PC Components

Boost Clock vs. Core Clock on a GPU

Gpu

GPUs are an integral part of a computer as they are responsible for processing image and video content. Whether the GPU on your PC is integrated or dedicated, it has a clock speed. The clock speed of a GPU is measured in MHz, and it measures the number of processing cycles it can perform per second. When looking at the clock speed of a GPU, two main things come to mind: the boost clock and the core clock. So, what is the difference between a boost clock and a core clock on GPUs? 

Quick Answer

The core clock or base clock of a GPU is the default speed at which it processes operations. Whereas the boost clock of a GPU is an elevated or higher speed at which it processes operations. Boost clock offers a burst of performance and is often temporary, particularly when a heavy load is applied to the GPU. 

Increasing the GPU core clock speed involves the same principles as increasing the CPU’s clock speed. In essence, when a GPU core clock speed is increased, you increase the speed of operation per second to achieve improved performance. Keep reading to learn the differences between boost and core clock on GPUs. 

Differences Between Boost Clock and Core Clock on a GPU 

When it comes to GPUs, there are three main types of GPU manufacturers you can opt for, and those are Intel, AMD, and NVidia GPUs. These GPUs have their fair share of ups and downs but deliver exceptional quality. If you are considering overclocking either of them, you can do it manually or use the software method. 

Generally, overclocking a GPU means providing more voltage for the GPU, thus increasing the frequency at which it completes tasks. If you are going to overclock a GPU using software, it’s much simpler. But if you do it manually, it is more difficult and not recommended for a beginner. For those who don’t seem to understand the whole concept of the boost clock and core clock, below are some key differences between the two. 

Difference #1: Frequency 

One of the main differences between the boost clock and the core clock is the frequency. The boost clock of a GPU has a higher frequency than the core clock. In essence, a GPU will perform more cycles of processes when it is boosted compared to a GPU at its core clock speed. 

Whereas the core clock of a GPU is the speed at which the manufacturer sets the GPU to perform. Depending on the GPU, the clock speed can be around 170 MHz. To be safe, the GPU can be boosted by 10% or 50 to 100 MHz. Although some GPUs have built-in mechanisms to support higher frequency. 

Difference #2: Impact on Performance 

Another key difference between a boosted clock and a core clock on a GPU is their impact on performance. Obviously, the higher the clock speed on the GPU, the better the performance. Hence, a boosted clock performs much better than a core clock.

Although a high clock speed does not always guarantee a faster GPU, other factors come into play when determining a GPU’s performance. However, among the list of things to look out for when looking for a high-performance GPU, the clock speed is one of them. 

Difference #3: Power Needed 

One of the main things to consider when looking at the difference between a boost clock and a core clock is the amount of power it needs. A boosted clock requires more power than the core clock on the GPU. The whole reason boosted clock on a GPU is possible is passing more current through the GPU. The current increase makes the GPU process more operation in a second. 

So, if you are considering boosting your GPU from its normal core clock, it’s important to consider whether or not the PSU on your PC can support it. If the PSU in your PC does not support it, you have to invest in getting a bigger PSU. 

Difference #4: Heat Generation 

Another thing to take into account is the amount of heat generated. GPUs are notorious for generating more heat than the CPU under normal working conditions. Increasing the current flow through the GPU to boost the clock will only increase the amount of heat generated.

The heat generated when the GPU is boosted is higher than when the GPU is operating on the base clock or core clock. If the GPU is boosted without modifying other components, it will overheat, damaging several components. For this reason, if you are going to boost the clock of your GPU, you should make provisions for how you will cool down the GPU to prevent damage.  

Difference #5: Longevity 

Finally, longevity is another major thing that differentiates the boost clock from the core clock on the GPU. Using your GPU at the core clock is guaranteed by the manufacturer to last you a specified number of years. However, when you boost the clock speed on your GPU, in most cases, you void the warranty, and if any damage is sustained, you are to bear the cost of repairs. 

Moreover, boosting the clock of your GPU reduces its lifespan as the rise in temperature and increased functioning of other components, such as the fan, causes faster deterioration. 

Important

Do not overclock your GPU unless it is required. Always underclock the GPU after completing that heavy process that made you overclock it in the first place. And when you overclock your GPU, do not leave your GPU running at that max speed as its new default clock.

Conclusion 

In most cases, the GPU clock speed is sufficient to handle most of the tasks you will likely need to perform. It doesn’t matter whether gaming or video rendering; you can carry it out without overclocking your GPU. However, when you realize the speed of your PC has reduced substantially, you can consider overclocking your GPU. 

And as we explained in this article, you can better know when to apply each clock by understanding the differences between a boost clock and the core clock on a GPU. 

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