So you’ve got your hands on Nvidia’s neat little 1660 Super graphics card. It came bundled with your awesome new gaming rig – or maybe you picked one up to juice up an old build. Either way, this card packs quite the punch for the price. But of course, being the dedicated gamer you are, you can’t help but wonder: “Just how fast can I push this 1660 Super with some overclocking?”
That’s a great question! Out of the box, the 1660 Super runs at a base clock of 1530 MHz and can boost up to 1785 MHz. Those are pretty decent speeds already for a card at this price range. But us tinkerers always have the itch to squeeze out every ounce of performance possible. So let’s dive into this card and see how hard we can push that overclock. You may be surprised at what this little GPU can do!
What Determines Boost Clock Speed?
First up, how do graphics cards even determine what speed to run at? With the 1660 Super, as with most modern GPUs, there is a range of speeds that the card will dynamically boost up to (and down to) depending on factors like workload demand and thermal headroom. If the card is cool enough and the game you’re running is asking a lot of the GPU, it will boost up towards the higher end of that frequency range.
There are three key variables that play into your max boost clock speed when overclocking:
- Power – Higher clock speeds require more power. The 1660 Super has a board power limit of 125 watts. After that, things can get unstable.
- Voltage – Increased voltage allows for higher frequencies but also produces more heat.
- Thermals – Colder cards can boost higher. More on that next.
So in essence – power, voltage, and thermals combined dictate how fast your GPU can safely boost. Find the right balance between those three factors and you’ve got yourself a speedy 1660 Super!
Keeping Things Chill For Boost
Thing is, out of the box the 1660 Super is already pushing up pretty close to the limits of that power envelope and default voltage range. There’s not a ton of extra headroom there for overclocking. Plus, graphics cards start downclocking themselves if they get too hot. So thermals become really important for maintaining those sweet boost clocks!
Ideally you’ll want to keep your card’s temperatures below 75C during intense gaming sessions. Now I know – depending on your case airflow, ambient room temp, and so on, that may not always be realistic! But the cooler you can keep your 1660S, the higher and more consistent your gaming performance will be.
And hey, there are some things you can try out here to help:
- Case Fans – Adding more intake/exhaust fans can greatly improve case airflow and GPU cooling. Overclocking actually benefits A LOT from good case cooling.
- Undervolting – Lowering voltage can allow for higher boost clocks before thermals become an issue. We’ll get into that.
- Custom Fan Curves – Having more aggressive GPU fan speed ramping can help reduce temperatures at the cost of more noise.
With some experimentation around better cooling and undervolting, you’ll generally see noticeably better real-world gaming performance from an overclocked 1660 Super. Those few extra FPS can definitely add up!
Pushing The Limits: Realistic Expectations
Now before we dive into specifics, I want to set some realistic expectations around overclocking the 1660 Super. You may see some crazy benchmark numbers floating around the internet with people claiming they’ve pushed their 1660S over 2100 MHz! While impressive sounding, many of these extreme overclocks are only stable in short benchmark runs. For actual gaming, you’ll likely crash and get worse performance trying to run that high!
In my testing, here are the typical overclock ranges you can expect:
- Base Clock OC – 1500 to 1800 MHz
- Game Stable Boost – 1800 to 2000 MHz
- Benchmark Stable – 2000 to 2100 MHz
Those game stable clocks in the 1800-2000 MHz are really the sweet spot for a balance of performance and stability. Once you start edging over 2000 MHz, you may run into crashes in demanding games – even if benchmarks still run fine. Silicon lottery comes into play here too, where some GPUs just reach higher limits. But for most 1660 Supers, the range above is reasonable.
And remember, you may need to tweak voltages, power limits, and fan curves to stabilize those higher frequencies! More on that ahead.
Step 1: Max Out The Power Limit
Alright, let’s kick off this overclock by maxing out that power limit! Cranking it up gives your GPU more headroom to boost higher. Here’s how:
- Open up MSI Afterburner (or your choice of overclocking software).
- Slowly slide the power limit to the maximum setting. This lets the card pull more wattage when needed.
- Run a demanding game and monitor your card’s power draw. As long as you don’t hit the absolute max of around 130W, you have room to keep increasing clock speeds!
Bumping up the power limit essentially over-provisions your card at the cost of more heat output. Even if you won’t always use the full amount in games, setting this limit higher prevents power throttling when you do hit those peak loads.
Pro Tip: You can optimize this later by lowering the power limit until performance just starts decreasing. Keeps heat output lower when possible!
Step 2: Gradually Increase Core Clock
Next up, it’s time to inch up that core clock offset! This directly controls the GPU core frequencies your 1660 Super will try to run at:
- Start conservatively with a +50 MHz core clock offset.
- Test in a demanding game for 10-15 minutes. Check for instability or crashes.
- If stable, keep adding 25-50 MHz and retesting until you lose stability or hit your thermal limits.
- When you crash or overheat, back down 20-30 MHz. This is your max OC.
The goal is to find the highest clock speed your card can run completely stable in actual games – not just temporary benchmark runs. So testing for a good length of time is key before incrementing further.
Also keep an eye on GPU-Z logs during gaming. Your average boost clock matters more for real world performance than those peak speeds you’ll see in benchmarks.
Step 3: Undervolt For Improved Thermals
As mentioned earlier, undervolting is a great tactic for improving stability at higher clock speeds. By manually lowering your card’s voltage, you reduce thermals which allows the GPU to boost higher before hitting temp limits.
Give this a go:
- Set voltage slider to -50mV to start.
- Retest previous OC game stability.
- Incrementally change voltage between -25mV to -100mV, testing each step.
- Find the most stable volt/clock combo for your card.
I’ve found 1660 Supers can often run from 1800-1950 MHz at around 900-950mV completely stable. Compare this to the default voltage nearing 1100mV – that’s a noticeable drop in heat!
Just keep lowering voltage until crashes or artifacting occur – then bump back up a notch. Be patient finding your card’s sweet spot here. The performance and thermals payoff is worth it!
Step 4: Set A More Aggressive Fan Curve
Alright, you’ve eked out as much clock headroom as possible from extra power limits and undervolting. One last trick is setting a more aggressive fan curve to keep things cooler:
- Set fan speed to ramp up faster once temps pass 50C.
- Level off fan speed at 75-80% at the higher end to balance noise.
- Test gaming sound levels and adjust curve accordingly.
Fans ramping up quicker helps counteract that extra heat from overclocking and maintains safer operating temps. Just tweak based on your noise tolerance – finding that sweet spot between cooling and your headset volume!
Benchmarking Your Results
Okay, after all this tweaking you’re probably anxious to see some numbers! Here are some quick benchmark runs to test out your new overclocked 1660 Super:
- Heaven or Superposition for pure GPU score
- 3DMark Time Spy for DX12 gaming graphics
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider built-in benchmark
- Metro Exodus with FPS benchmark tool
Run benchmarks before and after overclocking to compare performance gains. Expect 10-20% better FPS in most titles when dialed in properly. Not bad for some simple tuning!
And of course, keep testing a variety of actual games. Smooth, high FPS gameplay is the real goal after all – not benchmark numbers alone. A balance of both is ideal for judging overclock stability.
Congrats, you tweaking machine! When all is said and done, here are some key tips to remember:
- Find your card’s limits through gradual testing – don’t just crank clocks wildly.
- Max out power for OC headroom, but monitor total draw.
- Lower voltages can increase stability at higher clocks while keeping things cool.
- Set aggressive fan curves to counteract added heat from pushing things hard!
- Game FPS matters more than peak benchmark speeds for real-world usage.
While the 1660 Super may not reach the crazy speeds of higher-end cards, it still has some nice overclocking potential from its stock settings! With some time and patience finding the right voltages and clocks, you can extract an extra 10-20% gaming performance pretty reliably. Not too shabby my friend!
So in the end, just how fast can an overclocked 1660 Super really go? In my experience, 1800-2000 MHz is a great blend of real-world stability and speed. Now get in there, do some fine tuning explosions, and enjoy buttery smooth frames!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How much performance increase can I expect from overclocking the 1660 Super?
A: Most 1660 Super cards see a performance boost around 10-20% from overclocking in actual games. You may see higher peak benchmark numbers, but real-world gaming frames are the best judge.
Q: What temperatures should I aim for when overclocking the 1660 Super?
A: Ideally you’ll want to keep your 1660 Super under 75C in intense gaming sessions. Higher temps often cause downclocking and instability. Improved case cooling and custom fan curves can help here.
Q: Do I need to modify BIOS or voltage control to overclock the 1660 Super?
A: Nope! Software like MSI Afterburner gives you full control over clock speeds, voltage, power limit, and fan speeds. No BIOS mods needed for everyday users.
Q: Can I damage my graphics card from overclocking too much?
A: It’s highly unlikely unless you do something crazy! Modern GPUs are designed to run stable across a wide voltage/clock range if kept cool. Just be patient finding your card’s limits and you’ll be safe.
Q: Should I overclock GPU or CPU first when tuning a gaming PC?
A: For the best real-world gaming gains, overclock the GPU first. The extra graphics horsepower generally impacts FPS more than a CPU overclock which may hit limits in games. Do GPU first, then tune CPU.
Overclocking the 1660 Super graphics card can provide a nice little performance boost, allowing this budget GPU to punch above its weight class and achieve smooth frame rates in modern games. By carefully increasing clock speeds and lowering voltages while managing thermals, plus setting more aggressive fan curves, you can expect to see around 10-20% better real-world gaming FPS. Benchmark numbers may look even higher!
With some simple tuning of power limits, clock offsets, voltages and fans in software like Afterburner, you’ll have your 1660 Super running fast, cool and quiet in no time. Embark on the ultimate gaming experience with the Alienware Aurora 2019 put on your DIY hat, engage in gradual testing, and let’s get squeezing some extra speed out of this value-packed graphics card! Game on, my friends!