Overclocking Intel’s HD Graphics - It Works...Very Well

The coolest part of my job is being able to work with some ridiculously smart people. One such person gave me the idea to try overclocking the Intel HD graphics core on Clarkdale a few weeks ago. I didn’t get time to do it with the Core i5 661, but today is a different day.

Clarkdale offers three different GPU clocks depending on the model:

Processor Intel HD Graphics Clock
Intel Core i5-670 733MHz
Intel Core i5-661 900MHz
Intel Core i5-660 733MHz
Intel Core i5-650 733MHz
Intel Core i3-540 733MHz
Intel Core i3-530 733MHz
Intel Pentium G9650 533MHz


The Core i5 661 runs it at the highest speed - 900MHz. The rest of the Core i5 and i3 processors pick 733MHz. And the Pentium G6950 has a 533MHz graphics clock.

Remember that the Intel HD Graphics die is physically separate from the CPU die on Clarkdale. It’s a separate 45nm package and I’m guessing it’s not all that difficult to make. If AMD can reliably ship GPUs with hundreds of shader processors, Intel can probably make a chip with 12 without much complaining.

So the theory is that these graphics cores are easily overclockable. I fired up our testbed and adjusted the GPU clock. It’s a single BIOS option and without any changes to voltage or cooling I managed to get our Core i3 530’s GPU running at 1200MHz. That’s a 64% overclock!

I could push the core as high as 1400MHz and still get into Windows, but the system stopped being able to render any 3D games at that point.

I benchmarked World of Warcraft with the Core i3 running at three different GPU clocks to show the potential for improvement:

CPU (Graphics Clock) World of Warcraft
Intel Core i5 661 (900MHz gfx) 14.8 fps
Intel Core i3 530 (733MHz gfx) 12.5 fpx
Intel Core i3 530 (900MHz gfx) 14.2 fps
Intel Core i3 530 (1200MHz gfx) 19.0 fps


A 64% overclock resulted in a 52% increase in performance. If Intel wanted to, it could easily make its on-package GPU a lot faster than it is today. I wonder if this is what we’ll see with Sandy Bridge and graphics turbo on the desktop.

Integrated Graphics - Slower than AMD, Still Perfect for an HTPC Overclocking the i3 - 4GHz with the Stock Cooler


View All Comments

  • a1623363 - Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - link

    Using the same Gigabyte motherboard and same core i3, I could overclock my graphics to 900 mhz only. I pushed to 950 Mhz, but this caused errors. Serious YMMV on overclocking above 900 Mhz, especially to 1200+ !

    Overall, I have to say I am happy with system performance, but very disappointed in the integrated graphics. Here Intel is barely able to match performance of ATI or NVidia from years ago. I have always had an integrated graphics machine, and simply chose to play games on lower settings, but now am having to buy a Radeon HD 4770 as the performance of Intel's solution doesn't allow you to play anything made in recent years. Not to mention that games like Mass Effect 2 don't support Intel or S3 chipsets, even when Intel HD Graphics are above the minimum system requirements in terms of performance.

    I am keeping my system, but if I was buying again today, knowing that the integrated graphics is sub-par, I would take a closer look at AMD plus a third party graphics card.
  • partha77 - Thursday, March 4, 2010 - link

    Hi! As a novice in this field, i'ld like to know 3 things regarding intel core i3-530 vis-a-vis intel core 2 duo e7500 -> 1) which one delivers more performance in general? 2) which one has longer functional life span? 3) which one has more future upgradability? Reply
  • crochat - Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - link

    It is really strange to me that all reviews I've read about intel processors with integrated graphics always tested system with discrete graphic cards. I don't play games and don't see the use of spending money on a graphic card if an IGP can deliver what I need. I suppose graphic card may have an impact not only on idle power consumption figures, but also on load power consumption figures. I wonder how i3 530 IGP compares with athlon II X4 635 with e.g. 785g. Reply
  • slikazn09 - Friday, January 29, 2010 - link

    4ghz sounds WHOO! But what temperature does it get up to when pushed to 4ghz? You thoughtfully quoted in yourr final word, about the options set out which is pretty helpful (and i like it:] ), but what about the heat when overclocked?! Reply
  • slikazn09 - Friday, January 29, 2010 - link

    buying options* - correcting myself from last post. any help would be greatly appreciated :). should i buy a 3rd party cooler to ensure long term stability? Reply
  • piasabird - Friday, January 29, 2010 - link

    It seems comparing the processor to an E7500 to an I3 would be benneficial. Does the I3 really run faster than an E7500?

  • ericore - Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - link

    Hence double the speed.
    Simple math ladies and gents.
    Bandwidth is not a factor in this case.

    If you want to check it out for yourself google: intel ark
  • kwrzesien - Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - link

    The Gigabyte GA-H57M-USB3 board has just been posted on Newegg:
  • marraco - Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - link

    TomsHardware had unveiled the awful 2D behavior of the most expensive nVidia and ATI card:


    They perform slower than integrated chipsets. Sometimes 10X slower.

    I would like to see the same benchmarks on this integrated video
  • dgingeri - Monday, January 25, 2010 - link

    This would make an excellent home/ small business server as well. Low idle power consumption, low price, integrated video, and virtualization all combine to make for an excellent platform for 5-10 users for file sharing, web based local apps, and minor SQL server duties.

    I just wonder how it compares to the new AMD chips that came out today in server performance.

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