1. Computers
  2. Display Drivers
  3. Graphics Cards
  4. Memory
  5. Motherboards
  6. Processors
  7. Software
  8. Storage
  9. Operating Systems


Facebook RSS Twitter Twitter Google Plus


Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking Benchmarking Platform
Phoromatic Test Orchestration

How To Overclock New NVIDIA GPUs On Linux

NVIDIA

Published on 08 April 2014 02:23 PM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in NVIDIA
4 Comments

With this morning's release of the NVIDIA 337.12 Beta Linux driver there is finally GPU overclocking support for the NVIDIA "Fermi" GPUs and newer, a.k.a. the GeForce 400 series and newer. This long-awaited overclocking support, however, isn't setup the same as when overclocking older GeForce GPUs with the NVIDIA Linux graphics driver.

Overclocking support for the GeForce 400/500/600/700 series graphics cards have been one of the missing Linux features compared to NVIDIA's Windows driver. Initially when the GeForce 400 series hardware launched we were told they didn't implement Linux overclocking support since the GPU clocking is much more complicated than earlier GPUs. With older NVIDIA GPUs, it's simply a matter of setting Option "CoolBits" "1" within the NVIDIA device section of the xorg.conf, rebooting, and then launching nvidia-settings to find GPU core and video memory sliders within a "Clock Frequencies" tab where you can easily manipulate the GPU core / vRAM frequencies. With the new overclocking code for modern GPUs, it's slightly different.

At first I tried the same approach as the CoolBits-based overclocking as done for older GeForce hardware on the NVIDIA Linux driver, but it didn't work. After reading the driver's documentation, they've changed the parameters for the Fermi+ overclocking. Now Option "Coolbits" "8" needs to be set within the device section of the xorg.conf to enable the new overclocking support. (If you also want to enable manual GPU fan controls, you need to set Option "Coolbits" "12". Per NVIDIA's driver documentation about the CoolBits value:
When "8" (Bit 3) is set in the "Coolbits" option value, the PowerMizer page in the nvidia-settings control panel will display a table that allows setting per-clock domain and per-performance level offsets to apply to clock values. This is allowed on certain GeForce GPUs in the GeForce GTX 400 series and later. Not all clock domains or performance levels may be modified.

When enabling the "Performance Level Editing", there's the usual NVIDIA disclaimer that needs to be accepted. Overclocking your GPU generally goes against the manufacturer warranty, can cause system instability, and potentially can damage your hardware.

How To Overclock New NVIDIA GPUs On Linux


Compared to the older CoolBits overclocking for GeForce 300 and older, the new CoolBits over/under-clocking is all based upon offsets rather than absolute values. With the old CoolBits were two simple sliders for setting the absolute values of the GPU and vRAM frequencies, but now it's a +/- difference off the current graphics/memory clocks. With a GeForce GTX 770 the GPU core could be underclocked by 105MHz or overclocked by up to a theoretical maximum of 1001MHz. The memory transfer rate could be reduced by up to 5390MHz or overclocked by up to 7010MHz. These are just the maximums based upon the driver/firmware and aren't necessarily achievable. There's no support for manually manipulating the GPU voltage.

How To Overclock New NVIDIA GPUs On Linux


For those not well experienced in overclocking, this new layout can be more confusing than the old design.

How To Overclock New NVIDIA GPUs On Linux


With the old CoolBits there was also an "auto detect" button that would try to find the highest stable maximum frequencies for your particular graphics card. Unfortunately, with this new CoolBits, there isn't an auto-detect option but you need to manually set the frequency offsets and then proceed to run 3D workloads/benchmarks and ensure stability and measure the performance improvements.

How To Overclock New NVIDIA GPUs On Linux


Overall though it's great to see NVIDIA finally add overclocking support to their Linux driver for modern GPUs. The addition of overclocking now goes to show NVIDIA paying more attention to Linux gamers and enthusiasts with being under pressure by Valve for SteamOS, Steam Machines, etc. I'm currently working on a NVIDIA Linux overclocking article looking at the performance for various Fermi, Kepler, and Maxwell GPUs on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS when overclocking. Stay tuned for those new NVIDIA Linux benchmarks from the 337.12 Beta driver in the next few days.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
Latest Linux News
  1. Premium Users Now Can Experience Our New Site
  2. XFS Will Get DAX Support In The Linux 4.2 Kernel
  3. X.Org Server Lands More Mode-Setting/GLAMOR Improvements, But No Sign Of 1.18
  4. Linux Mint 17.2 Officially Released With Cinnamon/MATE Flavors
  5. Fedora For MIPS Is Now Out In Testing, Supports The Creator CI20
  6. KDE Plasma 5.3.2 Fixes Shutdown Scripts, Few Dozen Other Bugs
  7. KDE Marks Four Years In Its Process Of Porting To Wayland
  8. Btrfs In Linux 4.2 Brings Quota Updates, Many Fixes
  9. Latest Rumor Pegs Microsoft Wanting To Buy AMD
  10. The Next-Gen Phoronix Site Experience Is Almost Ready
Latest Articles & Reviews
  1. How KDE VDG Is Trying To Make Open-Source Software Beautiful
  2. Attempting To Try Out BCache On The Linux 4.1 Kernel
  3. CompuLab's Fitlet Is A Very Tiny, Fanless, Linux PC With AMD A10 Micro
  4. AMD A10-7870K Godavari: RadeonSI Gallium3D vs. Catalyst Linux Drivers
Most Viewed News This Week
  1. Kubuntu 15.10 Could Be The End Of The Road
  2. Linus Is Looking Forward To Merging KDBUS, But Not Convinced By Performance
  3. NVIDIA Starts Supplying Open-Source Hardware Reference Headers
  4. KDBUS Won't Be Pushed Until The Linux 4.3 Kernel
  5. Linux 4.2 Kernel Gets Port To New Processor Architecture
  6. The Staging Pull For Linux 4.2: "Big, Really Big"
  7. SteamOS "Brewmaster" Is Valve's New Debian 8.1 Based Version
  8. Jonathan Riddell Steps Down From The Kubuntu Council