Can Overclocking Damage GPU?

The clock speed of your GPU is important for influencing the performance of your PC’s graphical potential, and more graphical potential can have big benefits such as more frame rates in games. There are many ways you can overclock your graphics card, and you can do it for free safely if you take proper precautions.

While overclocking can be great, there are potential consequences of doing so, and we’re going to weigh up the pros with the cons of overclocking. We will also go over any potential ways you can minimize any negative consequences that come with overclocking, overall overclocking is a great way to maximize the performance of your PC.

Answer: Yes, overclocking your graphics card can damage it if not done safely, overall it’s pretty hard to damage your graphics cards if you use tools such as MSI Afterburner. Strictly overclocking, shouldn’t damage your GPU, it will only cause the core to become unstable, it’s when you overvolt to increase core stability that your GPU can get damaged.

Overclocking Is Great For Increasing FPS

The core clock speed and FPS have a linear relationship, so small increments in GPU core clock speeds can translate into huge FPS gains. The core clock speed relates to how fast it processes graphical information, and a small 100MHz overclock can make a massive difference in games. So if you’re playing a game and it maxes out at 45FPS, a slight overclock can push it past 60FPS.

Graphics cards have something called a boost clock speed, your GPU will automatically overclock if your GPU believes there’s enough thermal headroom. When your GPU boosts, you can expect clock speed increases of up to 400MHz, this will result in massive graphical processing gains that can be easily noticed when gaming.

Overclocking the core clock speed is cool, but overclocking the memory clock speed can result in small FPS gains and many applications can allow you to do so. Overclocking the GPU ram or the VRAM will result in a more efficient graphics card that can store graphical data easier, this is a massive benefit if you’re gaming at high resolutions.

Overclocking Can Be Safe With Good Tools

msi afterburner gpu overclocking
Credit MSI

Overclocking can seem pretty dangerous, but with the right software such as MSI Afterburner, overclocking can be pretty safe. With these types of software, you’re able to monitor the graphics card’s specifications such as the clock speeds, voltages, fan speeds, memory clocks, and temperatures, through this software, you’re able to manually set these values.

The good thing about MSI Afterburner is that it won’t allow you to set values that can damage your graphics card. This is why it’s a great software for GPU overclockers and especially beginners. Another benefit with MSI Afterburner is that the GUI is pretty user-friendly and easy to navigate, this allows beginners to quickly learn how to use the software.

You can use benchmarking software to see how your graphics card fares in graphically intensive situations, this is important for testing the stability of your graphics card. If you’re overclocking, you’re going to want to know if the specific voltage it is at can support the overclocked core speeds. Such software Is 3DMark which is pretty versatile. The best feature about 3DMark is that you can compare your overclocked scores with PC builds with similar specifications to see how much you’ve improved.

Overclocking Can Increase Temperatures

Overclocking your graphics card isn’t completely free, it usually involves power consumption increases, which in return increases the core temperatures. If your GPU already runs pretty hot, then overclocking can be a bad idea since the temperatures can pass dangerous limits. We all know how hot hardware can suffer from diminished lifespans which aren’t good.

Overlocking when you do not have enough thermal headroom will undoubtedly increase the temperatures of your graphics card. If your GPU passes a certain thermal limit, then the GPU will start throttling which will automatically lower the clock speed, and if your CPU gets really hot then your PC will automatically shut down.

When overclocking, it’s extremely important that you have sufficient cooling solutions installed, there are many ways you can effectively dissipate heat from the GPU. If you have a blower-style reference GPU, you can purchase an aftermarket cooler that can offer superior cooling, also if your PC has poor airflow, fixing that can allow for more thermal headroom.

Overclocking Can Decrease The GPU Lifespan

gpu temperature

Sometimes overclocking your GPU can be perfectly safe, especially when you do not have to increase the voltage. But when you have to increase the voltage, this will decrease the lifespan of the graphics card. Going past the rated voltage is usually necessary when the clock speeds you want are met with system instabilities, increasing the voltage increases stability.

Along with overclocking, temperatures increase which is the leading cause of causing damage to components. High temperatures are what cause your components to expand and contract which will decrease the lifespan, necessary cooling measures are necessary. Your graphics card has a recommended temperature it should run at, for NVIDIA cards it is around 70-85C degrees Celsius(158-185 Fahrenheit). For AMD cards the recommended temperature is 60-70 Celsius (140-158 Fahrenheit).

Luckily with software such as MSI Afterburner, it isn’t possible to increase the voltages to a level where the card will instantly die as the system will automatically shut down. Also, NVIDIA and AMD have implemented limits to protect the user and the graphics card from damaging hardware, so it’s pretty hard to instantly kill a GPU.

How To Cool Down A Graphics Card

Cooling down your graphics card is the best way to improve the lifespan of the GPU, this is because heat can damage components over time. The first thing to do if you have thermal components is to inspect your PC case for dust. Cleaning your PC case is something you should do frequently as dust can inhibit heat dissipation, compressed air is your best friend for your job. Once you rid your computer of dust, the overall health of your PC should improve.

Improving airflow for your system is another great way to improve the lifespan of your GPU as well as other components such as the CPU and Storage. Increasing the airflow is pretty simple, all you have to do is install case fans in an optimal setup, and instruct it to blow cold air in and hot air out the back. Encouraging good airflow is great PC building practice and it’s a sign of an experienced PC builder.

Another way you can improve your graphics card thermal situations is by replacing the current cooler installed, if you select a superior aftermarket cooler you should experience lower thermals. Aftermarket coolers are usually better than reference blower-style coolers, and you also get the chance to repaste your GPU with thermal paste, this should improve the thermals. When doing this, the downside is that you’re going to void the warranty so it isn’t always worth it.


The verdict is that overclocking can damage the GPU indirectly through increased voltages and temperatures, the best way to counteract this is to have great cooling. Many PC builds will actually have poor cooling setups which do not exhaust hot air effectively resulting in a build-up of hot air, fixing this can vastly improve your GPU temperatures.