How to Overclock Your Graphics Card Using MSI Afterburner
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What is Overclocking
Overclocking graphics card is the cheapest way to boost performance out of your graphics card – it costs absolutely nothing from the overclocking software to the process. Overclocking is basically running the graphics card at higher clocks than what the manufacturer has set. This will result to higher temperature and higher power draw. Depending on the design of the manufacturer, some cards will run without issues at insanely higher clocks, some will not. But it is safer now compared a decade ago as graphics card manufacturer prevents users to completely killing off the graphics card.
The Graphics Card
Our graphics card for this overclocking is the Colorful BattleAx GeForce GTX 1650 GDDR6 which has a base core clock of 1410 MHz and boost clock of 1590 MHz, and memory clock of 1500 MHz. The card is equipped with two 90mm fan and aluminum heatsink with no heatpipes. Having better cooling means you can manage the temperature better while adding more MHz on clocks.
MSI Afterburner is the most popular overclocking software for graphics card. It is free, reliable, equipped with monitoring tools, and you can use it with any graphics card even if it is not from MSI. You can download MSI Afterburner here and follow our guide on how to install and customize MSI Afterburner here. The theme we used for this guide is MSI touch of Modern by Derek Design.
MSI Kombustor is a free stress test utility for graphics card. This program is designed to push your graphics card to its maximum performance to test its stability and thermals. You can download MSI Kombustor here.
Let’s Start Overclocking
1. Open MSI Afterburner then go to Settings.
2. Under General tab, uncheck Start with Windows and Start minimized options. Check the Unlock voltage control, Unlock voltage monitoring and Force constant voltage options then click Apply and OK. MSI needs to be restarted to apply the changes on these settings.
3. Under Fan tab, check Enable user defined software automatic fan control option. Set the fan curve to steep curve maintain higher fan RPM at higher temperatures. Click Apply and OK.
4. On MSI Afterburner interface, click the AUTO and gear icon to enable the fan curve that we set.
5. Click the chain icon to link / synchronize the Power Limit and Temperature Limit values.
6. Drag the slider to set the Power Limit to maximum value. This might exceed 100%. Also set the Core Voltage to 100% then click the check button to apply the changes.
7. Click the Overclocking Scanner button (OC icon).
8. MSI Overclocking Scanner window will appear. Click Scan. The utility will start scanning, this might take more or less than 30 minutes.
9. Make a copy of core clock and memory overclock values for future use (97 MHz and 200MHz in our test), then close the window.
10. Click the Apply button (check icon) to apply the overclocked values for core clock and memory clock. At this point we will save these settings to a profile. To do that, click the Save button (diskette icon). The Profile number icons will start to flash. Click 1. Make sure that the memory overclock value is applied.
Now we will test the stability of our overclocked profile. We will use MSI Kombustor for this test.
11. On MSI Kombustor interface, uncheck the Fullscreen option and check the Artifact scanner option then click the RUN Stress Test button.
12. The stress test will start. Run the stress test for 10 minutes and watch out for Artifacts.
If there are no artifacts found then the overclocked values are stable and we can add more clocks on core clock and memory clock. If there are artifacts found, we will need to decrease the core clocks and memory clocks.
13. Input the core clock and memory overclock values from MSI OC Scanner utility we used earlier (step 10). Since those values are stable, we can increase the core clock by 20Hz then repeat the MSI Kombustor Artifact Scanner utility until artifacts are found after 10 minutes. Remember to click the Apply button before running the Artifact Scanner.
14. If there are artifacts found, decrease the current/ previous core clock by 5. Click the Apply button the repeat the Artifact scanner utility.
15. If there are no artifacts found, save the values to a profile (step 10). You can overwrite the previous profile or save it to a different slot.
16. Now we will overclock the memory. For the memory clock, we will add 200Hz from the MSI OC Scanner utility (200Hz + 200Hz). Click the Apply button then run the MSI Kombustor Artifact Scanner to test its stability. Repeat this step until artifacts are found.
17. If there are artifacts found, decrease the memory clock by 50Hz, click apply the run the Artifact scanner again.
18. Save to profile the stable values for core clock and memory clock (step 10).
Our stable core clock is +130 MHz and for memory clock is +550 MHz.
In-game Testing and Final Overclock
Now we will test our overclocks in game. For the most part, our stable clocks (+130 MHz and +550 Mhz) ran fine in any game, so we decided to add another 10 MHz (+140 MHz) for the core clock and test it with The Division 2 and GTA V at maximum / ultra settings at 1920×1080. GTA V ran without problem but The Division 2 crashed after 20 minutes. Reducing core clock by 5 MHz (+135 MHz) runs the game without problem. So our final overclock is +135 MHz for the core clock and +550 MHz for the memory clock.
For our benchmarking, we used the game’s built-in benchmarking tool of both games three times at 1920×1080 resolutions. For The Division 2, we the quality at Medium preset and High preset for GTA V, both without vsync. Here are our test results.
Different graphics card respond differently to overclocking – yours might run fine at higher clocks than ours. Following this guide hopefully gets you higher clocks with no stability issues.
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