|ASUS ENGTX480/2DI/1536MD5 GeForce GTX 480|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Friday, 01 October 2010|
Page 13 of 19
ASUS ENGTX480 Overclocking
Since the GeForce GTX 480 as already the most powerful single-GPU video card available, not everyone will feel the need to overclock. When loaded during high-demand gaming sessions the surface heatsink on the ENGTX480 gets very hot to the touch, and overclocking the GF100 GPU and adding voltage would further exasperate heat output. But, if it's an overclocked GeForce GTX 480 you want, it's and overclocked GTX 480 you'll get. ASUS offers two free software tools with the ENGTX480 kit: ASUS SmartDoctor Overclocking Utility and ASUS GamerOSD On-Screen Display Utility. The ASUS SmartDoctor Overclocking Utility software is intended to compliment their Voltage Tweak feature with vCore adjustments.
Back in the day, software overclocking tools were few and far between. Benchmark Reviews was literally put on the map with my first article: Overclocking the NVIDIA GeForce Video Card. Although slightly dated, that article is still relevant for enthusiasts wanting to permanently flash their overclock onto the video cards BIOS. Unfortunately, most users are not so willing to commit their investment to such risky changes, and feel safer with temporary changes that can be easily undone with a reboot. That's the impetus behind the sudden popularity for software-based GPU overclocking tools.
NVIDIA already offers one such utility within their System Tools suite, formerly named NVIDIA nTune. While the NVIDIA Control Panel interface is very easy to understand an navigate, it's downfall lies in the limited simplicity of the tool. It's also limited, and doesn't offer the overclocking potential that ASUS offers in branded SmartDoctor software tool.
NVIDIA System Tools Overclocking Utility
My mission was simple: locate the highest possible overclock without adding any additional voltage. In the past, software-based overclocking on ASUS video cards has been accomplished through the GamerOSD program. Now these tasks are handled by ASUS SmartDoctor (illustrated below), which is described as "intelligent hardware protection and a powerful overclocking tool". The ASUS SmartDoctor tool allows users to overclock their ASUS video card's GPU and RAM, and at the same time monitor thermal output. ASUS simplifies the on-screen feedback with notes such as "Your VGA Card is OK.", but more advanced users will appreciate the in-depth data that displays along the upper-right corner.
ASUS SmartDoctor Overclocking Utility (GTX 460)
Unlike the NVIDIA System Tools utility that measures memory clock speeds in dual data rate, the ASUS SmartDoctor utility measures memory speed in quad data rate. This means that the stock speed of 1000MHz GDDR5 appears as 4000MHz in the utility. The ASUS SmartDoctor utility worked well to overclock GPU clock speed, while Vcore voltage (not changed) allowed plenty of available range thanks to the added Voltage Tweak functionality. As a best practice, it's good to find the maximum stable GPU clock speed, and then drop back 10 MHz or more. After several trial-and-error gaming sessions to confirm stability, the ASUS ENGTX480 produced a final overclock the reached 840/1680MHz GPU and a 1940MHz GDDR5 memory overclock that resulted in some very impressive gains!
Want to boost graphics card performance without exiting the game? Activate ASUS GamerOSD anytime during gameplay and adjust the GPU clock for instant overclocking. Real-time FPS (frames per second) status is also available to keep track of performance improvements. The ASUS GamerOSD (On-Screen Display) is a tool for combining ASUS SmartDoctor and video capture tools together without leaving the action. What I found especially helpful was the high-resolution DVD-quality video capture feature, which comes FREE with the ASUS ENGTX480 kit. Programmable hot keys assign actions, and recorded video (saved in XviD MPEG-4 format) or screen shots can be taken on command. These are features you would have to pay for using other software, such as FRAPS.
ASUS GamerOSD On-Screen Display Utility
In the next section, we explore NVIDIA APEX PhysX enhancements with the ASUS GeForce GTX 480...