It’s not that it’s necessary to overclock the GTX 560M–it will run any current game at reasonable quality settings at its regular clock speed. On the other hand overclocking is fun. That said, we will put in the usual disclaimer here that what you do to your own computer is at your own risk. This article is for entertainment purposes only.

3DFX Voodoo

Once upon a time you needed (3DFX) "Voodoo" to play Tomb Raider 1 at fluid frame rates

In the last couple of years, Intel has put a damper on the CPU overclocking game by including their own “Turbo Boost” feature that overclocks the CPU on demand. This is quite boring, but it sort of makes sense for laptops–particularly when they are running on battery power. The same is not true for graphics cards of any variety or brand—you can (for the most part) overclock both NVIDIA and AMD cards unless they are locked in the BIOS.

We just published a review of the ASUS G53SX, which is equipped with the GTX 560M as well as an excellent (and heavy) cooling solution, but somewhat unfortunately it is the 2GB version so it only has a 128-bit memory bus. Nevertheless, it has higher stock clock speeds and probably a better overclocking potential than its predecessor the GTX 460M thanks to some power optimizations in the chip.

So, before our G53SX review was halfway through, we had already found (or at least thought we found) the sweet spot for the core, shader and memory clocks of our 128-bit GTX 560M at the following:

  • 920MHz for the GPU core (original clock 775MHz)
  • Shaders 1840MHz (1550MHz) and the memory
  • 1600MHz (1250Mhz)

As it turns out it wasn’t as easy s expected.  The thing would run perfectly at these very high clocks (courtesy of MSI Afterburner) in most games and benchmarks; Furmark was stable at 92 degrees C (an uncomfortably high temperature, but Furmark is notorious for this) but it was failing in other benchmarks—most notably 3DMark 11. It could run 3DMark Vantage or Furmark in a loop for hours, but in the second scene of 3DMark 11 it would crash without exception.

These crashes should have nothing to do with temperature—these chips can take high temperatures without any (short-term) adverse effects, so more likely the voltage was too low or the driver was unable to handle whatever the particular challenge was. Turning the memory knob back down to 1550 MHz solved the “problem” and even the troublesome 3DMark 11 would finish without issue.

3dmark11

For the record, the 3DMark 11 score of P2559 is higher than any benchmark we’ve seen so far with the GTX 560M–overclocked or not. The 3D Mark Vantage score is as follows:

3dmvOC

In other words there might be some arguments in favor of overclocking the 128-bit GTX 560M, and it could more than even out the differences between this one and the 1.5GB/3GB models with a (triple channel) 192-bit memory bus.On the other hand, the results depend on the individual chips, so saying that “results may vary” is an understatement. Nevertheless, a 10,000+ PCMark Vantage score almost puts this one on par with the much more powerful GTX 570M (although you can of course overclock that one as well).

Results

In 3DMark 06, the result went up from 13,724 to 14,935–a  smaller improvement in DX9 as indicated by the review. It seems that the real gains are to be had in DX10 and DX11. The reason is perhaps that the driver support has been improved in the more recent benchmarks compared to the aging, but still relevant, 3DMark 06.

Just to repeat the obvious: this is not necessary. The standard clocks are good enough for any game on the market, but it’s interesting to know that even the 128-bit GTX 560M has quite a bit of room for overclocking.

Posted by JBerg

24 Comments

  1. Did you tweak the voltage at all? I just bought the exact same laptop and am looking into OC the GPU, little to my knowledge did I realize I had bought the “gimped” version… Thanks.

  2. P.S. I bought on sale for $899 so gimped or not I feel like I got a really good deal over all.

  3. Hey sklein35. No, there’s no volt mod here. The option was actually grayed out in MSI Afterburner, so you may have to use a modded BIOS (which I would definitely avoid for stability reasons). Sounds like you found a great deal!

  4. Would say that “920MHz for the GPU core (original clock 775MHz)
    Shaders 1840MHz (1550MHz) and the memory
    1550MHz (1250MHz)” are stable OC settings? Are you still using the G53 without issues while overclocked at these settings? Thanks again!

  5. I overclocked my gtx560m with these settings,bf3 fps was 26-32 now 31-39 this really helped.but il-2 1946 has a weird issue that the gpu usage drops to 15-25 percent.What it could be the reason.?????

  6. Hi Berg,

    Thanks for replying to my comment on the laptop review article. Since you had to reset the memory back down to 1550, was the GPU core the only thing you OC-ed (to 920)? Thanks! 🙂

  7. @sklein35: No, not necessarily. Strange as it might seem it also depends on the individual chip quality. One chip might perform better or worse than another even if it’s the same model. These settings were stable for me, but it can also differ between individual games/benchmarks (like with 3DMark 11 not working when the others did).

    @saunapoika: That’s odd. Does it happen only when it’s overclocked? In that case it might throttle somehow, so you may have to turn down the knobs a bit.

    @Eric: No problem! And no, the base clock for the memory is 1250MHz, so it is still heavily overclocked 🙂

  8. YES,BUT I TURNED THE MEMORY CLOCK A BIT DOWN AND NOW IT SEEMS TO WORK.

  9. on BF3 and BFBC2 i got to turn the memory clock tu 1250,if i overclock the memory the GPU usage drops sometimes for 15 seconds,and then comes back to normal.whys that?

  10. From your description it sounds like throttling due to high temps or not enough voltage, but I wouldn’t recommend experimenting with the latter. Have you tried more modest overclocking settings? The chips are individual and sometimes an overclock that works on one does not work for the other.

  11. is it safe to OC to the above settings and leave it that way? any longterm damages?

  12. I would never make any such guarantees. Statistically speaking, thousands of people overclock their laptop GPUs and permanent damage is very rare, but it’s not risk-free.

  13. Berg, do you have any experience with overclocking the CPU on the G53SX? If so, can you post a blog about it similar to this one? 🙂

  14. I oc’ed my Asus G74SX, no crashing games, no problems at all…

    Core: 930Mhz
    Shaders: 1860Mhz
    Memory: 1625Mhz

    My max temperature I get in FurMark is 65 C.
    and in Battlefield when I check the temperature I get max 61 C.
    I’m still in the safe zone…

    I’m very happy to be able to play Battlefield 3 on ULTRA with decent fps!

  15. Thanks for the info Dieter. Those are AMAZING temperatures for an overclocked laptop CPU! I wish more gaming laptops had cooling on par with the G74SX.

  16. Sadly none of the above have a very good battery life because they lack graphics switching (for some odd reason). The next-gen models, due in a month or two, may be better in that regard.

  17. With the latest Nvidia drivers, I’m getting big crashes with the overclock speeds in your article. Even with the memory clock toned down a little.

    They set fine and then when I try to run the Kombustor program, it freezes the whole machine. Restart and reset the overclock to default and it will run fine.

    Any ideas?

  18. Hi Kaje, that sounds a bit odd, but then again the sensitivity for overclocking can vary from game to game (as well as from chip to chip). It sounds like the new driver puts more pressure on the card for some reason, so the only option is probably to settle for lower clocks or roll back to the old driver.

  19. Thanks Berg, will have a play around.

    Weirdly, I can play Battlefield 3 very smoothly on Ultra with the GTX 560m (2GB 128bit) without overclocking at all! Not sure how that’s happening to be honest!

  20. Really?! Wow, I’ve never seen BF3 running on Ultra with anything but the GTX 580M (or 675M as it’s now called…). Is this after the driver update?

  21. Yeah, using latest drivers. No slow down at all!

    I’m assuming the card doesn’t overwrite the in-game settings? I have the in-game graphic set up set to Ultra (the option with Low, Medium, High, Ultra, Default/Auto, Custom options).

  22. That’s very impressive! and surprising. The only thing I can think of would be if the driers are tuned to ‘performance’ instead of ‘quality’, but you would obviously know about that. If it’s all in the new driver they’ve done one hell of a great job with it.

  23. Tried a few games now and they all seem to run awesomely on the highest available settings. Absolutely over the moon with this purchase – £900 from eBay including postage for the G53SX active 3D version of the laptop, with 2 years ASUS warranty!

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