Overclocking is one of the most discussed terms among the gaming community. Every gaming forum has at least one subforum or thread about Overclocking.
Overclocking can increase the performance of your CPU and GPU without having to spend money on new hardware. This means your laptop or desktop will run every game and program faster than before. Also, you won’t get any lags while running games and other software.
Overclocking can be possible for the GPU, CPU as well as RAM but in this article, I’ll only go through GPU Overclocking.
Proper overclocking of the GPU can seriously increase your GPU performance and you’ll get much better FPS while playing games and quicker results while running 3D rendering, photo editing, and video editing software.
If you overclock the GPU improperly then it can cause several problems. In this article, I’ll discuss all the advantages and disadvantages of GPU overclocking and is it really worth it.
What Is GPU Overclocking?
GPU Overclocking is the process of increasing the Core or Base Clock Speed of a GPU above the Clock speed at which it operates normally.
Clock speed is the rate at which the GPU executes instructions per second. It is measured in terms of MegaHertz(MHz) or GigaHertz(GHz).
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Super has a Base Clock Speed of 1470 MHz. If you overclock the GPU then it will increase the clock speed beyond 1470 MHz and your GPU will execute more instructions per second.
Overclocking also increases the Voltage at which the GPU operates. This increase in voltage poses some risks like overheating and high temperatures of GPU, reduction in lifespan of GPU and battery life, and booting problems as well as system crashes in severe cases if the laptop doesn’t have enough voltage or power to run.
Important Terminologies In GPU Overclocking
Here is a list of some of the most important terminologies used in GPU Overclocking.
GPU Core Clock
Core clock is the speed at which the various Cores of the GPU operate. Every GPU has hundreds to thousands of cores that run at the same speed.
In NVIDIA GPUs these cores are known as CUDA cores whereas in AMD GPUs these cores are known as Stream Processors.
The Core clock speed is measured in MegaHertz(MHz) or GigaHertz(GHz).
The cores in the GPU operate at the normal clock speed but this speed can be increased by Overclocking the GPU.
GPU Memory Clock
The frequency at which the VRAM on the GPU operates is known as GPU Memory Clock. VRAM is the amount of dedicated video memory available to the GPU.
VRAM is the memory that stores all the graphics related information and data like images and other assets which are displayed on the computer.
A GPU with higher VRAM can store more graphic assets.
A GPU with a higher frequency of VRAM(memory clock) can render images and other assets much faster than a GPU with a lower VRAM frequency.
The Memory Clock Speed of NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 is 1750 MHz whereas the VRAM value is 8 GB.
Why You Should Overclock Laptop GPU – Pros Of Overclocking GPU
Overclocking the laptop GPU has two major advantages.
Better Performance and Faster Response Times With Same Hardware
Overclocking the Laptop GPU can increase the overall performance of your laptop. You’ll get much better frame rates(FPS) while running high graphics games. You won’t get any lags or stutters while gaming. Your gameplay will be extremely smooth.
If you run 3D rendering or VFX design software like Autodesk Maya, Adobe Lightroom, Blender, ZBrush, etc. then you’ll get much quicker results and faster response times. This will save you a lot of time.
Running photo and video editing software like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere Pro, Corel VideoStudio, etc. will give you much quicker results and save you a lot of time. You’ll get very fast response times with an overclocked GPU.
The increase in performance and response time is the most important reason why people overclock their GPUs.
You Can Save A Ton Of Money
If you want to increase the performance of your laptop GPU without overclocking the GPU then you’ll have to spend a lot of money to upgrade your graphics card.
These new graphics cards cost a lot of money so you’ll have to spend some hefty cash in order to increase laptop performance.
Overclocking can help you save money because you can increase the GPU performance without investing in any hardware like a new costly GPU.
With Overclocking you can get a cheap GPU and overclock it to perform like a high-end GPU.
Why You Shouldn’t Overclock Laptop GPU – Cons Of Overclocking GPU
There are two main disadvantages of Overclocking the GPU.
Overheating and High Temperatures
Overclocking the GPU increases the operating Voltage of the GPU. An increase in the operating voltage means the GPU will now consume more power than before. Since the GPU consumes more power it will now produce more Heat.
If the Cooling System of your laptop isn’t good enough then it cannot get rid of the excess heat. This causes Overheating of GPU and increases the GPU Temperature to very high levels.
High Temperatures can destroy the internal circuitry of the GPU and can also damage other internal components of the laptop.
If you overclock your GPU by a lot then your GPU temperature will cross the optimum temperature level and you will observe a phenomenon called Thermal Throttling of GPU.
Thermal Throttling of GPU or GPU Throttling is a safety mechanism where the performance of GPU is abruptly reduced due to high temperatures. This is done to protect your GPU from damage due to high temperatures.
As mentioned earlier, Overclocking increases the operating voltage of the GPU. An improper overclocking of GPU can increase the voltage levels by such an amount that your laptop charger cannot provide the required amount of voltage to boot your laptop.
In such cases, you will notice that your laptop doesn’t boot up and you get unexpected shutdowns. You will also get frequent program crashes and system crashes.
Reduced Lifespan of GPU, Battery and Laptop
As mentioned earlier, operating the GPU at high clock speeds leads to increased production of heat. This excess heat increases the temperature of the GPU to very high levels.
High temperature decreases your battery life and reduces the lifetime of the GPU and the whole laptop.
Every GPU has a normal clock speed of operation where the performance remains stable. If you increase the clock speed by a very high level then the system becomes unstable. This system instability reduces the lifespan of the laptop because unstable systems don’t last very long.
Softwares For Overclocking GPU
You can overclock your GPU using certain utility softwares. These utility softwares can also be used to monitor the GPU temperature, GPU voltage levels, Overvolting, Undervolting and Underclocking.
Here is a list of the softwares for overclocking the GPU.
(a) MSI Afterburner
(c) AMD Overdrive
(d) EVGA Precision X 16
(e) Sapphire TriXX
(f) ASUS GPU Tweak II
Is Overclocking GPU Safe?
If you follow all the correct procedures without any mistakes then Overclocking is perfectly safe. The key to overclocking the GPU is to find a balance between the clock speeds of the GPU and the temperatures they achieve.
You have to slowly increase the clock speed of the GPU while closely monitoring the temperature levels. You have to find the highest clock speed for which the GPU temperature remains below the maximum temperature the GPU can withstand.
If you cross this maximum temperature level then you can cause some serious damage to the GPU. Improper overclocking can cause Thermal Throttling, Reduced Lifespan, Artifacting, Damage to Internal Components, and Reduced Battery Life.
Is Overclocking Laptop GPU Worth It?
Overclocking the laptop GPU is worth it if you’re a gamer who wants an increased performance without spending money on hardware or you want fast response times on 3D rendering and VFX design softwares.
Personally, I don’t recommend it for photo editing but it can be useful to decrease response times if you’re a video editor. However, you should be aware of the risks associated with the process before going through with it.
If you’re using your laptop for everyday tasks like watching movies, internet browsing, writing articles, creating presentations, and other tasks that don’t require high graphics performance then it is not worth it for you.
You have to be very careful while overclocking your laptop GPU. If you don’t have enough knowledge or aren’t sure about the process then don’t do it. You’ll end up messing everything and your laptop may not function properly.
You can gain knowledge about GPU overclocking by following guides on forums like Reddit. You can also search on YouTube for the specific laptop model you want to overclock.
Before overclocking you have to check if the specific GPU model in your laptop can be overclocked. Also, your laptop cooling system should be good enough to reduce the heat produced by the GPU after overclocking.
If your GPU temperature increases a lot then Undervolting and Underclocking can help reduce the GPU temperature. Also, applying thermal paste in the gap between the GPU and the thermals can help reduce GPU temperatures.
Overclocking the GPU is much safer on a desktop than a laptop. This is because you can replace the GPU and cooling system on a desktop but you can’t do that on a laptop.
You can overclock your Laptop GPU to increase the performance during gaming and running 3D rendering, video editing, and VFX designing softwares.
Overclocking can increase performance and save you a lot of money because you don’t need to invest in expensive hardware to achieve the same performance.
If not done properly then overclocking the GPU can cause GPU Throttling, reduce the lifespan of the laptop, reduce the battery life, and cause system crashes with unexpected shutdowns.
You can use softwares like MSI Afterburner, GPU-Z, and others to overclock the laptop GPU but make sure you follow proper guides before doing it.