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Nvidia’s Turing Architecture Explored: Inside the GeForce RTX 2080

Overclocking: Making The Most Of Headroom With Nvidia Scanner

The Founders Edition cards are already overclocked beyond Nvidia’s base specification, but they aren’t tuned right up to their breaking points. In order for the company to define a frequency floor and typical GPU Boost rate, all samples must be capable of the same clocks at minimum. From there, though, every GeForce RTX hits a different limit before becoming unstable. That ceiling even changes depending on workload. Enthusiasts often make it a point of pride to push right up to this threshold by finessing whatever gears, levers, and dials are exposed through popular apps like Precision XOC and Afterburner. 

To the best of its ability, Nvidia is taking the trial and error out of overclocking with an API/DLL package that partners like EVGA and MSI can build into their utilities. Instead of an enthusiast going back and forth, testing one part of the frequency/voltage curve at a time and adjusting based on the stability of various workloads, Nvidia’s Scanner runs an arithmetic-based routine in its own process, evaluating stability without user input. Although Nvidia says the metric usually encounters math errors before crashing, the fact that it’s contained means the algorithm can recover gracefully if a crash does occur. This gives the tuning software a chance to increase voltage and try the same frequency again. Once the Scanner hits its maximum voltage setting and encounters one last failure, a new frequency/voltage curve is calculated based on the known-good results. From start to finish, the process purportedly takes fewer than 20 minutes.

Interestingly, Nvidia Scanner functionality won’t be limited to owners of GeForce RTX graphics cards. The company says it’ll characterize older boards as well (though it isn’t specific about how far back support will stretch).

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Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.