How To MSI Afterburner Complete Guide with Riva Tuner (OSD)

Msi Afterburner Guide by - RememberThe5th

Table of Contents

1. What Does MSI Afterburner Do?

1.1 Overclocking

1.2 Monitoring

1.3 Benchmarking

1.4. Video capture

2. Where to download and basic setup

3. How To Run Kombustor Benchmark

4. Overclocking within the MSI Afterburner

4.1Overclocking Voltage/Frequency curve editor

5. How to configure On-Screen Display In MSI Afterburner (OSD)

6. Setting Up a Fan Profile

7. Extra software for monitoring and explaining

1 : What does MSI Afterburner Do?

MSI Afterburner is versatile utility when it comes to overclocking, benchmarking and setting up the fan speed.

1.1 Overclocking;

When it comes to overclocking The utility can tweak the GPU settings including the core voltage, power limit, temperature limit, core clock speed, memory clock speed and fan speed.
With this array of options the idea is to find the "Sweet spot" between performance and capability.

Latest version of MSI Afterburner incorporates OC Scanner, a utility that uses algorithm developed by Nvidia to scan the newest RTX 2XXX series cards and determine the highest stable overclocking, then applies them for performance boost.

MSI Afterburner also can do custom fan profiles or fan speed curve that it rises or lower the temperature based of the GPU.
By using this feature , users can push their GPU safely knowing that it reaches uncomfortable high temperatures, the fans will kick up their speed.

Alongside fan profiles, you can safe the overclocking profiles with set of parameters for easy switching via hotkeys.

1.2 Monitoring;

While overclocking features allow parameters to be tweaked, The utility lists real-time hardware performance ranging from GPU, temperature, core and memory clock speed, voltage, FPS and usage percentage through many graphs.
Utility also offers On-Screen Display (OSD) through which you can monitor the effects of any overclocking tweaks which really matters only in game.

To turn on the On-Screen Display , it uses add-on utility called RivaTuner Statistics Server that can be used for a lot of other things such as setting frame cap (aka. FPS) for specific games which is quite usefull for low-mid range GPUs.

1.3 Benchmarking;

MSI Afterburner includes benchmarking tool called MSI Kombustor that is pretty standard stress test utility that benchmarks both stability and thermal capabilities.
With overclocking features, it provides information about tweaks made and how they affect performance (although it may vary from real game scenario).
Supports both OpenGL and DirectX.

1.4 Video Capture;

MSI Afterburner uses an add-on application named Predator to capture video in different formats, compression types, framerate limit, quality, and up to a resolution of 1080p.

Although I recommend OBS as better alternative.

2 : Where to download and basic setup

MSI Afterburner is pretty easy to download, just follow the steps;
  1. Go to MSI Afterburner website,
  2. Then go to bottom of the page and click "Download" under MSI Afterburner (Do not mistaken for MSI Afterburner app or Remote server, happens to everyone :) ).
  3. Once downloaded, unzip it and run the setup.
  4. Run the installation and follow the process.
You may be prompted to install RivaTuner Statistics server and Kombustor , install it if you wish.

Once MSI Afterburner install and loads up, click on cogwheel "Settings" button.
Under "General" tab, you can "Unlock voltage control" as well as "unlock voltage monitoring".
If "Enable hardware control and monitoring", "Enable lwo-level IO driver" aren't enabled, tick to enable the monitoring.
If you are running multiple GPUs, under "General" tab you may select which GPU you want to overclock or monitor as well as from when you run the MSI Afterburner.

3 : How to run Kombustor Benchmark

Before doing any overclocking its always nice to know what is your upper limit of your GPU.
You can run the Kombustor from the "K" icon on top left corner (Depending on which skin have you selected).
Kombustor starts benchmark immediately and you monitor the GPU temperature, FSP, and GPU load to get idea how your card performs at "Stock" or "Factory" level without any tweaks.

In addition of running base test its nice idea to search or ask for information of what you might expect overclocking here.

4 : Overclocking within the MSI Afterburner

Before we begin, remember that overclocking is not risk-free and by tweaking your GPU, there can be results of permanent damage. MSI Afterburner makes overclocking easy, but with a hefty helping common sense is highly recommended.

If in doubt ever whether you're pushing the GPU too far, stop right now and seek advice!

Some basic Idea what each thing does

  • Core Voltage (mV) is the amount of power that goes through your GPU. By obvious, do not raise it at high levels blindly, otherwise it'll increase heat and potentially the voltage running into your unit.

    This option is to increase stability of your new desire clock speeds, always increase in small amounts. In the Core Voltage slider there is also further options found, those are Memory Voltage and AUX voltage.

  • Power Limit (%) is the amount of power your GPU is allowed to use, typically even at stock, raising this can prevent bottlenecks and allow your unit to fully use it's clock speeds, but consume more power as a consequence, meaning higher temperatures.

    This option is mostly harmless if you have a beefy power supply, that is having enough power to substain the overclock if you still have head room, but should be still used with patience in mind to get the most optimal solution.

  • Core Clock (MHz) is the main GPU speed that is set to run, all units are different, please if you didn't use GPU-Z, refer to your system specification then search a website like the Techpowerup[] and find your specific components to know what they are capable and where you are off limits.

    This option is the main cause of your gains, by increasing how fast data can be processed in the Texture Mapping Units, Shading Units and Render Output Units, do not change without a little bit of research about your hardware and know where you are off the limits.

  • Memory Clock (MHz) is the RAM speed. Again, all units are different, however while searching for the Core Clock, you will be introduce to it's RAM speed also, nowadays RAM is typically GDDR5, which is plenty fast but yet shows benefits from an overclock. Your system may by limited by slower speeds from older RAM chips, such as GDDR3 or be Integrated and share system RAM, making it limited to your DDR3/DDR4 computer RAM, therfor cannot be improved without a physical upgrade, or an overclock in the whole system that improves CPU performance, all done from the BIOS.

    This option is what will allow your Core Clock to deliver it's data load faster and better, Memory overlocking increases the bandwidth speed, making gains on graphic demanding settings such as Anti-Aliasing, however because this is all dependent of the main GPU, gains may or may not be seen. As a note, GPU Memory bandwidth is also subjective to be different in real times due to memory compression, bus width and memory speeds. As a result, GPU-Z results earned by memory overclocking are only logical estimates.

  • Fan Speed (%) is very self explanatory as a whole.

    This option can be tweaked in a static manner, or set as a profile into further settings found in the software, it is recommended to leave AUTO enabled, unless you really wish to cool down your GPU at 100% no matter what, this can however wear off the lifespan of your fans.

  • Lock and Profiles 1,2,3,4,5 are Overclocking profiles. Those can be set as hotkeys and changed on the fly.

    To create a profile, you must click save then click the number, locking the small lock will prevent from overwritting those.

  • Apply overclocking at system startup is very self explanatory also, however it is not recommend to use until you have found the proper stable overclock, otherwise you might end up into a loop of crash and be forced to enter in safe mode of your computer to uninstall MSI Afterburner.

    Once you have everything set, tick it on to ensure you have your performance gains at all times.

  • K and i found in the upper section are Kombustor and your system specifications which does not provide all details.

  • Detach allows your monitoring to be dragged anywhere that you please, even your second monitor if any for technical purposes. To re-attach, simply close it.

  • Memory Voltage (mV) is to increase the amount of voltage that goes through your RAM to increase stability, as always do not blindly change. Small increments are key to be on the safe side.

    Some GPU's have their RAM voltage locked no matter what, this means that those are tied to the Core Voltage itself.

  • AUX voltage (mV) is the amount of power going through the PCB of your GPU, typically, this never have to be changed unless you are going for extreme overclocking.
Overclocking in MSI Afterburner adheres to standard trial and error learning curve.

  • Power Limit
  • Start by running Kombustor and see if the core clock fluctuate.

    If it does not remain at it's full set speed that you can see into the monitoring by around 20MHz or more and never stays stable at full speed, your GPU lacks power, in which means you need to raise the power limit up. Keep fiddling the slider up until it does not make a difference anymore. That sets to remove the power bottleneck. However if it's completely fine, skip this step.
  • Core Clock
  • For as long you keep having a perfectly smooth and stable image without corruptions or lines, you can raise the core clock speeds by small increments or said speeds people mention to achieve on average until it finally hits the artifacting.

    Once it starts artifacting, do not panic, you hit the limit It's normal, press ESC and leave the testing, you can either call it a day by going back to the clocks it used to be stable and skip to memory clocks, or you can take on into core voltages and raise it by small increments until it stops then raise core clocks again, this process goes on and on with trial and error until you find how excessive of voltage it takes to raise your clock speeds or that the temperatures based on your fan profile are getting out of control. In the going process you will have to adjust power limit again to feed more power accordingly to the use and maintain the new clock speeds.
  • Memory Clock
  • When your core clock speeds are perfected and to the sweet spot that you defined, it is time to let the VRAM be able to compensate for the new performance. That in mind is very simple, raise the memory clocks to the speeds you found online which seems reasonable to you compared your own components and if it artifacts, lower them by small increments until it stops, or you can simply raise until it starts giving you problems. While GDDR5 is easy to fix once it starts artifacting, GDDR3 will require a reboot to fix.

    VRAM just like core clock of your GPU can be allowed get more voltage, although it is very important to be careful with those still, one bad step can damage hardware. While it is true that systems can prevent those, be on the safe side and do not do things blindly. Be smart and raise voltage by small amounts if you do want to overclock VRAM far out. With HWinfo64 it's possible to know if your VRAM is stable or not by looking at the GPU Memory Errors, if any are shown, it is not stable. Take notes of the amount of errors and add either voltage or lower your memory clock speeds, then try again see if anymore shows up.
All done? Smooth image without artifacting? Stable clocks? Temperatures aren't excessively high? Congratulations, you have overclocked your GPU and squeezed the best it could do!

That is in practice with the application of Kombustor itself, games behaves differently and might require you to do some tweaking, do not be scared if you see any issues rise, those can be fixed with proper understanding!

All in all, remember that there is the law in diminishing returns in play! Do not attempt very high clocks speeds if it requires you insane amount of voltages, always go for what makes sense.

4.1 : Overclocking Voltage/Frequency curve editor

Overclocking via Voltage/Fequency curve editor is usually helpful to reach higher core clock with lower voltages, usually helpful with laptops and some GPUs.
With laptops its really helpful for your laptop if its overheating and thermal throttling, you may set the core clock on lower voltage, but as they are all ready tweaked to run on lower voltage, you may be successful with it and give you an performance boost with lower temperatures!

Usually looks like this.
Left of the Core Clock slider there should be 3 dots and you may edit graph on which voltage which Core Clock shall be.
This is usually within the 1000 and 2000 series of Nvidia's GPUs.
AMD also offers with their Global OverDrive on RX and Vega series.

5 : How to configure On-Screen Display In MSI Afterburner (OSD)

Go to settings window and click on "Monitoring" tab.

Firstly for "Hardware polling period (In miliseconds)" its recommended to set between 500 and 1000 as it is how fast it will update.

Under "Active hardware monitoring graphcs" select the information you want to appear in OSD by clicking on descriptive name , then ticking "Show in On-Screen Display".
You may select for GPU usage, GPU voltage, CPU temperature , CPU usage and memory usage as start.
Also you can tweak how will they look like with different colors , with text, graph or both, You may also override the graph name what you want to show it up for you.
You may set an "Alarm" when your GPU temperature or any other temperature goes out of your "safe" range.

On-Screen Display (OSD) with automatically start with MSI Afterburner and its usually located in notification tab of your windows.
To enable the OSD you simply click on it in notification

and turn on "Show On-Screen Display"
You may tweak the other settings such as "On-Screen Display zoom" and how its display with "On-Screen Display rendering mode".
NOTE: Some games might be sensitive to OSD as inject malware to the games such as CS:GO or PUBG and you may get disconnected from server, soo its recommended if it happens to enable "On-Screen Display support" or disable completley the OSD.

If by any chance OSD fails to detect the game, raise the level.
If your application is 64bit in settings you may have to tick to enable 64bit support (in "Setup").

6 : Setting Up a Fan Profile

Fan profile is matter of personal opinion.
Go to settings, then "Fan" tab and enable/tick "Enable user defined software automatic fan control".
You may set that your lower temps have lower speeds or vice versa.
But surely always keep close to 80-85*C fan speed to 100% to ensure your card will not get damaged (Its good idea to research what might be good temps for your current GPU and which one are max.

The "Temperature hysteresis" what it does when it reaches certain temperature with certain fan speed it will stick to it untill your GPU drops for that specific temperature set lets say of 12C, until it drops for 12C it will not ramp/slow down the fan speed.

Its good idea to run Kombustor until the temperature settles with flat curve (It will also depend what airflow you have in your case, what is your ambient temperature, how dusty your GPU is and worst one, it has one or multiple fan failure which happen rarely).
Its good tweak if your fans run loud at low temperatures.

7 : Extra software for monitoring

Personally I like to use these softwares;
Unigine Valley Benchmark

They are good for double checking your sensors on motherboard, GPU and CPU.
While MSI Afterburner may or may not show additional temperatures, HWIFNO and GPU-Z at its sensor tab will such as VRAM Temps, some may show up mosfet (Voltage controller) temperatures of the GPU as well as PCB temperature.

GPU-Z perf cap reason explained (since this is kinda hard to find)
vRel = Reliability. Indicating performance is limited by voltage reliability.
VOp = Operating. Indicating performance is limited by max operating voltage(Hardware Limit).
Pwr = Power. Indicating performance is limited by total power limit.
Thrm = Thermal. Indicating performance is limited by temperature limit.
Util = Utilization. Indicating performance is limited by GPU utilization.

NOTE: "Overclocking via Voltage/Fequency curve editor" might work for your laptop, might not. Not sure which models or brands work.
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