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GTX 1070 Overclocking Guide

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Getting Down to Numbers:

Now that we have a understanding of what these Pascal cards are doing, the overclocking can begin. In this guide, I will be using the popular third party software MSI Afterburner. However, you do not need an MSI card for all the features to work, unlike EVGA XOC software, which locks part of it off to EVGA owners only. The principles and core concepts are all the same, so you are welcome to follow along with the supplied software from the manufacturer. For this guide I am using a Gigabyte GTX 1070 G1 card that has been modified for watercooling (found on the OCC YouTube channel). You may notice in all the screenshots the fan speed is greyed out - that is because I have no fans connected. After playing around with Gigabyte's "Xtreme Gaming Engine" software that was created for Gigabyte users, I came to the same results using Afterburner and EVGA, so I feel confident enough saying any of these will get you within arms length of each other.

Before we dive in, I suggest setting the Power Limit, Temperature Limit, and GPU Voltage to max. If you find that the card is downclocking due to heat, you can set the fans to manual just to find your max speeds. At 100%, the fan speed is loud and won't be good for a long-term solution, so keep that in mind. As explained above, NVIDIA has locked down the card far enough that you can't cause any short-term damage. For me, MSI Afterburner had the core voltage grayed out, although I could change it in Gigabyte's software. However, it did not affect my final overclock. Somewhere down the line, since I got the card in June 2016, the ability to go above 1.063v has disappeared. Either it is currently a software glitch or was one. However, my final overclock hasn't changed from when I used to be able to set the voltage higher.

Step 1 - Memory Overclock:

First, we want to find the maximum overclock for the memory. The GTX 1070 GDDD5 memory comes in two forms for the majority of the brands. Most likely it will be either Micron memory or Samsung memory. You can determine what type you have in GPU-Z. If the card is running Samsung memory, you are in luck. Many people have reported (including myself) a 1GHz overclock from 8GHz to 9GHz without any problems. Micron memory, however, varies from 100 to 400MHz with a few exceptions. Also be aware this is Double Data Rate (DDR). That means 400 is really 800 when looking at Afterburner or other monitoring software. Often, each piece of software is different for readouts. In the picture below, you can see GPU-Z is reading my memory as 2052MHz when really it is running at 8208MHz. I do not know why it has changed from previous versions, but for some reason it did and divided it by four. MSI Afterburner has similar problems, but this is much more common. Since it's DDR, the value is shown as 4104MHz, not 8208MHz.

So once again, be aware the software or version you may be using could be showing you different values. Just confirm what those numbers are before changing values, otherwise it may crash on you. Like I explained before, NVIDIA has locked down the 10 Series so much it will be very hard to cause any physical harm without modifying the BIOS itself.

Now, start the Unigine Heaven benchmark in windowed mode so you can change the frequency while it is running. I generally use the Heaven benchmark as it's easy to run in windowed mode and artifacts are noticeable. Start with 100MHz OC and apply, then watch for any artifacts in the textures. These may be seen as flashing green, pink, or black textures. If none are present, push it up another 100MHz. Continue this until 400MHz. At that point, it will be best to go in 25-50MHz increments depending on the memory you have. Once you start to see artifacts or just crash, restart it and back it off 50-100MHz from the previous number and repeat the process of inching up until the same thing happens again. You will eventually hit a limit. I was able to achieve an 1010MHz (+505) overclock. Any higher and the Heaven benchmark would have wild artifacts and than crashed the computer a short while later. Once you have your magic number, write it down and set it back to defaults.

Step 2 - Core Overclock:

For the core overclock, it will be a very similar process as the memory. Open your favorite benchmark program in windowed mode so you can watch it while adjusting the overclock. This part is far less forgiving than memory and major jumps of 100MHz will not get you far. Most likely a crash will accrue for any number of the reasons covered already.

I highly suggest going 5-10MHz at a time. Since you cannot pass 2.2GHz anyways, it will be a short trip. Set the Core Clock slider to +25 and then slowly move it up until you see artifacts or a hard crash. Because of the way Boost 3.0 operates, you may see the numbers reflect differently. You'll notice the slider starts at zero without the ability to set your base clock. That's normal. NVIDIA took care of that and has already decided what is best for the card. This slider just adds on top of that. However, you can set the slider higher than max allowed voltage. By that I mean, by example, if you add +300 and the voltage is locked at 1.093v, the card will either crash because of a lack of voltage at that frequency or auto downclock until it's stable. This method is not as stable as the card will be teetering on the edge.

Pushing my card to +200 resulted in a a fluctuation between 2163 and 2083MHz, which resulted in crashing after a short while. It just didn't know what to do going back and forth until it final crashed. My final maximum overclock was +90, which landed the card at 2075MHz. The card was unresponsive with certain numbers. It rejected +110, but accepted +125, then turned around and rejected +130 before accepting +140. This will be a common problem, so keep an eye out for it. Once again, it could be a target power problem, heat, or voltage variable stopping the card from accepting these values.

Right Image: Possible Single Frame Glitch (normally not pink)

Because of these variables, core overclocking isn't as simple as the memory. You must find the sweet spot between maximum heat, power target, and going too far. At this point you may be disappointed to find a 50-100MHz overclock is not nearly as fun compared to a GTX 780 Ti 350MHz OC. But remember,  Boost 3.0 is already overclocking the card to what it thinks is a sweet spot for the core from the baseline, and this is just icing on the cake.

Combine the Two:

Now that you have found the maximum memory and core, it's time to test it. First, open the benchmark again in windowed mode. Set your maximum overclocks from what you learned above and then lower it back 50-100MHz on both before applying the settings. You will find setting both to maximum, which was achieved independent of each other, will not give you a stable overclock for most cards. It's a mixture of the two. The memory is much more forgiving compared to the core clock. At this point you will just have to play around with what you already know is the highest settings for each slider.

For my card I ended up with +490 on the memory and +85 on the core, resulting in 8984MHz memory / 2062MHz core. Because of the nature of GPU benchmarks, you may find the card stable at higher overclocks in certain games versus benchmarks. This is because games do not tend to use the full potential of any card. However, do not let this trick you; if the card crashes in the benchmark then it's not 100% stable. You may be experiencing glitches that normally would not be present otherwise in certain games. If so, just dial back the overclock and see what happens.

Lastly, for you hardcore overclockers, if you periodically run a benchmark and write down the results, you may find the score going down after a certain point. This is a common problem. As the card exceeds its maximum potential, it can be a trickster. A higher overclock does not always translate to a better experience. This can be a weird concept, but if the GPU exceeds what it is capable of, the law of diminishing returns comes into play. It may be experiencing micro-shutters or errors that do not crash the system. This can, in return, cause lower frames per second, even though it is clocked higher. To be absolutely sure you are getting the best value per clock, you should run different benchmarks as you journey to the final overclock.

  1. GTX 1070 Overclocking Guide: Getting Down To Basics
  2. GTX 1070 Overclocking Guide: Getting Down To Numbers
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