Overclocking with MSI’s Afterburner

Afterburner is a free MSI utility which offers these very useful features:

  • Overclocking tools for Nvidia and AMD cards
  • Hardware monitoring
  • Overvoltaging controls (which are not supported yet for the TITAN X)
  • Triple Overvoltage which provides precise control of the Core, Memory and PLL voltages (unsupported for TITAN X)
  • Custom Fan profiles
  • FPS in-game counter for DX11/OpenGL games
  • 64-bit support/Custom Skins/Multi-language support/stability testing/video capture/mobile apps

Make sure to check out our GTX 1060 overclocking evaluation.  We used EVGA’s PrecisionX OC which does not currently load for the TITAN X, but the method of manual overclocking is similar for all Pascal-based video cards whether you use EVGA’s tool or MSI’s Afterburner.

We found a completely smooth experience using Afterburner to set the TITAN X clocks.  Here is the TITAN X at completely stock settings.  We found with a relatively cool GPU we reached a maximum GPU boost of 1822MHz at the beginning of a Heaven 4.0 benchmark run.begin at stock

Here are the results at stock values after looping the Heaven 4.0 benchmark in a 2560×1440 window with max settings:warm stock min boostWe see that there is some throttling at the stock settings.  The Boost settles down to 1569MHz as the temperatures reach 83C, but it still well ahead of Nvidia’s advertised minimum boost of 1531MHz.  At this point, the fan is very quiet.

Now we set Afterburner’s Power and Temperature Limits to their maximum (120%/90C) and continued to loop Heaven:warm temp-PT min boost

We can see that the maximum temperature has increased to 86C and the Boost now settles in much higher at 1746MHz with a correspondingly higher score in Heaven over the completely stock settings.  The fans speed has increased a bit, but not enough to make any audible difference to us while gaming – it is still very quiet.  And when we run game benchmarks, there is now more consistency between runs as the GPU no longer throttles at the stock settings.  This is why we benchmark all of our GPUs with the Power/Temp Limits set to their maximum values.

Next we overclock the core by 100MHz.warm 100mhz min boost

At +100MHz offset to the core, we see a very steady 1847MHz and the temperatures remain at 86C although the fan rpm increases but it is still not intrusive.  We also see an increase in Heaven’s score with the clockspeed increase.  Next we try a +150MHz offset.warm 150mhz min boostWith +150MHz offset added to the core, the temperatures rise to 87C, the fan rpm automatically kicks up a bit higher, and the core settles in at 1898MHz and the Heaven score goes up further.

We next try our maximum overclock of an offset of 175MHz but it is unstable.  The temperatures rise to 89C, the automatic fan profile kicks up further and we see a Boost that varies between 1936MHz and 1911MHz as the fans unsuccessfully tries to keep our overclocked TITAN X from throttling.  So we move the fan speed to 100%.100 fan175mhz min boost

With the fan at 100%, the temperature drops to 68C and we see our highest steady Boost of between 1961MHz to 1974MHz, but the overclock is marginally unstable.  At this point we wish we had a voltage adjustment, but it is not yet supported by Afterburner.  So we back down the overclock to a +160MHz offset which turned out to be the highest stable overclock that we could achieve with all of our games.   100 fan160mhz min boost

This time, Boost 3.0 reaches 1949MHz and it stays steady through all of our benching with the fan at 100%.   We also see that the 15MHz lower overclock below our maximum tested produces a higher Heaven score at +160MHz offset.  The fan is loud at this point, but it is more of a “whoosh” of air which is not an irritating whine.  We continue to benchmark at 100% fan because we want to have the most consistent results – something that overclockers putting the TITAN X under watercooling will easily achieve.  Even turning the fan down to a quieter 75% resulted in minimal throttling to 1923MHz as the temperatures reached 78C.

Pascal likes low core temperatures to achieve its maximum overclock but we were unable to cool our test room below 76F on our warm Summer day.  With our core overclock set, we next tried memory overclocking.  Here is a +250MHz offset to the memory:

100 fan160mhz mem-250mhz

Since we found memory “holes” in the GTX 1080’s GDDRX5 we suspected it may also be happening with the TITAN X.  So we lowered our memory overclock to +200MHz offset and found that the performance increased in Heaven 4.0 and with many games that we tested.
100 fan160mhz mem-200mhzWe settled on +200MHz memory clock offset to reach 5200MHz (10400MHz!) and our highest performance in games.  Temperatures rose to their maximum 69C but kept the core Boost clock locked in at a very steady 1949MHz with 100% fan speeds.   Of course, we tested many other memory overclocks in smaller increments to decide on our final TITAN X overclock of an additional 160MHz to the core and 200MHz to the memory for a steady 1949MHz core and 5200MHz memory.

We think 1949MHz is a very good steady Boost 3.0 core overclock result considering that we went from originally at 1569MHz Boost with completely stock values to 1746MHz with Power/Temps at maximum.  That is a 24.2% increase over completely stock settings and a 11.6% increase over our usual benching with Power/Temps at maximum.

 All of our games were benchmarked at this overclock with complete stability. Let’s see the performance results of 25 games with our games at stock TITAN X speeds (Power/Temp Limits at maximum) compared with our highest stable overclock averaging 1949MHz for the majority of the runs.


    • I have my Titan XP water cooled using an EKWB full cover water block and back plate. Overclocks for GPU is a solid 2088Mhz (+220Mhz in MSI Afterburner) and GDDR5X is at 10,800Mhz (2 x 5400Mhz; +400Mhz in MSI Afterburner). Temps are amazing at a max of 50C under full load benchmarking. Actual temps when gaming vary between 32C-46C. And those temps are with an Intel 3930K @ 4.5Ghz (1.41V) in the same cooling loop! O.O

      • Nice. ☺️

        I’ve installed mine, but had some other issues with the machine and have been too busy to troubleshoot them, so I’m unsure how it’ll perform on air in my system. I’d like to water cool it, but may move to a new case with more room for that first.

          • Yep. Just got everything working last night. Played Doom at 4K w/ all graphics options maxed out and it was buttery smooth. The Steam controller I bought certainly takes some getting used to though!

            The fan on the card definitely gets loud, but it’s not *too* bad. I barely notice it when playing unless I actually think to listen for it. I’d still like to water cool it with that EKWB block. I need to see if I can cram a reservoir/pump in my case.

            I’d really like to properly water cool the CPU too. I have an H80i GT closed loop cooler on it now, but it doesn’t really seem sufficient. I might have to upgrade to a case with room for larger radiators.

          • Let me know if you want some advice on water cooling. A lot of it depends on how much you want to spend and what size of case is right for you. The smaller the case, the greater level the challenge. I have a Corsair 540 Air Carbide case and it is great for a water cooled build. The power supply, all the cables, and the pump/res unit sit hidden on the right side, while all the ‘eye candy’ resides on the left (visible) side. I’m already eyeing upgrading from X79 to X99 just to be able to use the new EKWB motherboard mono waterblock. It would cut down significantly on the number of tubes I have running from the CPU to the chipset and VRMs from 4 to 2 and would look a lot better as a well. Anyhoo, so let me know if you have any questions regarding your upcoming ‘rebuild’ 😉

          • The problem I run into is that most cases don’t have room for all my drives. I have 10×3.5 (HDD), 1×2.5 (SSD), and 1×5.25 (Blu-ray burner). My gaming machine is also my media server.

          • I’ve considered it, but since I had already built a decent system and only needed to install a video card and assign it to a Windows VM to be able to also use it for gaming, it was kind of a no-brainer. Less space needed, less cables to mess with, less overall power draw (and therefore heat output), etc. and I didn’t have to buy all the parts for a separate system. It’s just more efficient to do everything in one box.

  1. Mark, I forgot to say “THANK YOU!” for doing such an outstanding job with this review. It is still one of the handful of detailed reviews on how well the Titan XP performs stock vs. overclocked. I would like to ask if you could throw in some Titan XP performance numbers in the future – should you ever get hands on a second Titan XP 😉

    • You are welcome and it is our pleasure to bring you this review. I was amazed that BTR was picked as one of five North American tech sites to get a Titan XP from Nvidia, and I doubt that we will get a second one for further mGPU evaluation. However, we are going to continue this series next week with the Titan XP vs GTX 1070 SLI.

    • You are welcome, and it is our pleasure to bring you this review. I was amazed that BTR was picked as one of five North American tech sites to get a Titan XP from Nvidia, and I doubt that we will get a second one for further mGPU evaluation. However, we are going to continue this series next week with the Titan XP vs GTX 1070 SLI. I am getting some interesting results now.

      • My two cent guess is that the Titan XP (TXP) is performing on par and sometimes even better than the two GTX1070s in SLI, especially at higher UQHD and 4K/UHD resolutions. Multiple factors would cause this; 1) 192-bit memory bus, 2) slower GDDR5 memory (and less of it vs. TXP), and way less shader cores per rendered frame as the SLI has to share the alternate frame rendering duties.

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