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Overclock your monitor with NVIDIA! Windows and Linux

Hello all, back again for another cool Linux video.

NVIDIA released a neat feature a while ago that is part of the control panel where you can create custom resolutions for your monitors. Part of this includes the refresh rate of the monitor, so you can enter a custom value to overclock your monitor. Overclocking your monitor will allow you to run the LCD panel higher than 60 Hz, usually up to around 75 to 90 Hz.

The main benefit is that you can run games at higher refresh rates and actually see the difference. You don’t have to buy a 144 Hz monitor to experience higher than 60 FPS, however keep in mind that most popular brands don’t allow their monitors to exceed 60 Hz, and your results will wildly vary.

Windows:

The Windows steps are fairly easy. Just right click the desktop and go to the NVIDIA control panel. Hit “change resolution” on the side panel, and then “customize” at the bottom.

Click “Create Custom Resolution” and bump the refresh rate up by 5. Hit “Test” in the bottom and the GPU will try to output at that refresh rate. If all is well then you should see the “test successful” dialogue box. Repeat this and increase the refresh rate by 5 each time until it stops working or your monitor starts doing weird things.
When you reach your monitor’s limit then hit “Yes” in the test dialogue box to save the custom resolution.

If it doesn’t work at all above 60 Hz, then your monitor probably has a lockout on it to prevent unsupported configurations. So try another monitor.

Anyway hit OK on the customize window and scroll up in the resolution list. Your custom resolution will be at the top with the refresh rate dropdown on the right. Just select the refresh rate you want and hit “Apply”.

Some games won’t recognize the higher refresh rate in fullscreen, and this is usually fixed by running them in windowed borderless so that the display manager is controlling the monitor’s refresh rate.

For Linux, as usual, this is vastly more complicated.

Linux:

NVIDIA released this function on Windows, but the Linux version of the control panel doesn’t have this. So we have to do it manually by using a custom EDID file.

EDID or External Display Identification Data is a file that is stored on the monitor. When you connect a monitor to your PC, the PC reads this file set to know various details about the monitor such as resolution, refresh rate, monitor size, and DPI.

A cool feature of X11’s video server is that you can pass it a custom EDID via xorg.conf with the NVIDIA driver. So the general idea is to read the current EDID from the monitor, edit it with our custom refresh rates, and then link that to X11 for it to use with that monitor.

First step is to read the current EDID from the monitor:

$ sudo dpkg –add-architecture i386 && sudo apt update && sudo apt install wine32 nvidia-settings

Extract the EDID from your monitor. Simply open nvidia-settings, click your monitor on the left, and hit “Acquire EDID”. Save it to the desktop.

Next we are going to use Analogue Way’s EDID editor. Download it from their website:
http://www.analogway.com/en/products/software-and-tools/aw-edid-editor/

Extract the exe somewhere. In the terminal do:

$ wine (drag and drop exe here)

This will open the installer. Run through the installer and make sure “Launch AW EDID Editor” is checked.

Go to the “Detailed Data” tab and click “CVT Wizard” for the first timing block. Change the rate to the same increment of 5 as before, only this time you have to re-save the file and restart the X server each time to test it.

Save it, but make sure to save it as a copy with a different name.

Now to edit your xorg configuration.

$ sudo nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Paste this in if it is empty. If there is already configuration in there, just add the EDID option line to the “Screen” section. Edit the “MONITOR” to be the correct display ID. You can get this with the same “xrandr –query” command. The monitor name will be something like HDMI-2, DVI-1, or DP-3 depending on where it is plugged in.

Section "Screen"
    Identifier     "Screen0"
    Device         "Device0"
    Monitor        "Monitor0"
    Option “CustomEDID” “MONITOR:/home/USER/Desktop/modified-edid.bin”
EndSection

Save the file. Log out and log in to apply the changes to X11. If you get a black screen, then you might need to lower the overclock or your monitor might not support it.

If it was successful then edit the EDID file again and try another 5 Hz increase. Repeat this until it stops and you have found the limit of your monitor.

So there it is! Keep in mind a few things that you might experience:

  • Overclocking the monitor will not reduce LCD ghosting. Higher refresh rate monitors like the 144 Hz ones have much less ghosting.
  • Overclocking the monitor will make it run hotter. The LCD driver board has to run faster than the manufacturer intended, and could reduce its life.
  • Certain display interface connectors won’t be able to handle certain resolutions. Single-link DVI can’t handle 1440p at 75 Hz, you need a dual-link cable. HDMI 1.1 can only handle 1440p at 60 Hz as well.

Feel free to suggest topics for future videos, and ask any questions below!

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Non nVidia users can accomplish this through Custom Resolution Utility and accompanying guide here: https://www.monitortests.com/forum/Thread-Custom-Resolution-Utility-CRU

Windows only right?

Yes Windows only, might work through wine? No idea I don't currently have a linux install running.

Oh there's no way something like that would work in wine.

Thanks for posting, thought id give it a try although I'm not sure if it worked.
I have a 120hz monitor (which was a pain in the ass to get linux to retain the refresh rate on reboot).

So I made a couple changes to the edid and its set to 144 because why not. Logged out and back in and nothing has broken. It seems as smooth as the 120hz. Is there a way to see the active refresh rate?

Nvidia settings shows 119.98hz, but im not sure if thats because of the mode that I has previously set in the xorg config.

The only way I know to look is that most monitors have an information section of the OSD. I just go there to see the current resolution and refresh rate.

Turn on v-sync in a game and see if it caps at your new settings.

Ah, didn't even think about that.

Thanks for a written tutorial man. :)

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Thanks for this guide, one problem ..

Unfortunately the link to AW EDID Editor requires registration to the site name, email etc.. not happening. Any other alternatives ?

You can enter BS info, they don't require email confirmation.

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Tried it just now with my Acer H236HL and got it up to 75Hz so that is nice. An extra 15fps from 60Hz should be a noticeable difference. Will have to try out the Linux config if I am not lazy. I love Linux but why do some simple things have to be needlessly complicated to execute, like disabling mouse acceleration?

Thank you for the guide, @GrayBoltWolf.

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The only thing I would like to add to all of this is stability testing should be factored into all of this.

If your monitor can hit 75hz, but it has significant frame skipping, then bad things will happen.

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Yup what is that website with the UFO and all the tests? That will show any of that up pretty quickly.

Monitor test or framefrate test or something. Wendell always has it open when reviewing a monitor.

This one?

http://testufo.com/#test=framerates

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Tested that out. There wasn't any frame skipping or ghosting after overclocking my monitor. I'm all good.

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My 3 monitors can be overclocked to 75Hz in Windows with the Nvidia settings but will not work in Linux. I did all the steps you did for Linux

I am having a similar issue – modeline not accepted as valid by fedora25 (Qubes), even though the same 71hz refresh rate and modeline settings work splendidly in windows. Anyone have a suggestion as to what to try?

Reviving a necro-thread to say thanks for posting this. This method out of many is the only one that has worked for me. 60 to 77hz is so much easier on the eyes while reading. Only problem I had with the tutorial was editing the xorg.conf. Took me a minute to figure out I needed my monitor device name and not “Monitor”. Kinda feel silly.

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