The new AMD graphics cards are out and they are looking very competitive against NVIDIA, in some cases even beating them. But we want even more! So we set out on a mission to see how much more we can squeeze out of the new RX 6800 XT by overclocking it… And the results are actually rather surprising. Stick around as we will show you what we did to achieve this.
Also if you have not seen our review of RX 6800 XT – I recommend checking it out.
For this overclocking we focused on 4K gaming as in both 1080p and 1440p there is plenty of performance without any tuning.
Let me give you a sneak peek of our results. As you can see in many games there is 5 to 10% improvement, we actually see similar improvement on the productivity applications as well. Not bad at all and once the new RX 6900 XT comes out, I am sure we will have similar improvements as we overclock it.
Before we get into the details of what we did to overclock the GPU, I want to cover a few different types of performance tuning and also risks involved. To start you need to download the latest version of AMD Radeon Adrenalin software and install it.
When you open it up, you will need to click on the performance tab and select Tuning. Here we have 3 options: presets, automatic tuning and manual tuning. It is important to note, only the preset tab is covered by standard warranty. The manufacturer’s warranty doesn’t cover automatic or manual tuning so use them at your own risk.
In the preset tab we once again have three options: Quiet, Balanced and Rage mode. On Quiet mode the card will have a less aggressive fan curve resulting in slightly lower boost clocks but also becoming considerably quieter. Balanced mode is the default and Rage mode is an interesting one – here the card will have a more aggressive fa n curve and it will also bump up its power limit to allow for a better boost. AMD claims that with RAGE mode you will potentially get a few percent more performance, depending on silicone lottery – if you are really unlucky this may actually have no impact. Nevertheless I would recommend turning it on if you are not doing any other type of overclocking.
Then we have the Automatic tab, any changes done within this tab are not covered by the warranty. Here we have a few options:
Default which is pretty self explanatory;
Undervolt GPU – this will lower the voltage and potentially reduce the temperatures, as well as noise levels. When clicked, it will warn you about possible crashes. In my case this option has reduced voltage by 25 milliwatts which is not a lot.
Overclock GPU – this will automatically try to push the GPU clock speed slightly higher (in our case it pushed it to 2414 which is basically what it was boosting to anyway).
Overclock VRAM – will automatically overclock the memory. Our card actually overclocked it to 2150MHz which is maximum.
All of these tools are cool but they only provide one tweak at a time without any granularity so my advice is to stay away from them.
Let’s now jump into the real overclocking with full manual controls. Again, this is not covered by the warranty. Here my advice is to immediately enable power tuning and bump the power limit to maximum. This does not automatically improve performance, but it will provide headroom.
Next is fan tuning, you can quickly adjust maximum fan speed or go advanced and adjust the fan curve, I find that the fan speed under 50% is pretty quiet.
Next we have VRAM tuning and GPU tuning – this is more complicated since it really depends on your card. I recommend setting memory timings to Fast and start with memory speed at about 2050. Do note, high memory speed does not always mean higher performance – in fact in some cases if you push memory too hard you may hurt your performance as the card will experience errors and will need to spend extra cycles to correct for them. Luckily our card actually performs really well with fast memory.
Next we can tweak GPU clocks, but before we do – save the preset and do a quick test as you may already have stability issues. It is important to save a new preset and test after each adjustment, so you are able to go back to previous stable settings quickly. After your test is done, you can tweak up and test again.
I really like the ability to create personalized game overclock profiles. So for example you can set your global profile to a super low performance mode to save power, as well as keep your PC cool and quiet while you are working or browsing the web. Then you may have a game where you want maximum performance and you don’t care for noise, you can set up all the settings to allow for that. When you load the game – it will activate the relevant profile and you are off to the races.
We spent a long time testing this and found a clock speed of 2500MHz minimum and 2600MHz maximum with voltage set to 1100miliwatts, memory set to fast timing and maxed out speed as well as pretty moderate fan curve works really well. Final result will of course vary between different cards. So you will need to go back and forth to see what works for you.
Talking about results, let me share some of ours – starting with Shadow of The Tomb Raider – here we have just over 6% improvement on both average and 1 percentiles.
In Horizon Zero Dawn we have 10% improvement on average FPS and 11% on the 1 percentiles. This improvement actually makes 4K gaming a bit more reasonable as you no longer tread on the 60FPS line.
In CS:GO on the other hand we see no real difference, which is not surprising as we already have crazy frame rates.
In Riftbreaker we have about 2% improvement on average FPS and no change on 1 percentiles. This FPS unfortunately is too low while ray tracing is enabled.
In Dirt5 we actually gained 9% on both average FPS and 1 percentiles, but are about 10% short from smooth 60FPS gameplay so it doesn’t really matter.
As far as productivity goes we actually have nice improvement in Black Magic Davinci Resolve benchmark by Puget Systems and we are now only 7% behind the RTX3090 at less than half the price – this is really impressive!
In Blender we managed to even out the score with the RTX3070 in a quick BMW test and shaved off 6 seconds on the longer Classroom test.
We also have a very interesting observation here, the clock speed throughout the test is staying close to 2600 and as we tweaked the voltage down and only slightly tweaked the fan speeds – we are finding the temperatures are about 10 degrees lower. At the peak of the test the fans did ramp up and became audible but in no way they were loud.
To quickly sum this up – is overclocking RX 6800 XT worth it? Providing you are comfortable tinkering with it and have the time, then there appears to be a considerable overclocking headroom. When you pair it with custom profiles, you can set up great performance per game when you need it and leave it in passive when you don’t. Overall I am pleasantly surprised by all of this and look forward to finding out what RX 6900 XT will bring to the table.
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