Not many people know how to overclock their graphics card, and many are simply afraid of ruining their computers if they don’t do it right.
Overclocking your graphics card is generally a safe process. If you follow these steps and proceed slowly, you won’t have any problems. These days, video cards are designed to prevent the user from causing serious damage.
Read through the entire guide to learn important overclocking details, find the software you need, and what steps you need to take to overclock your graphics card to the maximum.
Set up overclocking programs
To overclock your graphics card, you need two softwares. First, you need software that you can use to set new speeds for your GPU. Second, you will need a program that can stress test your system to ensure that the settings you are using are stable.
You can also download an optional third program that can monitor the temperature of your GPU. The overclocking software below does this already, but it’s a good idea to have an external program that can be minimized to the system tray.
- For overclocking software, you must download MSI Afterburner from MSI.com
- For stress testing software, you should download Heaven Benchmark.
- Finally, if you need an additional temperature and voltage monitor, you can load the GPU temperature.
Understand what overclocking does to the GPU
Before we get into the overclocking process, let’s first talk about what GPU overclocking actually does.
Basically, overclocking the GPU increases its performance by increasing the speed of the GPU.
All GPUs are set to run at a specific speed called base clock speed, but different cards can usually exceed the speed set by the manufacturer.
When overclocking, your GPU heats up and uses more power. It is important to find a balance between increased performance and a stable graphics card temperature.
Each GPU is different. For example, your GTX 1080 can safely overclock to a higher speed than your friend’s GTX 1080. As a result, you have to test your own acceleration speeds to find the sweet spot.
If you try to use the GPU too much with MSI Afterburner overclocking software, your video card will either show graphics glitches or your computer will crash.
Don’t worry – you can simply reset your GPU speed to a safe level if this happens. Better to start slowly and work your way up until you notice a problem.
Getting started with Overclocking
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s see how to get started overclocking your GPU.
First open MSI Afterburner. You will need to master this software while stressing your GPU.
In the image above, we’ve numbered the various Afterburner elements you need to look out for. Details for each item are given below.
- This is your core clock speed – this is the main speed you will overclock.
- This is the memory clock speed. – it can also be overclocked, but only after testing the core frequency.
- This is the control panel – use it to overclock your core clock, memory clock and fan speed.
- This is the temperature of your GPU.
It’s time to open the UNiGiNE Heaven stress testing program. Once it opens, you should run a basic test to see how your graphics card performs with the default clock settings.
- Install the UNiGiNE Heaven software and then launch Heaven Benchmark 4.0 from the Start menu
- Once you enter the UNiGiNE Heaven software, press START
In Heaven, you will see a rendered 3D scene and several buttons at the top. Click the Benchmark button in the upper left corner to start the testing process.
Heaven will now conduct a series of tests. During the test, you will see the temperature, frames, graphics frequency and memory frequency.
Let the test pass all 26 scenes. This may take about 10 minutes. During the test, pay close attention to the statistics in the upper right corner of the screen.
Chances are, your GPU will reach a certain temperature and will stay at that level throughout the test. This information is very important because it will give you an idea of ??how much room you have to overclock.
You will also be given a score and average FPS stats. Be sure to save your results so you can come back to them later.
Please note the following:
- Temperature during test
- FPS at the end of the test
- Score at the end of the test
Prepare your graphics card for overclocking
Now that you’ve tested the software, got a baseline score, and understood how everything works, it’s time to overclock your graphics card.
Go back to MSI Afterburner and click the Settings icon.
You will need to restart your computer in a second, so be sure to bookmark this page so you can return to it.
Then go to the General tab in Afterburner and select the Unlock Voltage Control, Unlock Voltage Monitoring, and Forced DC Voltage check boxes.
After applying the above settings, click OK. You will be prompted to restart your system. Click OK.
Once back after restarting, open MSI Afterburner and Unigine Heaven again.
- This time, set the temperature limit to 87 degrees Celsius.
- You should notice that the power limit (%) slider is also going up.
- Move the core voltage (%) slider all the way to the right. The percentage obtained will depend on your graphics card.
- Finally, click the Check button below the sliders.
Here is a picture of the settings you need. These settings will ensure that you can get the highest possible clock speed while staying in a safe temperature range.
Stress test your graphics card
Now that you have the optimal MSI Afterburner settings, start by moving the Core Clock (MHz) slider to the right. Add +23 to the number and hit the test button.
Then launch Heaven Benchmark 4.0 and press the Benchmark button again. Play 26 scenes and wait for the results of your tests. You should notice that your result has improved slightly compared to the last time.
As you can see in the image below, our first test slightly improved our average frames and test result. You should also see an improvement, and you may notice a 1-2 degree rise in temperature during the test.
This is just the beginning. The following steps will require you to maximize your graphics card load. Follow these steps to fully overclock your graphics card.
- Add another 20-30 to your clock speed.
- Run Heaven Benchmark 4.0 again
- Click the test button and complete all 26 scenes.
- If your computer does not crash and you see no graphical glitches, repeat from step 1.
If your computer crashes or you notice graphical problems: don’t worry – this is normal. Just open MSI Afterburner again and decrease the clock speed by 30. This will be your optimal clock speed.
The final steps for overclocking your GPU
You are almost done overclocking. If you want, you can repeat the above steps for the memory clock. However, most new video cards already have enough memory, so in games it will not give such a performance boost.
After overclocking is complete, click the Save icon in MSI Afterburner and then click a number to assign to this slot to save your settings. Now you can automatically load these settings every time you want to improve your performance while playing your favorite games.
The final test is to try out your new overclocked graphics card in your favorite games. In most cases, you will find that performance will improve.
Some games may not work with overclocked settings, so if you notice graphical glitches or game crashes, just press the reset button to return to the default settings.
Thanks for reading our in-depth guide on how to overclock your graphics card. We hope this guide was helpful. Have questions? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Enjoy!