PC ComponentsGPU

What Is the Core Clock on a GPU?


If you’re a gamer, you’d know the unmatched significance of the GPU in providing a quality gaming experience. While comparing different graphic processing units, you might be dumbstruck by finding all the jargon on the specs sheet. One important term from this jargon is the core clock.

Quick Answer

In a graphics processing unit, the core clock is the frequency at which the graphics processing chip oscillates. Generally, the core clock is stated in terms of clock speed.

Clock speed is the number of pulsations a silicon crystal in the GPU goes through in a single second. Parallel to stream processes, memory clocks, and memory interface, it is another measure of the efficiency of a graphics card. 

In this article, I’ll analyze in detail what core clocks are, what clock speed is, and how to overclock your PC’s graphics card.

What Is the Core Clock?

To understand what the core clock means, we’ll first get the hang of what cores in GPU are in the first place. For starters, cores are the basic computing units of the GPU that work in parallel. It implies the more core a graphics card has, the more computation power it has. 

Core clock is a term coined to describe the speed of the GPU cores. Technically, it is the frequency at which the graphic processing chip oscillates. The faster it oscillates, the better the results will be. Clock speed is just a quantitative measure of the core clock.

Core Count vs. Core Clock

The core count is the number of cores in your graphics card, while the core clock is the speed at which these cores work. What should you prefer if you’re getting all the same specs but different core counts and core clocks?

Well, that depends on what you need. You might consider buying more core counts if you want to process a lot of visual data in a small time window. But if you want greater clock speed and the memory input isn’t overwhelming, you can compromise on the core counts.

Memory Clock on GPUs

The memory clock is the speed of memory processing on the GPU. In other words, it’s the frequency of the VRAM on the GPU. In contrast, the core clock signifies the processing speed.

You can think of the relationship between the memory clock and the core clock in the following way. VRAM retrieves visual data from memory and throws it toward the cores. Their speed has to be synchronized so that VRAM doesn’t put too much data that the cores cannot process.

From an operational perspective, core clocks affect your PC’s performance more than the memory clock. 

How To Overclock Your GPU

It is no secret that you can get better graphics performance by overclocking your PC, but the question remains: how do you do it, and is it safe? For the latter, be assured that overclocking will cause no harm to your PC. At most, if the temperature and load increase off the limit, your PC will freeze or crash.

Now, how can you overclock your GPU? Here are the steps you need to follow.

  1. Download and install MSI Afterburner
  2. Download and install MSI Kombustor.
  3. Open Afterburner. 
  4. On the home screen, tap the K-icon on the left sidebar. It will launch the Kombustor. The Kombustor is designed to run stress tests on your PC.
  5. On the control board, up the temperature and power limit to the maximum.
  6. Take the fan control to 70%.
  7. Keep increasing the core clock by ten units until the Kombustor either lags or shuts off completely. 
  8. Ensure you keep the core clock limit ten below the limit at which the Kombustor blows up.
  9. Move up the memory clock by increments of 10 until the Kombustor crashes.
  10. Set the memory limit to 10 below the crashing limit.
  11. Tap the “Save” button on the right sidebar. 
  12. Hit the Windows button on the top-right corner of the Afterburner screen.

That’s it! You can go and run all the games you want. You’ll see a noticeable increase in the FPS. If you’re worried that this increment will harm your computer, don’t be. The method has been tested and implemented repeatedly, and no downsides have been found.

Lastly, the method isn’t specific to a company or generation. You can use it to overclock any system.

What Is a Good Core Clock Speed?

Firstly, the core clock is not the only metric against which you can judge the working of a graphics card. You must keep other factors in mind which make a graphics card desirable.

That said, most quality graphic cards have a core clock of 1.44 GHz. With software such as MSI Afterburner, you can take that to a maximum of 1.9 GHz.

Apart from core clock speed, memory clock speed is another significant factor. So, if you are comparing the GPU speed, compare both clock speeds.


In a nutshell, the core clock is the speed at which your GPU’s cores process data. In technical terms, it is the frequency of the graphic processing chip. Don’t confuse it with core counts, the number of cores your GPU has. Lastly, if you want to increase your GPU’s clock speed, you can use overclocking software such as MSI Afterburner.

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