Video card overclocking has become a very popular topic amongst gamers and PC enthusiasts these days. With the release of next generation games around the corner and the growing popularity of resolutions beyond 1080p, overclocking is becoming increasingly important to users looking to squeeze the most performance they can out of their video cards.

It’s been more than a decade since video card overclocking was first introduced. Back then, overclocking was considered a risky practice where only advanced users would participate. It was also looked down upon by video card manufactures and board partners alike.

Many of our seasoned readers may remember some of the more popular utilities used back in the day, such as NVMax, CoolBits, ATITools, RivaTuner, and PowerStrip. Much like today’s utilities, each had their strengths and weaknesses. Regardless of the utility used, they all had the same objective: increase the frequencies of our video cards to obtain better than stock performance. Comparing these to today’s overclocking utilities, fundamentally not much has changed. The biggest changes have to do with features and functionality, most of which can be a huge asset to users when overclocking their video cards.

Meanwhile, overclocking is no longer being shunned by video card manufactures and board partners. Instead, it's acknowledged and used in the marketing and design of many video cards, in hopes of increasing market share and brand reputation. Due to the popularity of overclocking, board partners have embraced these utilities and begun to develop them on their own. Along with developing these utilities, board partners have been marketing custom cooled and factory overclocked models to help increase profit margins, and to help broaden their product offerings as well. Additionally, video cards manufactures have been implementing safety measures to prevent users from easily damaging their video cards. Safety nets, such as the use of dynamic clock speeds and GPU throttling, have made overclocking safer and more accessible to the average user.

This article will not be a guide on how to overclock your video card; instead, we'll be doing a round-up of the utilities that help make overclocking possible. Overclocking with the use of software utilities continues to be the most popular method to date. There are over a dozen utilities that can be used to overclock today’s video cards, but today we'll only be looking at the most popular within our community. These utilities include AMD OverDrive, Sapphire TriXX, ASUS GPU Tweak, EVGA Precision X, and MSI Afterburner. As we delve into these utilities, we’ll be analyzing each of their strengths and weaknesses and discovering what separates them from each other as well. Hopefully this round-up will provide some useful data and help you decide which utility is right for you.

AMD Overdrive
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  • Death666Angel - Saturday, October 11, 2014 - link

    "This seems eerily similar to my own article" | "I wasn't saying anything negative about you writing this"
    The first quote does seem like you insinuate that this article is plagiarising your work. That's just my reading of it, though.
  • LedHed - Thursday, October 16, 2014 - link

    Lol, do you really think I believe AnAndTech read my article a year ago and then sat on the idea until now? Give me a break, I was joking...
  • ChristTheGreat - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    Tested Afterburner on my R9 290 WF OC, doesn' work well.. I can't get 2D and 3D clock. if I put 2D with riva tuner stats (automatic changing 2D to 3D), it always crash, black screen.

    Tried GPU tweak, Set my 3D clock, and it works fine changing from 2D to 3D. Only thing is ram going from 150 to 1500 when I am on the internet, instead, no issue at all.

    But missing CCC Core clock without % (and bios flashing for voltage :( )
  • Rock1m1 - Sunday, October 12, 2014 - link

    I love the MSI Afterburner, rock solid, feature complete. For my Sapphire Trix R9 290 OC, I clocked it to 1130Mhz core, and 1500Mhz memory. Great performance, meeting 780Ti stock in a lot of benchmarks.
  • frwiz - Monday, October 20, 2014 - link

    boost settings are not saved after I click on apply tab. When I re-open precision-x app, boost clocks are back to default settings. I tried the oc scanner and it shows the default speed with no over there a bug somewhere
  • SeanJ76 - Thursday, October 30, 2014 - link

    EVGA precisonX 5.2.3 or w/e newest version is out is FLAT OUT TERRIBLE!!! Sli tunning does not work, K-boost does not work, over-volting does not work, core and memory offsets do not stick. The only good tuner is the Evga PrecisonX Legacy 4.2.1. I will not use AB because their overvoltage does not actually change the voltage on the actual cards, its fake, made to look like it works, but Unwinder himself as confirmed over-volting in AB does not work at all.
  • IHxInfi - Monday, November 3, 2014 - link

    I wish they wouldn't "pimp my ride" all of these over clocking utilities... a functional professional looking application would be much preferable.
  • reddwar4ever - Saturday, December 12, 2015 - link

    Really interesting review. One thing Imneed is a ' dummies' guide to overclocking using this utility, it can't be as simple as increasing the GPU clock until a temperature limit is reched and checking for stability with OC scanner, what about the memclock setting ! and there are lots of warnings about not increasing the voltage as this could shorten the life of the GPU....but as far as I understand, increasing this slightly allows a higher GPU clock speed....this is why a guide to overclocking with this utility step by step would be so handy thanks
  • ChewyXX - Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - link

    [Ed: does anyone really think in Fahrenheit when it comes to computer temperatures?]
    I did not get offended about your comment, but yes I prefer Fahrenheit. This is not to say I do not use the metric of some measurements though.

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