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 by tampering 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.
Core Clock: 800 MHz
Core Clock: 880 MHz
Core Clock: 1167 MHz
Shader Clock: 800 MHz
Shader Clock: 880 MHz
Shader Clock: 1167 MHz
Memory Clock: 5000 MHz
Memory Clock: 5000 MHz
Memory Clock: 6256 MHz
Open up AMD overdrive. Now we need to free the card up from TDP restrictions first, so all the way down move the Power control settings slider towards 20%.
Overclocking wise the card will allow itself to be clocked to roughly 1000~1050 MHz on the core. And that's without additional voltage tweaking. Voltage tweaking will definitely get you higher.
We applied extra voltage with MSI AfterBurner though, increasing the core to 1250 Mv; at roughly 45% Fan RPM the graphics card gave us a cool 1167 MHz on the core. The memory could be clocked towards 1564 stable, with a quad data-rate that becomes 6256 MHz.
And that brings us to a completely stable overclock, and that is very impressive. The GPU was getting slightly warmer as we reached 65~70 Degrees C. The noise level went up though, nothing too bad though.
This was a borderline overclock though, if ambient temps would have been higher I am not sure if it would remain stable. Even a 5 Mhz increase in the clock frequency resulted into instability. So you'd probably be better off with 1100 MHz.
These are the results of our overclock:
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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