temperature, you can scroll up to the preparations section. You can do it either via third-party software or use the built-in feature of MSI Afterburner.
What’s more, is that you can adjust the thermal capacity and power input to your graphics card. If you’ve reached a stonewall with the above settings and can’t push your GPU further, it’s then time to amp up the power and thermal controls.
You need not worry; modern silicon is engineered to withstand high temperatures and has built-in safety mechanisms. You’ll crash and restart the system way before damaging your hardware. Increasing the power and heat limit on your GPU gives you a little more room to dial up the GPU core clock and memory.
Find the Sweet Spot for Your GPU Overclock
You’re now only one step away from improving your FPS and making your games run faster. Well, not precisely one step!
You now need to re-run the above loop over and over again. Dial-up the GPU memory, core clock, temperatures, and voltage, and benchmark your computer after every change. However, the key is to stabilize one aspect at a time, e.g., GPU memory, core clock, or the heat limit.
Changing one variable at a time makes it easier to find where the problem lies. It may take you hours and even days, sometimes, to find out whether your new settings are perfectly stable. Every computer and GPU chip is different from another at the micro-level, which is why you can’t just fill in someone else’s settings onto your GPU. You need to find your own!