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? If you own an ATI or NVIDIA graphics card then the manufacturer actually has some very nice built in options for you that can be found in the display driver properties. Based on Guru3D's own Rivatuner you should use MSI 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.
Core Clock: 772MHz
Core Clock: 820MHz
Core Clock: 879MHz
Shader Clock: 1544MHz
Shader Clock: 1758MHz
Memory Clock: 4008MHz
Memory Clock: 4400MHz
Now we left the fan RPM control at default in all circumstances. We reached a very decent overclock guaranteeing even better results.
Without voltage tweaking your limit will roughly be 850~875 MHz on the core (1700~1750 on the shader processors). Memory can be clocked at 4400 MHz (effective).
Should you tweak GPU voltage a little with AfterBurner (download here) and set it 0,1v higher then you can take it up a notch more towards 900~950 MHz - but with GPU Voltage tweaks your temps will rise to over 90 C real fast.
With the 'normal' overclock our temperature now hovers at roughly 82 degrees C under load, and that's okay. dBA levels remain normal, slightly higher at 42 dBA, and that's under full stress. Here's what that does to your overall performance.
3DMark Vantage - set up in Performance mode
Here we have the card with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, maxed out image quality settings as before with 4xAA 16xAF, keep in mind that the dark blue line represents baseline GeForce GTX 580 default performance, the red line is the added value in overall framerate.
But let's make it really heavy on the graphics card -- Battlefield Bad Company 2. We maxed out image quality settings as before with 8xAA 16xAF, way more GPU stringent, and with 8xAA applied we see that even this title benefits nicely from our overclock.
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