Today we’re looking at the software and methods used for overclocking different systems with various brands/combinations of hardware inside.
If you’ve never done this before it’s easier than ever before, with new Ai scanning tools that will help dodge the blue screen of death that occurs when we push our systems just that little bit too far 🙂
As always, overclock at your own risk! Doing this will void your warranty and it can also damage your components.
As we reach the limits on OC, our computers will likely freeze, BSOD and display odd graphical colour pops – all indications that we should pull back.
The basics are: Some Asus, Gigabyte Aorus and ASRock motherboards will allow you to overclock certain processors, graphics cards and memory to achieve better performance.
This could be for a ranking competition or simply for better frames in your favourite games.
While the overclocking process is similar with all, the software used for each varies depending on which brand you’re working with, be it AMD or Intel, EVGA or ROG & so on.
Before we jump into all the overclocking itself though, we’ll need something to test the system with. This is a good place to start as you’ll be running these benchmarks over and over again while you do the actual overclocking – and if you don’t run them first you’ll have to base performance marks to compare with!
Testing the Overclock – Benchmarks
Benchmarks provide a repeatable test, letting us check the system stability or performance, with a score at the end to compare with others from around the world. The game themed ones can be used by players seeking more information on what a certain upgrade/configuration would result in more FPS, while others provide a score to get you onto the global leaderboards.
There are lots of options, links to our GG favourites below!
Prime 95 – A handy tool for overclockers and system stability checkers, Prime95 has a feature called “Torture Test” that allows maximum stress testing on the CPU and RAM. There are several options allowing the stress test to focus on the memory, processor, or a balance of both.
Furmark – Very intensive stress testing for graphics cards. If you combine this with the Prime95 above and you’ll be running at full burn!
Furmark – https://geeks3d.com/furmark/
Final Fantasy Series – These run through various scenes in the game, counting the FPS to give you a final score at the end.
Final Fantasy XV – http://benchmark.finalfantasyxv.com/na/
Final Fantasy Shadowbringers – https://na.finalfantasyxiv.com/benchmark/
War Thunder is a free to play combat simulator that started with planes, and now includes tanks and boats. The built-in benchmark tool is amongst the best available today because the game has such depth available in its graphics setting options menu and the massive number of players to compare performance with. Highly recommended.
War Thunder – https://warthunder.com/nz
UNIGENE – The free mode lets you check performance and stability in a beautiful, detailed environment.
Heaven UNIGINE – https://benchmark.unigine.com/heaven
Vally UNIGINE – https://benchmark.unigine.com/valley
SuperPosition UNIGINE – https://benchmark.unigine.com/superposition
3D Mark – The king of the hill when it comes to competitive overlocking, with leaderboards and loads of modes.
3D Mark – https://www.3dmark.com/
With any of the software above downloaded & installed, we’re ready to get the tools needed to do the actual overclocks. We’ll break this into different groups to keep things super easy.
Overclock Graphics Cards
By far the easiest to do, and able to be done with most graphics cards from the entry-level GTX 1650 to the highest end RTX 2080 Ti, overclocking your GPU is a fun way to get into the swing of things. The tools used focus on 2 main customisation points, core clock and memory clock – increases to either result in more performance.
Software: Brand dependant, you can find these on the brand websites for your specific graphics card too (the best place to get the latest version)
Asus GPU Tweak II – https://www.asus.com/us/site/graphics-cards/gpu-tweak-ii/
Aorus Engine – http://download.gigabyte.us/FileList/Utility/vga_utility_aorus_setup_v1.6.8.exe
EVGA Precision X1 – https://www.evga.com/precisionx1/
EVGA Precision X1 has a pretty solid guide, and OC scanner tools to help find the limits of your graphics card.
All the software packages work in the same way, but the interface for each is a little different. Be sure to run your benchmark first, at normal settings, and note the score before you start to play with these tools.
If you’re using RTX you can actually have the software OC for you, finding the limits and adjusting the settings automatically. If you want to do this select OC Scanner.
If you’re keen to manually overclock though, ensure fans are set to AUTO or 100%, and turn the power limit slider to max!
Then we slowly tweak up the Boost Clock with +100, with each increase, we click the tick to apply the settings – and then run the benchmark again and note the score.
Once the system starts to freak out, freeze or display error we ease back on the Boost Clock, and start increasing the Memory Clock.
The process is the same, raising the Memory Clock +100 until system failure strikes.
You can also click and type in target clock speed rather than using the sliders too, this becomes more helpful when you start to reach limits!
You’ll see the results in your benchmarks, and with our graphics card now overclocked we can move onto the CPU.
Overlocking a CPU was previously a bit more involved, however much has changed with the 9th Gen Intel K series CPU now having preset profiles on many motherboards and the release of the Intel Performance Maximizer. This automated processor overclocking tool examines your processor’s individual performance and programs personalised settings for a custom overclock – made simple.
Intel Performance Maximizer: https://downloadcenter.intel.com/download/28772/Intel-Performance-Maximizer
If you want to go for a classic, manual OC this is still very doable and we can turn up our RAM here too, tap the F2 or DEL key as you boot to enter the BIOS.
Looking specifically at the guide for AORUS Z390 series, and the i9-9900K CPU – steps as below!
Enter “Advanced Frequency Settings”
Here you see the “Extreme Memory Profile (X.M.P.)” option. Change it to “Profile 1”. You might see a profile 2 with even higher settings – doesn’t work all the time but in some cases even a 3200MHz kit can run at 3600MHz.
Now, onto the CPU. The formula to calculate the frequency of your CPU is: CPU Base Clock * CPU Clock Ratio. The Intel i9-9900K CPU has a Base Clock of 100 and CPU Clock Ratio of 47 for a frequency of 100 * 47 = 4700MHz. In this Aorus guide the overclock target is 5GHz for a 300MHz increase.
Set your CPU Clock Ratio to “50”. (You can use the keys PgUP and PgDN to tweak settings)
Power management settings may decrease the stability of your system. Disable the following power management settings: Intel Speed Shift Technology, CPU Enhanced Halt (C1E), C3 State Support, C6/C7 State Support, C8 State Support and C10 State Support.
The formula for Uncore frequency is CPU Base Clock * Uncore Ratio = Uncore Frequency. Uncore frequency is the frequency of the non-core parts of the CPU- IE cache, memory controller, etc. To start, set your uncore to 47 and continue on with the guide. After you have determined your CPU’s highest overclock you can re-visit your uncore settings. In general higher uncore values do not produce meaningful performance differences, but they may improve benchmark score. Set CPU Uncore to “47”.
*Note: You may find that you lose stability at 5GHz CPU clocks if you raise the uncore frequency really high. Start with uncore at 4.7GHz and if your system is stable then raise it to a higher frequency. **Note: Please disable the “Ring to Core offset (Down bin)” under the Advanced CPU Core Settings. Under the “Chipset” tab disable VT-d.
Here you can disable settings or features which may not be necessary in your daily operation. VT-d is used for virtualization. If you don’t plan on using any virtual machines you can disable it. The same stands for Internal Graphics.
Now that we have set our memory XMP profile, Uncore, and CPU multiplier we must also adjust the CPU voltage (Vcore). In order for the CPU to operate at higher frequencies more voltage will be required. Go to the starting BIOS page (M.I.T.) and select the “Advanced Voltage Settings” option.
Select the “Advanced Power Settings” Option
CPU Vcore: Raising this helps keeps the system stable at higher CPU frequencies. However, it also increases the amount of heat your CPU produces. We suggest you keep Vcore under 1.35V depending on your CPU cooling solution. Most CPU’s should be able to overclock to 5GHz on all the cores at this voltage, however CPUs are not all created equally. Some may need more voltage, some less. Set Vcore to “1.30” to start. If you system is not stable raise the voltage in increments of .01 with a maximum of 1.40V.
*Note that changing Vcore voltage also changes your Uncore voltage since they share the same power rail.
CPU VCCIO and CPU System Agent Voltage: Both of these settings help with DRAM frequency overclocking. Values up to 1.3-1.35V are high but they are ok if you are using air cooling. Since we used X.M.P. profiles for our memory these voltages will be automatically set.
SAVE YOUR SETTINGS!
Before rushing off to test your new overclock we suggest saving your profile. You will find this option on the last page of the BIOS named “Save & Exit”
Congratulations! You are now running at 5GHz, and now it’s time to make sure that it’s stable… so benchmark benchmark benchmark, tweak settings and go for the highest score you can!