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 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 tool for overclocking NVIDIA and ATI videocards is our own Rivatuner that you can download here. If you own an ATI or NVIDIA graphics card then the manufacturer actually has very nice built in options for you that can be found in the display driver properties. Based on Rivatuner you can alternatively use MSI AfterBurner which will work with 90% of the graphics cards out there. We can recommend it very much, 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, not to 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 + GPU voltage
Core Clock: 675MHz
Core Clock: 725MHz
Core Clock: 885MHz
Shader Clock: 1350Hz
Shader Clock: 1770Hz
Memory Clock: 3600MHz
Memory Clock: 3600MHz
Memory Clock: 4284 MHz
Now we left fan RPM control at default in all circumstances. The card remained silent, with extra GPU voltage which was set at 1.1 volts (maximum in AfterBurner 1.6.1). We reached a very decent overclock guaranteeing much better results.
Check it out, it is an insane overclock alright, and that shows in performance increases. Even with added GPU voltage our core temperature remained under 70 degrees C under load.
3DMark Vantage - setup in Performance mode
We had a hard time getting the card stable at 900 MHz, so we are certainly close to the maximum alright. Though the VRMs get heaps of airflow they do not have a heatsink, and that might be preventing overclocking even higher.
Anything higher and we would run into issues. Still look at the performance increase thanks to the overclock. And please do have a peek at reference performance. Once overclocked the power consumption rose from 318W to 372W, temps stabilized at 70 Degrees C (under full extreme load) and the noise level went up towards 44/45DBa which is a little too high for my taste alright.
SOC model with COD: Modern Warfare 2, maxed out image quality settings as before with 4xAA 16xAF
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