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How To: Overclock Your AMD / ATi GPU

post #1 of 639
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*



Before we begin, it is important that you understand the risks associated with overclocking your graphics card. Overclocking, overvolting or modifying your card may invalidate your warranty, so be sure to check the warranty terms before you begin. Neither I, nor overclock.net are responsible for any damage caused by following this guide.

Now that's out of the way, there are many benefits to overclocking your GPU, you basically get a 'free' boost in FPS in games, which is always handy. GPU clocking can also help you get those vital extra benchmarking points in order to give your epeen that much needed extension.

Overclocking your GPU is simple and relatively trouble-free provided you do things right, this guide will help you to put you on the right path. This guide will use GPUTool to test for stability and MSI Afterburner to overclock, however there are many different programs available that do a similar job. Some alternatives are AMD GPU Clock Tool, Rivatuner and ATi Tray Tools.

If you have a Dual GPU card (such as a 5970) or are running a Crossfire configuration, see the note at the end of this post before you begin.*



Step 1: Make sure your CPU and Memory overclocks are fully stable by running some passes of Prime 95. If you have any doubts put everything back to stock. Also make sure you are on the latest version of the ATi drivers, if you aren't, you can download the latest here. If you are using a 2xMolex to PCI-e power adaptor or are near the limits of the power output of your current PSU overclocking may not be recommended, as you overclock power draw can increase dramatically.


Step 2: Download GPUTool to an accessible folder and run it. Download MSI Afterburner (even if you already have Afterburner on your PC make sure you have it updated to the latest version). Navigate to the folder you installed it to (usually C:\\Program Files (x86)\\MSI Afterburner) and open the MSIAfterburner.cfg file using Wordpad. Find the following setting:
Code:
UnofficialOverclockingEULA
UnofficialOverclockingMode
and change (or add) it to:
Code:
UnofficialOverclockingEULA = I confirm that I am aware of unofficial overclocking limitations and fully understand that MSI will not provide me any support on it
UnofficialOverclockingMode = 1
This will allow us to bypass the limitation that stops you from passing the limits of ATi Overdrive (This tip was found on HWBot news). A BIOS flash is not necessary to do this, you just need to edit the file . If you get an Access Denied or permissions error see the 'I Get An Error When Saving The Config File' section at the bottom of this post.
Run MSI Afterburner.


Step 3: Put both programs side by side for ease of use. Firstly we will begin to increase the core frequency. The 'Core Clock (MHz)' slider is set at the default clock speed, to increase the core frequency, move the slider to the right. Be careful not to make quick jumps before testing for stability. I find it is best to increase the core frequency by 10MHz at a time. Once you have increased it click the 'Apply' button.




Step 4: Now switch to GPUTool and press the 'Test for Stability' button. You will see a screen like below. This will scan for artifacts, which could be a sign of an unstable overclock. Let the test run for between 30 seconds and 1 minute, you can let it run longer if you like. Make sure you keep an eye on temperatures, try to stay below 85*C, but you should be safe up to a maximum of 100*C, although this is not recommended.




Step 5:
Repeat steps 3 and 4, increasing the core frequency 10mhz at a time until you see artifacts on the screen, these will appear as yellow dots in the GPUTool stability testing window like below:



(Note that your card may not artifact but may show other signs of instability such as Driver VPU recovers or hard locks. This is often the case with cards from the HD 5xxx series, which may not show artifacts but may cause the screen to flash and the driver to restart.)


Step 6: Now that you have found the point at which the core is unstable I like to back the clocks down by 10mhz or so from the failure point and run GPUTool for 15 to 30 minutes to fully test for stability. Do not step away from the PC whilst doing this in case you notice any artifacts. If you see any back the clocks back a little further until you think it is stable. At this point you may want to run a pass of 3DMark 06 or a demanding game to check for gaming stability (artifact testing only shows you so much). If you notice an exceptionally low score or see missing textures your card may not be stable.


Step 7: We have now found the stable core clock for your card. Next we will find the maximum stable clock for the memory. First note down what core clock you had so you don't forget it later. Now put the core clock back to stock by pressing the 'Reset' button in afterburner. Follow the same method detailed in steps 3, 4, 5 and 6 except this time increase the 'Memory Clock' slider. Make sure you go in small 10MHz increments and scan for artifacts at the end.


Step 8: Now you have found the limits of both the core and memory, you want to increase the core clock to what you found was stable earlier. Note that occasionally having both the core and memory at their highest stable clocks may cause instability, when they were stable individually before. So to make sure your final clocks are stable run the GPUTool stability test once more for at least 15 minutes, if you notice artifacts decrease either the memory or core clock to see which one is at fault. This should be your final stable overclock, play some games to make sure it is stable.


Step 9: Once you are sure your overclock is totally stable, save it to an empty profile, to do this click 'Save' and then one of the empty quick profile slots.



You can also set the overclock to apply at startup by clicking the 'Apply overclocking at system startup' button towards the bottom of the Afterburner screen. If you are absolutely sure your overclock is stable you can also have it be applied at windows startup by clicking the 'Settings' button and tick the 'Start with Windows' and 'Start minimized' boxes.


Step 10: Check that your clocks have been applied by checking with GPU-z.


Step 11 (Optional): Submit your overclock or benchmark results to HWBot to see how your results compare to others and earn some points for yourself and OCN.


Congratulations you have now learnt how to overclock your GPU


I Get An Error When Saving The Config File
On some systems you may get an error when you try to save the MSIAfterburner.cfg file. First make sure Afterburner is fully closed, including the icon in the system tray. If this does not help, you need to take ownership of the file before editing it. The easiest way to do this is to follow this guide. Once you have done that, right click on MSIAfterburner.cfg and click 'Take Ownership' from the context menu. Then open up the file in wordpad follow the procedure in Step 2 and save it. If you still receive an error message, describe it in a reply to this thread.

How to Increase the core voltage
On some supported cards you can increase the voltage of the GPU core. This should help you to push your overclock further, however adding too much voltage could cause damage to your card. If this setting is grayed out for you, MSI Afterburner does not support voltage increases for your GPU. It is up to you to decide what you are comfortable with and whether the extra boost in core clock is worth the potential risk.

Enabling Manual Fan Control
Open up the 'Settings' screen and click the 'Fan' tab. Click the 'Enable user defined software automatic fan control' box, here you can set the thresholds for fan speed increases. Along the bottom is Temperature, and up the side is fan speed, you can manipulate the points of the graph to get the right balance of silence at idle and the best cooling under load. For further details on this feature, please see the guide made by Ethatron, which can be found here.

How to restore 2D/3D dynamic clock changing (Powerplay)
First make sure you have saved a profile with the clocks that you want at idle and a profile for what clocks you want at load. Then navigate to the 'Profiles' tab of the 'Settings' screen and choose the 2D and 3D profile under the 'Automatic Profiles Management' section.

How to show FPS or other data in-game or on your G15 keyboard
You can optionally monitor FPS and GPU temperature either as an overlay on games or on your G15 keyboard's screen. To do this Click the 'Monitoring' tab in the 'Settings' screen. Click on the fields you would like to monitor and choose either 'Show in On-Screen Display' or 'Show in Logitech Keyboard LCD Display'. If you want to see FPS, make sure you click the tick icon to the left of the 'Framerate' field and then click the 'Show in On-Screen Display' checkbox.

Another user has the same card as me but mine won't overclock as far
Please remember that not all GPUs are created equal, just because someone's overclocks to a certain level does not mean that yours will necessarily be capable of doing the same.

* What do I do if I have a Multi-GPU Setup?

If you have a crossfire setup you must set the GPUTool Stress test to run in full screen mode. To do this tick the 'Renderer uses Fullscreen' box. Before you begin make sure 'Synchronise settings for similar graphics processors' is ticked in the 'Settings' screen of MSI Afterburner. If you want to adjust the clocks individually for each GPU of your multi-GPU setup you can untick that option and use the drop-down list to choose which GPU to overclock. Once you have done one, use the drop-down list to switch to the next GPU.




I hope this guide has been helpful, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them below.

Edited by coffeejunky - 8/23/11 at 10:29am
post #2 of 639
nice now ill give it a shot ty op
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post #3 of 639
Great work mate.....

maybe you could add a little section about configuring the ''custom fan curve'', IMO one of this apps best features...
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post #4 of 639
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skunksmash View Post
Great work mate.....

maybe you could add a little section about configuring the ''custom fan curve'', IMO one of this apps best features...
I had thought about it, it's kind of hard to describe how to manipulate it though. Theres alot more in the works (Soon there should be a Q&A section for really common questions stickied)
post #5 of 639
Great guide.. It will help alot of people to get the most out of their cards
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post #6 of 639
Nice one dude!Congrats!
Looked into adding +rep but u editors dont have that button!!!
    
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post #7 of 639
Quote:
How to restore 2D/3D dynamic clock changing (Powerplay)
First make sure you have saved a profile with the clocks that you want at idle and a profile for what clocks you want at load. Then navigate to the 'Profiles' tab of the 'Settings' screen and choose the 2D and 3D profile under the 'Automatic Profiles Management' section.
I do not understand this. I though this could help me escape from my 5850 dropping to 157/300 but i set a profile to 573/1000 for 2d and 754/1000 for 3d.

It caused me to go to my idle clocks at 157/300 which tends to happen whenever i overclock, it switches between the idle clocks and the 2d clocks i set in msi.
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post #8 of 639
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1keith1 View Post
I do not understand this. I though this could help me escape from my 5850 dropping to 157/300 but i set a profile to 573/1000 for 2d and 754/1000 for 3d.

It caused me to go to my idle clocks at 157/300 which tends to happen whenever i overclock, it switches between the idle clocks and the 2d clocks i set in msi.
Something weird is going on with your card, possibly driver or BIOS related. Did you check the post I made in your other thread for a possible solution?
post #9 of 639
I'd REP you, but you'll have to settle for BREP.



Nice guide.

    
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post #10 of 639
i think you have to run gputool in fullscreen for it to stress both cards in crossfire
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