So you recently got your hands on a shiny new graphics card? And you want more performance than what you paid for? With both AMD and NVIDIA packing in more cards in mid-range budgets, it’s getting harder to distinguish between each other’s value. You could get 2 different GPUs at the same price but get a wildly different performance out of them. That’s where overclocking comes in. MSI Afterburner has a neat auto overclocking feature (called OC Scanner) that you can use without getting into the nitty-gritty.
We’ve previously covered CPU overclocking in our guides here, but today we’ll be focusing on getting the most performance out of your GPU. We’ll be using MSI Afterburner as it provides a vast range of tools to overclock GPUs, especially NVIDIA’s. For AMD cards, a much simpler way exists in the Radeon Software itself. Both AMD and NVIDIA have reached a point in their product cycles that there isn’t much too much gain from overclocking their cards. Tinkering with them for an excess amount of time doesn’t make much sense, so having a feature that automatically overclocks the graphics card is a godsend.
AMD Auto Overclocking with Radeon Software
When it comes to auto overclocking, AMD makes it extremely simple. Just make sure to have the latest version of Radeon Software available before starting.
Fire up Radeon Software and head over to the ‘Performance’ tab.
Under the main ‘Performance’ tab, click on ‘Tuning’. From there, in the ‘Auto Tuning’ section you can choose any of the following:
- Undervolt GPU
- Overclock GPU
- Overclock VRAM
Well, these are quite self-explanatory, so go wild with them! Clocking on any of them will show a warning screen, after which the new changes will be applied. As for performance gains? Well, we dove deeper into that in our Radeon RX 5500 XT and 5600 XT reviews. For comparison between them both, including their overclocking performance, read our comparison post.
NVIDIA Auto Overclocking with MSI Afterburner
Alright, while AMD’s automatic OC is easy to go through, doing the same for NVIDIA cards will take some learning. The entire process can be done within 30 minutes, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Download the latest version of MSI Afterburner here, then open it. Once you’re in, click on the gear icon to go into settings. Under the ‘General’ tab, make sure ‘unlock voltage control, ‘unlock voltage monitoring’, and ‘force constant voltage’ are turned on.
After that, in the main Afterburner window push the ‘core voltage’, ‘power limit’ and ‘temp limit’ sliders to their maximum.
Use ‘Ctrl+F’ shortcut or click on the icon to the left of the ‘Core clock’ slider. Doing that will open up the Voltage/Frequency curve editor. On the top left of the window, you’ll find the ‘OC Scanner‘ button.
Clicking on that you’ll be greeted with a new window where you’ll have the following options:
Click on the scan prompt and then go grab a cup of coffee. This process should take roughly 15-20 minutes, during which the software will try out different voltage levels to see what your card can handle. You’ll notice your GPU, as well as your CPU, will spike up in temperature. Don’t worry about that.
After the scan is done, you’ll want to click on the ‘Test’ button and wait for about 5 minutes. This will go over the new settings that OC scanner applied, and make sure you the system is stable.
After this process, you can save the new fan curve as well as core voltage settings into one of the afterburner profiles. Simply click the ‘save’ (floppy) icon and click on any of the profile numbers to save them on that profile. This will help in applying the new auto overclocked settings the next time you boot and open afterburner.
With the new core clock and voltages set, you can go ahead and start playing games to notice the performance improvements. However, for even more performance improvement, you might want to tune the memory clock. With all the NVIDIA RTX Super cards, you can tune them up to +1000 Mhz. Just to be safe, increase the ‘memory clock’ slider to +500 Mhz and test out some benchmarks/games. After that, you can increase it to +1000 and check for stability. If in case your system can’t handle a +1000 Mhz memory overclock, don’t worry. The game/benchmark you’re using will crash and Windows will throw up an error message. Simply ignore the message and dial back the memory slider to the last entry the system was stable at.
Overclocking Results – Free Performance Gains
Voilà! You’ve now overclocked your graphics card! Enjoy the free performance benefits in all your games. How much benefit you get from this will depend on the card and your overall system. For example, with our RTX 2060 Super, we observed an average 10% FPS boost in games.
|RTX 2060 Super Base||RTX 2060 Super Core Clock OC||RTX 2060 Super Core Clock + Memory Clock OC|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider||59||62||63|
|Deus Ex: Mankind Divided||60.9||64||65|
|Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey||63||62||62|
Using the auto OC scanner feature, we saw an average 5% performance increase. After overclocking the memory too, that increased to almost 10%. You’ll notice here that Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey did not show any improvement in avg framerate, but we did see an increase in maximum framerate achieved. With other games, we saw similar performance improvements.
So there you have it. Overclocking your graphics card can be quite a tricky subject, especially for beginners. Thankfully with tools like MSI Afterburner and Radeon Software’s in-built auto OC features, you wouldn’t need to worry too much these days. With that said, I do hope that NVIDIA includes a similar feature by default. Perhaps in some future Geforce Experience update…