Every computer has a video card. Some video cards are integrated directly into the motherboard, while others (like most gaming video cards) are separate from the motherboard.
If you use your computer for gaming or intense video editing applications, then you’re probably interested in learning how to speed up your video card for free. After all, who doesn’t appreciate smooth gaming framerates and fast performance?
Ready to begin? Here are a few tips that will help you speed up your video card for free (even if you don’t know much about computers).
Most gamers already know about updating their video card drivers on a regular basis. However, casual gamers may not know that they have to download regular updates for their video cards in order for them to perform their best.
Drivers can make a surprising difference in terms of a video card’s performance. The two largest video card manufacturers – ATI and Nvidia – are constantly tweaking and optimizing the drivers that your PC uses to communicate with its hardware.
In some cases, these driver updates will increase framerates and performance across all games and applications. But it’s far more common to see a driver update optimized for a recently released PC game. Since today’s PC games are constantly pushing technology to its limits, Nvidia tries its best to help its hardware keep up. And it does that by releasing driver updates.
If you recently purchased a new game and want to optimize its performance, install the latest driver update. You may be surprised how much it improves performance. Check these websites every month or so to download the latest updates.
To download driver updates for your Nvidia card, click here
To download driver updates for your ATI card, click here
Overclock your video card
Driver updates might boost PC game performance by between 5% to 10%. However, if you want to improve performance beyond that, then you should consider overclocking.
Overclocking a video card involves pushing its clock speed past its default limits. Video card performance is always restricted by the manufacturer to prevent the card from overheating – even when experiencing heavy demand. Removing this limit is easy and even encouraged by ATI and Nvidia.
In order to overclock your video card, you need to make sure your card is running as coolly as possible. Consider installing an extra case fan or upgrading the heat sink on your video card.
Of course, if you have an older video card and you’re not worried about damaging internal components during an overclock because you’re buying a new one soon, then feel free to overclock using standard cooling systems. To improve your computer’s ability to cool itself the low-budget way, simply remove the side of the case and point an electric fan at your card. This is often enough to boost clock speeds by 5% to 15%, although for anything more, you should upgrade from stock cooling.
ATI and Nvidia each have software that allows users to easily overclock their video card while monitoring its temperature:
Nvidia users can click here to download Nvidia Control Panel. It’s a user-friendly application that walks users carefully through the overclocking process.
-If you use an EVGA Nvidia card, then you can use a powerful utility called EVGA Precision X to increase clock speed, fan speed, memory clock, and voltage.
-ATI users can click here to download a program called AMD Catalyst Software that also provides user-friendly overclocking options
Increase video memory through the BIOS
If you have a ‘discrete’ video card, then this tip isn’t for you. Discrete video cards go in the PCI slots on your motherboard, but they’re not integrated directly into the motherboard as an onboard component.
If you do have an onboard graphics card, then you may be able to increase its memory. Normally, video cards have a fixed memory limit that cannot be changed. But with onboard graphics card, the motherboard might choose to allocate some memory to video card performance with other memory being reserved for system tasks.
To check if you can increase your video card’s memory supply, follow these steps:
-Restart your computer and enter the BIOS by pressing the requested key immediately as your computer starts up (it’s often the Delete key or F10).
-Every BIOS is different. Navigate through the BIOS using your arrow keys (you may also be able to use your mouse). Look for a hardware or video memory section. Usually, BIOS menus aren’t too deep, so it shouldn’t take long to find what you need.
-Once you’ve found the video memory adjustment section of the BIOS, you should see a number of different memory presets. Choose the highest possible preset. Then, save and exit your BIOS. This will not necessarily increase your computer’s performance, since you’re taking memory away from one area and dedicating it to another. Try choosing a lower preset before benchmarking your computer.
-If you can’t find a video card memory section, then your computer might not feature that option. To be sure you haven’t missed anything, check your computer’s instruction manual or your motherboard manual and look for any information about the BIOS or increasing video memory.
Want to test video card speed for free?
Now that you’ve taken some time to improve your video card performance, it’s time to see if your hard work actually made a difference. Download 3DMark 11, which is specifically designed to test gaming performance. Many games also allow users to benchmark video card performance in-game.
Benchmark your game before and after you speed up your video card to see what kind of difference it made. Let us know about your performance boost in the comments section below!