Software Overclocking for Windows (Part 3) - GFX: MSI Afterburner

6/5/2012 3:43:09 PM

GFX: MSI Afterburner

When it comes to GPU overclocking software, MSI’s Afterburner is easily one of the best. If you have an MSI graphics card then you shouldn’t hesitate to get it installed, but voltage aside, it’s usable with all other card manufacturer too.

Description: GFX: MSI Afterburner

Like all the best OC software, Afterburner offers some very advanced features in an interface. A lot of the settings are tweaked using sliders that offer a quick visual guide to how much you’re asking of your hardware, which can give you a much better idea of how the overclocking is going compared to a simple list of digits in the BIOS.

One of Afterburner’s big selling points is the triple overvoltage feature, which adjusts the core, memory and PLL voltage, which is sadly limited to MSI kit. This can be a risky setting to change but the software makes it much easier to understand, helping you gain a performance boost through settings you might otherwise avoid. The core clock, shader clock and memory clocks can all be tweaked via sliders too and fan speeds can be set to keep the temperature low.

Afterburner also has in-depth charts for monitoring the graphics card that ensure that the hardware is handling any overclocking. If you want to see how the graphics card is handling the extra load in-game, MSI Afterburner can display real-time information on screen as you play.

Once you’re happy with your overclocking, you can set Afterburner to apply the settings when Windows starts or when the computer boots up. A built-in benchmarking program, like the one found in AMD Overdrive, is another great feature that can help you get the most out of your overclocking adventures.

Description: Afterburner is great for overclocking graphics cards – even if they’re not MSI ones

Afterburner is great for overclocking graphics cards – even if they’re not MSI ones

As we don’t really need our GPU running at full whack when we’re checking our emails, the ability to assign up to five profiles and switch between them through keyboard hotkeys is a welcome addition.

While the large interface might not be to everyone’s taste – and there are skins available to change it – MSI Afterburner offers a level of complexity presented with a clarity that pushes it ahead of its competitors such as ATITool and RivaTurner.

Motherboard: Republic of gamers

Description: Asus Maximus III Gene Republic of Gamers Motherboard

Asus Maximus III Gene Republic of Gamers Motherboard

You can tell from the company website that the guys and girls at Asus take their overclocking very seriously – one of the most popular tutorials for its Republic of Gamers motherboards involves overclocking at sub-zero temperatures with dry ice and liquid nitrogen.

If you know you stuff then a Republic of Gamers board is definitely a good investment. We’re not here to extoll the virtues of the hardware though, we’re looking at software to help with the OC process.

Even without Windows, RoG boards lend a hand through a skinned version of UEFI, which replaces the BIOS. This change on its own makes overclocking easier, with pre-loaded profiles, in-depth settings and a system monitor all included to help but there are also some handy tools that can be accessed for some real-time overclocking.

Description: Asus come up with another innovate overclocking the OC Key

Asus come up with another innovate overclocking the OC Key

One tool is called OSD TweakIt and while it’s not quite as accomplished as MSI Afterburner, it has a much wider scope. This means that while it lacks the precision of dedicated CPU or GPU overclocking software, it makes up for it with a range of options that can get to the very heart of how your system runs. OSD TweakIt isn’t as user-friendly as Afterburner, with some settings that aren’t clearly explained. It’s assumed that you’ll know what most of them are but if you come across one that you’re not sure about, the RoG website ( has plenty of guides, and a very active community that can help you out.

Coupled with OSD TweakIt is OSD Monitor, which gives you a real-time overview of your PC’s health, including the voltage and temperature of the CPU – all essential when you’re overclocking your machine.

Unlike other OC software, OSD Monitor and OSD TweakIt don’t run in Windows. Instead they run off a piece of hardware called the OC Key, which plugs into the DVI port of the graphics card. This means the software doesn’t need an OS to run, as long as the motherboard is powered up. As the OC Key interfaces directly with the mobo, no system resources are taken up by either OSD Monitor or OSD TweakIt, which means it can be used while playing games or running benchmarks without any impact on performance.

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