GPU Overclocking – Overclocking Your Graphic Card

Overclocking your graphic card is the easiest way to increase your system’s gaming performance. Though a good CPU is important for gaming, GPU, aka graphic card determines how good your gaming experience is going to be. A system’s gaming performance is determined by its graphic subsystem and overclocking it can make a lot of difference. For eg: if you get 35 FPS in a game, chances are there that it gets choppy during intense combats where the GPU has to render more number complex objects. Overclocking your GPU will increase the number of frames rendered by it per second and that can have a positive impact on your gaming experience.

To overclock a graphic card, you need the following

Note that you need a good power supply (PSU or SMPS) for overclocking. This is because the PSU is the component that provides/distributes power to all components of a system. Since overclocking increases power consumption the PSU should be able to handle the increased load. If it can’t provide enough power, it may shut off or even explode taking out other components along with it. A good power supply not only provides its rated power, but also “clean” power, with the least amount of ripple. If you have a good power supply, you can safely overclock your PC components.

How to overclock a GPU?

Install MSI Afterburner. This tool is based on the venerable Rivatuner.  But I prefer Afterburner just for its intuitiveness. It’s extremely easy to use that even a first timer will be able to use it right away. Below is the screenshot of Afterburner. The main window has 5 sliders – Core Voltage, Core Clock, Shader Clock, Memory Clock, and Fan Speed. If you are using an AMD/ATI card, you will see that the slider Shader Clock is not available for adjustment.

Before overclocking, you need to increase the fan speed. Just move the slider under Fan Speed to the right and make it 80% and press Apply. If the slider is grayed out, select the button Auto.

To overclock your GPU, follow the steps below.

1. Increase Core Clock

Overclocking the Core yields the most performance boost in most of the cases and for this reason, you should always try to overclock the Core Clock to the maximum your card allows. The second slider is Core Clock. Use it to increase the core clock by 10MHz and select Apply. Open GPU-Z and keep it side-by-side to see if your overclock takes effect (Don’t consider the values shown by Afterburner’s hardware monitor as it shows only the 2D clocks now).

Now you have to stress test the GPU for stability. Select the icon K on Afterburner. This will load MSI Kombustor. By default, it won’t show the GPU temperature. Press T on keyboard to toggle temperature graph and closely monitor the temperature. Before overclocking, you have to know the max safe temperature of your graphic card. You can do that by checking your GPU’s specifications. You should also ensure proper cooling. Run the test for 10 minutes. If your graphic card isn’t stable, you may get BSOD, system lockup or graphic artifacts. If your system runs fine, you may proceed increasing the Core by 10MHz.

Do the same procedure (increase 10 MHz at a time and stress test) until your system gets unstable, that is, your system crashes, becomes unresponsive or produce graphic artifacts when you run Kombustor. Once you have found the max overclock, reduce 10MHz and run the stress test for two hours. If your system doesn’t get locked up, you are lucky. If not, reduce in 10MHz increments and do the stress test until the GPU passes the test for two hours without crashing.

2. Increase Shader Clock

Now that you have found the max Core overclock. Now select Reset in Afterburner to reset all settings. Increase Shader Clock slider by 10MHz. run the stress test. Find the maximum Shader Clock just how you just did with Core Clock.

Note that I’m using a Radeon HD5770 which doesn’t have the shader clock and hence the slider is not activated in Afterburner.

3. Increase Memory Clock

Just like Core and Shader clocks, you can also overclock the memory. Reset everything to stock settings by clicking Reset. On Afterburner, increase Memory Clock by 10MHz. Do the same thing you did before to find the maximum overclock.

4. Core and Shader

Now that you have found the maximum core and shader overclocks. Now you have to set the maximum overclock to both core and shader and see if your graphic card successfully passes the stress test. On Afterburner, increase both core and shader clocks to the max values you have just found and select Apply.

Now run Kombustor by clicking K on Afterburner. Run the test for two hours. If the card isn’t stable, reduce shader clock by until you get stability. You may also reduce the core clock a bit for stability.

5. Core, Shader and Memory

Now, set all clocks to the maximum you just found and run the stress test. If the card isn’t stable reduce memory clock until you get stability.

Voltage Tweaking

Note: If you don’t know what you are doing, it can permanently damage the graphic card. If you don’t know the max safe voltage for your GPU, Google it. You may be able to find that in overclock.net and extrmesystems.org

MSI Afterburner makes it easy to increase the core voltage on supported GPUs to push your graphic card even further.  By default voltage tweaking is disabled. To unlock, select Settings and in the next window, select Unlock voltage control and Unlock voltage monitoring.

Now you will have the Core Voltage slider unlocked. If you want to overclock the core and shader even further, you can increase the GPU V-Core in 10 mV increments and overclock these two clocks just like you did before.

A Great Tip

This may sound trivial but if you are in a hotter place, just switch on the AC and bring down the atmospheric temperature to 22 C or below.  This will certainly increase your overclock.

My MSI 5770 HAWK is able to reach 1GHz with 1.3v.

Aah, and one more thing, My graphic card reaches 1GHz only if I increase the GPU V-Core to 1.3v. But when air conditioned, it reaches the same clock speed with no bump in V-Core :D

About these ads
    • MeMeMe
    • August 7th, 2011

    Thank you ! ^^

      • ACKING_QC
      • May 7th, 2013

      I have AMD radeon 7450 and I would like to play GTA 4 without lags!!! suggestions ??

      • Tone down all settings. GTA4 is CPU bound so make changes to settings that may affect CPU.

    • Jeanpierre
    • October 19th, 2011

    This guide also work for MSI RADEON HD6950 2g twin fozr III?

    • manoj
    • November 4th, 2011

    hi,
    I have a ati radeon HD 5470 gpu, and i wanted to know whether this graphics card is in particular built for notebook .
    i wanted to overclock this on my notebook using the tool mentioned above. coz when i play crysis on the mainstream level the game lags. but in gamers level the lag can be ignored.
    can u please provide me an insight on how i can overclock this gpu if possible if not possible, can u suggest me whether the notebook gpu is upgradable if so i wanted to try my luck with radeon 6990.

    • manoj
    • November 4th, 2011

    and i tried overclocking my processor using setfsb but i couldn’t find the clockgenerator for the i3-370M processor. so now i wana try overclock my gpu

    my rig comprises of the above mentioned gpu and processor with 2gb DDR3 ram. so gaming shouldn’t be so troublesome. My major suspect is the GPU.. need help

      • appler
      • November 14th, 2011

      It could also be the fact you only have 2gbs of ram i suggest getting another 2gbs, if you need help overclocking overclock.net or you can add me on skype(djappler) and ill help you out i run a Asus GTX550ti directCU oced from 975 to 1030 stable at 1.3v

    • JC
    • November 19th, 2011

    hey, you didn’t mention what is the max or safe temperature of overclocking. could someone fill me in? thanks

    • Hi JC,
      We can’t generalize safe temp for GPUs. As different models from the two GPU vendors (AMD/NV) are rated differently, you only have to check their respective product pages.

    • roy
    • November 27th, 2011

    i have a weird thing with msi afterburner:
    the core and the memory clock slider are already on maximum and can only be decreased..
    the only thing i can change is the fan speed

    ( i have an ati hd 5450)

    • Hi have you tried this? If not, give it a try.

      Goto c: >> Program Files >> MSI Afterburner> > MSIAfterburner.cfg
      You might wanna open it with Notepad. If EnableUnofficialOverclocking = 0 , then change it to EnableUnofficialOverclocking = 1.
      After saving the file, you should have more headroom for overclocking.

        • Dylan
        • February 19th, 2012

        Hey, i have the same problem as roy.
        I have the same card (HD 5450) and i’ve set UnofficialOverclockingMode to 1, but nothing happend, i still can’t go further than 650mhz

  1. Nice blog you got here Vijay. Kinda similar to mine, but I’m more on the hardware side of things :)

    slappablog.com

    • Bartim
    • December 25th, 2011

    I have Gigabyte HD 6850 and the newest drivers ani MSi afterburner (2.2.0 Beta) and I unlocked Voltage a nothing hapens only rebooting but the voltage is stil locked :/

  2. I have the same card. Its my first ATI card btw. Im already getting my 2nd one. I will make a nice blog about it once it arrives and I tie them both together. I just wanted to mention a few things to those who are new to OC’n and or this card. The voltage mod is for the most part irrelevant. Out of the box without unlocking the voltage area, I got the card up to 1006mhz core, and 1300mhz memory. Thats all with the stock cooling, sitting inside my notoriously hot case. At the moment, I have a slightly higher clock but i lowered the mem.

    http://www.techpowerup.com/gpuz/g8h4w/

    Im trying to buy a multi-meter to see if the dam thing is actually changing the voltages when applied. Im sure with patience , and most importantly, the NEED, you can get this card to rock a 1k+ core and a 1400+ mem. I have been torturing GPU’s for about a decade or longer, (wow time flys when you are having fun) and I recommend one thing to everyone. When you are buying, or looking at cards to move to next, take a different approach to it. Dont look for a cheap card that you can push harder than its supposed to go. Look for the card that exceeds the requirements that you have of it. I got HD5770 cuz it pwns, esp in 2x setups. So if you think you can get this and hop up on the Mhz’s , forget it. Go up to the 6870. Im going to play with my twin 5770′s and sell them and go for a twin 6780 build. Good luck tuners. Have fun gaming

    I hope I helped someone :)

    • Mathew Cherian
    • January 13th, 2012

    i overclocked my GT240 512MB DDR3 today and i was running a furmark test and there is no diffrence in the fps between the 2, i also tested it out in a few games. i can turn up the overclocking settings all the way up and all the way down without there being one change in the FPS. any solutions???????????????

    • Did you check if the changes are taking place using GPUz? How did you overclock?

    • Henrik
    • January 23rd, 2012

    Hallo guys,

    I have 2 x Geforce 295 GTX in SLI but I can’t change the “Fan Speed (%)” to 80% as in the text. Its “grey” and I can’t press the auto bottom in the same line as Fan Speed (%) Can any of you guys help me out?

    Screenshot:

    http://peecee.dk/upload/view/347509/full

    • Henrik
    • January 23rd, 2012

    I used EVGA Precision to get the fan up to 80%
    - I have 2 graphic card 295 GTX in SLI and as I can find at the internet they can get up to 105 C is this right ??
    - When iam testing them I can only see 3 of the 4 (GPU’s) the windows when you press K is to small.. Please look at the screenshot.
    - Why is the GPU 2 95 C and the to others I can see only 62 C and 51 C and the last GPU 4 I can’t see?? Look screenshot
    I hope a lot you guys can help me out here and sorry about the bad english
    Best regards
    Henry

    http://peecee.dk/upload/view/347521/full

    • Luka
    • February 24th, 2012

    Hi, I have nvidia GT 240 1GB with latest drivers.
    I cannot drag the core voltage bar, it’s grey.
    I have also tried all of the above suggestions, nothing worked.
    Maybe anything else i can do?

    • Not all cards support voltage adjustment. It all depends on the power chip on your card.

    • manish
    • February 29th, 2012

    i am using nvidia geoforce 410m on my laptop n i hv 2gb ram as well… cn u please give me important details for overclocking..

    • Davy
    • March 12th, 2012

    hi, i change my shader value but it doesn’t change but the value stay’s the same when, i run the test.
    did i something wrong ?

    • lalitjose
    • March 30th, 2012

    i’ve a hd5450 gpu.i want to increase its voltage using msi afterburner.but voltage slider is locked.i tried unlocking voltage through msi ab settings,editing the cfg file and even the registry(~modify enable ulps….).nothing works.tried the latest msi ab beta also.pls help me.
    is there any other options to tweak the voltage.

    • Some cards don’t support voltage tweaking. Maybe yours is one of them.

    • Drgzy (@Drgz_m8)
    • April 1st, 2012

    when i do this everything starts to work.. but then it rests itself back to 383 (the normal)

    • Parqueted
    • April 7th, 2012

    Great tutorial but when I enable unofficial overclocking I set the Core Clock for example to 1000 MHz it resets after I press the “Apply” button.

    Very wierd but do you know how to fix this?

    • Increase MHz in increments and stress test. Don’t go overboard and jump to 1000 MHz.

    • Ravpreet
    • May 3rd, 2012

    any disadvantages to gpu if overclocking is done limits provided by you ?????

    • Hi Ravpreet, I don’t think I have given any limits. Every singly GPU chip clocks differently.

    • MNBM
    • June 1st, 2012

    why can’t I overclock my laptop gpu? Please Help me!!!

    • Will
    • June 12th, 2012

    Hi Vijay,
    I am running an r7970 lightning, and am running the latest versions of all of my drivers and overclocking software. However, when I try to bench in Unigine Heaven 3.0, I end up with all kinds of corruption in the image. My question is: Should I ignore unigine and just stick with kombustor, or should I assume that my oc is causing unigine to act up, and kombustor isn’t catching it? Thank you.

      • Will
      • June 12th, 2012

      Btw, I am currently at 1210/1400. Unigine will start acting acting up at the default clock of 1070/1400. Everything works correctly in Kombustor, without any abnormalities in the image.

      • That means your OC isn’t stable. You may either want to increase the vcore a little bit to improve cooling. If these don’t help, you may have touched the wall.

    • Adam
    • June 13th, 2012

    I’ve installed the MSI Afterburner, but incapable to execute, though run as administrator. A message “Failed to initialize display driver wrapper!” has popped up. I’m using Mobile Intel 4 Series Express Chipset Family graphic card, along with Intel Core 2 Duo P7350. Can you help me solve this issue?

    • Hi Adam, You can tey installing MSI Afterburner after updating the display driver. But the chancesare bleak as you’s is an Intel IGP which seldom supports overclocking.

    • Ruobin Wang
    • June 24th, 2012

    I had a question about the performance. Before overclocking, my gpu score was
    P1130 3DMarks
    GRAPHICS SCORE
    891
    CPU SCORE
    5804

    However, after overclocking, my score became
    P1085 3DMarks
    GRAPHICS SCORE
    857
    CPU SCORE
    5398

    This is too weird, I am wondering if you can explain it for me.

    • What did you overclock? GPU or CPU? In either case, looks like you have pushed it too much. Reduce until you get better scores and that would be the stable overclock.

    • Steve
    • July 7th, 2012

    I’m just now getting into computer stuff, so I’m sorry if this question is a bit dumb. But how do I monitor my GPU (nVidia GeForce GT 650M) with GPU-Z if it runs with Optimus? The reason I’m really wanting to OC the GPU is because based on specs the 650m and 660m are exactly the same card, but for some reason the 660m’s core is clocked 100mHZ higher, so I’m wondering if I can just go ahead and OC my card to make it perform like the 660m.

  3. My single MSI HD5770 HAWK Lightning series was beasted as soon as I could get it into a PCI3 slot. I already knew about OC’n cards. But I just stumbled across your article, and wanted to give the readers some more light onto this cars potential.
    My case is a factory Dell Workstation case, so it has excellent air flow, but at the cost of noise (that I dont mind)
    its got a factory 1000W PSU (so I have the power)
    And Im using a Duq (duck) *dual quadcore* setup so no GPU being bottle necked.

    On air only_
    I use as my 24/7 settings

    1350volt
    1072MHz Core !! ☻
    1350MHz mem ☻
    and my auto fan curve setting

    I have a pic posted here—>

    • Arthur Crout
    • September 18th, 2012

    Aw wtf? It has blocked my submission, o well, I have decided to show off my highest clock settings on air, that are 100% Crysis 2 stable ☺

    top speed!
    1076MHz Core
    1400MHz Mem
    *I love pushing the hell out of my stuff*

    and the previous settings :

    • sander
    • March 13th, 2013

    when i have overclocked my card (nVidia GeForce GT 630M 2Gb) i only get lower framerates and i heard that i have to turn my graphics card in fixed mode but i have no idea how to do that, please help.

    • If you get lower FPS, then you have gone too much. Overclock step-by-step and run a stress test. Do exactly as I have explained in this article. I don’t get what you are talking about fixed mode, is it delinking core and sharer clocks?

    • Rayner
    • May 1st, 2013

    I have nvidia geforce 410m 8ram . When I open my msi afterburner 3.0.0 only core and memory can use . Is that okay ?

    • It should be. But you can also try unlinking the core and shader clocks.

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