The 5 Best VR Headsets for Sim Racing

If you’re into sim racing and haven’t tried it yet with a VR headset, you’re definitely missing out. When you pair a VR headset with a wheel and pedals, you’ll be totally immersed in the racing world like never before.

Just as you need a decent steering wheel and set of good pedals to get the most out of sim racing, you need to use a great VR headset. We’ve listed the 5 best VR headsets for sim racing below, based on features offered, user reviews, and our own experience.

Top-Rated VR Headsets for Sim Racing

From our research, the best VR headsets for sim racing are:

Top Pick: Samsung Odyssey Plus

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Samsung Odyssey Plus

  • Dual-AMOLED display with 360 degree spatial sound
  • 2880 x 1600 resolution (1440 x 1600 per eye)
  • 110 degree field of view 

The Samsung Odyssey Plus is a Windows Mixed Reality headset that’s lightweight and easy to set up. When you use this headset when sim racing, you’ll be totally immersed into the racing world with stunningly crisp detail. The merged two 3.5 inch dual AMOLED screens with 3K display will give you a realistic all-around view of the track. 

Samsung’s anti-screen door effect technology delivers twice the pixel count of the display resolution. This equates into you getting a high level of clear, crisp, and seamless racing adventure. The AKG-tuned headphones of the Odyssey plus will deliver real life race sounds coming at you from all directions. And you can chat with teammates using the built-in microphone. 

The headset is lightweight, well-padded, and comfortable. Since the Odyssey Plus is made with a cooling fabric, you won’t get hot while wearing it. This means the lenses won’t fog up to disrupt your racing. The 110 degree field of view lets you see all your track surroundings which is important when racing. This can give you the edge you need to quickly change lanes or maneuver your vehicle.

Runner-Up: Lenovo Explorer

Lenovo Explorer

  • Plug & play Windows Mixed Reality headset 
  • 2880 x 1440 resolution (1440 x 1440 per eye)
  • 2x Inside-out motion tracking cameras

Many budget-minded sim racers use the Lenovo Explorer that costs considerably else than other VR headsets. While it’s a low cost headset, it doesn’t disappoint in terms of ease of use and resolution. It’s a legit plug and play headset with good quality visuals thanks to its dual 2.89” LCD displays with 1440 x 1440 resolution.

The Explorer is a Windows Mixed Reality headset that was made to be a natural extension of your computer. It connects to a PC with HDMI and USB connectors. You don’t need any external sensors to use this headset, which is a nice feature to have. It offers a 100 degree field of view so you can see all your track surroundings. 

The all-plastic Explorer is a lightweight unit that feels comfortable to wear, once you’ve tweaked the adjustment dial on the back of the head strap. You can lift the goggles up and away from your eyes to take a breather, without having to remove the entire headset. 

SInce the Explorer doesn’t come with an onboard audio device, you’ll have to use your own. Just plug into the included 3.5mm jack and you’re good to go. All-in-all the Lenovo Explorer is a no-frills VR headset for sim racing that’s more affordable than other comparable models.

Also Great: Oculus Rift S

Oculus Rift S

  • Cutting-edge lens technology for high detail images
  • 2660 x 1440 resolution (1330 x 1440 per eye)
  • Integrated 3D audio speakers (with a 3.5 mm minijack option)

The Rift S is Oculus’ most advanced PC-powered headset. This VR headset features next-generation lenses and a sharper display to deliver bright, vivid colors. The lens technology also cuts down on the screen door effect. Sim drivers experience a smooth racing experience with this state-of-the-art headset. 

It’s time-consuming to navigate through the many steps required to download & install the software. However, once you get past all that, there’s nothing left to do but have fun. When you start sim racing with the Oculus Rift S, you’ll understand why many gamers use this headset. 

There is audio built right into the Oculus Rift S, so you can enjoy hearing the roar of engines and the sound of rubber on asphalt. The ergonomically-designed headset fits comfortably and securely. No matter how engaged you are when sim racing, your headset will stay put.

The wide field of view is immensely satisfying. When you glance to the sides you can see your opponents trying to pass you. You’re also given a very realistic sense of speed and depth. You can push your sim driving skills to the extreme with the Rift S, which is what sim driving is supposed to be all about!

Luxury Pick: HTC Vive Pro

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HTC Vive Pro

  • High resolution (2800 x 1600) AMOLED screens
  • Hi-Res headphones
  • 3D spatial onboard audio 

The HTC Vive Pro headset is a top performer. It offers true-to-life precision racing capabilities with its high resolution screens. Sim racers love how the colors pop on the vehicles to bring the racetrack to life. The Vive Pro’s high resolution screens make it easy to read the info on your vehicle’s dash, including the small text, without having to strain or move closer. 

There’s almost no screen door effect in the Vive Pro’s field of view. The only time you may notice pixels is when you look far out on the horizon, but it won’t spoil your driving experience. The weight of the headset is nicely distributed so it’s comfortable to wear for longer periods of time. 

The field of view is par for the course when it comes to VR headsets. It could be bigger, but it is what it is. This is the only area many users feel HTC could have pushed its tech a bit further. 

The sound coming from the built in 3D spatial onboard audio speakers is crystal clear, realistic and impressive. This VR headset has a lot going for it. The Vive Pro could even convert a die-hard triple screen user if he/she were to give it a try.

Highest FOV: Pimax 5K XR

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Pimax 5K XR

  • Ultra-wide field of view with dual Samsung OLD panels 
  • 5120 x 1440 Resolution (2560×1440 per eye) OLED Screens
  • Ultra-lightweight ergonomic design

The Pimax 5K XR headset offers a ultra-wide FOV with its OLED screens. The XR stands for eXtended Range. This means this VR headset offers added dynamic color range and the near absolute blacks that are possible with OLED screens.

This headset isn’t for every sim racer. It’s an expensive unit that requires a lot of tweaking to get the settings perfect. If you happen to be a virtual reality newbie, this probably isn’t the VR headset for you. However, if you know your way around the VR world of headsets, and want to try something unique, the peripheral vision offered by the 5K Plus is worth every penny you spend.

The SK XR is large. It’s big because it has an ultra wide field of view. This makes sim racing amazing. You can easily see all around you, including vehicles coming up from behind. The dual Samsung OLED panels eliminate screen door effect and provide great contrast and color brightness.  

The SK XR headset is ergonomically-designed. This allows you to stay immersed in racing for long periods of time. The headset is even roomy enough to allow the wearing of prescription glasses. In a nutshell, the beefy Pimax 5K XR is pricey but a good VR headset for sim racing. That is, if you have patience for setting it up and the budget to afford it.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Should I buy a VR headset for sim racing?

    If you want to fully immerse yourself in sim racing, then yes, you should buy a VR headset. As opposed to holding a gamepad when sim racing, a VR headset paired up with a steering wheel and pedals is far superior. You’ll have a true connection with your virtual vehicle that isn’t possible when using a standard controller.

  2. Does sim racing with a VR headset make you feel sick?

    Some sim racers report having motion sickness from using VR headsets, so yes, it’s possible. It’s more likely to happen to you if you jump in feet first and play for hours on end. Everything about sim racing happens fast. If you go full-throttle, you may feel nauseous. That’s why it’s best to pace yourself and slowly build up the time you spend behind the wheel.

  3. Is the Valve Index a good choice for sim racing?

    The premium priced VR headset called Valve Index does manage to deliver a decent sim racing experience. The LCD displays with 1330 x 1600 per eye resolution keeps racing colorful and smooth. The Index offers the widest field of view of all headsets in its class. However, the lens design brings quite a bit of glare with it, which can spoil an otherwise great racing experience.


GPU Benchmark 2019 – Graphics Card Comparison Chart

A GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) benchmark is a test to compare the speed, performance, and efficiency of the chipset. In simple words, it is a snapshot of computers performance. Often one leverages benchmarking software to determine the performance of various hardware components in the computer such as CPU, RAM, and video cards.

It is not limited to hardware but also many use it to measure the performance of software and the internet. One can check their network to ensure they are getting the bandwidth promised to them by the ISP.

Benchmarking graphics card is a simple yet advanced method to quickly determine how the chipset will handle various graphical demands, especially while playing games. Therefore, good benchmarking software is an excellent way to put your card though test.

More so, the result will be a clear indication if the chipset is suitable for your desired purpose or not.

Why Run Benchmark Software?

Gamers run the benchmark for obvious reasons. Firstly, it checks if the GPU is performing as marketed and secondly to know if it is capable of taking the load of heavy games.

For instance, if one installs a memory-craving game or any other high-end game than it is best to run a benchmark to see if the PC can cope up with the memory requirements. It will test the hardware if it can support the game or not. The results will be a good indication if the chipset will be meet the games hardware demands and run smoothly.

One can also use the results to tweak specific settings on the GPU to prevent any graphical games while playing the game. With a balanced configuration, gamers can enjoy a playable frame rate.

Benchmarking is not always necessary as significant game developers always specify the video cards that the game supports. Gamers can compare their GPU with the information from the game developer and see if it meets the demand. In case a gamer has old hardware that is not specified by the game developer than it is best to benchmark it before playing.

How to Benchmark a GPU

Benchmarking your video card is easy, and the best way to do is to use professional software. Choosing a benchmarking software is as critical as buying the most suitable graphics card. There are a numerous amount of programs available in the market, and it is best to choose the right software that can put your video card through its paces.

Commonly, users have two options with benchmarking software.

The first is standalone programs that are designed for the task while the other option is the overclocking software that comes with built-in benchmarking utility.

It is best to use overclocking software as they have multiple functions. Some of the best overclocking software is RivaTuner and MSI Afterburner. Using an overclocking utility is a better option as users can easily tweak GPU after benchmarking.

Also, other programs are either paid or free. However, in most cases, users can get benchmark their video card for free. Some of the best free software include Heaven and 3DMark that comes with various settings.

More so, there is multi-purpose software that can benchmark CPU, GPU, RAM, and hard drive. Novabench is one such example that can test most of the computer hardware components. One of the best parts of the software is that users can upload their benchmark result and compare it with other online globally. There are many other utilities such as PCMark, SiSoftware Sandra, and more that are available for both operating systems – Windows and Mac.

Apart from that, Windows comes with a built-in program dubbed Windows System Assessment Tool (WinSAT). The program can put your computer components through a basic test and generate a scorecard.

Many people check for reviews online before purchasing a GPU, and most of these review websites and professional reviewers offer benchmark result to explain the strength of these cards better.

Follow the below steps to benchmark your GPU:

  • Download the benchmarking software you want to use and install it.
  • Following the installation, a window will open where users can change various settings such as resolution.
  • It is best to run the program at 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  • To test the video card for 3D vision, one must enable the 3D option from the settings. The settings may differ in different graphic cards.
  • In case you are new to the idea of benchmarking, one can use available presets to put your GPU to the test. Commonly, most programs have two options within presets, such as basic or advanced/extreme. The latter will push your graphics card to the maximum limit.
  • Once all configurations are set as required, click ‘Run’ to initiate benchmark. To record the score, click on ‘benchmark.’
  • After the process is complete, the program will provide a benchmark score.

Reading Benchmark Results

Benchmark scores interpretation vary among different software, and many even offer 3D environments that make it easy to judge the capability of the video card. With the right graphical presentation, one can quickly pinpoint graphical glitches.

Benchmarking is the quickest and easiest way to show how well your GPU will cope up with memory cramming graphics. In case your computer fails to run the benchmark, it means the GPU is not meant for heavy games.

One of the critical parameters to view in the result is FPS (frames per second). For a smooth gaming experience, the FPS must at least be at 30. In general, the higher the score, the better, and if the FPS falls below 30, than the gaming experience can be slow. An excellent ideal rating would be 60 FPS.

Although, benchmark score varies with different games, below is a table of the latest GPU benchmark scores:

Year Graphics Card Price Index Average 1080p FPS Average 1440p FPS Average 4K FPS
2019 GTX 1660 $220.0
110
90.1
66
38.8
2019 RTX 2060 SUPER $400.0
136
121.9
87
51.9
2019 GTX 1660 Ti $279.0
118
102.4
75
44.1
2019 RX 5700 $349.0
137
119.6
89.1
52.4
2019 RX 5700 XT $399.0
148
130.6
97.2
57.2
2019 RTX 2060 $349.0
126
115
80
46.6
2019 GTX 1650 $149.0
70
60
43.5
25.6
2019 Radeon VII $664.0
150
134.4
100.2
58.9
2019 RTX 2070 SUPER $499.0
156
136.2
100.8
60.5
2019 RTX 2080 SUPER $699.0
184
153.7
116.8
70.2
2018 GTX 1050 $129.0
39
35.5
25.4
14.7
2018 TITAN RTX $2,499.0
203
169.7
130.6
79.1
2018 RTX 2070 $469.0
145
128.4
93.4
56.7
2018 RTX 2080 Ti $1,187.0
193
165.7
127.5
77.2
2018 RX 590 $214.0
91
86.9
61.5
35.4
2018 RTX 2080 $693.0
170
145.8
109.4
65.2
2017 TITAN V $2,999.0
180
146.8
112.8
69.4
2017 RX Vega 56 $269.0
120
101.4
75.4
44.2
2017 RX 570 $123.0
73
62.8
45.6
26.3
2017 GTX 1080 Ti $807.0
156
136
103.9
62.3
2017 RX Vega 64 $419.0
124
108.4
80.8
47.4
2017 RX 580 $151.0
79
77.2
54.6
31.3
2017 GTX 1070 Ti $503.0
123
107.8
79
46.4
2017 RX 560 $99.0
33
33
23.4
13.6
2017 TITAN Xp $1,199.0
154
134.4
101.1
61.9
2016 RX 470 $342.0
64
56.4
41.1
24.3
2016 GTX 1060 6GB $159.0
78
70.5
50.5
29.6
2016 GTX 1050 Ti $129.0
48
41.3
30
17.6
2016 RX 480 $399.0
75
65.4
48.2
29.3
2016 GTX 1060 3GB $170.0
75
66.9
47.9
28.1
2016 GTX 1070 $329.0
114
98.6
71.5
41.7
2016 GTX 1080 $522.0
130
115.8
84.8
50
2015 R9 390 $465.0
70
64.6
47
26.8
2015 R7 370 $202.0
33
32
21.9
13.4
2015 GTX 980 Ti $619.0
93
92.7
67.5
39.6
2015 R9 380X $229.0
52
47.7
34.4
21.2
2015 R9 380 $299.0
46
42.7
30.7
17.9
2015 GTX 960 $89.0
45
41.1
29.7
17.4
2015 GTX TITAN X $1,099.0
120
105.5
76.2
44.9
2015 GTX 950 $89.0
36
32.4
23.1
14.1
2015 R9 390X $495.0
74
68.7
51.2
30.7
2015 R9 FURY X $649.0
92
82.4
63.1
38.2
2015 R9 FURY $549.0
82
72.5
54.2
32.2
2015 R9 Nano $1,529.0
87
74.9
56.3
33.9
2014 R9 295X2 $1,499.0
118
110.7
79.7
50.9
2014 GTX 980 $249.0
85
77.8
56
33.1
2014 GTX TITAN BLACK $999.0
77
75.7
53.7
33.9
2014 R7 265 $149.0
33
32.6
21.4
13.2
2014 R9 280 $350.0
45
41.5
30.6
16.9
2014 GTX 970 $449.0
71
66.4
46.9
29.2
2014 R9 285 $380.0
46
43.2
31.3
17.8
2013 GTX 650 Ti Boost $169.0
30
33.8
19.7
12.2
2013 GTX 760 $320.0
40
39.6
29.9
16
2013 R9 270 $275.0
38
37.1
24
14.9
2013 HD 7990 $999.0
74
86.5
64.1
36.6
2013 GTX 770 $179.0
50
44.9
30.1
18.7
2013 R9 280X $350.0
52
52.5
37.3
23.3
2013 GTX 780 $355.0
58
59.7
42.7
26.5
2013 R9 290 $310.0
65
62.8
45.2
29.1
2013 R9 290X $399.0
70
66.3
48.5
30
2013 GTX 780 Ti $410.0
73
63.5
43.4
27.9
2013 GTX TITAN $650.0
72
73.4
52.5
28.4

GPU Hierarchy Performance Chart 2019

gpu-hierarchy-2019
GPU performance hierarchy 2019

GPU Hierarchy Value Chart 2019

GPU value hierarchy 2019
GPU value hierarchy 2019

In case your graphics card fails to score that level than it is best to tweak some setting in the Benchmark settings. Most benchmarking programs will also provide a general overview of the overall GPU, such as model number, temperature, etc. High temperatures can lead to system stability.

In case the score doesn’t look promising, then there are few measures one can take to improve GPU performance. Firstly, ensure that all GPU drivers are well updated. It is best not to run the tests with beta drivers. One must switch to a stable release and then re-run the tests. Also, it is advisable to close all on-going processes to ensure better results. More so, cleaning the CPU and keeping it dust-free prevents the system from overheating, hence, improving the benchmark score.

Difference Between Benchmark and Stress Test

Stress test and benchmark are different, even though they might seem the same. Benchmarking a GPU compare performance and offers as score with the current setting. Meanwhile, a stress test is all about pushing the chipset to the maximum level before it breaks.

For instance, one can run the benchmark to test if the video card will support a game or not. Similarly, one will stress test a GPU to check how much heavy gaming it can handle before it stops working, in case you want to overclock it. Akin to benchmarking, there are many software in the market that can stress test your video card.

The above information demonstrates what GPU benchmarking is, how it’s down, and how one can read the score. So run a benchmark test without wasting another second to see if your GPU got what it takes to run high-end games.

The 5 Best RivaTuner Alternatives For Windows

RivaTuner is a robust overclocking software that offers a comprehensive set of controls to tweak graphical processing unit(GPU). Overclocking is a practice of safely boosting the clock rate of the GPU without causing damage to the hardware. The freeware program has a graphical interface that makes it easy for gamers to boost PC performance.

While RivaTuner is a popular overclocking utility for NVIDIA GPUs, it has its fair share of limitations. For that matter, we are listing top 5 RivaTuner alternatives that provide the same-level of tweaking or more.

1. MSI Afterburner

MSI Afterburner is the latest and most advanced GPU overclocking software that enables gamers to push their chipsets to the maximum potential. The software is the best RivaTuner alternative as the same team develops it. The easy-to-use utility provides extensive tweaking options such as memory clock speed, core voltage, temperature gauge, the power limit, and fan speed. The graphical interface is straightforward, and all a user has to do is find the right balance for enhanced performance by increasing the clock frequency and voltage.

msi-afterburner
MSI Afterburner image

One of the significant advantages of using MSI Afterburner is that it supports all graphics card. With MSI Afterburner, monitoring performance while simultaneously playing games is more comfortable. The in-game FPS counter feature offers users real-time system data on how the chipset is reacting to the gameplay. The features make MSI Afterburner stand out than its competitors.

To even make the program gamer-friendly, MSI Afterburner comes with a supplementary application – Predator, that allows gamers to capture their intense gaming experience. It will enable one to save the video in various formats such as WMV and AVI.

The program also comes with a built-in benchmarking tool dubbed as Kombuster. The program measures thermal performance and stability. For that matter, the software is known as an all-in-one overclocking utility.

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2. NVIDIA Inspector

NVIDIA Inspector is yet another popular overclocking software. Apart from overclocking, many leverages the program to find out vital information about computer hardware. Although built-in Windows component – Control Panel, allows users to view and alter system settings, the NVIDIA Inspector is a fantastic supplement. The NVIDIA Inspector will texture filtering, compatibility info and anti-aliasing information and more. NVIDIA Inspector is the closest alternative for RivaTuner.

NVIDIA Inspector
NVIDIA Inspector image

The tool is ideal for overclocking any GPU as it packs various GPU monitoring parameters such as fan speed and memory clocks. The program is free to use and comes with a clean and easy-to-use software. The program comes in very handy as it provides multiple functions apart from reading hardware details and overclocking. Some of these functions include detecting problems that are occurring in the operating system, such as graphic card issues, unable to read software or even defective drivers.

Another great feature of the overclocking utility is that it comes with a centralized user interface, that makes it easy for gamers to tweak and monitor essential parameters. The software makes it very easy for users to tweak clocks and fan speeds, both of which are crucial when optimizing GPUs. The program is safe to use and is licensed by MIT.

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3. EVGA PrecisionX

EVGA PrecisionX is one of the most potent overclocking utilities in the market. The program fine-tunes GPU and allows tons of configuration options, making it one of the best RivaTuner alternatives. The utility covers all the general parameters such as voltage, GPU clock offsets, fan speed, and more. Overclockers or gamers know the power of EVGA Precision X, and it reflects on its popularity.

EVGA PrecisionX
EVGA PrecisionX image

The robust overclocking utility supports most NVIDIA GeForce cards. The software is compatible with Microsoft Windows 10 / 8.1 / 8 / 7 / Vista. Among its main features include frame rate target control, robust monitoring, custom fan curve. The program packs a profiling system, in which one can save up to ten profiles. Gamers can switch between profiles with a custom hotkey.

The latest update of the utility comes with a revamped on-screen display that supports RGB color. Activating the feature is straightforward, and one can click on the monitoring button and then choose the ‘show in On-Screen Display

More so, the EVGA PrecisionX comes with a frame rate limiter that allows gamers to set a specific frame rate target. With the feature, one can limit the framerate to a particular configuration. The software is also capable of limiting power usage in the graphics cards.

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4. AMD OVERDRIVE

AMD Overdrive is an advanced yet easy-to-use overclocking software that is specifically designed to get the maximum out of your chipset. The program packs an intuitive interface that is easy to grasp even for first-time

amd overdrive
Amd Overdrive image

users. Many compare the utility to the NVIDIA’s nTune that allowed users to monitor and tweak system components. As gamers, one can change the speed at which the fan spins.

The advanced program is only limited to AMD chipsets. One of the main perks of the utility is that it provides a real-time overview of all hardware and allows one to change settings. The program offers single-click tuning option through a slider. AMD Overdrive enables users to configure an extensive range of parameters such as frequency, voltage, etc. In short, one can tweak the overall performance of the chipset. Gamers can also run a stability test before and after overclocking the PC.

Also, the utility comes with a dependable profiling system, where users can create unlimited profiles. Many other overclocking programs in the market allow only a limited number of profiles. One of the main advantages of using the program is that tweaking any setting is very easy and that is one of the reasons why it is popular among gamers.

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Sapphire Trixx

Sapphire Trixx is an advanced utility to get the best out of your GPUs. It is an ideal RivaTuner alternative. The program is safe and straightforward to use even for a novice. Gamers can save custom settings for multiple games. While the user interface may look like it does not do much but the reality is that it can tweak most of the hardware settings. One can configure the speed at which the fan spins dynamically and determine critical information of the GPU.

Sapphire-TriXX
Sapphire-TriXX image

Gamers can tweak memory clock speed and voltage using its modern and advanced overclocking technology. The best part of the software is that it offers visual feedback on how the new configurations affect the system. The only disadvantage is that Sapphire Trixx only has a limitation of saving custom profiles. One can only save up to five profiles, while its competitors allow unlimited custom profiles

When it comes to setting a fan speed, there is no better overclocking utility than Sapphire Trixx. The suite comes with a one-click fan control gear that allows users to tweak fan speed easily. Users can either choose to keep the automatic setting or user-defined rate. Its other features include color control and system health check.

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The above are the top 5 RivaTuner alternatives that perform the art of overclocking at best. All of the above-mentioned overclocking software is perfect for bringing out the horsepower from hardware for memory-hungry games.

How to Overclock Your GPU Safely

Overclocking GPU can seem daunting at first, and the fear of messing the computer can shun the idea of even attempting. However, tweaking the graphics card by boosting the clock speed one generation higher than its release is entirely a safe process. 

Don’t worry, the computer will not explode by overclocking graphics cards to its fullest potential. Modern GPU’s (graphics processing unit) is designed in a way that users can only overclock until it’s safe to avoid causing any consequential damage. The fear of impairing the GPU comes due to the lack of knowledge or information on overclocking GPU.

To overclock GPU safely, read the entire guide and follow the steps below and one need not worry about running into any complications.  

What Is Overclocking?

Overclocking GPU is the action of increasing the clock speed of a component or in other words, manually tweak the clock rate at which GPU performs. Commonly, it applies to CPU’s (central processing unit) and GPU’s that operate at clock speed, but not limited to it as one can overclock other components of a computer as well. CPU and GPU are factory set to perform at certain speeds. However, one is not limited to that speed and can quickly accelerate clock rate than what the component is designed to run.

Augmenting the clock rate enables the component to perform more operations per second. GPU clock speed is measured in cycles per second (Hz) and is an indication of the rate at which the general processing unit performs tasks.

Overclocking in GPU means augmenting the Core Clock (CC) and the Memory Clock (MC). Core Clock determines the speed at which core tasks are performed like rendering graphics most commonly in games. Meanwhile, the Memory Clock is the memory capacity of the GPU and not the computer.  

While overclocking GPU is safe, one must consider and be cautious about the heat it generates. It is vital to provide additional cooling while you squeeze more performance from the GPU. Overheating can damage any component of a computer or even make it unstable.

Why Overclock GPU?

Time is cruel for gamers; updating the GPU can cost a lot of money. The upgrade cycle is endless and harsh, even the best of graphics card processing units fades in a year to make a place for even a next generation.   

Therefore, gamers have sought to alternative ways to boost performance without the need of buying a new GPU such as overclocking.  Overclocking can result in dramatically better performing computer without the need of spending a fortune on new GPUs. The process of overclocking leverages only the basic tools for benchmarking.  

 How to Overclock GPU

All GPUs are factory set to run at a specific speed limit dubbed as the ‘base clock.’ However, every card has the potential to transcend to speeds set by the manufacturer. However, it uses more power and leads to overheating, and therefore, it is appropriate to provide proper cooling beforehand.

Also, one must note that overclocking GPU does not void the warranty as all configuration are stored on the computer only. It is best to find a sweet spot – the balance between performance and optimum temperature. Don’t worry, if you have overclocked the GPU to an unsafe level, as it is easy to revert it to a normal level if that occurs. The best way is to increase clock speed gradually and analyze the difference in performance. 

Overclocking Programs

Overclocking software are vital to present accurate readings that translates to good results. One of the most popular software is MSI Afterburner. The software is capable of tweaking both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs. Also, be cautious not to push the GPU too hard using the software as the graphics card might display glitches, or the PC will crash. 

MSI Afterburner is the best in the market that offers users to take full advantage of their chipset. It is an all-in-one software that offers various features such as benchmarking, monitoring, and even hardware rundown.

MSI Afterburner’s user-friendly interface makes, and real-time monitoring makes it one of the favorites among overclockers. Using the program, one can tweak the core clock, fan settings, voltage, and memory clock.

While MSI Afterburner is not the only software in the market, another popular program is the EVGA precision X Series. Most of the overclocking utilities contain the same tools.    

Benchmarking and Stress Testing

Benchmarking and stress testing are a vital part of the process when overclocking GPUs. Stress testing software ensures that the settings are stable and won’t harm your hardware. In simple words, the software determines the optimum working limit of the GPU that one can push. 

The computer will run into errors if the overclock is unstable. The computer might even crash, or in the worst case, one will end with blue screen error. If so, then one must lower the overclock configurations and try again. 

A computer crash is frequent while overclocking and does indicate a GPU failure. Once can quickly revert to normal by reconfiguring the settings. Some of the best stress testing software includes Heaven Benchmark and Valley. 

Russian software company Unigine is the developer of both the software. The software provides extreme performance and unparalleled stability test for computer hardware.

Also, Heaven and Valley both offer comprehensive frame per the second date and scoring parameter to display how the GPU is reacting to changes. The idea is to benchmark the chipset until you witness graphical glitches. Down these things slightly to get the perfect balance between performance and stability.    

Voltage Monitoring 

While the above software covers most of the stress testing and monitoring, it is best to equip your PC with professional monitoring software such as the HWMonitor, GPU temp, or RealTemp. HWMonitor is undoubtedly the best pick of the three as it provides real-time temperatures, clock speeds, voltage readings, and more. 

While MSI Afterburner and Heaven Benchmark provide a gauge to measure the changes, it is advisable to use multiple software to ensure the readings tally. Even the RealTemp and GPU Temp provide accurate readings. Computers can heat up a lot, and it is best to have software to present precise reading. As a piece of cautionary advice, it is best to maintain temp below 80 C. 

In case the temperature goes overboard, the PC will shut down to prevent the overclocking action from damaging the chipset. 

One must also take into consideration external parameters such as the room temperature. It is best to cool down the room before an overclock. 

Caution: One of the most critical steps in the process of overclocking the GPU is the parameter of voltage. Amateur overclockers fear to perform the change of voltage the most. Altering the voltage to an unsafe level can damage the GPU over time, if not immediately. Carefully and safely tweaking the voltage is the path to computer enlightenment and better gaming performance. 

Recording the current GPU level  

Firstly, one has to open the monitoring software and check that the temperature readings do not exceed 50 C, fluctuating between 30-50 is common. Also, ensure that the clock speeds are precise. It is best to test the GPU before clocking and take the reading. Below are the steps to do so:

  • Firstly, install the Unigine software.
  • Click on the Start menu and launch Heaven Benchmark 4.0. 
  • Now click on the ‘Run’ button.
  • Click on ‘Benchmark’ at the top left corner of the screen while the screen is rendering 3D scenes in the background. It will initiate the benchmarking process and offer results,  
  • It will take about 10 minutes while the program tests the settings through 26 scenes. At the end of the tests, it will offer performance data categorized under temperature, memory clock, and more. Note:- Monitor the temperature recordings while it is testing as it will give you an approximation of how much can overclock. 
  • At the end of the tests, one will receive FPS statistics and score. Save the score to refer to in the future. 

Now that you have a base performance recording, it is time to overclock the GPU. Open MSI Afterburner to tweak the GPU settings. The software welcomes you with a screen such as a car speedometer. It has the ‘Control Panel’ in the center. The control panel will be used to overclock the core voltage, power limit, temperature, core clock, memory clock, and fan speed. 

On either side of the control panel lies the temperature and core clock speed and the memory clock speed. The core clock speed is what we will overclock, and the memory clock speed will only be tweaked after testing the core clock. 

Overclocking process – Increasing the Closing Speed

Finding the right overclock setting is challenging, as multiple factors affect the configurations such as the model of the PC and cooling. 

Looking online for the optimal can help give you a heading, but you are the only one that can determine the best overclock setting for your PC. The best way is to use settings available online as guidance and then try to surpass the level using MSI Afterburner overclocking software to see how much you can push the GPU.

Preparing GPU for Overclock 

Overclockers now have to set up their GPU for the overclocking process. To do so, follow the below steps:

  • Open MSI Afterburner and click on the Setting icon available under the control panel. Bookmark the page as at the end of the setup you will have to restart the PC.
  •  In the resultant window, click on the ‘General’ tab and check the following options – Force constant voltage, unlock voltage control, and unlock voltage monitoring.
  • Click ‘OK’ to apply the settings. 
  • A prompt will appear requesting to restart the PC, click ’OK.’ 
  • Open MSI Afterburner, and Unigine Heaven following the restart.
  • Now, slide the temperature limit to 80 C, and the power limit increases parallelly. 
  • Slide the core voltage slider (%) to the maximum. 
  • Finally, click on the check button to save the configuration.

The above configuration assures that one can get the highest clock speed while maintaining safe temperature levels. 

Time to Stress Test 

Once the optimal MSI Afterburner is set, it is time to increase the core clock slider. The steps are straightforward; all you have to do is increase the core clock speed. Follow the below steps to overclock and test the GPU:

  • Begin raising the core clock by gradually in increments of +30 and click on the check button. 
  • Now, run the Heaven benchmark 4.0 the same way while recording the initial GPU level. Run the entire test for 26 screens.
  • Take note of the scores and improvement on average frames per second. With the growth, the temperature also must have increased by a couple of degrees. 
  • Once done, push the GPU to max potential by increasing the clock speed in increments of 30 again.  
  • Rerun the benchmark software and note the improvement. 
  • If you notice any graphical issues or the PC shuts down then restart the computer and lower the core clock speed by 30 and that will be the optimal clock speed. 

It is all about finding the right balance by tweaking the configurations. Overclocking the GPU process is complete, and the same can be repeated for memory clock. However, modern chipsets are designed to have enough memory. Therefore, boosting the memory clock speed won’t make much difference while games.

One can also choose to save the tweaked configuration by clicking on the ‘Save’ icon on the MSI Afterburner. Next, assign a number for that particular setting and then save it. Users can also assign hotkeys to launch the settings after saving their profiles. Nw tries the new overclocked GPU while playing your favorite games. Overclocking is not as daunting as it might feel; after all, it is safe and easy to perform. 

 

MSI Afterburner Download and Usage Guide

MSI Afterburner is one of the best graphics card overclocking utility that allows users to get the most out of their chipsets. Overclocking is the process of boosting the clock frequency of Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) in a bid to make it run at higher speeds than it is manufactured to run. Users do so to enhance performance and take full advantage of the graphics unit.

Apart from overclocking, MSI Afterburner offers a handful of features such as monitoring, customizing fan profiles, hardware overview, benchmarking, troubleshooting, and video recording. In short, it is a graphics processors monitoring program that gives one complete control over their graphics card.

Compatibility

MSI Afterburner is developed by GPU manufacturer MSI and Guru3D (RivaTuner team). It is a freeware software, and the latest version of the program was released this year in April.

msi-afterburner
MSI Afterburner Screenshot

The nifty program is available for the Windows operating system and supports Microsoft Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7. It is one of the most versatile graphics card tweaking tools as it supports almost every GPU irrespective of the chipset manufacturer. The cross-brand support is what makes the utility better than all its counterparts.

Moreover, the top-notch overclocking utility offers complete support for 64-bit applications taking into account that more games are built for 64-bit systems.

Download MSI Afterburner


Apart from Windows, interestingly users have the option to download the Afterburner app for Android, which will allow users to monitor and control the graphics card from their phone. The Afterburner download package will include a benchmarking tool dubbed Kombustor Benchmarking. The latest version of the software supports NVIDIA GeForce 500 and AMD Radeon HD 6000 series graphics cards.

Also, the program adds exciting features such as the Predator in-game video capture function. The latest addition makes it easier for gamers to capture their intense gameplay moments and share it with the world.

Follow the steps below to download MSI Afterburner – the most widely used overclocking utility:

  • First and foremost, navigate to the official website of the MSI Afterburner.
  • Go to the bottom of the page and click on the ‘Download’ button. Users can also choose to download the beta version, but it is best to go with the latest stable release.
  •  In case a user wants to control the application from the phone, then download the Afterburner app. Using the app makes is a more convenient option as one does not have to alt-tab while playing a game.
  • Unzip the downloaded file and double-click on the Afterburner executable file to install.
  •  Follow the on-screen instructions for installation and click on ‘Yes’ when prompted to install Kombuster.
  • Voila! The program is ready for use.

Setting up MSI Afterburner

Following the installation, it is time to configure settings to personalize the software. Afterburner offers users a variety of configuration options so that every user is comfortable in using the program. Below are a few of the configuration options that one can choose tweak.

  • Open MSI Afterburner and click on the ‘Settings’ icon at the bottom of the application.
  • It is recommended to use the Default MSI Afterburner skin rather than other skins. To make the change, go to ‘User Interface’ tab and change it to ‘Default MSI Afterburner Skin.’ The default option offers a cleaner and easy-to-navigate user interface and experience. More so, many other skins tend to remove the slider making tweaking inaccessible.
  • For those using multiple GPU’s, will have to navigate to the “General” tab and then choose the GPU they want to monitor or overclock. Another way to do it by selecting the GPU from the ‘Master graphics processor selection’ drop-down menu.
  • Another thing users have to set up is the voltage control. Go to the ‘General’ tab, click on ‘unlock voltage control and keep it the level at ‘standard MSI.’ Next, also choose the option ‘unlock voltage monitoring.’ But do not select the ‘force constant voltage’ option.
  • Users can also choose to set up other basic settings such as compatibility options and AMD specific properties. However, it is best to leave the setting to default.

How To Use MSI Afterburner?

Overclocking with MSI Afterburner is easy to use, but that does not mean it is risk-free. Tweaking the GPU is risky and can cause permanent damage to the hardware. However, at any time if you feel doubt than it is best to stop and consult a knowledgeable person. The most overclocking utility aims to find the most potential stable settings for ultimate performance. Follow the below steps to overclock:

  • The first and foremost thing to do is set the ‘Temp Limit’ and ‘Power Limit’ sliders to the maximum. It will make the GPU more efficient and will prompt a spike in temperature. Don’t hesitate if the heat meter slider displays dangerously high. Most chipset makers consider the parameter as safe and will not damage the GPU. Apart from using software to tweak the temp limit, such temperatures only arise if there is a malfunction.
  • Next, users have to boost the core clock speed minutely. Increase of a single unit corresponds to one megahertz (MHz). It is advisable to not tweak more than 20 or 30 MHz on either side. Note: Hit ‘Apply’ after every change.
  • It is best to launch the Kombuster in the background so that one can monitor if the increasing the temp limit causes any crash or glitches. Always wait for a couple of minutes till it the change reflects.
  • Stop increasing the clock speed once there graphical issues are visible. But don’t worry if there is any unusual behavior as it is a way for the GPU to communicate that it has reached to its maximum ability. At times, the crashed will reset the graphics processor unit driver, after which you can slow the clock speed a few seconds.
  • It is best to reduce core clock speed with small boosts of 5MHz until the graphics disappear the benchmarking utility Kombuster is stable. The best way to find equilibrium is to test the changes for each game. Tweak the GPU, gradually noting the difference of performance with every change.
  • Similarly, perform the stress test on the memory clock speed. The only difference is that the increment must be higher such as between 50-100 MHz.
  • After witnessing many graphical issues in Kombustor, start reducing memory clock speed gradually until you find the best stable rate. Also, check the testing in the game.
  • Test run the new core clock and memory clock speeds configuration at least for 10 minutes. Check for any glitches or crashes during the time. Get the most stable combination of both. Next, save it as a profile by hitting the floppy disc icon.

Caution: One must remember to click on “Apply” after making every change.

MSI Afterburner Features

On the surface, MSI Afterburner may seem to be only a program with overclocking features, but in reality, it packs a plethora of useful features. Below we breakdown the best features of the overclocking utility into categories such as overclocking, hardware monitor, and predator video capture. One of the best benefits of using MSI Afterburner is that it supports graphics cards from all brands.

Overclocking tools

Overclocking can push GPU to its maximum ability without causing any hardware damage. It may sound risky and dangerous for the unversed, but MSI Afterburner makes it very easy to configure GPU in a bid to ensure it performs to its maximum potential.

The tool gives you easy access to almost every GPU settings such as temperature limit, fan speed, memory clock speed, the power limit, and core voltage. With so many options in hand, the idea is to find a balance between performance, temperature, and ability. To get the perfect equilibrium, one can tweak the clock frequency and voltage.

To make it even more comfortable, the latest version of Afterburner features with an OC Scanner, a utility developed by graphics card manufacturer powerhouse Nvidia, that scans RTX 20 series graphics cards and determines the most suitable overclocking settings. OC Scanner applies the best setting to enhance instant in-game performance. The feature is best so that users don’t go overboard and harm the hardware.

It also comes with Triple Overvoltage feature that allows users to complete control over memory, PLL voltages, and core.

More so, the software comes with an add-on utility dubbed RivaTuner Statistics Server (RTSS) that can be leveraged to set a frame cap for particular games. The utility is best for those that have a mid-range GPUs.

Custom Fan Profiles

Heat distribution is vital for performance when it comes to the graphics card. Therefore, Afterburner lets users customize a preset fan speed curve profile whereby the fan speed will increase or lower based on the GPU temperature. The feature allows gamers to safely overclock GPU knowing that it will determine the cooling performance as the heat builds up. More so, users can even save overclocking profile where a preset of parameters are defined. The utility will automatically adjust as players switch games depending on the performance requirements.

Hardware Monitoring

MSI Afterburner’s monitoring is unparalleled. The Hardware Monitor features critical and real-time hardware performance such as core and memory clock speed, voltage, FPS, and GPU temperature. Moreover, it lists usage percentage in various graphs.

Also, one can monitor overclocking tweaks through an on-screen display. One of the most significant advantages of the Hardware Monitoring is that users can configure the parameters they want to monitor. It is very beneficial for gamers as it displays vital statistics at the time of gameplay.

Benchmarking

Afterburner comes with an in-built benchmarking tool – Kombuster. It is a decent burn-in benchmarking utility that gauges thermal performance and stability. It is a tool that roots from the Freemaker software and is one of the best benchmarking tools in the market. More so, it supports the latest OpenGL and DirectX version.

Predator Video Capture

MSI Afterburner comes with an add-on application dubbed Predator that records gameplay without missing a single frame rate. The tool will allow users to capture their most intense gaming moments in various formats such as AVI and WMV. The software even supports H.264 codec. Moreover, users can configure multiple options such as different compression types, quality, and framerate limit.

Custom User Skins and Multi-Language Support

MSI Afterburner offers gamers to choose from a variety of different skins that givers entirely gives a unique appearance to the program. One can choose from many available in the application or can even download online. Moreover, the overclocking utility supports most of the major languages. Users can change the language from the User Interface menu.

In-Game FPS Counter

The In-Game FPS Counter is by far the best feature of the Afterburner. It displays real-time information about how the system is reacting within a game. The feature lets gamers monitor GPU performance while gaming.

RivaTuner vs. MSI Afterburner

RivaTuner is a top-rated overclocking tool and is still a favorite of many who use the old GPU setting. RivaTuner was favorite for its plug-ins that made GPU monitoring very easy. However, it is outdated when it comes to modern gaming. In simple terms, Afterburner is a more updated version of Rivatuner that not only has all the characteristics of it but also significantly adds new ones. Interestingly, Afterburner is developed by RivaTuner team, and founded by MSI.

The above is a brief of MSI Afterburner and in what ways it is better than RivaTuner. Overclocking with Afterburner is easy but it is best to always be cautious in case of any doubt. Consult professionals before you pump your GPU and end up damaging the hardware.