Your GPU/Graphics card behaves similarly to a CPU, it has a certain clock speed it runs at, and it’s measured in MHz(Megahertz). However, your CPU is able to reach higher clock speeds typically around 4-5GHz.
The main difference between your GPU and your CPU is that your GPU primarily handles graphical data whereas the CPU handles general data.
Your GPU clock speed is extremely important, it has a direct linear influence on how much frames per second will be generated in games. But, there’s no definitive answer to the question.
What Is A Good GPU Clock Speed For Gaming?
When gaming, the GPU clock speed plays a huge role, it’s one of the main metrics used to influence how well your video game will run. The other metric is core count, but we’re not going to get into that today.
A difference of 200MHz to your GPU can result in significant FPS gains. This is because the GPU clock speed and the in-game FPS have a linear correlation.
This means information such as geometrics, terrain, textures, and everything rendered by the GPU will be processed much faster.
So imagine the RTX 3060 which is clocked at: Base Clock 1320 MHz Boost Clock 1777 MHz, when the GPU boosts to 1777 MHz, you should experience a huge jump in frames per second.
Graphics Card Overclocking
With GPU overclocking, it’s always pretty easy as it can be done on the fly without having to restart your computer. You have software such as MSI Afterburner which you can download for free.
So, this is why overclock is particularly popular with graphics cards, it’s a free and easy way to squeeze extra performance out of your GPU.
And overclocking the GPU is pretty safe as there’s safety limits set on the GPU to prevent hardware failure. The general consensus is to increment your GPUs clock speed slowly, this is to ensure everything is running smoothly.
Also Read: Should I Overclock My GPU
Why The Graphics Card Clock Speed IS NOT Important
When you buy a graphics card, you should already have an idea of what resolution you want to game at. From understanding your desired resolution, we can extract the specifications of these graphics cards, including the clock speed.
So, you have an idea of what resolution you want to game at, and at each resolution, the recommended graphics card varies in terms of performance and specifications. The GPU clock speed will vary per GPU, but this is only a single metric.
There is also VRAM capacity, and the core count, these metrics play a role in the performance of the GPU, especially the core count. So, you shouldn’t just focus on the GPU clock speed as it tells a fraction of the story.
Top end graphics cards will usually have lower clock speeds than weaker graphics cards, this is because the performance is backed up by the core count, and other factors such as memory specifications.
Also, when comparing NVIDIA GPUs to AMD GPUs, you will find that NVIDIA will feature more cores but lower clock speeds, this is just how the architecture is made, so clock speed is architecture dependent.
|Graphics Card||Core Clock Speed||Core Count||Recommended Resolution|
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090||2235 MHz base/2520 MHz boost||16384||4K/8K|
|AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX||1855 MHz base/2499 MHz boost||6144||4K/8K|
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090||1395 MHz base/1695 MHz boost||10496||4K/8K|
|AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT||1825 MHz base/2250 MHz boost||5120||4K/8K|
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080||1440 MHz base/1710 MHz boost||8704||4K|
|AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT||1825 MHz base/2015 MHz||4608||4K|
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070||1500 MHz base/1725 MHz boost||5888||1440P/4K|
|NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060||1320 MHz base/1777 MHz boost||3584||1080P|
|AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT||1968 MHz base/2359 MHz boost||2048||1080P|
Does Boost Clock Speed Matter?
Boost clock speed absolutely matters, it allows your graphics card to push more performance when the circumstances are right.
If your GPU is cool, and you’re gaming, there is probably more headroom for clock speed, this is where boost clock speed comes in and automatically overclocks your graphics card
However, boost clock speeds don’t last forever, your GPU will eventually get too hot to the point where the GPU will have to clock back down. This is done to maintain optimal temperatures when gaming.
Some graphics cards will have a 400MHz difference between the base and the boost clock speed, this can result in a considerable amount of FPS making games more immersive.
Some graphics cards will even have higher boost clock speeds compared to the reference cards, this is because aftermarket graphics cards will feature superior coolers which allows for higher headroom for overclocks.
While the difference wont be significant, a decent aftermarket graphics card could result in lower temperatures, higher clock speeds, and higher frame rates which is an all-around win.
Laptop/Integrated Graphics Clock Speed
Some CPUs will come with integrated graphics which is basically a graphics card integrated on the CPU die hence the name.
And integrated graphics work the same way a dedicated graphics card will, they have their own clock speeds independent from the CPU meaning it uses very little of the CPUs resources.
Now, integrated graphics are still pretty bad compared to dedicated graphics cards, this is because dedicated GPUs are more efficient allowing for more cores and higher clock speeds.
Think about it, people using integrated graphics cards won’t be processing graphically intense data, therefore they don’t require high clock speeds. So, integrated graphics cards will come with low clock speeds for efficiency purposes.
Integrated graphics serve pretty well when it comes to standard everyday use. You can probably get away with light gaming, and video editing, but for the more heavy stuff, a dedicated GPU is necessary.
As for the memory clock speed, integrated graphics cards will share the RAM with the CPU, so the iGPU memory clock will be identical to the RAM clock speed; but RAM is far slower than VRAM.
|Integrated Graphics||Core Clock Speed||Memory Clock Speed|
|Intel UHD Graphics 630||350 MHz base/1050 MHz boost||System Shared|
|Intel UHD Graphics 620||300 MHz base/1000 MHz boost||System Shared|
|Intel UHD Graphics 610||300 MHz base/900 MHz boost||System Shared|
|AMD Radeon RX Vega 11||300 MHz base/1240 MHz boost||System Shared|
|AMD Radeon Vega 8||300 MHz base/1100 MHz boost||System Shared|
Also Read: Is Integrated Graphics Good
Is Memory Clock Speed Important?
Your memory clock speed has the same importance to the GPU as the RAMs clock speed to the CPU. Your VRAM is responsible for all the graphical information your GPU has to process.
So, each and every texture and other graphical data is being sent through the VRAM, so if your VRAM cycles more times per second, your GPU core will wait less for graphical information.
It is also possible to overclock your VRAM through the software – MSI Afterburner if you’re looking for extra performance. Faster VRAM may allow you to game comfortably at higher resolutions.
VRAM Is Influenced By:
- In Game Resolution
- In Game Graphics Setting (Low, Medium, High, Ultra, AA)
- What Video Game You’re Playing
So, slow VRAM will have a negative influence on how your GPU handles games, you may encounter more stuttering, and crashes which obviously isn’t ideal.
If your VRAM capacity becomes full, then your GPU will use the RAM as an alternative storage, this is called Shared GPU Memory. As you can imagine, this isn’t an efficient operation.
The verdict is yes, the graphics card clock speed is one of the most important metrics for a graphics card, it has a linear influence on the frames per second generated in game.
You have influence over the GPU clock speed, you can overclock, underclock, or do whatever you please with software such as MSI Afterburner.
Also, memory clock speed is pretty important too, it has an impact on how smooth each game runs; slow memory clock = more stutters and crashes.
Again, the memory clock can be overclocked, this is ideal if you’re gaming at higher resolutions which tends to send larger and more intense graphical information.