MSI GeForce GTX 1080 SEA HAWK X review

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Overclocking The Graphics Card

Overclocking The Graphics Card

As most of you know, with most video cards you can apply a simple series of tricks to boost the overall performance a little. Typically you can tweak on core clock frequencies and voltages. 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 can really 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 25 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... you always overclock at your own risk!

Original This sample Overclocked 
Core Clock: 1607 MHz Core Clock: 1683 MHz Core Clock: 1858 MHz
Boost Clock: 1733 MHz Boost Clock: 1822 MHz Max Boost Clock: 2150~2164 MHz
Memory Clock: 5005/10010 MHz Memory Clock: 5005/10010 MHz Memory Clock: 5702/11404 MHz

If anything, tweaking and overclocking has become more complicated starting with Pascal. You'll see that most cards out there all will tweak to roughly the same levels due to all kinds of hardware protection kicking in.

We applied the following settings:

  • Temp Target 95 Degrees C
  • CPU clock + 150~175 MHz
  • Mem clock +700MHz
  • Voltage +100%
  • FAN RPM default

The Boost clock will now render at roughly 2100~2150 MHz depending on the power and temperature signature. The GPU will continuously be dynamically altered on voltage and clock frequency to match the power and temperature targets versus the increased core clock. In FireStrike we are now hovering at the 2.1 GHz marker on the Boost frequency for example, but some games jumped to roughly 2.15 GHz one second and dipped below 2 GHz the other.



For all overclocked games above we have used the very same image quality settings as shown before. Overall, the generic thumb of rule here for a decent tweak and overclock is that performance can gain anywhere from 5 to 10% performance. The end result depends on a lot of variables though, including power limiters, temperature limiters, fill-rate and so on, the performance increment can differ per card, brand, heck... even cooling solution and your chassis airflow.


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