More clock speed = Better performance right? Well, let’s dive straight into the answer.
There’s no direct answer as the clock speed is dependent on factors like brand, and microarchitecture.
Does GPU Clock Speed Matter For Gaming?
Let’s cut the fluff
It’s nearly impossible to define what a good GPU clock speed is as there are so many differences between GPUs and their microarchitectures.
But the GPU clock speed still matters…
- The GPU clock speed shows a linear correlation with frames per second in games
- A GPU’s boost clock speed can provide a huge difference in performance read here
- Memory clock plays a huge role in applications with huge datasets
The graphics card clock speed shows close to a linear correlation with the frames per second generated in games, so it indeed matters for gaming. If you were getting 100FPS at 1GHz, raising the clock speed to 1.2GHz should in theory result in 120FPS a 20% increase.
The reason the FPS and clock speed relationship isn’t perfectly linear is that other components can act as a bottleneck such as the RAM and CPU. These components ultimately have to work harder since the graphics card is pushing out more frames.
So when you’re picking a graphics card, for the best performance possible, look for graphics cards with decent cooling, this ultimately allows you to overclock it further which will result in more performance in games.
Why GPU Clock Speed May Not Matter
Just like CPUs, you only really can compare clock speeds to chips of the exactly same microarchitecture otherwise the comparison will be completely invalid.
Remember that clock speed isn’t the whole story, there’s a completely different metric called IPC or instructions per clock. It basically refers to how much work is done per clock cycle, and this is what varies between architectures.
So, comparing a NVIDIA card with an AMD cards clock speed and making the conclusion that the card with the highest clock speed will perform better is wrong.
|Core Clock Speed
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090
|2235 MHz base/2520 MHz boost
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090
|1395 MHz base/1695 MHz boost
|AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX
|1855 MHz base/2499 MHz boost
|AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT
|1825 MHz base/2250 MHz boost
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER
|2295 MHz base/2550 MHz boost
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080
|2205 MHz base/2505 MHz boost
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
|1440 MHz base/1710 MHz boost
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 Ti SUPER
|2340 MHz base/2610 MHz boost
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 Ti
|2310 MHz base/2610 MHz boost
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 SUPER
|1980 MHz base/2475 MHz boost
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070
|1920 MHz base/2475 MHz boost
|AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT
|1920 MHz base/2490 MHz boost
|AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT
|1825 MHz base/2015 MHz boost
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070
|1500 MHz base/1725 MHz boost
|AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT
|1525 MHz base/2140 MHz boost
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060
|1320 MHz base/1777 MHz boost
|AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT
|1968 MHz base/2359 MHz boost
Is GPU Overclocking Worth It?
So we’ve learned that the clock speed of a graphics card essentially has a linear relationship with in-game FPS, so is overclocking the graphics card worth it?
The answer is yes, but it’s not that simple, overclocking is essentially an art, you can’t just slide everything to the right and expect everything to work perfectly fine.
First, you need to understand that overclocking inherently creates instability within the GPU core, and it can also increase temperatures, so the performance gain may not be worth it depending on what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for a massive FPS boost, then overclocking is not for you. At most, you can expect an 8-10% FPS increase which is still a considerable amount, but requires a delicate balance and understanding of your hardware limits.
What Is GPU Boost Clock?
Overclocking isn’t always a manual process, most hardware components such as CPUs and GPUs can automatically overclock themselves once certain conditions are met.
For example, a graphics card will boost its clock speed when systems in place notice the power limit and thermal limits are within certain safe thresholds. What this does is allow for increased performance without user intervention.
For gaming, this will definitely translate into more FPS, this is why it’s important to ensure that your system is properly cooled otherwise you’re going to be leaving a lot of performance on the table due to thermal limitations.
Besides gaming, automatic overclocking can make the lives of video editors, and people that are heavy into 3D rendering easier. A faster perfoming graphics card is crucial for real time video playback and rendering.
The same applies for 3D rendering and modelling, it speeds up the image rendering, and also improves the final quality. But CPU based rendering is still possible without a GPU, so finding the right balance is important.
Does GPU Memory Clock Speed Matter?
Memory clock speed isn’t as popular as core clock speed, but it’s importance is definitely up there with the core clock speed. Certain tasks often require the GPU to access a lot of data, in this case, the memory core clock speed can help streamline this process.
This is because the GPU can access its memory at a quicker rate, applications where this will benefit you is in gaming, specifically games that utilize a lot of assets.
So open world games, heavily modded games, and graphically intensive simulations will ultimately gain from a faster memory clock speed. While it wont translate into more FPS, it will reduce stuttering which can completely ruin a gaming expereince.
Besides gaming, applications such as 3D rendering also stand to gain from faster memory clock speeds, this is because these applications involve handling complex models and high resolutions textures which take up a lot of space and require fast data retrival.
Conclusion – Does GPU Clock Speed Matter?
Yes, the GPU clock speed does matter as well as the memory clock speed for many tasks such as gaming, video editing, and 3D rendering. Faster computation translates into more performance in most scenarios unless there’s an obvious bottleneck.
And it may be tempting to just pick up the graphics card with the highest clock speed, but it’s important to remember that clock speeds do not tell the full picture of a graphics card’s performance.