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How to Overclock your PC Monitor?

Our computers often come with features that should be triggered by us if we want to get the best possible performance and experience from them. There are high chances that most of you reading this article have heard about overclocking a computer CPU to boost its performance in terms of clock speeds (measured in GHz). But did you know that you can overclock your monitor too?

Yes, it is possible to overclock your monitor for as long as it has the capacity to do so. In today’s article, I will discuss what overclocking a monitor means, how to check if your monitor supports this feature and a step-by-step guide of how to do the overclocking.  Let’s jump in right away. 

What does overclocking a monitor mean?

All computer displays have a hidden feature called refresh rate that most people rarely look at while using their Pcs. Refresh rate is measured in terms of Hertz (Hz) or frames per second (fps). Overclocking a monitor means adjusting its refresh rate to a number higher than its default value. But, what does refresh rate mean?

What is the refresh rate of a monitor?

Refresh rate refers to the number of times a monitor renders new images per second. If you have CRO TVs, you should have seen them blinking a couple of times in the process of refreshing the screen. Our eyes are only able to visually see the monitor blinking if its refresh rate is below 24Hz. Most of the displays in the market today have a default refresh rate of 60Hz, which is comfortable for most people especially if one uses the PC for doing basic tasks

However, some newer monitors have a refresh rate that is higher than 60Hz. These kinds of monitors are designed for people who use their PCs for tasks that need refresh rates higher than 60Hz. For instance, if you use your PC to play video games or rendering high refresh rate videos, you will have a smoother experience if your monitor has a refresh rate of at least 120Hz.

How to check the maximum refresh rate for your monitor?

But before you even go further to adjust the refresh rate, you first all have to determine if your monitor supports this feature. You can check for this feature by doing a Google search or visiting the official website of the monitor manufacturer to see all its features, which often include the maximum supported refresh rate. You can also check this through your display settings. I will share more of this later in the article. Read more: Check out the upcoming high refresh rate HDMI 2.1 monitors

Benefits of overclocking your monitor

The main benefit you will get when you overclock your monitor is a smooth viewing experience of content on your display. For instance, if you increase your refresh rate from 60Hz to 120Hz, your monitor will now be rendering 120 frames of images per second, which leads to a smoother viewing experience, especially if you are playing games or browsing content on the web. 

However, if you are just viewing static content or watching videos recorded at 60fps or lower, you won’t be able to see any difference even when you increase the refresh rate. The benefits high refresh rate are only visible when doing tasks that require your display to render images faster than the default 60fps.

Risks associated with overclocking your monitor

There are no immediate risks associated with overclocking your monitor for as long it is in good condition and supports this feature. However, in the long run, overclocking your monitor may reduce its overall lifespan and that of some other Pc components. Here is how it happens; 

When you increase the refresh rate of your Pc, the amount of current that is required to render images on your monitor will increase. That means your monitor will have to draw more current from the power supply, which leads to the generation of heat. This heat has the potential to damage your monitor and other pc components in the long run. 

However, most of the newer monitors with this high refresh rate are now designed with cooling mechanisms that enable them to stay within the maximum allowable temperatures. Some of the high-end gaming and video editing monitors come with dedicated cooling systems to keep them cool when operating at a high refresh rate. So, most monitor manufacturers are trying their best to minimize the risks created by the heat that arises from overclocking your monitor.

Step by step guide of how to overclock your monitors

Now that you know the benefits and risks associated with overclocking your display, let’s now discuss the steps you will have to go through to do this. The methods used to overclock your monitor depend on the graphics card (GPU) that powers your display. Most PCs in the market use graphics cards by either Intel, Nvidia, or AMD. So, we shall share the steps for all these. 

Intel

If your PC uses an Intel integrated GPU, you will have to first update the graphics drivers before going ahead to overclock the monitor. Without the intel graphics drivers, you won’t be able to change the refresh rate and other graphics properties using intel’s HD graphics panel. After updating to the latest intel graphics drivers, follow the steps below to change the refresh rate

intel overclocking
  • Right-click while on your desktop and select graphics properties to open the intel HD graphics panel. It is within this panel that you can make changes to your display’s resolution, refresh rate, color temperature, and many more other configurations. 
  • While in the panel, select the display whose refresh rate you want to change. If you have more than one display connected to your computer, you will be able to change the refresh rate of one at a time.
  • After choosing the display, click general settings. 
  • Toward the right section of the panel, you should see a drop-down menu where you can change the refresh rate of your display. Click this dropdown menu and select the refresh rate of your choice. If the maximum number you see is 60Hz, then either your monitor or graphics card doesn’t support a refresh rate beyond 60Hz
  • In some cases, the maximum refresh rate may also depend on the resolution selected. Some monitors only allow a high refresh rate when the resolution is lower. For instance, a lot of 4K monitors in the market today may only support a higher refresh rate at 1080P and not at the full resolution of 4K. 

Nvidia

If your PC has a dedicated Nvidia graphics card, you will have to use the Nvidia panel to change the refresh rate and the resolution of the display. But just like intel, you will only have this panel installed on your Pc after you have updated the graphics drivers. You can update the drivers through your Pc’s device management, download them from your PC manufacturer’s website, or Nvidia website. After installing the latest graphics driver, follow these steps to change your monitor’s refresh rate;

Nvidia monitor overclocking
  • Right-click on your desktop and select the Nvidia Control Panel. The panel may take a few seconds to open depending on how fast your PC is. 
  • Under the display menu on the left-hand side of the panel, click the change resolution option. This selection will open a new window that has the option of changing your resolution and refresh rate. It is here that you will select the maximum possible refresh that you want.
  • After you have adjusted the resolution and refresh rate, click test. Nvidia allows you to test the new settings before applying them permanently to your display.
  • Apply the new settings and reboot your PC. If you are comfortable with the new settings after testing them, you should go ahead and save them. A PC reboot will be required to have these changes permanently applied to your monitor. 
 

AMD

Those with PCs having AMD dedicated graphics cards will have to use the AMD Radeon settings panel to change the refresh rate of their monitors. You will also have to update your AMD graphics drivers for you to get access to this panel. I would recommend updating these drivers through the windows device manager because it will give you the latest version of the drivers. You can also get the latest drivers from AMD’s website. After you have updated your drivers, follow the steps below to change the refresh rate of your display.

  • Right-click on your desktop and select AMD Radeon Settings. A new window will be opened that has all the settings that can be changed. 
  • Click the Display tab.
  • Within this tab, next to custom resolution, click create. Under this, you will find a couple of settings that you can change, including the refresh rate and resolution itself. 
  • Change the refresh rate to your desired level. You may notice that the maximum refresh rate you can configure your monitor depends on the resolution you select. There are only a few monitors that support the highest resolution at the highest refresh rate. And these cost a lot of money.
  • Reboot your PC to apply all the changes made.

For all the different graphics cards,  you will notice that the maximum refresh rate is dependent on the resolution selected. It is only a few monitors that can have the maximum refresh rate enabled at a high resolution like 4K or even 8K. But even if the display supports this feature, the graphics card in your monitor should also have the ability to render high-resolution frames at a high refresh rate.

The connecting interface used to connect your desktop and monitor will also affect the maximum resolution and refresh rate that you can enable. For instance, if you want to play a 4K game/video at 120fps, you will need HDMI 2.1 or newer to do so.

Verifying whether you have successfully overclocked your monitors

Now that you are done with all steps for increasing your monitor’s refresh rate, you will need to verify if the changes have been implemented. There are a couple of websites on the internet that you can use to verify the refresh rate of your monitor. One of the sites that I can recommend is testufo.

When you visit this website, the refresh of your PC’s monitor will automatically be indicated at the bottom section of your website. You may also choose to visit the website before you overclock your monitor to make sure the refresh rate it indicates matches with the default for your monitor. After you overclocking the monitor, you can again visit the site to verify whether the refresh rate you adjusted to has been maintained by your display.

Some newer monitors do the overclocking automatically

As the technology of displays is getting better, we are now starting to see a couple of monitors with a variable refresh rate that automatically changes based on the content being displayed. For instance, if you are playing video games, it can always max out the refresh rate because such tasks can take advantage of it. But when you are viewing static content, the refresh rate can be lowered to the minimum possible.

These kinds of displays are very power efficient and will usually use way less energy than one which is permanently overclocked. However, such monitors are still rare in the market and very expensive since the tech is still new. Their prices will drop over time as more and more display manufacturers adopt this new technology.

Final thoughts

Overclocking your monitor might be a necessary tweak, especially if you do tasks that require rendering content at a higher refresh rate than the default (60Hz). The possibility of changing your refresh rate will largely depend on the capacity of your graphics card, the model of your monitor, and the connecting interface between the monitor and desktop.

The good news is that you can always change back to the default refresh rate if the need arises. The drawbacks of running your monitor at the highest refresh rate are long term, but most of them are being dealt with by making monitors with efficient cooling systems.

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