Literally 1-click overclocking!

Always wanted to get more performance out of your graphics card, but don't know how overclocking works or simply don’t want to risk it? The new OC Scanner feature in MSI Afterburner will do the overclocking for you at the click of a button. It's free, it works great and the best part is: it’s completely safe too! This blog article will explain in some detail how OC Scanner works and guide you on how to use it.

Overclocking: Not as scary as it sounds

Overclocking has long been a hobby for a relatively small group of hardware enthusiasts. Mostly because of the time it takes to understand the process and do it right. I can remember the first time I ever attempted overclocking, it was quite overwhelming and even scary at some point. Scary because I was afraid of causing any kind of damage to the expensive equipment inside my PC.

It seems the major chip manufacturers caught on to the worries of their customers about damaging their products. Over the course of recent years, we’ve seen those manufacturers engineer ways to minimize any chance of accidentally damaging their products. These days, most Graphics Processors have built-in safety measures that restrict the changes you can make with overclocking software like Afterburner to values they consider to be safe. The processors and drivers themselves also continually monitor things like temperature and power usage so that action can be taken to ensure the safety of the product. A great example of this is a thing we know as Thermal Throttling. If a GPU gets too hot, it will automatically reduce its effective clockspeeds to reduce the workload and output of heat until it reaches a level deemed safe.

This is good to know when you’re just getting into overclocking and you’re scared of damaging your precious hardware by simply changing some values. If you want to learn more about manual overclocking you can check out this blog article: https://www.msi.com/blog/need-more-fps-try-overclocking

Here's how OC Scanner works

The OC Scanner is essentially a tool that uses an algorithm developed by NVIDIA for the RTX 20 series graphics cards. Within just a few minutes it will run a process that will determine the highest stable overclock settings for your graphics card. The process consists out of the same basic steps as manual overclocking, being: increasing clockspeed by one step, then stressing the GPU to see if this clockspeed is stable. If the clockspeed is stable under load, the clockspeed will be upped by another step and the GPU will be stressed once more. This process repeats itself until the GPU fails to maintain stability under load. At that point, the last known stable clockspeed will be set as the maximum value. This process will repeat itself 4 times to cover 4 different Voltage levels. It does this because the OC Scanner algorithm uses the so-called Voltage/Frequency Curve. This curve works by matching the values of clockspeeds to corresponding values of voltage that can sustain those clockspeeds. By doing this you will get a curve where higher voltages are required to run at higher clockspeeds. Out of the box the last few generations of graphics cards have used this curve. What OC Scanner does is to see how far the curve can be safely adjusted to provide higher clockspeeds.

How to get started with OC Scanner

Before you start the process of OC Scanner, we recommend that you enable detailed control of your graphics card in the Afterburner settings. You can do that by checking the boxes below.

After this, you should set the sliders for Core Voltage, Power Limit and Temp Limit all the way to the right. After this, you can click apply at the bottom and nothing will happen yet. All this does is to allow your graphics card a bit more room to stretch its legs when you run OC Scanner.

As mentioned above, setting these sliders to their max values is completely safe as the values are defined by the manufacturer of the graphics chip to be considered safe.

When all of this is done, it's time to start the OC Scanner!

Click on the button left of the “Core Clock (MHz)” text as highlighted below to open the Voltage/Frequency Curve window.

At the top right of the Voltage/Frequency Curve window you will see the OC Scanner button. When you click that, the OC Scanner window will open showing two options: Scan and Test.

Scanning is the actual process described above where the algorithm will determine the highest stable frequency on 4 different voltage levels. This process should take around 15 minutes before presenting you with its conclusions. The value of the Core Clock in Afterburner should now show “Curve” instead of a number.

After running the Scanner, it's recommended to run the Test option. The Test script will verify the stability of the profile generated by the OC Scanner and provide the results in a ‘confidence level’. Personally I haven't see any other number than 90%, even after running the test script on stock settings. But anything above 60% should be fine to use.

You can now apply the OC Scanner values by clicking the Apply button in Afterburner. Usually I would recommend to save the values in a profile as well, in case you want to switch between default values and your OC profile. You can do this by clicking on the Save Icon on the bottom right of Afterburner. The numbers on the left of the icon will start to flash to indicate that you can choose which number you would like to save this profile under. Once you choose a number by clicking on it, that button will become an active profile. This means you can easily switch back to default values by clicking the reset button, but also load up your OC profile by clicking on the profile number and then Apply.

Congratulations, you have just overclocked your graphics card!

That will most likely give you a nice boost in performance in games, however OC Scanner currently only overclocks your GPU. Your memory can also be overclocked for additional performance.

This has to be done manually by either adjusting the slider or typing in values by yourself.

I have found that on the RTX 20 Series graphics cards, the memory can be overclocked quite a bit, all the way up to +1000MHz in some cases. However you will have to find out how much for your card by yourself. It's relatively safe to do this though, so if you’ve come this far already we recommend giving it a go. A good place to start is +500MHz, which most cards should run just fine. If you want to find out how high you can take it, just keep adding +50MHz after that and run a benchmark until you start seeing visual artifacts or the benchmark crashes. Then go back to the last setting that would run without any issues.

Enjoy the additional performance!