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NVIDIA overclocking,tweaking and cooling....All info you nee

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Hello People.
Well for past 4 years I had NVIDIA card along with ATI and have tried many different tweaks, mods on both NV and ATI cards.
I see lots of people asking about overclocking the NVIDIA graphic card and how to do it.
So I decided to write a article sharing the information that I have with you all.
This article will cover NVIDIA Graphic card overclocking, twicking and cooling.
This is gona be a big article so i have Given BOLD headtopics so you can directly start reading from where you want :).
This article is in process of update, i will be adding a thing or two about newer cards and newer cooling solutions and new utilities. Hope to update this with lots of new additions in a week or two

Types of overclocking

Overclocking a Graphic card involves 2 things
1. Overclocking your GPU.
2. Overclocking RAM on the card.

When you overclock the GPU you increase the frequency at which your core is gona work. And when you overclock the RAM its the same thing, the frequency at which ram works is changed. It’s observed that overclocking the RAM usually helps more than overclocking the GPU. The obvious reason is when you overclock the RAM the bandwidth available on the card increases.

Before you overclock

Always keep in mind that any kind of overclocking involves risks. You simply don’t get everything without giving nothing away. If you act without taking proper care you might well end up frying your card.
Officially it does void warranty when you overclock but you can as always work around this problem by taking some simple precautions which i will tell ya along this article
You will see many people saying that its not worth overclocking the very expensive card but I can assure you there are many benefits of overclocking. And if done properly the risks involves are very less.

Does choosing a particular card makes difference in overclocking?

Yes its very important to check few things before you buy the card which you intend to overclock. Choose a card with better cooling solution if you don’t wanna change the cooling solution yourself. But don’t spend too much on a card just for cooling solution. You might end up paying less if you do it yourself. (checkout last topic in this article).
Check out the memory chips used on the card. Prefer cards with Samsung or Hynix memory.
There are many versions of card which are very confusing like 5600, 5600 Ultra, 5600Se, 5600XT which sounds similar.

Always check the clock and memory speeds of cards you intend to buy and double check it.
Forums like these are very useful place to get this information..

What do you need to overclock your NVIDIA card

NVIDIA cards are known to overclock very well. They are very refined products and you can overclock them even with stock cooling. All you need is little guts and following things/tools for that.

1. Coolbits: The good old coolbits still works and rules. You can download it from www.guru3d.com/files . This is very basic overclocking tool which adds overclocking TAB in the NVIDIA driver settings. Small and does the job

2. Rivatuner: This is the best overclocking and tweaking tool available for NVIDIA cards. It also lets you overclock your card and along with that tweak many many D3D and OpenGL settings and low level driver settings. Guru3d supports this software and can be found at download.guru3d.com (overclocking, tweak section).

3.NvTweak: This is new utility that can be used insted of simple coolbits. lots of options to enable different hidden settings and includes coolbits

The other worthy and mentionable tool is NVHardPage which can also be found in guru3d download section.

How should you overclock your card? and what is safe overclock with your card?
Once you have got coolbits or rivatuner you can change clock and memory speeds of your card.

Do not make mistake and directly overclock your card by 50 MHZ. This is common mistake made by many people. Also many people ask what is safe overclock range for my card? There is no particular answer to this question. Every card is different and has different overclocking potential. Follow the following procedure to get the best overclock with your card with what cooling you have for now.

1. Increase your core and memory speeds by 5 MHz each at the most, at a time.
2. After you overclock run a benchmarking software like 3dmark2001 or 3dmark2003/2005 or software like "rthdribl"( this is my personal choice as this really pushes the card to max but will only run on Dx9 cards) or some graphic intensive game for 5 minutes.
3. If you don’t see any screen corruptions, small black triangles, white or black dots and artifacts then it means this speed is ok for you.
4. Again increase your clock and memory speeds by 5 MHz and again run the benchmark or game.
5. Keep doing this until you get system crash or lockdown or artifacts/white-black dots, screen corruption. This is the absolute limit of your card.
6. When you see these symptoms reduce your clock and memory speed by 10 MHz.
7. Now try just overclocking RAM and not the core again in steps of 5 MHz until you get artifacts or above symptoms.
8. when you get artifacts again reduce the memory speed by 10Mhz and this is your final safest settings.
9. Always run your card at least 10 MHz slower than the speeds at which you get artifacts.
10. If ram doesn’t overclock more then you may the try same thing with core only, keeping RAM speed constant.

Remember if you are using Geforce FX cards and Geforce 6 series of cards then some of these cards works in 2 modes, 2D and 3D. Overclock in 3D mode and not in 2D mode.

Rivatuner also has a feature to monitor clock speeds and temperature of Geforce FX and Geforce 6 series of cards in background. Geforce cards like GF FX 5900U, 5800U, 5950, 6x00 series etc work in 2D and 3D mode. If card is stressed beyond limits the card will automatically throttle its clock speeds lower. You will come to know if this is whats happening by running rivatuner hardware monitor in background. If this is happening run the card at speeds where this throtteling do not happen

Is extra cooling needed if I overclock?

It is highly recommended. Have a good airflow in your case. A fan blowing air directly on card always helps. Remember That graphic card runs really hot at times, if you don’t have proper airflow your whole system, temperature will increase

What about replacement cooling for my card?

If you really want to get 100% from the hardware you just bought you might want to consider alternate cooling solution.There are many good cooling solutions available out there.
1.For Older cards like TNT2,GF256,GF2,GF2MX,GF4MX: For these stock cooling is more than enough but you can use some alternate coolers like crystal orb,Blue orb.
2.For GF3,GF3Ti series: FOr these Crystal orb works very good. ALso newer coolers like Venteq Iceberq4 cooler is all what you will need.
3.GF4 ti series, GF FX 5200/5600: FOr these you should not get anything below Venteq Iceberq4. Other good ones are Thermaltake GF4 cooler for GF4 cards. and heatpipes like thermaltake Giant II, Halman HP-XX series for GF4 cards( not for FX).
4.For Geforce GX 5800/5700/5900/5950 cards: These cards have some preety nice stock cooling but some of them are really loud ( we all know dustbuster dont we :p ). There are not many cooling solutions out there to replace stock cooling for these cards and heatpipes are not compatiable for these cards. ALso modding AMD HSF for these cards is not easy as mounting holes of these cards make it very very difficult to drill holes into Heatsink.
The best bet is to get watercooling. But you have to remember these cards do overclock very well even on stock cooling.
5.For Geforce 6200/6600: Many card makers of new low and middle budget geforce 6 series cards have really small or passive coolers. There are not ment for overclocking but some manufacturers have good deascent coolers. A replacement cooler is highly recommanded
6.For geforce 6600GT/6800series: Most card makers are sticking to reference cooler. It does good job in cooling. A lot has changed since i wrote the original guide. There are many new coolers available now. See below for some updated list of coolers.

Now there are many good coolers out there for the graphic card which does a great job in cooling down new high end cards and are much better than any stock cooler out there. The two most popular which needs to be looked at is Arctic Cooling NV silencer series for your geforce card. There are different revisions of this coolers for different cards. So make sure you pickup the correct revision.
Then there is new Zalman VF700-CU VGA Cooler. Initial user experience shows this is extremely effective coolers and its also compatiable with wide variety of cards including AGP and PCI express varients.

Do remember adding Ramsinks does help on ram overclock. Some good readymade one are popular Tweakmonster Ramsinks

Remember If you attach your ramsinks using epoxy like Artic silver thermal adhasive the joint is permanent and cannot be removed, so when it comes to RMA your card you wont be able to get any warranty benifits. You can use thermal pad which can be taken off but using thermal pad is the worst way to attach ramsinks

Never throw away original Heatsink Fan.

You can also cut the AMD HS into small pieces of size of ram chips.

Tweaking your Geforce FX for Dx9 Games

We all know that Geforce FX series cards are not very good at P.S 2.0 and we must accept this fact. But that shouldn’t stop you for enjoying games that make heavy use of Pixel shaders.
GF FX cards struggles when it comes to rendering scenes where there is heavy use of PS 2.0.
Now this is where rivatuner comes to help.
PS 2.0 sure looks nicer than say PS 1.4 and 1.1 but the difference is not very striking.
When you get a game where your card struggles to produce decent FPS due to heavy use of Pixel shaders force PS 1.4 using rivatuner. This improves performance a lot at IQ does not suffer much. This is much better option rather than turning down your resolution or IQ settings in drivers.
Specially on GF FX 5200/5600 you should permanently force PS 1.4 as these cards are really too weak to handle PS2.0.

Flashing BIOS to get better overclock
In past few days its seen that you can flash your bios with the bios of superior card to get better overclock. Good example of this is flashing 5900 bios with 5950Ultra bios. Its being observed that flashing bios results in better overclock than normal bios, the reason for this is the faster cards like 5950 has vcore more than that of 5900. Thus your card gets more voltage to core when you flash it with say 5950 bios. This results in better overclock.
Click here for a nice article written by Chouji on flashing NVIDIA cards

Now to some Exotic cooling

Well if you really want to get every last bit of juice from your graphic card there is no alternative but to go watercooling. Watercooling is not as complicated and risky as many people think. And its very reliable too.
There are 2 waterblocks that really dominate this section of market.
1. Dangerdan Maze4GPU waterblock ( www.dangerden.com here you can buy this very nice waterblock directly from the makers, also there is wide variety of other stuff needed for watercooling too like radiators, coolents, piping, pumps etc. )
2. Swifteck MCW50 waterblock

The water-cooling increase overclocking potential of card by as much as 30-40%
Both of the above waterblock comes with option of bundled peltier which further increases overclockability.
The most importing advantage about watercooling is that along with increased overclock the temperatures of card also remains low resulting in increased life of the card. and also helps a lot to keep whole system temperature down as you no longer have card dumping large heat inside case.

1.6600GT VMOD: http://www.vr-zone.com/?i=1636&s=3
2.6800Ultra : http://www.vr-zone.com.sg/?i=926&s=1

6800 series can also be vmoded using the bios editing. For that you will need nvflash and a nvidia bios editor called nibitor. Use 4.42 version of Nvflash as from my experience that works the best.

The tools and various Nvidia bios files can found at http://www.mvktech.net/index.php?option=com_remository&Itemid=26&func=selectcat&cat=2

A huge database of vmods for different cards can be found at http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=28754

A very good section of forum at XS dedicated to vmods http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=85

6X00 series Unlocking guide
A nice guide by anish at TE : http://www.techenclave.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5341

I will update this exotic cooling section a bit more in very near future

* * * *Links* * * *

Information and general readin




WHere to buy the cooling stuff






Please suggest more links for this section of you can

Well that preety much raps this article for now.
Hope i helpes atleast some of ya guys out there
In near future i will update this article for some technical information about cooling.
Feel free to suggest any changes and to point out my mistakes if there are any.


Nice article there. Pretty much a stand alone guide, and quite informative of the Nvidia cards over the years with almost every info abt them. Must have taken quite a time to even publish the post here. Keep up the good work :d
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