A common phrase that a new PC gamer often hears is "You should overclock your GPU". But does overclocking even mean? How is it beneficial or harmful to your GPU and overall performance of your PC? And most important of all; How to overclock your GPU?
Overclocking means increasing the clock rate of a component. Clock rate means the number of actions performed by a component in a certain period of time. So, basically overclocking means increasing the speed of your GPU more than the prescribed limit.
Think of it this way- a car has the potential top speed of 200 Km/h. However, its top speed is locked to 150 Km/p by the manufacturer by for safety measures. Similarly, you GPU is also locked at a certain clock speed where it yields ample productivity at optimum temperature levels. Overclocking your GPU will remove the clock rate limit, causing your GPU to perform more actions per second. However, since this is not the GPU's optimum conditions, it will overheat.
On one end, you'll be getting a substantially higher performance out of your old or cheap GPU as a result of overclocking, but on the other hand, you'll have to deal with high temperatures. You will need additional cooling devices, and maybe even liquid cooling for your Gaming PC if you overclock your GPU by that extent. Another downside of overclocking your GPU is the reduction in its lifespan. The increased supply of voltage and electricity, which is way more than the GPU was built to handle, can significantly shorten its lifespan. In the end, you'll have to make a decision between crisp graphics accompanied by higher frame rates and a longer life span of average gaming.
A Word of Warning: If you're looking forward to overclocking your gaming laptop's GPU. do not do it. I repeat, DO NOT OVERCLOCK your laptop's GPU. The overclocking will result in a substantial increase in performance, true, but it will also result in a substantial increase in temperatures. Pretty much all the gaming laptops can hardly take brave the native temperatures. Overclocking a laptop may result in total system failure due to overheating.
Should you overclock your GPU after all? Well, if you've got an all GTX 770 or another older card that's sitting around and gathering dust, it may be worthwhile to overclock your GPU. However, if you're thinking about buying a GTX 1050Ti and overclocking it to extract a performance of a GTX 1070, you may want to hold on a bit longer until your GPU becomes a total slacker.
Once you've made your decision, it is time to get moving. Here's what you'll need apart from a Windows machine an NVIDIA or AMD GPU
MSI Afterburner: MSI Afterburner is one of the most famous and reliable overclocking programs for Windows. Despite the name MSI, you do not need a GPU that is manufactured by MSI. It works with pretty much any GPU out there.
Heaven: Heaven is a GPU benchmarking tool. You will need it to measure the change in your GPU's performance.
GPU-Z: GPU-Z is a handy guide with lots of information about your GPU. You won't actually require it overclock your GPU, but it presents quite helpful information which may come in handy.
Guide to Overclocking Your GPU:
Step 1: Benchmark your graphics card using Heaven at vanilla settings to measure the change.
Step 2: Raise the Core Clock Speed using MSI afterburner. Make sure that shader clock is connected to Core Clock. Don't hurry up at this step. Be patient. Roll up the clock speed slowly, say 5 at a time.
Step 3: Repeat Step 1 and Step 2 until your reach an unstable clock rate. Once you reach an unstable clock rate, roll the clock rate down
Bonus: Another thing you can do to improve the performance of your GPU increases the voltage using the MSI Afterburner. By default, MSI Afterburner does not allow you to tweak the voltage. But you can do it if you fiddle with the settings. Open up MSI Afterburner's Settings and, under the General tab, check the "Unlock Voltage Control" box. Click OK and you should see a new slider at the top of Afterburner's main window. Raise the voltage to the maximum voltage supported by your GPU, perhaps a little lower than the maximum to be on the safer side. GPU-Z will be helpful in finding out this information.
Beware that increasing the voltage of your GPU results in shortening of the GPU's overall lifespan, so don't go all bonkers here. Increasing the voltage will also significantly raise the temperatures, so that's another thing you need to look out for.
Once you're all done, you'll notice a significant increase in your GPU's performance, resulting in better graphics and higher frame rates.