I have been overclocking my GeForce GTX 1070 since 2018 and it’s still running just fine. The key to safely overclocking GPU is to control the thermals carefully, combined with good cooling. Leave the voltage setting alone unless you really know what you are doing.
If you have to overvolt, only do so slightly. Thankfully, all GPUs have an overvolting limiter, unlike CPUs. So you won’t be able to push the voltage to dangerous limits anyway.
Now, another thing to consider before OC’ing is how long are you planning on using your graphics card? In most cases, by the time you will notice any significant degradation in your GPU performance, it will be way outdated anyway.
But if you are planning on using your graphics card for 10 years or so, skip overclocking. Or, stick to a small to moderate overclock. If you consistently push the card to the max and disregard the excessive heat, you will significantly shorten the lifespan of your GPU.
What Is a Safe GPU Operating Temperature?
Depends on the chipset and cooling quality. Although most GPUs these days are rated for 95-105°C, I won’t let it go over 85°C, (<80°C would be ideal while gaming).
Also, make sure to turn the fan speed on the way or as much as possible before it gets too loud. Just because your card can run at 90°C without any issue doesn’t mean it’s optimal.
Having said that, consistent temp between 85-95°C is least likely to damage AMD GPUs. It can cause your VRM or fans to fail or lead to issues like system crash.
If you want to maintain a safe operating temperature while running the card under max load, consider water cooling your card. This is especially useful for power-hungry cards like R9 295X2 or HD 4870X2.
They are quieter and you can run the fan at as low as 40% and your card temp won’t even exceed 60°C. Another reason to go with water cooling is that some stock coolers can be useless.
If your GPU throttles as long as you hit 80-85 degrees, the cooler is holding you back from utilizing the full potential of your card.
To summarize, if you own a high-end card with a subpar cooler and you want to run it under max load, water cooling would be worth your while.
Can Increasing the Core Voltage Damage the GPU?
To maintain higher stable overclocks, you will have to bump up the voltage significantly. But it will lead to increased heat and power consumption which could reduce the lifespan of the card to some extent.
However, cranking up the voltage slightly is less likely to cause any trouble. Newer GPUs come with a voltage limit. If you keep pushing beyond that level, nothing major will happen. Relax! Its safety mechanism will kick in and power consumption will slide down to its safe limit.
Now, you can hardware bypass the card’s power limit which would massively up the voltage limit. If that’s your goal, you should consider getting a high-end water-cooled card like Asus Radeon RX Vega 64. Hardware bypassing a card’s power limit without special cooling equipment will most definitely fry it.
If you have to increase the voltage on your non-water-cooled GPU, exercise caution. Keep a close eye on the temperature. Also, increasing voltage alone won’t fetch you any significant performance gain. You will have to increase the core and memory clock as well.
Is GPU Overclocking Worth It?
Yes, I think you should definitely overclock your GPU, even if it’s by a small amount. Even a slight overclock will result in a noticeable performance gain, depending on your application.
Pushing stable overclocks at safe temperature and power levels is no rocket science. You just have to tinker with the core clock and memory clock speed for a while, run benchmark and stress tests to find a sweet spot.
That said, if your goal is to make your card last for a decade, don’t overclock unless necessary.
How Much Does Overclocking Shorten CPU Life?
Depends. If you can push stable overclocks without pushing the temperature or voltage too far, your CPU will be fine.
In my experience, undervolting while pushing a moderate overclock with adequate works best. Theoretically, it should make your CPU last longer while letting you enjoy a noticeable performance gain.
My 2500k is stable at 4.7 GHz at stock voltage. That’s my sweet spot. But for 0.1 GHz over 4.7, I have to crank up the voltage quite a bit which ups the core temperature by +10°C.
Silicon lottery plays a big role too. No two chips are created equal. Some chips would handle high voltage exceptionally well while maintaining stable OC at 5 GHz.
In general, CPU overclocking is pretty safe unless you overvolt too much. To find the sweet spot, increase the speed slowly, run OCCT and Prime95 stress tests for 1-2 hours, and use adequate cooling solution.
In theory, a combination of increased heat and current flow over a long period would reduce the lifespan of CPU and GPU. This is true for electrical components. However, as long as you don’t go ballistic on the voltage setting and maintain a safe operating temperature, you have nothing much to worry about.