How to Overclock AMD or Nvidia Graphics Card

It doesn’t matter if you have a Nvidia GTX 970 or a GTX 980 or an AMD 280X or a 290X you would like to explore and push the graphics card to see how capable it is.

The basics for overclocking remain same irrespective of your cards age. Can you get those additional 10 FPS in your most loved GTA 5 or Assassin Creed Rogue or Unity? Can Far Cry 4 be played at higher FPS than what you are getting without the overclock and how much more?

If you are a beginner to overclocking you will love this guide and if you already have a hands-on experience You can read the Advanced Overclocking tips and Check out the Gaming Benchmarks.

Need For Overclocking 

Firstly, Why do you want to overclock? If you are struggling with the latest gaming titles or you want to see the max potential of your graphics card? You can start overclocking effortlessly following the instructions shared below.

In my case, I overclock as I want to see the potential for the card rather than having any real need.overclock gpu

 

Pros of Overclocking:

  1. Get additional FPS in gaming titles.
  2. Can enjoy higher graphical settings
  3. Can be able to Run games which you are struggling to play otherwise.
  4. Get maximum value out of graphics card which you have paid for. (10% to 30% increase in performance.)

Cons of Overclocking:

  1. Overheating of the gaming PC and the Room.
  2. Risk of Burning your graphics Card.
  3. Reducing the Life Span of graphics card.
  4. Increased Noise levels.

Is it Safe to Overclock – Yes as far as you don’t go crazy and push the limits of your Graphics Card.

Test Setup Gaming PC Configuration

  • Processor – Intel Core i5 3570k.
  • Motherboard – Z77 Asrock Extreme 6.
  • Graphics Card – Sapphire AMD HD 7950 OC edition.
  • Operating System – Windows 8.1
  • Base clock 850 Mhz.
  • Boost Clock 925 Mhz.
  • RAM – Corsair Vengeance 8 GB.
  • Cabinet – HAF 912.
  • Monitor – Dell S2240 L
  • Hard Drive – Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM.

Softwares Required 

  • Furmark
  • Sapphire Trixx or MSI afterburner
  • Unigine’s Heaven benchmark
  • GPU-Z

How to Overclock AMD or Nvidia Graphics Card

GPU- Z Software

You can check out all the details for your graphics Card in GPU-Z like Technology and Die Size, Shaders, Bus width, GPU Core Clock , Memory Clock and Temperatures. You can create a Log of test you do while overclocking and review it later.

GPUZ Graphics card overclocking GPUZ Nvidia Graphics card overclocking

 MSI AfterBurner

MSI Afterburner Overclocking Guide

MSI Afterburner offers a host of features and have a good display and you can measure Temperature and GPU usage real-time.

Sapphire Trixx – Simplistic Tool For Overclocking

How to Overclock AMD or Nvidia Graphics Card Sapphire trixx Graphics Card Overclocking

 

How to Overclock AMD or Nvidia Graphics Card

Simple and very easy to use, gives information about the Graphics card. In the second Image you can check the variables you need to tweak for Overclocking :

Overclocking Variables

  • GPU Clock or Core Clock.
  • Memory Clock
  • VDDC – Voltage
  • Board Power LI – ( not visible in Picture).

How to Overclock AMD or Nvidia Graphics Card – A Beginners Guide, How to Do Overclocking Step By Step

Method Used – After you have downloaded all the software lets start overclocking the Graphics card. We will do it here with Sapphire trixx while you can use any other software like AMD OverDrive, ASUS GPU Tweak, EVGA Precision X, or even the MSI Afterburner. We will first learn how to overclock both Memory clock and GPU Core clock.

Then we will understand overclocking both GPU and Memory Clock together at stock voltage and Power. This is a safe procedure and will not burn your graphics card in all likely hood but overclocking comes with a statuary warning that you are doing it at your own risk. I have overclocked many times no hardware failures so far, some system freeze and restarts mostly.

Nvidia GTX 760 Overclock
Nvidia GTX 760

For AMD Graphics Cards – Sapphire Trixx is basic and useful, you can use AMD Overdrive and MSI afterburner as well.

For Nvidia Graphics Cards – MSI afterburner and EVGA Precision X is my favorite.

MSI Afterburner is one of the best utility I have used with both Nvidia and AMD graphics card and has a good User interface and advanced features.

Precision X has some standout features, such as fantastic OC Scanner, X stress tester, and the Pixel Clock OC feature.

Note – Always monitor the temperature of Graphics Card and it is advised to quit the Benchmark test if Temperature go beyond 80 degree C. I usually like to keep it below 75 degree C.

We Will first Overclock the Memory Setting than the Core Clock

How to Overclock the Memory Clock Step by Step

  1. Open Sapphire Trixx.
  2. Move the slider for the memory to up by 50 MHz using the mouse.
  3. Apply the setting.
  4. Open FurMark and run the benchmark preset that you prefer. Here I Run the 1080p preset, you can run the 720p preset as well depending on your monitor resolution.
  5. If your system passes, increase the frequency by 50MHz on the slider again.
  6. Apply and run FurMark again.
  7. Repeat until your system fails the benchmark test or crashes or the system freezes.
  8. Drop back 25 MHz from the last used setting using the slider.
  9. Run the benchmark again to check if the system is working fine and you are not experiencing any artifacts or freezing in the benchmark.
  10. If passed successfully stop there and record the frequency that your system passed the benchmark test successfully.
  11. Reset Sapphire trixx back to default memory setting.

How to Overclock the Core Clock Step by Step

  1. Open Sapphire trixx Software.
  2. Increase the clock speed by moving the slider to the right or increasing the clock speed manually with an interval of 20 Mhz.
  3. Apply the setting.
  4. Open FurMark and run the benchmark preset that you have chosen previously
  5. If you Gaming PC passes the benchmark increase it by another 20 points.
  6. Apply and run FurMark again.
  7. Repeat until your system fails the benchmark test or crashes or the system freezes.
  8. Drop back 10MHz from the last used setting using the slider.
  9. Run the benchmark again to check the stability and if stable note down the highest clock frequency your graphics card can run at with Stock voltage and power setting.
  10. Run Unigine’s Heaven benchmark and see if you are not experiencing artifacts or freezing. If it runs perfectly you are good to go.

Overclocking Both GPU Core Clock and Memory Clock Simultaneously

With the above testing, we find the highest your graphics card can go with the default voltage and Power Draw Settings. Next, we will find the highest Core Clock frequency and Memory Clock Frequency for the Graphics Card.

Now we will do an overclocking for both simultaneously. Notably, we may achieve a lower number for both settings when doing simultaneous overclock.

Most of the time it is not possible to get the max core frequency and the max memory frequency that we achieved separately to be stable at the same time, but we will try and get as close as possible.

  1. Open Sapphire Trixx.
  2. Move the slider for the GPU Core clock to 50 Mhz below what you achieved earlier.
  3. Move the slider for the GPU memory clock to 100 Mhz below what you achieved earlier.
  4. Apply the setting.
  5. Open FurMark and run the benchmark preset that you prefer. Here I Run the 1080p preset, you can run the 720p preset as well depending on your monitor resolution.
  6. If your system passes, increase core clock frequency by 10 Mhz and Memory Frequency by 20 Mhz.
  7. Apply and run FurMark again.
  8. Repeat until your system fails the benchmark test or crashes or the system freezes.
  9. Drop back core frequency by 20 and memory clock frequency by 30 Mhz.
  10. Run the benchmark again to check if the system is working fine and you are not experiencing any artifacts or freezing in the benchmark.
  11. Run Unigine’s Heaven benchmark and see if you are not experiencing artifacts or freezing. If it runs perfectly you are good to go.
  12. This is your stable overclock for the Graphics card at stock voltage and Power Draw.

This was the Basics for Overclocking next let’s explore the Advanced Overclocking.

Advanced Overclocking

Now you may have gained some experience of what overclocking is and how you can do it. Next step is to move into real overclocking and the Danger Zone. Why I call this as a danger Zone because now you are going to push your card to the limit by changing the voltage and Power Draw setting for the Card.

Radeon R9 270X overclock

Statuary Warning – I will not be responsible in any way if you damage your Graphics Card.

It is better to test the graphics card with basic overclocking for 10-15 days before you attempt to play with the power and voltage settings to increase gaming Performance. Additionally, video cards manufacturers have been implementing safety measures to prevent users from easily damaging their video cards. Safety nets, such as the use of dynamic clock speeds and GPU throttling, have made overclocking safer and more accessible to the average user.

Understanding Voltage or VDCC & Board Power Settings

The power setting increases the TDP limit, so the card won’t thermally throttle down when it reaches its power consumption limit.

Watts = Voltage x Amperage.

Where Watts is total power, the voltage is the potential difference (electrical tension) or the potential to be able to draw current and amperage is the measure of actual current so increasing voltage increases the potential amount of power a GPU can draw.

In this Section, we will increase the Power Limit Using the Sapphire Trixx Software. For MSI afterburner, you may have to unlock the voltage multiplier in the settings to bump up the voltage.

Step By Step Guide for Extreme Overclocking within limits

  1. Open Sapphire Trixx.
  2. Move the slider for the GPU Core clock to the maximum you achieved.
  3. Move the slider for the GPU memory clock to the maximum you achieved.
  4. Increase the Board Power Li to 10.
  5. Apply the setting.
  6. Open FurMark and run the benchmark preset that you prefer. I run it on the 1080p preset, you can run the 720p preset, depending on your monitor resolution.
  7. If your system passes, increase core clock frequency by 10 Mhz and Memory Frequency by 20 Mhz.
  8. Apply and run FurMark again.
  9. Repeat until your system fails the benchmark test or crashes or the system freezes.
  10. Increase the board Power Li to 16% percent and re-run fur mark.(Don’t push it to 20 or max TDP).
  11. Run the benchmark again to check if the system is working fine and you are not experiencing any artifacts or freezing in the benchmark.
  12. Run Unigine’s Heaven benchmark and see if you are not experiencing artifacts or freezing. If it runs perfectly you are good to go.
  13. This is your stable overclock for the Graphics card.
  14. Wish to go beyond this can increase the VDDC by a very small interval of 5 and increase core clock and memory clock.
  15. Look at your graphics card in forums to see what people have achieved safely and try to stay within limits of overclocking.
  16. The goal is to get maximum advantage from your card not to burn and go buy a new one.
  17. Practice Safe overclocking, the advantage of getting 4-5 FPS extra beyond safe Limit does not outweigh the risk of burning and reducing the Life Span of your graphics Card.

Overclocking – Results – 15% to 30% Increase in Gaming Performance

Gaming Benchmarks Overclocked Graphics Card

Gaming Bench mark overclocking BF3 Gaming Bench mark overclocking NFSMW How to Overclock AMD or Nvidia Graphics Card

The Gaming Performance Stock Vs Overclocked Graphics Card: 

The Gain in FPS compared to Stock GPU Core Clock of 850 & Memory Clock of 1250 Vs GPU Core Clock 1120 Mem Clock 1475 Power Draw of  17% & VDCC +15. We got an increase of 34% in BF3 Avg FPS, 27% in the Need for Speed Most wanted 12 Avg. FPS, 16% increase in Crysis 3.

Gaming performance Gain – BF3 – 1080p 4x ultra
 Min Max Avg
20%34%32%
Gaming performance Gain – NFSMW 1080p all ultra
 Min Max Avg
28%2%27%
Gaming performance Gain – Crysis3 fxaa and ultra
 Min Max Avg
17%11%16%

Overclocking Load and No Load – Temperatures 

GPU Core ClockGPU Temp No LoadGPU Temp Load Gaming
Core Clock 850 Mem Clock 1250 PD 0%41°C66 Max
Core Clock 925 Mem Clock 1250 PD 0%40°C67 Max
Core Clock 925 Mem Clock 1250 PD 12%42°C67 Max
Core Clock 1001 Mem Clock 1450 PD 16%43°C70 Max
Core Clock 1050 Mem Clock 1500  PD 18%43°C71 Max
Core Clock 1120 Mem Clock 1475 PD 17%  VDCC +1542°C73 Max

We Used AMD HD 7950 a mid-level Graphics Card to do these benchmarks and the test configuration as given in the beginning of Article.

Furmark Bench Mark Results

furmark benchmark overclock

Concluding Thoughts:

How much should you Push Your Graphics Card is it worth it? If you ask me you should push it to a moderate level of overclocking. Beyond a limit, the sound of fan and heat is too much and kills the gaming experience on whole. Try your overclock and do share with us the results or issues you are facing. We have not pushed the graphics card to its very limit(it is not an overclocking competition), and have not used any after market cooler.

Related Content – The best Gaming PC for Rs. 40000, The Best Gaming PC Configuration for Rs.  50000, The Best Gaming PC configuration 70000.

Source – Tomshardware & ROG Guide to Overclock

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