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Overclocking on demand

Fabrice Roux

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1) The driver

For those who don't know me, I'm more a manufacturer driver kind a guy. I prefer a complete feature GPU support on my laptop than having the latest beta driver. When Dell will slow down the support of my GPU and when new drivers will bring something new, (fix for an issue or a new feature such as PureVideo) I might consider installing and sticking with a modded driver. Right now, I use my laptop professionnally and I can't risk facing issues such as GPU stuck in full power mode when used on battery.

That is MY use of my laptop... I do a lot more "experiments" on my desktop computer. :)

So for the driver if I didn't have an official driver for my Geforce 6800 Go I would use either the nVidia 84.25 (aka Oblivion driver) or Dell 84.30 (aka my current driver).

2) The tools

I use the following tools to tweak the overclocking on my graphic cards:

- NVTweak to unlock the nvidia overclocking panel.

- 3DMark 2003 to test the system stability. It also provides a result that allows to compare your default settings to the overclocked ones.

- RivaTuner to overclock my system only when needed.

- I8kFanGUI to monitor the temperature and change the fans behaviour of a Dell laptop.

3) The setup procedure

The purpose of this setup phase is to find the overclocking limits of your GPU. Usually the limit is somewhere in the 10-20%. It depends on both the GPU design and the chip, memory and cooling system chosed by the manufacturer.

- The first thing you want to do is to run a graphic intensive benchmark in order to validate the system stability. But also to have a base value to compare your overclocking benchmark results.

- If your driver doesn't allow to access the Geforce Clock Frequencies panel. Launch NVTweak and select Clock frequencies in the top left section.


- You can now access the Geforce Clock Frequencies panel by Display properties / Settings / Advanced / Geforce tab then Clock frequencies panel. It looks like this:


In order to be able to manually change the graphic card clocks you need to select "Manual overclocking".

If you have a Geforce FX card or newer this section will allow you to select the 2D and 3D clocks. Most recent GPUs have 2 settings to save both power and your ears. The 2D mode is used in regular Windows use while the 3D mode kicks in when you launch a 3D application. (Google Earth, video game, *you pick*)

- You want to select the 3D mode (if available) and write down the default values. Then starts the long process of finding the limits of your video card. Start by adding 5 MHz to the core frequency. Click on Test changes. Be sure to uncheck the "Apply these settings at startup", since if you overclock your card too much you won't be able to boot properly. (*1)

- Launch a benchmark in order to be sure that your system is still stable. Look for graphic anomalies/artefacts such as wild pixels or flashing polygons. Write down the results since they might be usefull in the future.

If the system is still stable repeat the previous step, increase the core frequency a little bit more. And do another benchmark.

If the system is unstable or artefacts are visible, return to the previous stable settings.

- Once you are done with the core frequency move on to the memory frequency. Once again use little steps at a time. For the memory 10MHz seems to be a good step value. And repeat the benchmarking, increase steps until you found the limit.

- You now have the "limit frequencies" of your video card. One for the core the other for the memory. You now want to substract 5 or 10 MHz to those values to assure stability. Place those values in the Clock frequencies interface and run 3 benchmarks in a row. This stress test will assure that in the current conditions you'll be able to play safely. (*2) In case of instability, tone down the frequencies a little bit more.

- Now that you know the "optimal frequencies" you have two choices. Put those values in the Geforce Clock frequencies panel and check the "Apply these settings at startup" to make the overclocking permanent. Or go the smart way... and use a solution to overclock only when needed.


(*1) If you went too high in overclocking you'll need to keep the control key pressed when your system boots in order to bypass the overclocking. You don't need to press the control key during the complete process but only when the desktop appear. You'll see the screen turning black when the driver changes the default frequency.

(*2) If you found your "optimal frequencies" in a cold room... it's likely that you'll see overheating issues when using your laptop in the death valley. :)

4) The smart way

Since you found the "optimal frequencies" in the previous chapter or in a past life the smart way will be easy to implement. I use RivaTuner profiles to select the clocks of my graphic card. I have one default profile that has the default clocks, a low power mode with minimum values and a high power mode with my optimal clocks. Honestly I created the low power mode for some unconclusive battery life tests.

In RivaTuner to access the clock panel you need to click on the Customize arrow in the Driver section. Then select the System settings.

RivaTuner main tab:


In the system settings, you will create a default profile. Click on the save icon in the profile section. Then put your "optimal frequencies" in the Performace 3D sliders. Then save those new settings in the high power profile.

RivaTuner System settings page:


The last step requires to create menu items that will appear when you right click on the RivaTuner icon in the traybar. To do so return to the main page and select the Launcher tab. The click on the Add button and select a regular item. Name it "Default mode" and select the overclocking profile of your default clocks. Create the item for the "high power mode". And you are done...

Launcher tab:


The result is that by default the system boot with its default BIOS clocks. The one the manufacturer decided when it built the computer. When you need the extra overclocking power, just launch RivaTuner and select the High power mode.

5) The Dell owners optional step

I made a Flash tutorial for I8kFanFUI that show how to setup custom fan policies. This will allow to cool the graphic card more efficiently. Launch the tutorial.


6) The results

Here are the results of my Inspiron 9300 Geforce 6800 Go:

Driver 84.30 official Dell
Ambient temperature 28°C

Clocks GPU/RAM:[tab][/tab] | 290/590 | 365/740 | 260/530
Temperature max CPU: | 62°C	| 62°C	| 62°C
Temperature max GPU: | 62°C	| 65°C	| 63°C
Max GPU fan speed:   | low	 | high	| low
3DMark 2003 Score:   | 7262	| 8822	| 6607
Oblivion (fps):[tab][/tab] | 24[tab][/tab] | 30[tab][/tab] | 21

General information: the GPU fan high speed kicks in at 65°C and switches down to low speed when 53°C is reached. The low speed kicks in at 53°C and stops when 41°C is reached. By default the GPU starts in low speed so when you reach Windows if the temp is above 41°C it stays in low speed.

Remark: the Geforce 6800 Go is incredibly overclockable... mainly because when it was released nVidia announced that in time and with the proper cooling this core will be able to reach 450MHz (up from 300MHz). The 6800 Go Ultra is in fact the 6800 Go chip with a more efficient cooling. So depending on the quality of the cooling system the 6800 Go can be overclocked a LOT. :P

Edited by Fabrice Roux
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  • 4 weeks later...

Great tutorial and contribution to the scene. Keep up the great work!



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You COULD just hit detect optimal frequencies and it will get you close to the maximun that your card can handle while still being stable.

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This function has an history of RANDOMNESS... it can give you a hint but nothing beats the manual way.

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Weird.....It sets the settings at 373/747 which is pretty close to the maximum ones ive gotten manualy.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Guest

Hi Fabrice, thanks for the guide. I'm a complete newbie when it comes to overclocking, so I need a little help.

Every time I try to OC my Inspiron 9300, using either the normal setup procedure or the "smart way", the changes do not take effect. Once I apply the settings (or save a profile in RivaTuner), my clock speeds just resume the factory default settings. What's going wrong?

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For some reason, That same thing happened to me.....The only way around that that I found was to uninstall rivatuner and then re-install me drivers.

Edited by The_Lead_Factor
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There *might* be an incompatibility between RivaTuner and certain drivers (or certain drivers with RivaTuner :) )

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This explains why the clocks reset themselves then....Well 84.63 is one of these incompatable drivers.

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(I'm the same guest as earlier btw). Well, I have thethe same laptop as Fabrice, with the 84.30 drivers just like him, so that's strange. Haven't had a chance to try again, but will keep you all posted.

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  • 2 months later...


i have been trying to overclock my card with the exact steps u mentioned, with invidia control panel, even the slightest overclock no matter what i do the frequences will return to manufacturing defualts (after i click "apply" and then "ok" and when i recheck the frequences, it returns to default settings

why this is happening

my current driver is 85.13 (is it incompatible with something?)

i need help plz

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Some drivers in the 8x.xx serie have this issue... sometimes uninstalling, cleaning and reinstalling does the trick.

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Even THAT doesn't work sometimes. You might wana try it but if all else fails, switch to a different driver.

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