As most of you know, with most video cards you can apply a simple series of tricks to boost the overall performance a little. You can do this at two levels, namely tweaking by enabling registry or BIOS hacks, or very simply to tamper with Image Quality. And then there is overclocking, which will give you the best possible results by far.
What do we need? One of the best tools for overclocking NVIDIA and ATI videocards is our own AfterBurner which will work with 90% of the graphics cards out there. We can really recommend it, download here.
Where should we go? Overclocking: By increasing the frequency of the videocard's memory and GPU, we can make the videocard increase its calculation clock cycles per second. It sounds hard, but it really can be done in less than a few minutes. I always tend to recommend to novice users and beginners, to not increase the frequency any higher than 5% on the core and memory clock. Example: If your card runs at 600 MHz (which is pretty common these days) then I suggest that you don't increase the frequency any higher than 30 to 50 MHz.
More advanced users push the frequency often way higher. Usually when your 3D graphics start to show artifacts such as white dots ("snow"), you should back down 10-15 MHz and leave it at that. Usually when you are overclocking too hard, it'll start to show artifacts, empty polygons or it will even freeze. Carefully find that limit and then back down at least 20 MHz from the moment you notice an artifact. Look carefully and observe well. I really wouldn't know why you need to overclock today's tested card anyway, but we'll still show it.
All in all... do it at your own risk.
Overclocked @ 1.3V
Core Clock: 925 MHz
Core Clock: 1000 MHz
Core Clock: 1250 MHz
Shader Clock: 925 MHz
Shader Clock: 1000 MHz
Shader Clock: 1250 MHz
Memory Clock: 5500 MHz
Memory Clock: 5600 MHz
Memory Clock: 6000 MHz
If you are not using voltage tweaking, please use the Catalyst control center as it will allow you to overclock the card really well.
Should you be willing to voltage tweak (it is more dangerous as it creates much more heat inside the GPU) then we'd say ~1250 Mv should be your target for roughly 1200 MHz with air cooling.
We applied a hint more at 1300Mv and ended at 1250 MHz with a stable overclock, and that is very nice. The GPU was hardly getting warmer as we reached 70 Degrees C but by compensating the additional heat, the cooler RPM went up and as such the noise level now has risen towards roughly 41~42 DBa, still extremely respectable.
None the less we have extra performance at our hands, have a peek at the results when overclocked.
Above, Crysis 2, same maxed out image quality settings as before yet now with added overclock results:
High Resolution Texture Pack
Ultra Quality settings
Level - Times Square (2 minute custom time demo)
Above, 3DMark 11 - the Performance test and score. As you can see, there is an additional bump in this very GPU limited software, lovely.
Above, Alien versus Predator, in 1920x1200 at 4xAA and 16X anisotropic filtering
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