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Overclocking your GTX 400/500 series or AMD 5000/6000 series video card

Relinquish

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#1
Hi there,

I'm pretty new to the forums(as I write this) but I felt I had to write an overclocking guide for overclocking your GTX 400/500 series or AMD 5000/6000 series video cards as I felt some people had the wrong idea on certain things and I also felt the guides may be out of date. The reason I mention DX11 cards are because of the program I use to check for instability.

Firstly lets do the house keeping and say that I take NO responsibility if you in any way damage the card as a direct result of this thread. Take CAUTION and DON'T be impacient.

STOP! If you are the owner of a GTX 570 I would not recommend that you continue with this thread. Reason being that the VRMs on the 570 may not be up to the job if you want to overclock and may BURN out. More likely if you turn off power throtling and can happen at any temperature, waterblock or not. If I could find the tread of 'dead' 570s I would but I don't remember for now.


Now lets get on with the guide.

First and foremost to those who don't know what or why we overclock, I'd say this:

Overclocking is the process by which a component's operating speed is altered by either software or hardware to achieve better performance.

We do it to:

Get better 24/7 performance
Benchmark and get as high of a score as possible.

90% of the time software will always be used when overclocking video cards. My prefered software of choice and one that I'd recommend and that anyone would is MSI's afterburner. It is not a requirement that you have an Msi card which is a good thing as I like the software. You can download it here if you don't have it already. You will also need Unigine heaven benchmark for checking stability*, it can be found here. Now fire Afterburner up and lets get started.

This is what you should see:


The first highlighted box shows your GPU and driver version. The second box was highlighted because it may be greyed out initially and needs to be enabled for a max overclock through settings (bottom of the program).

Now we come to the overclock, and you should do it in these steps

1 - Increase core slider by max 5mhz, ignore shaders. AMD users will have the shaders dissabled (Different architectures)
2 - Check for stability by using and running Unigine Heaven benchmark*, if you see no artifacts which may be lines, blocks and a combination of both with some colours then your stable at that clock. It may be worth at this point to note clocks and voltages just incase you blue screen and forget what you set it at. I also recommend that you click once the program has launched 'benchmark' and watch it as it happens, any minor artifact means you are NOT stable.
3 - Repeat steps 1 + 2 on the core only until you've reached a maximum clock for a particular voltage, ignore the memory for the moment. You want the maximum core you can get before you overclock the memory, the memory may limit your core clock and so its best to do core first.
4 - When you've found the maximum clock for a particular voltage you can increase the voltage by a SMALL increment, as small of an increase as Afterburner will let you. Repeat Repeat steps 1 + 2 + 3.
5 - Repeat steps 1 to 4 until you ultimatly reach the maximum core clock at the maximum stable voltage.
6- Now you can start overclocking the memory, go up in increments of around 10mhz and after every increment perform step 2. Here is something to know about GDDR5, you may be able to get a really high clock on the memory but that doesn't necesarily mean it is faster. The memory is constantly being analysed for errors, if it finds an error then the information is sent back. If this is continually happening then you won't actually see any performance improvements so a good thing to do is notice when an increase in memory has no affect on the framerate, that way you know you've reached your max memory clock.

*Unigine heaven benchmark used because Furmark, kombustor and OCCT put unrealistic loads on the card. Heaven on the other hand will make full use of your card and provide a more realistic load.

And thats it, the process is time consuming but I believe its the best way. I've seen people use different clocks for different games but really you need a good stable all round clock. I would also say that it is good to play a couple of games for an hour, if its stable you'll get no blue screens/ artifacts and so on.

Hope this was helpful,
Any tips will be taken on board
 
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#2
nice article maybe i could try it sometime, so far im happy on stock clock :toast: :toast:
 

manofthem

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#3
I've been working on my 6950 lately. My method was similar to this but likely not as methodical. I'm going to give it another go over the weekend along the lines of this guide.

Question: with the new MSIAB beta 7, would you recommend changing voltage in AB or through RBE? Obviously through RBE would be more time consuming, but it seems like before it may have been more stable at a given clock/voltage... Thanks
 

Relinquish

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#4
I've been working on my 6950 lately. My method was similar to this but likely not as methodical. I'm going to give it another go over the weekend along the lines of this guide.

Question: with the new MSIAB beta 7, would you recommend changing voltage in AB or through RBE? Obviously through RBE would be more time consuming, but it seems like before it may have been more stable at a given clock/voltage... Thanks
I would say, that you should try to get your maximum clock and voltages through AB before you start flashing. Once you've found your optimal clock then you can flash, its much safer this way