In this thread, I plan to chronicle the trials and tribulations of overlocking my Sapphire Nitro R9 Fury OC+.
While it is the higher binned variant of Sapphire’s offerings, clocking in at 1050mhz, it already near the maximum limitations that its silicon has to offer - not that the limitations imposed by the architecture, and the functions of Powertune help. But, I am not an electrical engineer that can pontificate and explain how certain design choices can limit the performance of this card. I’m just a guy that wants to tinker and get more power - correction, MOAR POWR!!!1111oneoneone
This will be a multi-post, and probably multi-stage, process, and I hope others join in with their findings, or suggestions, as I make this journey.
Prelude and Setting the Stage
Up until this point, I have never bothered overclocking my card. Why? Overclocking the Fury line-up of cards is, by and large, a fool’s errand. While performance may scale with an increase in clock speed, power consumption required for increased speeds can be described as absurd; for an 5% increase in clock speed, with comparable increase in gaming performance, your power consumption may increase by as much as 25%, depending on amount of voltage you have to feed the card.
Far more success and satisfaction can be had by attempting undervolting. As laid out in this Tom’s Hardware article, there is a lot of efficiency to be gained by undervolting. Depending on your luck, for minimal performance hits, you may end up shaving almost 100 watts of power consumption, which is impressive to say the least.
But we’re not chasing efficiency. This is not a rational venture. This is exploring the limits of what my card has to offer.
Gigabyte X370 Aorus Gaming K7
16gb of Corsair 3200mhz DDR4
EVGA 1050 SuperNOVA GS
Preliminary testing has not been favorable in the least.
I figured using Sapphire’s overclocking solution, Trixx, would be an fun route to take, and went to their website to download the latest version, v6.4.0, which was released 5/8/17. This turned out to be a frustrating assumption, as simply pressing the “apply” button on the interface causes the card to be locked in its lowest power stage. It even overrides powertune’s capacity to affect the clock rates, and attempts to “free” or modify the clock settings can not by done with other overclocking programs once this “bug” has been effected. Resetting defaults via the program’s interface has no effect; the same with closing or restarting the program. Once effected, the only way to undo the bug is to do a system reboot.
Still striving to try something different, I explored AMD’s overclocking solution: Wattman. Having access to the various power stages, and being able to manually input the voltage and clock rates for each individual stage was an interesting and fairly straightforward feature. The basics are there, and fairly intuitive to use.
However, I came across a feature most inconvenient. While I could increase the power limits by up to +50%, and could manually input the voltages, I could not raise my voltages beyond 1.250V - which is the stock voltage for my card’s final power stage when it operates at 1050mhz.
This would be acceptable if it were not the fact that, through trial and error, I have discovered that my card, with the power limit set to +50% and the fans screaming at the full 100% fan speed, can not maintain 1100mhz.
To achieve a mere 5% increase in clock speed, I will have to increase my voltage.
Wattman, while a simple and convenient tool to use, lacks the feature I need most. I give it props for actually working, but for this job, I had to download and install the old standby: MSI Afterburner, v4.5.0, released last month.
Goals and Looking Forward.
My starting goal will be to see what it takes to achieve and maintain a 5% increase in clock rate.
Afterwards, I will explore the limitations of the (air) cooling solution that comes with the card. I don’t have the money for custom water cooling solution (I don’t think one even exists for the Sapphire Nitro series of the Fury) and am not quite crazy enough to venture into the world of LN2. However, I am told, both by those with experience and by what I have read, that safe voltages are a non-issue with Fury - even those who resort to water cooling are thermally limited before they hit unsafe voltages.
Once core clock limitations have been explored, I will see what can be achieved with the HBM, then perhaps explore undervolting.