Overclocking – is it worth it?

What is Overclocking?

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, or you need a bit more info – see my page on CPU research. [Source]

My Experience

Parts:

  • i5 6600K – 3.5Ghz Stock + Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
  • EVGA 980 Ti SC+

CPU Overclock

I managed to achieve 4.5Ghz at 1.3V, so far I’ve had no issues and my temperatures are good under heavy gaming.

CPU non-OC.png

For Cinebench my stock result was 592.

CPU-4.5OC-Cinebench result.png

Overclocked this rose to 729.

CPU-4.5OC-Temps on Burn-VERYHIGH.png

With Intel Burn Test running at the maximum, the highest temperature recorded under load was 87°C. Usually however, even the heaviest of gaming will only take it to 65°C – this is an acceptable temperature for me given my average cooling system, though I hope at some point to switch to liquid cooling, maybe a NZXT Kraken double radiator – for super chilly results. Idle temperatures are 27°C.

GPU Overclock

I managed to get +150 MHz to both the stock, giving a core clock in full load a max of 1450MHz and 3650MHz for memory. This was done by providing 110% but no voltages were changed.

GPU+0.0.OC-EXTREMEHD.png

This is the stock score for Unigine Valley, GPU benchmark software, which like Cinebench gives a score.

GPU+150.core+150mem-OC-EXTREMEHD.png

This is the result on the +150 overclock, almost 10FPS more for the aeverage and +450 to my score; you can see the minimum FPS has increased nearly 8fps and the maximum up a massive 26 frames!

I should note Cinebench also provide a GPU test, this isn’t as popular but below is the score I received for it (I only ran an overclocked test) – 145.94. This test is apparently flawed as it bases the score off of the CPU also, which is why most top scores have the 5960X [Source] – however it still puts me 9th.

Cinebench OGl OC score.png

In intense gaming and whilst under heavy load from Valley, the GPU maxed out at 70°C – I have never recorded over this, so it is satisfactory.

Overclocked Processor + Graphics Card Results

Firestrike Stock.png

Above is the stock result in Fire Strike 1.1, this is one of the most popular comparisons to use for comparing how well your system as a whole performs. It test both CPU and GPU in physics and graphics based scenes and then combines the two in a final test to give the overall score.

Firestrike OC.png

This is the result when overclocked, there has been an increase of nearly 2100 to the overall score – increasing my ranking from 94% to 97% better than other results. The only category I don’t reach is the 4k gaming PC however, to achieve good performance at 4K requires an SLI configuration.

Overall Improvement

Thanks to the joint overclock I now experience smoother gameplay when playing at ultra settings, whereas before I may have experienced dips to 50FPS in places, now is much less frequent. I can also bump up certain settings which are “unnecessary” for me, for example godrays I typically place on low, I can now place this higher without consequence, as it seems to eat up FPS much more than other settings for the least reward visually.

In answer to the question you’ll likely ask yourself, if you’re reading this as an overclock virgin – Yes, it’s worth it; No, the risks are minimal if you know what you’re doing and proceed carefully.

I didn’t have to alter my voltage at all for the graphics card the get the improvement I did, however, I am aware I could likely go further with the overclock doing so but it isn’t worth it playing at 1080p.

The voltages were altered for the CPU though, but I used ASUS’ software AI Suite 3 to perform the overclock for me. I did perform an overclock myself prior to this using the BIOS, the standard way, but I thought I’d give it a go since the feedback has been good for the latest iteration and works well with my new generation motherboard, and my very good power supply with is gold rated for clean smooth power.

OC

The PSU is often underrated when considering overclock potential, the cleaner you can supply the volts, the better you’ll get and the lower your temperatures will be – the cheaper your unit and you’ll get voltage spikes which will limit your CPUs potential.

Back to AI Suite 3, read the guide carefully and watch the associated YouTube video by one of ASUS’ tech guys to walk you through it. Software is usually not recommended to be used for overclocks as it will put more voltage in that necessary in what it thinks is providing stability, this will of course raise temperatures dramatically. I did not experience this even when the temperature slider was set to max, although my maximum in Intel Burn Test was 87°C – I’ve never past 65°C in anything else, showing that it really does burn!

Summary

I am happy with the overclock to both the i5 6600K CPU and the EVGA 980 Ti, which has provided substantial performance improvements with no major drawbacks except slightly higher temperatures, which are still very good.

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