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Graphics Card Overclocking: Is It Really Worth It?

By Julio Franco · 66 replies
Jan 26, 2012
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  1. Overclocking is overrated; lame.
  2. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +116

    I've not overclocked my GPU's since my ill-fated GTX280 let go with the rest of my system last year.

    Prior to that I overclocked my CPU and GPU regularly. These days I just leave it all stock speeds. I will likely overclock my next processor to get a small boost, but my current Q6600 is getting on now, and just doesn't like it when its overclocked at all. Its flawless at its factory set clock speed though.

    As for GPU's, I'm really not sure its worth it, given that you never see much of an increase in performance for the extra heat it creates. So I'll likely just leave my current and future GPU's alone.

    I run my recently purchased interim HD6870 at stock speeds and its fine at full HD/high detail for pretty much every game I play.
  3. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,262

    Thanks Guest, I guess we can turn out the lights and go home now.

    I've overclocked pretty much every piece of componentry that I've ever owned. Not necessarily for the gains (if any), but definitely for the enjoyment of doing so as well as satisfying the curiosity bug. Whether the components run overclocked (and by what margin) after the initial benchmarking largely depends on the sliding scale of gain versus heat/noise output.

    The GTX 560Ti- like most Fermi based cards- is effectively underclocked in stock form to obey the laws of physics/marketing (TDP and power consumption figures) so tend to exaggerate the "overclocking" performance aspect. The HD 7970/7950 likely follow the same trend:
    Ramping up clocks would likely result in a net loss due to the effect of noise and wattage trumping performance gains....so leaving some performance on the table for the user fulfils both the TDP/heat/power issue while giving the consumer the option to crank the card to eleven and enhance the value for money aspect.
  4. NeoFlux

    NeoFlux TS Booster Posts: 103   +12

    Just had my new 6950 installed and unlocked "6970 mode". Overclocking? Nah...... maybe just before an upgrade to a newer generation card...
  5. Emexrulsier

    Emexrulsier TS Evangelist Posts: 560   +59

    True you comment is lame ...

    Tell me how can something for nothing be lame and overated. I have over clocked my processors ever since my SlotA Athlon 700Mhz back then every little Mhz really did matter. I used to take the chip to 1Ghz almost a 50% increase and it really did show. More recently I took a QX9650 to around 5.2Ghz (stock 3) and for video encoding this really did help and show vast improvmenets. At the end of the day it all depends what applications etc you plan on using as to whether overlocking is needed. If you spend all day long staring at 3DMark benchmarks then yes overclocking is a way forward. If you have a high end pc maybe multiple 580GTX you will notice only a performance increase in the displayed FPS other then that you probs will notice nothing you can just blag to your m8s mines better than yours!
  6. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,041   +793

    Well I used to overclock and unlock my old Phenom II X2 (I paid £60 for and ended up with a 3.8Ghz Quad Core!) but on my newest rig I haven't bothered, the Core i7 2600K eats everything I throw at it as quickly as I can with my Vertex III SSD, I do have a Corsair H60 attached to it so maybe in the future when I actually find something that stretches it I'll over clock it.

    In the Graphics front i used to overclock my old GTX 260 quite a bit but then something blew while playing the orginal Crysis and it wouldn't overclock since :( but now I have a GTX560 Ti Asus's TOP Edition which is pre-overclocked to 900Mhz (got it on deal for £175 which is only £10 more than stock) and it eats everything I throw at it, I have overclocked it a few times to see how it handles it on BF3 and to be honest I haven't really noticed any difference other than more noise coming from the computer. Although I am planning on replacing it with a 680 (or 780 which ever is highest) at the end of this year so i probably won't need to overclock it.
  7. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    I overclock my GTX 570 to get around stock 580 performance for a much lower price, those extra few frames definitely help in online BF3. As for the heat and noise, I just turn up the fan to maximum and put my headset on :)
  8. fimbles

    fimbles TS Evangelist Posts: 1,171   +203

    Always overclock my cpu, much better performance with similar temps.

    Gpu not so much, mostly at stock unless im trying to get a better benchmark score. performance/heat ratio is usually not worth it.
  9. But how much did volume levels increase as fans most likely spin a bit faster? Would be nice to see that added as well since the stock cooling in most graphics cards these days is pretty close to a hoover when it comes to sound.
  10. So its an Xbox you`ve got then i guess
  11. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,710   +869

    Anyone stupid enough to buy a factory overclocked GPU deserves what they get.
    A ripoff.
  12. well well we OC two GTS450 from palit Sonic edition and guess what its knocks the 570 and 580 out the park but we running them in slix2 GTS450 oc 3d bench 26058 mahahahaha why waste on 5 series if 6 series coming in a few months.
  13. Tekkaraiden

    Tekkaraiden TS Evangelist Posts: 997   +93

    Overlocked my 4850 for a bit, the increased performance wasn't worth having the fan sounding like a jet engine.
  14. MSI Afterburner utility makes it effortless to overclock my GTX480 to 825mhz.
    Performance in Crysis then matches a GTX580 running at default speeds, or about 50 frames/sec at 1920x1200.

    Yes, memories of overclocking two 8800GTs to crazy speeds, trying to keep Crysis playing near 30 frames/sec, continue to overrule logic. I "know" the GTX480 is faster than three 8800GTs, but even with 50 f/sec in Crysis, I can't shake the nervous feeling that the game will soon stutter, slow down or freeze... LOL.
  15. mopar man

    mopar man TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 1,379

    Wow... I'm surprised by the results!

    My EVGA 460 GTX 1GB rated at a stock speed of 726mhz on it's core. Once I OC it to 860mhz (which was surprisingly stable) it actually made a maxed Skyrim playable. I then tested it on multiple games and saw an increase of 10+ fps STABLE in almost every one.

    I guess one's mileage may vary, though!

    BTW, My x6 did not do well overclocking. At 4.0 it only gave me a 3fps increase from 3.3 ghz! That is in almost every game. And the Overclocking caused CS:S (previous to patching) to lag unless I assigned it to the right cores.
  16. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,481   +44

    My 580's are overclocked, along with everything else plugged into my motherboard, well the things that I can oc anyway.
  17. customcarvin

    customcarvin TS Enthusiast Posts: 103   +8

    Ya, it's lame to save $100 bones.... My XFX 6950 has unlocked shaders and overclocked to stock 6970 speeds (core & mem). I replaced the stock thermal compound paste with AC MX-4, and have yet to see the temps go above 85c with 99% GPU load and all post fx on highest, using MSI Kombuster. I only paid $225 for it after instant discount, and mail in rebate (free shipping too). Yup like you said, overrated.
  18. Modena

    Modena TS Booster Posts: 143

    Got my GTX460 @850core combined with the MSI cyclone cooler and it runs nice. Why not get an extra 10-15% performance increase for free? IMO mid-range cards is where it's at, OC them a bit and you're good. Looking forward to the GTX660!
  19. spydercanopus

    spydercanopus TS Evangelist Posts: 846   +102

    Stability, warranty, performance. In that order.
  20. Chazz

    Chazz TS Evangelist Posts: 679   +74

    I always overclock my cpu, as for the gpu it really depends on the results I get. If I can push it quite a bit and have it stable I'll keep it. Sometimes it's just not worth it though.
  21. TitoBXNY

    TitoBXNY TS Addict Posts: 235   +50

    Overclocking GPU is a waste of time and very risky. Overclocking a CPU is a different story though as you see real differences. I took my old Q6600 from 2.4 to 3.8ghz on air without issue. A 3 frame increase on GPU overclock is not worth the risk.
  22. Opolis

    Opolis TS Rookie

    Overclocking is a good way to give your GPU a boost. A properly tested OC is not dangerous, some companies such as EVGA even support it with software to OC with and warranties that are not voided by OC'ing. If the time is taken to do it correctly, it can really help out if, say, your GPU is right on the edge of play-ability at the current settings. As the article states, don't expect to OC your card to performance levels above the next model in the product line though.
  23. Cota

    Cota TS Enthusiast Posts: 513   +8

    I remember watching a similar test like this, but they did small OC steps and graphic the "Clock Speed"/"Performance Gain", since there you can watch the speeds at wich any OC more is kind of worthless.

    Also it would had been nice if you guys measure the power consumption increase.
  24. Eddo22

    Eddo22 TS Booster Posts: 161   +6

    I'm all for overclocking CPU's and GPU's themselves, but when it comes to the memory I shy away from oc'ing that. Maybe it's just me but it seems like Memory doesn't last extremely well at stock speeds let alone oc'ed...especially on gfx cards.

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