A graphics card, or GPU, is the most crucial element when you do graphics-intensive tasks or enjoy playing heavy-duty games. But sometimes, you are looking for more performance than the current GPU delivers and want to save money to buy a new one. Well, in such a case, overclocking your GPU is an easy way to boost your PC’s performance, especially in the case of gaming and content creation. Plus, it helps you utilize the proper graphics performance and enjoy an authentic gaming experience by adding the extra power you’re looking for.
Undoubtedly, overclocking improves GPU efficiencies but can be a dangerous operation for some hardware and PCs for several reasons. Our aim behind writing this post is to explore is GPU overclocking safe and uncover all the hidden dangers and safety measures that are required for overclocking. We have discussed every risk of overclocking, safer ways to boost clock speed, and more about the topic. Therefore, you must read this post until the end to absorb all the knowledge and safely overclock your graphics card.
Is GPU Overclocking Safe?
To explain the topic easily, we first must understand what overclocking is. In computer language, overclocking is the process of increasing the clock speed of a particular component, like a GPU, beyond the manufacturer’s standards. Additionally, the power usage also varies directly in proportion to the clock speed. Undoubtedly, when power utilization increases, it will produce more heat, so the overall temperatures will also increase. If we look at all these statistics, it seems that overclocking isn’t safe. Is it?
Well, overclocking your GPU is a safe process if there is an adequate cooling system, power supply, and a compatible motherboard. Since overclocking increases power consumption, GPU’s heat increases, so a good-quality cooler is needed to control the temperature increase. If you are only overclocking GPUs without taking care of other factors, the lifespan of the GPU can be gradually shortened. Overclocking your GPU at this spot becomes dangerous and can damage the GPU, motherboard, and other components.
For your information, overclocking wasn’t even worth it if we look a few years back in history. It required a high-end motherboard and a massive cooling system to keep up with things. In contrast, overclocking is much more stable today and can even be done on suitable mid-range components. At the same time, we need to look at several components like the power supply, CPU cooler, and more, together with several other factors, to safely overclock the graphics card. Let’s look at all the components that we require for overclocking!
Adequate Cooling System
Thinking of it, it is pretty good with current-era PCs and saves many GPUs and CPUs from dying. Still, sometimes (call it bad luck), if this function doesn’t work correctly (or gets damaged before reaching that peak temperature), in that case, it will not be suitable for your PC’s health. That’s why, although GPUs nowadays are more overclocking friendly in the end, you are given more power, so it will be much better if you make sure these things which are going to be mentioned below are proper in your PC.
Power Supply Unit (PSU)
The power supply unit (PSU) is another component that plays an essential role in overclocking. For overclocking, you need to increase the GPU power. If the power supply itself is insufficient to provide power, the computer automatically shuts down. GPUs are inherently power-hungry, so buying a PSU with the minimum wattage (as suggested by the manufacturer) is not a good idea and can definitely make a difference when overclocking. This is why I recommend using a slightly higher wattage PSU from a good brand.
To make things further easy, suppose you need a 500W power supply for regular usage. Go for at least 600W or even 700W PSU in case you will enroll in the GPU or CPU overclocking. Manufacturers also recommend it if you intend to do extreme overclocking. Taking these factors into account, GPU overclocking is entirely safe. You can also monitor the temperature while overclocking the GPU so that if the temperature rises in any way, you can gradually lower the overclocking intensity. In short, consider a good power supply.
A good-quality motherboard is another necessity to effectively overclock a graphics card. As you know, a GPU is connected to a motherboard, so the board’s chipset supervises its performance up to a point. Therefore, a better motherboard can give you a better overclocking performance. But what board is considered a good-quality one? Well, a motherboard with at least 8+ power stages, 400- or 500-series chipset, and effective thermal management is perfect for overclocking. In short, take this factor into account when building your PC.
What are the Risks of Overclocking GPUs?
As per the universal rule, there may be some downsides to anything if you overdo it. Overclocking your GPU also has some risks, or you may say downsides. Those include
- Blue Screen of Death: Some users also experience frequent system crashes as overclocking means GPU performance is outside of manufacturer specifications. It is usually a BSOD or Blue Screen of Death. This may happen due to improper power availability and overheating.
- Overheating: To achieve stable overclocking in the same way as discussed in the previous section, the voltages must be increased appropriately to compensate for the increase in memory clock speed and GPU cores. A common problem that can occur when a laptop overheats is throttling and in some cases, automatically shutting down.
- Reduces lifespan: Another downside of overclocking is that it reduces the lifespan of the graphics card. If we compare a card that has been used for normal uses vs one under extreme overclocking conditions, the card that has been used for ordinary usage will last longer.
Overclocking your GPU is a good idea if you don’t want to purchase a new graphics card but need more performance. In such a case, all you have to do is to pair a good-quality cooling system and try overclocking the GPU beyond the manufacturer’s mentioned standards. No doubt, it boosts performance, but, at the same time, it has some downsides as well. If you are careful about overclocking, you can safely overclock without significantly affecting the lifespan of the graphics card and facing other downsides.
However, suppose you don’t have an adequate cooling system, power supply, and motherboard. In that case, you may shorten the GPU lifespan, damage other surrounding components, and burn it out. Well, changing the graphics card often reduces the time it’s seldom used, so a bit of boost is well worth it. However, if you need to keep the graphics card for an extended time, avoid overclocking it. Moreover, make sure to connect all the necessary components we mentioned earlier for safety and longer life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does overclocking kill the GPU?
It’s scarce for a GPU to fail when overclocking completely, but it’s still possible. If your PC isn’t cooling enough or your GPU is overclocked, your PC will automatically shut down at a specific temperature for your safety. If that doesn’t work, your GPU may be damaged. By default, when your PC gets very hot, the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) automatically shuts down the PC to keep its components safe.
What do you need to overclock GPU?
Overclocking could be a safer process if there is an adequate cooling system, motherboard, and power supply in the system. But these things are only for safety purposes. For actual overclocking, you need to have compatible software for overclocking, one for testing and stress testing, and a good-quality system to perform the overclocking. Make sure to read about GPU performance for gaming before overclocking.