First time OC, please help

I have never OC'ed a GPU before so I want to make sure I have a good idea of what I'm doing so I don't brick my card. I have a Sapphire 7970 OC - I was going to get the GHz edition but I was told that if I plan to OC to save my money and get the regular because the only difference between the two is the stock clocks. So with the money I saved I got an Accelero Hybrid (got a smoking deal on an open box one at newegg, $99) which runs at a frosty 19* at idle. I have read around for a while but I have a few more questions before I go ahead with this.

Some of the things I read were not to change the voltage unless you know what your doing, and I do not. I wanted to know since heat is not an issue if this is still true? Also, I wanted to know what the highest OC people have achieved on their 7970's are... I know all cards are different, I am just looking for a ball park figure so I have something to shoot for.

Lastly, I wanted to know what the best program to use is; CCC, Afterburner, TriXX? I know CCC limits how far I can OC it. I'm sure all of these are relatively the same just wondering if one is better than another for a first time user?

If there is any other things that I am forgetting or you would like to point out for a first OC please do. Thanks for the help!
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  1. Afterburner is the best program I have used for overclocking as it has a hell of a lot of other features that other programs don't have. Only have one overclocking program running at anyone time. Remember to benchmark after you increase to test if the overclock is stable. Don't arse around with the voltage as you will probably get a good increase on the stock voltage alone. Some companies actually use the better quality chips for the factory overclocked editions so you may have saved a bit of money but it is possible your overclocking potential may be limited.
  2. I recommend either Trixx or MSI afterburner. But since you have a sapphire card, you may (although no guarantee) to have better experience with Trixx.

    I recommend MSI Afterburner. Increase the clock speeds or the memory speeds by 10 MHz to 25 MHz for each overclock. After an overclock, run a benchmark (I prefer Unigine Heaven 3.0) or MSI Kombustor for 5 minutes to 10 minutes. There, watch out the temps or watch out for crashes. I recommend you to watch the temperatures until you go above 80C, because you are not likely to crash your GPU when temps are still below 80C. If it is still below 80C and it's far from crashing, you can again increase the clock speed or the memory speed. Repeat the step, until you feel that it's the max that you can get and it doesn't crash.

    I haven't played with voltage adjustments. I know it'ill let your graphics card take higher clocks without crashing, but it'll make your GPU really hot. Since haven't tried it yet (I don't want to burn my GPU), I couldn't help you that much. But from what I heard, you increase the voltage, little by little and for each voltage increase, see the maximum clock that you can get. Of course you have to check temperatures.
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