Corsair Overclocking Guide Part 4 The Performance Benefit

By Dustin Sklavos, on January 17, 2014

I recently went through and showed you how to overclock your CPU, memory, and graphics card to extract a bit of extra performance from your system, but I didn’t show you just how much you stood to gain. Today I’m going to do exactly that, using my recent Air 540 White holiday build as a guinea pig. For those that haven’t seen the video, here are the specs of the system we’re using:
  • Intel Core i5-4670K
  • Gigabyte GA-Z87X-HD3
  • Corsair Hydro Series H100i CPU Cooler
  • 32GB (4x8GB) Dominator Platinum DDR3-2400 CAS 10
  • 240GB Corsair Neutron GTX SSD
  • 2x eVGA GeForce GTX 760 in SLI
  • Corsair RM750 750W 80 Plus Gold Power Supply
  • Corsair Carbide Air 540 Enclosure

    It’s a pretty powerful, robust system, but there are places we can trim down to get it more in the realm of what’s reasonable. For stock settings, I disabled SLI and ran with just a single GeForce GTX 760 enabled, then downclocked the RAM to DDR3-1600 CAS 9, which is more in line with what the average user will have. These are the stock clocks we’re working with:

    • CPU @ 3.4GHz, up to 3.8GHz on a single core
    • RAM @ 1600MHz 9-9-9-24 2T
    • GPU @ 980MHz, turboing up to 1136MHz, with 6GHz GDDR5

    To give you a feel for how much performance you stand to get from overclocking, I benchmarked the system at stock speeds, each component overclocked individually, and then everything overclocked together. These are the modest overclocks I was able to achieve:

    • CPU @ 4.2GHz across all cores (10.5% higher on a single core, 23.5% higher on all cores)
    • RAM @ 1866MHz 10-10-10-27 2T (16.6% higher clock)
    • GPU @ 1120MHz, turboing up to 1276MHz, with 6.6GHz GDDR5 (12.3% on the GPU at turbo speed, 10% on the GDDR5)

    The CPU and RAM overclocks are pretty modest, and I was disappointed that I couldn’t quite hit 1.3GHz on the GeForce GTX 760. Overall, though, these are reasonable gains in raw clocks that you’re getting essentially for “free.” So how do these translate in practice?

    Our memory overclock shows a minor but consistent performance improvement, spiking in Cinebench’s OpenGL test; without that, we’re averaging about a 1-1.5% performance boost. Under normal circumstances that’s not especially compelling, but it is free. Bumping the CPU clock nets decent gains across the board until you get into the gaming tests, where it’s more modest. Finally, bumping the GPU clock gets you big gains in gaming but virtually nothing anywhere else.

    If you’re going to overclock a single component, it pays to figure out what your system’s focus is going to be. The memory should essentially be overclocked to bolster your CPU overclock, but you have to decide if you want the CPU or GPU.

    However, if you overclock everything, gains are more substantial across the board. The CPU gets more room to move its legs from the memory overclock, and the GPU gets more headroom from the CPU and memory overclocks. Everything works together. Remember these overclocks are pretty modest, and this performance is basically “free;” all you’re spending is a little time to tune everything. With rare exception you get about a 10% boost in system performance across the board, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.