As most of you know, with most videocards 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'd need to overclock today's tested card anyway, but we'll still show it.
All in all... do it at your own risk.
Overclocked + GPU Volts 1.2
Core Clock: 880MHz
Core Clock: 900MHz
Core Clock: 975MHz
Shader Clock: 880MHz
Shader Clock: 900MHz
Shader Clock: 975MHz
Memory Clock: 5500MHz
Memory Clock: 5600MHz
Memory Clock: 6300MHz
Now we left the fan RPM control at default. We reached a very decent overclock showing a bump in overall performance. The temps did not change very much but got closer to 80 Degrees C, DBA levels go tiny bit up. You can also try and go a little higher by increasing fan RPM of course, your call to make.
Now first off, in the AMD drivers increase PowerTune towards +20%, that will allow a 20% higher TDP. However even then as you can see, PowerTune will clock down the overclocked GPU when the max TDP is breached.
Anyway, with Afterburner we applied 1.2 Volts on the GPU and took her upwards to 975 MHz and a blistering 6300 MHz on the memory. Let's have a look at the reward, the performance increase.
Above we have Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, maxed out image quality settings as before with 4xAA 16xAF
Above we have Battlefield Bad Company 2, maxed out image quality settings as before with 8xAA 16xAF
Above, we can see 3DMark 11 - the Performance mode is applied here.
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