How To Overclock Your GPUs (Step by Step)

Overclocking your graphics card can increase performance by 10% to 20% (or more) depending on the specific card type. Naturally, caution should be exercised to prevent operating your GPU at risky settings when overclocking. But if you have a top-tier graphics card and want to squeeze out a bit more performance, we’ll review how we approach overclocking and choose “safe” settings.

Get a baseline assessment of your graphics card’s performance before overclocking. After all, you’ll want to know if performance doesn’t increase if you can’t see how much faster your PC works after optimizing. You should also check the temperatures and clock rates of your graphics card. For instructions on how to test graphics card performance, see our tutorial.

The moment to begin overclocking after you have your baseline stock performance data. Although there are numerous applications, we’re going to concentrate on MSI Afterburner because it is one of the most well-liked and frequently used GPU overclocking tools. Other tools, such as Asus GPU Tweak(opens in new tab), EVGA Precision X1, and other tools provided by graphics card manufacturers, can all be used in the same manner.

Still, you can also overclock Nvidia and AMD GPUs using the integrated tool in AMD’s drivers or Nvidia’s GeForce Experience. We’ll go through how to overclock AMD and Nvidia GPUs in more detail below.

Please be aware that the “silicon lottery” plays a significant role in overclocking. A 20% core overclock and a 25% memory overclock were achieved by one user of a “HappyGPUs RTX 4090 X-Factor-Wow” model card (that name is fictitious, in case you couldn’t tell). However, this does not imply that all HappyGPUs RTX 4090 XFW cards will achieve the same clock speeds.

For instance: Although all RTX 4090 cards we have seen so far appear to employ Micron 21Gbps GDDR6X memory (designated chips with “D8BZC”), we have observed maximum stable memory overclocks that range from 23Gbps to as high as 25Gbps.

What Is Overclocking?

You need to grasp the exact workings of the graphics card before you can understand overclocking. It is a miniaturized computer with its own CPU and RAM (referred to as VRAM here).

The clock rates of the GPU and VRAM, like those of the CPU and RAM, govern how rapidly they can execute operations.

Each of these clocks comes with specific “factory” settings that the maker warrants to be secure. In principle, you won’t have any troubles with these default settings.

The user must manually adjust these clocks as part of the overclocking process in an effort to make their hardware perform faster. If you’re curious, the reverse procedure, known as underclocking, is manually slowing the clock to minimize case temperatures.

How is Safe Overclocking?

Modern gadgets have made overclocking safer in recent years. It’s simple to overclock a computer or even a laptop. Your device will automatically reboot if something is wrong and may display jerky images while you’re playing. As a result, you can always get a cue to halt overclocking.

However, overclocking does not harm your hardware in any way. LN2 or “shunt modes” can also be used to overcome voltage restrictions when overclocking.

Therefore, overclocking is safe enough provided you are prepared to take a small risk in exchange for some added benefits.

If you can, consider optimizing your software before overclocking.

Optimizing the program builds a strong foundation for obtaining the greatest outcomes. You are overclocking yields superior outcomes. To undo the gains from overclocking, be sure to optimize your software and the entire PC.

GPU Overclocking Performance

How did the above affect performance? Here are the results from the built-in Cyberpunk 2077 benchmark at 4K RT-Ultra with DLSS Quality for the stock, GPU core alone, VRAM only, and GPU + VRAM overclocks. The same four GPU settings were used to evaluate Borderlands 3 at 4K and Badass settings.

We understand if you find it to be underwhelming. In the end, the RTX 3090’s performance was enhanced by 9% in Borderlands 3 and 9% in Cyberpunk 2077 thanks to our highest GPU overclock. The GPU core overclocks, which increased performance by 7.5% in Borderlands 3 and 8% in Cyberpunk 2077, were largely responsible for these increases. However, increasing the VRAM’s speed increased performance by 7% in CP77 and 3% in BL3.

Depending on your graphics hardware, your real benefits may differ greatly. For instance, the RTX 3090 isn’t generally regarded as memory bandwidth thirsty, but the base model encounters power constraints when initially purchased. Because of this, the core overclock was more significant than the VRAM overclock. Even so, we often notice a performance gain of between 6 and 12% after overclocking a graphics card, so the results we’ve demonstrated above aren’t out of the ordinary.

What’s Necessary Before You Overclock Your GPU

There was some mystique about overclocking back when the idea was still relatively new. If they had seen it, many PC users might have been perplexed. These days, the procedure has been greatly reduced and simplified, requiring little planning. You might not even have to open your computer casing.

Even so, we still advise performing it to ensure the wires inside haven’t moved (assuming you took care of cable management in the first place) and aren’t obstructing the airflow through the case. As the fans on the graphics card will need to cool even more, make sure they have room to “breathe.”

Tools

As previously indicated, the entire overclocking procedure has advanced, and it is now possible to complete it without entering the BIOS. You need a few free Windows programs to get things done.

Benchmarking is one of the essential elements of overclocking. In order to compare the situation before and after the overclocking procedure, you would require a benchmarking program.

Although MSI Afterburner is generally a good tool for this task, we suggest utilizing another program, such as Unigine Heaven or 3DMark. In actuality, it is best to utilize both. You’ll be able to get perspective from various angles as a result.

Use MSI Afterburner to carry out the real overclocking, as recommended. Don’t let the MSI label scare you off; it works with the founders edition and AIB graphics cards.

The GPU Overclocking Process

Although the procedure is very straightforward, there may be a few unforeseen hiccups. We’ll do our best to assist you in getting beyond them.

One of the best overclocking tools

The greatest program for overclocking video cards is MSI Afterburner since it is simple to use, has a skinnable user interface, and is always updated with the newest GPUs.

Try the beta channel if you recently purchased a card with the new architecture. 

A benchmark or stress-test tool

Before beginning the actual overclocking procedure, it is necessary to run a benchmarking test to assess your system’s present condition and potential performance.

Running the stress test within the game you want to play is ideal, but you should also use any of the benchmarking tools already listed and record the performance.

If the game doesn’t include a built-in benchmarking tool, it will be more difficult to test this correctly. Fortunately, many AAA games released today pay close attention to this aspect and incorporate tools like this. Here are a few instances: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Horizon Zero Dawn, Red Dead Redemption 2, Borderlands 3, and many others.

Once you’ve completed all these tests, record the results in writing or capture a screenshot. You must do this if you want to compare the performance improvement your GPU overclocks gives you.

A Bit of Patience & Nerves of Titanium

The final item is a little patience. Throughout the overclocking, you must follow certain steps. As a result, you might have to sit before your gadget and perform various tasks. Try to be patient and sincerely adhere to every instruction or task.

Is Overclocking Safe?

It is safer to overclock. However, it can shorten the GPU’s lifespan. But even after overclocking, new electronics perform better or live longer.

How to overclock my GPU

Open your GPU overclocking software first; in this case, we’re using MSI Afterburner. The primary dashboard will show your graphics hardware’s RAM and current clock rate (GPU Clock) (Mem Clock). The temperature is displayed on the right side. Although temperatures will vary from PC to PC, as a general guideline, keep GPU and CPU temps below 90°C.

The fundamental overclocking readings are controlled via the sliders in the dash’s center:

Core voltage refers to the voltage level that powers your graphics card; newer cards might not support it.

Power supply: Your card can draw additional power from your power supply unit using the power slider (PSU). For instance, if your card’s maximum output is 200 watts by default, you may adjust it to 120 (20% higher) to raise the output to 240 watts. If you wish to overclock your GPU further, you should do this (but this will increase the temperature).

Core clock: You can enter the desired clock rate using the core clock gauge. As you search for the ideal setting, you’ll make several adjustments to this.

Memory clock: The memory clock measures the GPU memory and functions similarly to your core clock.

Step 1 – Benchmark the Current Settings

You may increase the clock rates on your GPU by overclocking it using the benchmarks for your current system configuration. It also aids in your comprehension of system performance and statistics and the GPU’s current condition.

You may launch Superimposition and select any necessary Preset Menu item. However, selecting a game from your collection with advanced settings is preferable.

Without employing 1080p or greater frame rate films, you may utilize Superimposition to create more impressive graphics. But be sure to turn off Vsynch before you test your GPU. If not, following the benchmarking, your display’s refresh rate will be frozen.

To begin, press the “Run” button and watch the scenes for five minutes. Your screen’s corner will provide statistics about performance including frame rate, temperature, and clock speed.

Modern NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards often alter the boost clock by power consumption and GPU temperature. Therefore, if there is more headroom, these GPUs frequently start overclocking. Check the stars now to see whether they have changed during the process.

Fluctuation is expected when manually overclocking the GPU because you can increase the boost clicks beyond the typical limits.

The GPU’s temperature may alter when being overclocked. However, you do not want a machine that is too hot. As a result, ensure your device’s fans are running at maximum speed while eating.

The mechanism is not automatic like it is in the case of more ancient graphics cards. As a result, you should regulate the fan speed during the entire process. Additionally, avoid overclocking if the temperature rises above the 80s.

You will get your final scorecard once you have completed the benchmark. For future reference, make a note of the minimum, average, and maximum frame rates as well as the benchmark scores.

Step 2 – Overclock GPU Chip

When overclocking your video card, it’s crucial to start out cautiously. Increase the core clock rate by 6% and check for odd graphical abnormalities like glitches, streaks, or even crashes. Performance should remain at 6%, although you won’t notice any improvement. However, this slight overclock allows you to scan for any possible problems swiftly.

Step 3: Overclock your memory

In games that significantly rely on memory (Video RAM/VRAM), especially those with plenty of textures to load, you can often overclock it between 12-18% to gain a significant speed improvement. Our Titan Xp’s memory operates at a speed of 5,500 MHz. Thus I was able to increase that speed by 400–500 MHz. My recommendation is to start low, increase in increments of 60 MHz, and keep going until you reach a ceiling. Keep in mind that games respond to a high memory clock extremely differently. Some will operate noticeably quicker without issues, while others can display artifacts. The Witcher 3 and Nier: Automata were the only titles that didn’t run with my first RAM overclock of +700 MHz, which was acceptable for all other games. I needed to dial back. (Tragic trombone)

Step 4 – Fine-Tune

Once you have carefully examined the core clock and memory clock rate, raise your GPU overclock by 15 MHz to fine-tune. Every time, check for stability and performance. Then, repeat. Run a benchmark, stress test, or game for a few hours to check for issues and monitor progress.

If Windows freezes or restarts, your GPU overclocking limit has been reached. Running an overclock that close to the crashing threshold can force you to hit a wall after only a few hours of games. Reduce your clock’s frequency by 15 to 30 MHz if it happens.

In contrast, our Titan Xp graphics card overheats after two to three hours of play, even though 4K versions of Ark, Dark Souls, Final Fantasy 15, or The Witcher 3 operate well at +200 MHz on the core clock. We normally run it at 180 MHz to be safe.

After creating a trustworthy core clock, repeat the same with the memory clock. To prevent issues, do not test your core and memory clocks at the same time. You won’t be able to identify the offending clock setting.

Step 5: Increase power & temp limit

Set the temperature and power limits to the maximum if you haven’t done so before when you reach a restriction. Then try once more! The GPU and memory clocks can be pushed a little bit farther, but it won’t be much and won’t be without noise. I decided on a power limit of +115%.

One more piece of advice: You must determine the maximum overclock. No manual exhorts “Got a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti? Your GPU and VRAM maximum settings are +200 MHz and 800 MHz, respectively. I wish. The problem is that each chip is made in a distinct way chemically. One chip may not withstand heat and stress as much as another since every silicone composition varies a little bit.

 Step 6 – Fine-Tune (again) and Test

To acquire a little more, raise the level by 15MHz after determining the maximum power level.

Run overclock once more to adjust everything. You now possess a GPU that operates at a speed of 180 MHz/500 MHz.

Benchmark your gadget once again when you’ve hit the desired limit. Better outcomes will be obtained when gaming.

Does GPU overclock work?

Yes, your games and media apps will often run faster if you overclock your GPU. Overclocking the graphics card may not be as beneficial on more powerful computers, but an increase will be noticeable if your games generally run at 50 or 60 frames per second.

Your GPU, but other pieces of hardware in your computer, might benefit from a tune-up. Additionally, a specialist optimization program like AVG TuneUp will automatically assist you in getting the quicker performance and more storage space based on your hardware, the apps you use, and the games you play.

What are Common Mistakes while Overclocking?

Overclocking is often safe as long as you follow the instructions precisely. However, it would help if you had paid attention to the following:

Avoid Overheating: While overclocking, pay close attention to the GPU temperatures and ensure the system is appropriately cooled. For instance, ensure water cooling is complete and the fan is running.

Avoid auto-overclocking: since it strains the GPU. Therefore, it is preferable to stay awake during overclocking. Avoid auto-overclocking as well to guarantee the security of the system.

Can you Overclock your Laptop?

It is also feasible to overclock laptops. You may overclock your laptop if it is of decent quality. However, laptop GPUs are smaller. The battery will also deplete more quickly. So be cautious just slightly about overclocking a laptop.

Conclusion

Sorry, but that’s not how this works if you seek a quick and simple fix; overclocking may be difficult and it takes time to achieve the correct balance.

We’d like to know your graphics card’s performance after you overclocked it. Examine a location. Push it a bit higher if it works. If it doesn’t work, reduce it a bit and try again. You only need to be ready to work and repeat this process until you get the ideal to overclock for your machine.

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