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How to overclock monitor [TUTORIAL]

Monitors are not all created equal. A monitor may seem like simple hardware and it mostly is but some monitors are more capable than others. An obvious example of this is 4K monitors that support higher resolutions than a normal HD monitor.

Some aspects of a monitor cannot be changed e.g., you cannot upscale the resolution of a monitor using software. The resolution is decided by the number of pixels that the screen has and you cannot increase or decrease it. At the most, you can scale the resolution but nothing else.

Monitor Refresh rate

The resolution of a monitor isn’t the only factor that decides its quality and its capabilities. There are other things too such as how many nits of brightness it supports, and its refresh rate.

The refresh rate of a monitor is the number of times a monitor will refresh the image you see. The higher the rate, the more often the monitor will refresh the screen. This rate matters when you’re dealing with media that has a high FPS (frames-per-second0 value. If the refresh rate of a monitor is low and you’re trying to watch (or play) media that has a high FPS, you will not get the benefit of the high FPS since the monitor will not be able to load it fast enough.

How to overclock monitor

Unlike the resolution and nit value of a monitor, the refresh rate of a monitor can be increased in some cases. The process is known as overclocking. By default, Windows 10 sets the highest/maximum refresh rate that a monitor supports but you can force the monitor to use a higher refresh rate. The process for overclocking a monitor depends on which GPU you have i.e., an AMD GPU or an Nvidia GPU.

1. Overclock Monitor – Nvidia Control Panel

This method works for only Nvidia GPUs.

  1. Go to the desktop and right-click on an empty area. Select Nvidia Control Panel.
  2. Expand Display in the column on the left, and select Change Resolution.
  3. Click Customize under the listed resolutions.
  4. In the window that opens, enable the ‘Enable Resolutions Not Exposed by the Display’ option and click the ‘Create custom resolution’ button.
  5. On the next window, click inside the Refresh Rate field and enter a number higher than what’s currently set.
  6. Click ‘Test’. If you see the Out of Range message, that means you’ve gone too high. Select a lower value and try again. If the value is supported, you will see a message telling you the same. Apply the change.

2. Overclock Monitor – AMD Catalyst Control

This method only works if you have an AMD GPU.

  1. Go to the desktop and right-click on an empty area. Select AMD Radeon or AMD Catalyst Control.
  2. In the app that opens, go to the Display tab.
  3. Click ‘Create’ under the Custom Resolution section.
  4. In the window that opens, enter a new refresh rate.
  5. Click Save.

3. Overclock Monitor with Custom Resolution Utility – AMD + Nvidia

If you’re looking for a method that lets you overclock the monitor regardless of which GPU you have, use Custom Resolution Utility.

  1. Download and run Custom Resolution Utility. 
  2. Under ‘Detailed resolutions’ select the monitor you want to overclock and click the Edit button.
  3. On the new window that opens, enter a higher value in the Refresh Rate field, and click OK, and then click OK again to close the window.
  4. Open the folder that you extracted the Custom Resolution Utility to. Run the restart.exe file if you have 32-bit Windows, and run the restart64.exe file if you have 64-bit Windows.

Limitations

A monitor can be overclocked but you can’t expect to double the refresh rate of a monitor. The overclocking must lie within a reasonable range of the highest refresh rate a monitor supports out of the box.

If you change the refresh rate of your monitor, and it goes black for too long, it means the rate that you’ve set is not within the monitor’s range. You will need to select a lower value.

Overclocking a monitor isn’t dangerous but you should still exercise some caution when doing so.

Conclusion

The benefit of overclocking a monitor may be minimal. You can, at the most, set the refresh rate to be +15Hz of the highest value supported by the monitor. It is rare for users to be able to overclock it to +20Hz or +40Hz. If you’re looking for significantly higher refresh rates, you might need to buy a monitor that supports them.

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