A computer system is built out of different hardware components. Some of these components are simple in terms of what they do and how they’re used e.g, ports, fans, wireless networking cards, Bluetooth radios etc, while others are more complicated e.g., a CPU, a GPU, RAM, etc.
The hardware on a system, regardless if the system is pre-built or if you built it yourself, comes with factory settings that allow it to run at an optimal level. The settings will allow the hardware to work well with a wide range of hardware but that also means they’re working below their maximum capacity.
Since factory settings generally configure some of the most powerful components on a PC to run below their maximum capacity, users go to great lengths to change them. Settings for hardware components like the GPU normally aren’t locked from being changed but you do need an app for the job.
MSI Afterburner Review
MSI Afterburner is one of the most popular tools for overclocking a GPU. It has an excellent and relatively easy to use interface. You must have some idea as to what you’re doing but even if you’re not looking to overclock and/or overvolt the GPU, MSI Afterburner is an excellent tool for monitoring the GPU, CPU, and system temperature, among other things.
1. MSI Afterburner Download
MSI Afterburner is free to use. You can download it here and run the EXE file to install it. You will need admin rights to install the app but that holds true for all apps that are installed on Windows 10.
2. Install MSI Afterburner
During installation, Afterburner will ask to install RivaTuner Statistics Server. It’s a tool used to overclock a GPU and it is essential if you plan on using Afterburner for overclocking. If not, you can skip installing it however, you will not be able to use certain Afterburner features.
RivaTuner Statistics Server isn’t malicious. It is a good, stable app and you won’t find many overclocking tools that do not rely on it.
Afterburner has quite a few features but the app doesn’t install all of them even if you decide to install RivaTuner with it. These apps enable some of its other features e.g., the Kombuster app must be installed if you want to run a stability test on your GPU.
Kombuster has been developed by the developers of Afterburner and it isn’t essential for overclocking a GPU. If you do overclock your GPU, running a stability test afterward is a good idea and that’s when the tool will come in handy.
3. Afterburner GUI & Settings
Afterburner has a GUI which is a lot like a dashboard for quickly changing settings and applying them. The dashboard allows you to overclock and overvolt or reset your GPU. It is also where you can set a custom speed for the fans and if your rig has a GPU fan and a CPU fan, you can set them up to run in sync, or asynchronously. The choice is yours.
The GUI gives you a quick overview of the system’s health; the current GPU core clock, memory clock, power consumption, and temperature.
The Settings panel of the Afterburner, accessible by clicking the cogwheel button, is where you can configure additional features. It’s almost like a second GUI for operating the app where you can enable overlays, select what system vitals you want to monitor within a game, and set up hotkeys for Afterburner’s various features.
RivaTuner Server Settings
If you use MSI Afterburner, and you’ve installed RivaTuner, you should know that it has its own settings panel. It’s something you should familiarize yourself with, especially if you intend to use Afterburner’s overlay and monitoring features.
RivaTuner adds an icon to the system tray and when you double-click it, you get access to its settings panel.
4. MSI Afterburner Features
MSI Afterburner has an extensive list of features, too many to list, but we’re going to mention the more impressive ones.
- Overclock and overvolt a GPU.
- Control fan speed.
- Monitor GPU usage, temperature.
- Add overlays for GPU and CPU usage and temperature.
- Run benchmark tests on the GPU.
- Take screenshots and record screencasts.
- Create profiles for hardware settings and easily switch between them.
- Log GPU and CPU usage history.
MSI Afterburner doesn’t have a lot of limitations however, it may not work with older hardware, particularly older GPUs. GPU models that are more than ten years old may not all work with the app. Other than that, it’s a great tool.