Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Art of Overclocking a 3D Card


By contrast to all that fiddling about with CPUs, 3D card overclocking is incredibly simple. It's all done from within Windows, with no rebooting required, and in Vista you'll even find that the system will recover from an unsuccessful overclock without locking up or bluescreening.

For an NVIDIA board, you want an app called nTune. It's an official NVIDIA tool - grab it from nvidia.com/object/sysutility.html. Then you just need to head over to the NVIDIA Control Panel (there should be an option for it, if you right-click on your desktop) and click on 'adjust GPU settings' under 'Performance'. If you select 'Custom clock frequencies' you can alter the core bus and the memory bus. As always, do it by tiny increments (10MHz or so) to identify the exact speed ceiling. There's an option in the NV control panel called 'system stability', and there you can run a looped render test to check the card can cope with the speed hike.

ATI cards are similarly straightforward. Load up Cataylst Control Center, again by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting its name. When prompted, choose ‘Advanced’ rather than the 'Basic' mode. From the list of settings on the left, you want the bottom one - ATI Overdrive. The best option whether you're a first or a fourtieth timer at this is to click 'Run automated clock configuration utility.' This will test the card's GPU and RAM at various different speeds, working out what's safe to run at. It'll take a little while, but once done you should notice that Overdrive's added a few extra MHz. Click ‘Apply’, then gun up a few games and give them a quick run.

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