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With the new ASUS GTX 680 graphics card now doing the rounds, figured this was a good opportunity to look at GPU Tweak, a tuning/overclocking/overvolting utility that comes bundled with most ASUS graphics card offerings. Now, GPU Tweak can technically work with any card from any vendor, and you can easily download the latest version from the GPU Tweak site.  Having said that, ASUS makes custom versions of the utility for newly-released cards, and also using a part made by the company will “unlock”  GPU Tweak functions that may stay dormant or hidden when running products from other vendors.

GPU Tweak was designed to allow any user direct access to a core range of graphics card capabilities and modifiable parameters that should be more than sufficient to test the safe limits of your brand new purchase. You could say this is something AMD Catalyst and NVIDIA GeForce drivers already do, but their features are not as plentiful as those offered via GPU Tweak. Short of hardware modding, GPU Tweak offers an easy but still reasonably aggressive software tuning utility, and can be used hassle-free by people with even the most basic understanding of graphics cards, since it’s built to prevent risky overclocking that may lead to damaged parts.



As you can see here, the left portion of the screen offers card info, including GPU temperatures, usage ratios, and voltages. The center part is where most of the action takes place, allowing you to make changes to GPU core speeds and voltages, memory speeds, fan speeds, and general power consumption (percentage out of total TDP).  Voltage and fan controls are especially useful, since voltages mean power control, and are thus the foundation of everything that happens on your card. Fan controls help at once promote better cooling and reduce noise – the latter being a common complaint among people whose gaming environments have taken to sounding like the local jetway.

GPU Tweak allows for multiple performance profiles, so you can experiment with settings and save them for different applications. We should also keep in mind that due to card architecture variations, GPU Tweak versions also differ: for example, the shown GTX 680 build supports NVIDIA’s GPU Boost design. This isn’t available on GPU Tweak for AMD 7900 cards, so instead on those we get voltage and clock speed syncing, which isn’t offered on software for the new NVIDIA-based cards.



A shared feature on all current GPU Tweak versions is live update, which automatically notifies you of new drivers and BIOS versions for your card when they become available. That way, you don’t have to go hunting for them on vendor download sites, which makes life that much easier.

You can always hit the default button to go back to factory settings, plus all GPU Tweak releases now integrate Techpowerup’s GPU-Z, the de facto official software graphics card analyzer of the PC community.

Of course, if you’re a really dedicated overclocker or competitive benchmarker then GPU Tweak won’t give you the results you can get with hardware overclocking, but the latter will involve several factors most PC users and gamers probably want to steer clear of. First of all, opening up your graphics card to do soldering and to change cooling facilities immediately voids the warranty. Then, it carries the risk of messing something in there, potentially transforming that pricey card into a glorified doorstop. Add to that the fact that manual hardware modification tends to be more permanent, and it’s clear that it’s a considerably costlier path than software tuning. All hardcore overclockers I know own multiple units of the same graphics card, typically at least one for adventurous modding, and another kept more or less stock should the former blow up in a blaze of defunct capacitors.

For me, GPU Tweak is more than enough. Honestly, and this is something I keep repeating, today’s graphics cards are beasts, even the mid-range ones. They can handle almost every game with full detail easily, so overclocking isn’t as needed as it was in the past. However, it still has plenty of room in your computing should you be interested in getting even a little more oomph out of your hardware for fun or learning. Most ardent overclockers started with software tuning tools, don’t let them tell you otherwise!

If you’re buying an ASUS graphics card, all the new ones come with GPU Tweak in the box, but you should download the latest version from the site. You may also consider joining the Republic of Gamers community, as those folks have lots of know-how to share when it comes to overclocking.


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