How To Overclock Your Graphics Card

nTune vs. RivaTuner

If you don’t like the ergonomics of RivaTuner, or you’re wary of a utility written by independent programmers, you can take a look at nTune, published by Nvidia. As its name indicates, nTune lets you "tune" your system. It’s most useful with a PC equipped with a motherboard with an nForce chipset. nTune lets you adjust the overclocking of the CPU and the RAM, monitor the overall state of the system, etc. But even on our reference system with an Intel X38 chipset, nTune let us tweak the graphics card.

Oveclocking nTune

nTune has the advantage of integrating fully into the ForceWare driver control panel. After you install it, the Performance tab sports new options, including "Adjust GPU Settings." There, as with RivaTuner, you’ll see two cursors – one for the GPU frequency, the other for the memory frequency. Nvidia won’t let you desynchronize the shaders.

Faults in common

nTune is nicely integrated into the ForceWare drivers, and that avoids having several programs resident. But aside from that, it offers fewer functions than RivaTuner, and doesn’t correct the latter’s faults. For example, while both programs offer the possibility of changing the regulation of the fan speed, it had no effect on our reference GeForce 9600 GT. Its fan obstinately kept spinning at 35% of its maximum capacity – a speed at which it was relatively quiet. Also, the overclocking generated via these two programs is transient – you lose it when you reboot. To avoid having to readjust the settings at each boot-up, you need to take an additional little step. In RivaTuner, you have to remember to check the "Apply overclocking at Windows start-up" box. With nTune, you need to save your overclocking settings in a profile. Then you need to go the "Adjust Custom Rules" tab and set it up to load the profile when Windows starts up. The process could stand to be a bit more intuitive.

Finally, we were disappointed with the energy management possibilities Nvidia provides. Even running the Windows desktop alone in idle state, the card was at maximum frequency, consuming energy uselessly. A 2D/3D mode would have been a good idea. RivaTuner lets you define three different sets of frequencies: "Standard 2D," "Low Power 3D" and "Performance 3D." But those settings wouldn’t work with our GeForce, which was a shame.

If you’re comfortable with all these drawbacks and caveats, you’re ready to go on to the next stage: changing the BIOS of the graphics card to make the overclocking permanent.

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  • jimmysmitty
    I OC'ed my HD2900Pro 1GB to a 850MHz GPU (from 600MHz) and 2250MHz memory (from 1850MHz). So I technically got alomost a 50% OC. But mine is just a HD2900XT 1GB just down clocked.
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  • brendano257
    The HP disk utility asks me for DOS files to write to the disk where would I find these?
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  • randomizer
    Better than the "Overclock your card in 5 minutes" article.
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  • randomizer
    By the way, the first step in Nibitor is to select the device, before you can read the BIOS ;) I'd like to know how you "deleted" the "Extra" frequencies. Did you set them to 0 or did you actually set the number of performance levels to 3 instead?
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  • jojesa
    brendano257 visit www.bootdisk.com and get those files.
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  • randomizer
    A good idea for doing blind flashes is to have a second floppy (with the DOS files on obviously) but add a file called autoexec.bat with the following line in it:

    nvlfash -4 -5 -6 -a -y file.rom

    where file.rom is the filename and it could also be a .bin file. That will flash the card without you having to hope you typed it in right, just make sure you gave it a good minute or two before restarting so you don't corrupt the BIOS.
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  • randomizer
    Typo correction - the line in the autoexec.bat file should read:

    nvflash -4 -5 -6 -a -y file.rom

    Why can't I edit my own comments?
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  • matthieu lamelot
    randomizerBy the way, the first step in Nibitor is to select the device, before you can read the BIOS I'd like to know how you "deleted" the "Extra" frequencies. Did you set them to 0 or did you actually set the number of performance levels to 3 instead?


    Setting them to zero wouldn't work, you have to set them to dash ( - ), as you can see in the screenshot on page 6. AFAIK, Geforce 8 won't boot correctly if you suppress their "extra" performance level.
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  • perzy
    with the really extremly bad cooling on todays GPU's ...a little plastic fan with sleeve bearings that runs slower and slower before it stops completly.. i'm very cautious. New cooling? Yeah, but that costs and then i get a 10% oc. Hmm.
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  • randomizer
    matthieu lamelotSetting them to zero wouldn't work, you have to set them to dash ( - ), as you can see in the screenshot on page 6. AFAIK, Geforce 8 won't boot correctly if you suppress their "extra" performance level.

    It's worth a try, you might get lucky. ;) Besides, you can always blind flash back. Try setting the number of performance levels to 3 (first ticking the "change amount of active performance levels" box of course).
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  • randomizer
    perzywith the really extremly bad cooling on todays GPU's ...a little plastic fan with sleeve bearings that runs slower and slower before it stops completly.. i'm very cautious. New cooling? Yeah, but that costs and then i get a 10% oc. Hmm.

    So you want them to jack the prices up more? We get ripped off as it is until a year after stuff get's released.
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  • radium69
    benchmarks anywhere? i'd like to see performance in gaming benchmarks. Fairly interesting article. Could save me some $
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  • randomizer
    The performance benefit is usually
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  • matthieu lamelot
    radium69benchmarks anywhere? i'd like to see performance in gaming benchmarks. Fairly interesting article. Could save me some $


    Performance is as you would expect it to be : fairly on par with the frequency increase. Don't expect miracles here, but it's enough to climb one step on a manufacturer's performance scale. i.e. our overclocked Geforce 9600 GT was as fast as a regular 8800 GT. Of course you could go beyond that, should you manage to reach higher frequencies than us (better card, better cooling, voltage mod, etc.)
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  • Junkdude75
    My Radeon 2900 pro 512MB,
    went from 507Mhz GPU and 514Mhz memory
    to 846Mhz GPU and 890MHz memory.

    Thank you fore the ispiration!
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  • randomizer
    You got a nice overclock on that 9600GT. Mine won't play nicely in Crysis until I drop to 750MHz. Unfortunately ATITool can't detect artifacts no matter how much they fill the window with yellow, but just looking for them myself I didn't see any at 770MHz. Crysis just caused driver crashes all the time, which fortunately recovered every time. I only have my memory at 936MHz, I don't know how high I can go with that, but probably not far. The same crashes occur with the shader clock above 1770MHz. This was done via rivatuner with 174.74 drivers.

    Just to let you know, the coders of NiBiTor are working on fan control, but they don't have enough 9 series BIOSs (especially 9600GT).
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  • chovav
    I got my 8800GT overclocked from 600Mhz Core to 691Mhz, 900Mhz memory to 1065Mhz and Shaders from 1500Mhz to 1728Mhz. It also ran stable at 700/1100/1750 but I decided to choose a little safer settings to flash the bios with. This overclock of about 17% gave me 16.3% better performance in 3D Mark 06! all that in no time! Thanks guys!!!
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  • ferreguetti
    Well you don't really need a floppy and it's really rare and hard to use it, what I did was, I have a windows 98 installation cd and i used that, works just fine...
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  • randomizer
    It's hard to use a floppy? I find it easier than using CDs, there's one less button to push. They are just real slow.
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