MSI's Afterburner software is perhaps the most famous GPU overclocking software around. While CPU and memory overclock can be done in either Windows or the UEFI, you can only OC the GPU in Windows. Afterburner also allows us to manipulate the GPU's fans, and since we are using an MSI GPU, things work in harmony. You can set the fan speed to scale on its automatic curve, or you can activate a manual fixed level or a manual applied curve. I set the curve shown above so that the GPU's fan speed would ramp up quickly.
Under Afterburner's General Properties tab, you will find two unmarked boxes near "unlock voltage control" and "unlock voltage monitoring." Be forewarned, overclocking voids your GPU's warranty, and unlocking the voltage can cause damage. I wanted to see how far I could push the GPU, so this isn't a 24/7 overclock, just me experimenting. The GTX 1080 Gaming X is already powerful enough, so if you want to run it daily with an overclock, I wouldn't unlock voltage control. If you click the little Windows icon under the word "StartUp," Afterburner will automatically apply your overclock at startup.
I ended up with a +150MHz on the core, but that required a 20% boost in voltage. I also maximized power and temperature limits. I would assume for a daily overclock you would end up with around +100MHz or slightly more without additional voltage. To test my overclock, I ran GTA:V's benchmark, and compared results. I also used GPUz to log the maximum frequencies and temperatures along with other criteria to compare against stock results. If you get any type of artifacts, the screen freezes, or the driver crashes, then you need to back down the frequency or increase the voltage. The new GDDR5X doesn't overclock much, and when it does, gains are very minimal, so I opted to only touch the core frequency.
My final overclock is seen above, and we see that GPUz logs a maximum core boost OC of 2113MHz, with a maximum GPU core temperature of 60C. However, the additional voltage I used is too high for comfortable 24/7 use (but I know some of you live on the edge).
Final Overclocking Gains
I have condensed all of the overclock results (all combinations of auto OC, manual OC, and GPU OC) into a single graph. Handbrake encoding of a 4K 6GB video file was used to gauge CPU performance, while GTA:V's built-in benchmark was used to gauge 4K gaming performance.
At stock, the system is extremely quick and blazing fast, 4K gaming is very easy to accomplish. The CPU runs HandBrake (it has AVX) at 4.4GHz at stock, 4.6GHz with the Level 8 auto OC, and 5GHz with my manual OC, and the gains are quite big when comparing the manual OC to stock performance.
Gaming is another story, but we do gain the most performance when you overclock the GPU compared to just overclocking the CPU. Overclocking does pose some risk and voids some warranty, but it can provide decent increases if you want them.
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