This guide is meant to help you understand all the things you need to understand about overclocking your GPU today, the things we include in this guide are what precautions you must take, how overclocking works and how to do it. Any problems you have with overclocking your GPU are probably going to be solved by this article, make sure to comment your suggestions and questions in the comment section below to help us enhance our article on GPU overclocking.
You should also check out our history of overclocking CPU’s, overclocking both your GPU and CPU can dramatically increase performance if you tried overclocking and your frame rate still sucks, consider upgrading to a better GPU or a better CPU.
What is the process of overclocking in the first place?
You have to know how overclocking works in the first place to understand how to overclock, the basic concept of overclocking is to increase the effective speed of a unit, we measure the clock speed in either Megahertz or Gigahertz (Mhz and Ghz respectively). We can raise or decrease the tune using a piece of software that interfaces with the hardware and can be increased to increase the performance of the processor.
Initially, companies were reluctant to provide tools to interface with the hardware as many issues come with it, the problems that arise with overclocking is that the increased core speeds can cause problems with internal heating, instability, power consumption and many cases can make the hardware to stop functioning correctly. Most of the time this isn’t the case but beware that if you decide to overclock your GPU or any piece of equipment, the manufacturers usually void your warranty in those cases.
Earlier GPU’s actually only had clock speeds of about 500 or so Mhz, recently many CPU’s have been getting over 3 Ghz, and many enthusiast CPU’s can start to push 5 GHz, and with overclocking come close to 6 GHz, GPU’s are clocking in at 2 GHz or more on the more expensive side as well. This hardware can be pushed even more and more with the use of liquid cooling units
moreover, better ventilation hardware, more and more people have been reporting overclocking their GPU’s higher and higher because of the usage of better heat dispersing technologies that have become available over the years.
To overclock your GPU, all you need to do is to download an overclocking software from the internet, overclocking software such as EVGA’s overclocking suite are free and easy to use, you can also adjust different factors such as core voltage and fan speed to make overclocking easier. We continue to explain how different overclocking factors such as core voltage and fan speed contribute to how successful your overclocking is, in a small summary:
- Increasing core voltage makes it easier to reach higher speeds
- Increasing fan speed makes it easier to maintain high speeds without having your GPU fail.
Preparations for overclocking:
In the process of beginning to overclock your GPU, we need to make sure everything regarding our computer is functional, working and updated to ensure a comfortable overclocking experience.
What sort of model do you have?
Many models of GPU’s (especially OEM ones) can’t overclock, most medium-high end graphics cards can overclock. You need to also look at your GPU’s base fan to determine whether it can handle the additional heat from the increased clock speed as you increase.
You should also download GPU-Z. GPU-Z tells you all the specifications of your GPU such as core speed, voltage, fan speed and other factors that you should monitor as you increase clock speed. Make sure none of these factors get too extreme as your clock speed increases.
Here is a picture of GPU-Z running:
As you can see, it gives you your full GPU name, and it also gives you things like fan speed and clock speed, sometimes your GPU-Z reports something like “Intel HD Series,” in that case, you have to use your computer name or your knowledge to know what your GPU is. You can also download driver software from AMD or Nvidia which tells you what your GPU is. Unfortunately, a lot of lower-end Intel HD series as far as we know cannot be overclocked since they are OEM models.
Verify if you can overclock or not:
Verifying if you can overclock your GPU is quite simple, all you need to do is to Google “*your GPU name* is overclockable?” and it should be easy to tell if it is or not.
Just a rule of thumb, many integrated graphics cards cannot be overclocked because they are OEM, we can overclock almost all discrete graphics cards. If you bought your graphics card and had to install it on your PC, it’s nearly 100% certain to be overclockable.
Make sure your drivers are all updated:
If you use an AMD GPU take a look at our AMD section if you use a Nvidia GPU take a look at our Nvidia section. Other alternative names for AMD in GPU-Z include “Radeon” or “RX” or “R7” through “R3”, other alternative names for Intel in GPU-Z include “RTX” or “GTX” or “GT” or “GeForce.”
There are two options for updating your Nvidia Drivers:
- Using GeForce experience
- Manually downloading Nvidia drivers from the main website
Go to the link and download GeForce experience, it usually automatically updates the drivers on your computer that it finds are out of date for you, as a bonus, in the future the software updates the drivers to the latest ones automatically.
Nvidia GeForce experience also has a section to download overclocking software.
The second option is to go to the Nvidia’s main page for driver software and automatically download whatever driver you need; it should be pretty much self-explanatory once you get there.
AMD is quite similar to Nvidia, and it has two options:
- Download the AMD software suite
- Download the drivers manually from AMD’s main website
Downloading the AMD software suite is the same as downloading Nvidia GeForce experience, once it’s downloaded and installed it updates any out-of-date drivers automatically for you.
The second is just visiting the AMD driver age and manually downloading the driver, similar to the Nvidia section this should be pretty much self-explanatory once you get there.
Start the overclocking process:
You first need to download an overclocking software, there are many options to choose from, and for the most part, all of them are the same but have different graphical interfaces:
MSI afterburner is a convenient and easy to use overclocking software ideal for beginners to the overclocking scene. It works well with all types of processors, and in conjunction with GPU-Z you can adjust and monitor your GPU in real time. You can change the GPU base clock, memory clock, fan speed and voltage control (not all GPU’s support this). Giving you a wide array of tools to use.
EVGA Precision X is the most popular overclocking tools for Nvidia GPU’s, and you have the options to adjust GPU base clock, memory clock, fan speed and voltage control (not all GPU’s support this) using EVGA Precision X. An excellent extra feature of the EVGA Precision X is that it supports up to 10 different profiles so you can save different overclocking profiles for different games or situations.
AMD Overdrive is the best tool to use for AMD GPU’s, and there is a built-in monitor to monitor all of the vital signs of your GPU while you overclock giving you an easy way to see if your GPU is under too much stress or the temperature is getting too high for it to function correctly.
Increase your fan speed; some overclocking guides recommend this last while I recommend this first. Why? The new temperature generated by the core running at a higher rate than anticipated increases the temperature of the GPU putting it at risk for overheating.
Start increasing your Core/Shader clock, in +25 increments, make sure to keep monitoring your GPU temperature to make sure it doesn’t get too high (above 80 Fahrenheit or 27 Celcius) and seeing if any artifacts in your game begin to appear. Then you know you’ve reached the upper limit.
Start increasing your memory clock, by +25 increments, make sure to keep monitoring your GPU temperature to make sure it doesn’t get too high (above 80 Fahrenheit or 27 Celcius) and seeing if any artifacts in your game begin to appear. Then you know you’ve reached the upper limit.
Once you’ve hit the upper limit of all the above and still want more? Then you have to start looking at increasing your core voltage:
Research your card first and establish a safe voltage limit, this should be quite easy, Google “*your card name* safe voltage” and there will be a plethora of articles to help establish this for you.
Start increasing your core voltage by small increments; you want to make sure that raising your core voltage does not run into the problem of your PSU running out of wattage to power the extra energy usage. Check out our guide on buying a good PSU if you run into this problem. Don’t increase this too fast and you shouldn’t raise it past the point when your core temperature gets too high (above 80 Fahrenheit or 27 Celcius) or above your voltage limit.
The last step is to test the overclock; testing is quite easy, jump into your favorite game and check each time you increase, note the increases in FPS and temperature. After a while, you’ll get a good idea of what your best setting is.
Another way is to download a stress testing program, run the stress testing program and test each time you increase, note the increases in FPS and temperature. After a while, you’ll get a good idea of what your best setting is.
Often, depending on what overclocking software you have, you can save the most optimal voltages, core clocks, and memory clocks in a profile to use for a later time. I kept about three different profiles at different voltages for my overclocking.
We’ve achieved great results with overclocking; sometimes we get +10 Fps on many games, we tend to be safe in our overclocking, but there is nothing that is stopping you from trying to increase higher than what is typically considered safe. Be cautious of a GPU meltdown though.
Overclocking is just testing, try increasing, then see if it is stable enough via testing, then raise some more until you hit an upper limit. Once you’ve reached it, you’ll likely see substantial increases in your FPS and game performance. Also, check out our guide here to how to underclock your GPU.