If you’ve been in the PC sphere for more than 5 minutes, you’ve probably heard the term “overclocking” thrown around a few times.
It’s common knowledge that you can ramp up the voltage to your CPU, GPU, and RAM to increase performance. But did you know that you can overclock your monitor, as well?
You heard right, friend. You too can crank the dial to eleven on your display, free of charge. You don’t have to be a tech genius to do it either. It just takes five minutes and a few tweaks to your display settings.
That’s why we put together this guide on how to overclock your monitor’s refresh rate.
What is Refresh Rate?
Before we get into how to overclock your monitor refresh rate, we should discuss what we’re actually turning up.
Refresh rate refers to how quickly your monitor refreshes the images it receives from your graphics card. Simple enough.
But what happens when your GPU generates 100 frames per second, and your monitor only refreshes 60 times per second (60hz)? Then there are forty frames per second that you never even see.
This might not be a problem if 60 fps is all you need. Maybe you like playing top-down strategy games like Sid Meier’s Civilization 6 or beautiful indie titles like Gris. Odds are, you won’t notice much difference in games that don’t involve a lot of motion.
It’s a different story if games like Apex Legends, CS:GO, or VALORANT are more your speed. First-person shooters, racing games, and titles with lots of fast-paced motion are prone to blurring if the refresh rate on your monitor isn’t fast enough.
Overclocking your monitor can potentially give it the extra 10-15hz it requires to clean up that motion blur and give your quick-scope the edge it’s desperately been needing.
A Quick Note on Warranties
We need to squeeze in a word about warranties before we get into the instructions. While overclocking is considered relatively safe these days, many manufacturers include a clause indicating that modifying your equipment is grounds for voiding a warranty. That means you won’t be able to get your product replaced if it breaks (even if overclocking wasn’t the cause).
This varies from company to company, but you should make sure to check your warranty and consider whether the free upgrade is worth the loss of a safety net.
It is also possible, however unlikely, that you may damage or shorten the lifespan of your equipment by overclocking. More power equals more heat, after all. The choice is ultimately up to you. Proceed at your own risk. The chances of damage occurring are also much higher on monitors that already come factory overclocked, so be sure to check your panel’s specifications.
How to Overclock Your Monitor
Alright, so now you know what overclocking your monitor can do for you, and you know the risks involved. Now, let’s get down to how to change the Hz on your monitor.
There are three main methods, but a couple of them depend on the manufacturer of your GPU.
How to Overclock Your Monitor CRU
CRU (Custom Resolution Utility) is the oldest method on this list, and it’s pretty complicated. But those willing to put time and effort into learning the ins and outs of the program benefit greatly from its superior range of controls.
CRU works with virtually every card by AMD, but it has a limited capacity when it comes to Nvidia (and it rarely works with Intel’s integrated graphics).
Here’s how to overclock with CRU:
- Download CRU here, and then open up CRU.exe.
- Choose the display you wish to overclock from the drop-down list. It will say Active if the graphics driver recognizes the connected display.
- Edit the configuration to your desired speed. Keep in mind that an extra 15hz is probably the most you might be able to squeeze out of your monitor. Go by increments of 5hz to be safe.
- Click OK to save your changes and then reboot your graphics driver by running restart.exe.
- Setting the refresh rate on Windows varies depending on which version you have. For Windows 10, open Display Settings > Advanced Display Settings > Display Adapter Properties. Then select your new resolution on the Monitor tab and hit Apply. For Windows 7 or 8, open Screen Resolution > Advanced Settings. Then choose your resolution on the Monitor tab and hit Apply.
How to Overclock Your Monitor NVIDIA
If you use an NVIDIA graphics card in your computer, then I have some good news for you. Team Green has a native software that allows you to juice up your screen without having to download anything!
They also have an optional feature called DSR (Dynamic Super Resolution), which is a sort of 4K hack for 1080p and 1440p monitors. It basically allows your GPU to generate images at 4K quality before compressing them to your monitor’s native resolution. This means you can view higher quality images even though your monitor’s actual resolution won’t change. Pretty cool, eh?
In addition to making details clearer, it also makes shadows and effects much better. Just beware that this will be very taxing on your GPU and will most likely lower your frame rates by a significant margin.
Here’s how to overclock with NVIDIA:
- Open NVIDIA Control Panel.
- Select the Change Resolution page.
- Select Customize… from below the drop-down menu.
- Click Enable Resolutions Not Exposed by the Display, and then click Create Custom Resolution.
- Click on Refresh Rate and increase it by 5hz to start.
- Hit Test, then Apply.
Here’s how to activate DSR:
- Open GeForce Experience (version 2.1.2 or newer).
- Make sure your GeForce Driver is updated to the latest version.
- Click Optimize.
- Steps 1-3 allows GeForce to automatically activate DSR during games that allow for image scaling over 1920×1080. To enable DSR at all times, open Nvidia Control Panel.
- Select the Change Resolution page if you’re not already on it.
- Select Dynamic Super Resolution on the drop-down menu.
- Hit Apply.
How to Overclock Your Monitor AMD
Those of you on Team Red will be happy to know that AMD also has their own dedicated software that can be used to overclock your monitors. It’s built into their Radeon graphics card controller, and it works like a dream. It’s simple, streamlined, and the interface feels much more modern than either of the other programs on this list. It doesn’t offer quite as many advanced modification features as CRU, but this is definitely the way to go if all you’re trying to do is beef up your refresh rates.
Radeon also offers a setting that performs the same function as DSR. It’s called VSR (Virtual Super Resolution). It also allows your AMD graphics card to render images at resolutions up to 4K and then scales them back down to your monitor’s native resolution.
In addition to image sharpening, VSR also boasts the ability to give screens a wider field of view in many games. They claim that this “can be beneficial in real-time strategy or world-building games where seeing more of the world can give the user an edge.”
But like DSR, you should beware that activating VSR will put a lot more strain on your graphics card, meaning that the sharper images will come at a substantial loss in frame rates.
Here’s how to overclock with AMD:
- Open AMD Radeon Setting.
- Click on the Display tab.
- Click the Create New button next to Custom Resolutions.
- Read the EULA disclaimer and click I Accept.
- Raise the Refresh Rate by an increment of 5hz.
- Click Create.
- You will receive a notification if the settings you have input into the program aren’t compatible with your monitor. Otherwise, your new settings will be saved as a new preset in the Custom Resolutions section of the software.
Here’s how to activate VSR:
- Open AMD Radeon Setting.
- Click on the Display tab.
- Click Enable right next to the Virtual Super Resolution tab.