How To Overclock Your GPU (sample)

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Install GPU Overclocking Software

Now for the exciting part: choosing an overclocking program!

For the sake of simplicity and cross-compatibility, we're going to use MSI Afterburner. However, you should be able to follow along with the guide if you use one of the other utilities. Don't worry; none of the below software should make a difference with the quality of your overclock. It's mostly small things, like visual differences.

MSI Afterburner (All)

We're going with MSI Afterburner since it's the industry standard and is compatible with any GPU-- AMD or Nvidia-- even if MSI isn't the manufacturer. It does offer extra features for MSI GPUs, though, so if you want to make the most of an MSI GPU, go with this one. We'll go over exactly how to use MSI Afterburner in the upcoming sections.

EVGA PrecisionX (Nvidia)

EVGA PrecisionX is only compatible with Nvidia GPUs, and, like Afterburner, has a few extra features set aside specifically for EVGA-manufactured GPUs. Unless you're running an EVGA GPU, though, there's no real reason to choose this one over Afterburner...unless you just like how it looks more.

Do Some Research

Now, before you get ahead of yourself… you should probably stop and do some research. Now that you know what GPU you're using and (hopefully) the manufacturer, you should start searching for overclocking results on the web.

For instance, from my Speccy results earlier, I know I'm using an MSI-manufactured Nvidia GeForce GTX 760. So, I would Google "MSI GTX 760 overclock" to find people with similar GPUs so that I can see their overclocking results. In this case, a quick search brought me to this article, which showed off my GPU being overclocked by a tech reviewer! Note, this is a great reference, but often you will have to utilize forums, Reddit, etc.

Also, if you're wondering,"Can I overclock my GPU?" This is the point where you will find out just how useful, or plausible, that might actually be.

This helped me establish a baseline of expected performance. An expected baseline gives you somewhere to start, which you adjust upward and downward in accordance with the results of your own testing.

Of course, you still have to tweak things since different components will give you varying results. Moreover, how your GPU overclocks depends not only on your card and its age, but also on other factors that are completely out of your control. Thanks to what's called "the silicon lottery", some chips will have astounding overclocking headroom and others will have very, very little.

Don't skip this step; it's important for getting an idea of where to start!

How To Overclock Your GPU

Key

  • Core Voltage - This measures the voltage coming into your GPU. You're going to want to up this before overclocking. Maxing this out shouldn't be a problem, so long as your PSU has the headroom to account for it. If your system is already very close to the max wattage of your PSU, however, you may want to look into getting a new one before trying this out.
  • Core / Shader Clock - These will usually be linked, and have arguably the most impact on your performance. We recommend incrementing this by +25 at a time, as it is the most likely to cause a crash. Don't start adjusting this until aftermemory clock, though.
  • Memory Clock - You can usually get away with making larger jumps in this category- go +50 at a time until you start experiencing crashes. We recommend doing this before core clock- while you won't see much in the way of performance boosts with this alone, you want to establish memory stability before boosting your core speed.
  • Fan Speed - Last up is fan speed, which is pretty self-explanatory. You can use Afterburner to set a custom fan speed, but unless you're going to do what I've done and push it to run at 100% full time, just go ahead and click "Auto".

Before doing any overclocking, click "Save" and save to Profile 1. You'll want to be able to go back to stock settings quickly if anything goes wrong.

Make your first test overclock settings, click Save and save to Profile 2. Keep Afterburner open, and proceed down to testing...

Test Your GPU Overclock

There are two ways to test your GPU overclock. There is the "practical" way, which is running a GPU stress test or two and seeing what happens.

There is also the "stupid" way, which is jumping right into your favorite game… and risking crashing or disconnecting in the middle of a game. This leads to lost save progress, matchmaking bans, and so on and so forth...

You get the idea. You're going to want to read our GPU stress test guide and follow the steps we've laid out there for testing your overclocks. Whenever you fail a test, come back here and turn a setting down a notch or two. Do this until you achieve stability, then test the waters by making smaller increments upward and running tests with each one, until you've reached your perfect overclock.

You can see my perfect OC with my GPU, below:

Yeah, that's just the image you saw earlier. Not bad for such an old GPU though, right?

If you were looking for a quick-and-easy solution, sorry, that's not how this works; overclocking can be a pain and requires some effort to find the right balance.

Conclusion

If you were looking for a quick-and-easy solution, sorry, that's not how this works; overclocking can be a pain and requires some effort to find the right balance.

Test a setting. If it works, push it a little higher. If it fails, push it a little lower, then try again. Do this enough times and you'll find the perfect overclock for your system, you just need to be willing to put in the work. Now that you know how to overclock your graphics card, we'd love to hear about the results you've had.

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Christopher H

Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States •

I write tech how-tos, reviews and tutorials for a living. I specialize in areas relating to PC gaming and PC hardware, as well as PC repair and diagnostics.

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