MSI Afterburner Overview
MSI Afterburner is an overclocking utility which can be used for NVIDIA and AMD GPUs. Afterburner is free to use by anyone and does not require that you have an MSI GPU. I have a Gigabyte GTX 970 and prefer to use Afterbuner over Gigabyte's OC Guru.
You can download the latest version of MSI Afterburner by visiting the MSI Utilities Download Page
Overclocking is just one feature of MSI Afterburner. Equally useful is the OSD which allows your to display the Framerate, CPU usage and Temps, GPU usage, Coreclock, Memory Clock and GPU memory used. You can also display per frame latency and Memory usage.
Because of the amount of information you can display with afterbruner, it makes a great performance troubleshooting utility. If you are playing a game and are wondering if your GPU or CPU is bottlenecking performance you can use the OSD to display CPU usage and GPU usage. If all CPUs are maxed out at 100% but your GPU is only at 50%, then your CPU is holding your GPU back, or the game is simply not optimized (happens a lot with newly releases games).
MSI Afterburner Properties
To access the advanced configuration settings for MSI Afterburner, click on settings in the lower right hand corner of the main MSI Afterburner UI. The settings in this area allow you to modify things like what skin to use, what resources to monitor, graph, and / or display on the OSD while playing a game. You can also configure the polling rate, which is the amount of time MSI Afterburner should check your hardware to gather stats. I recommend leaving the polling settings alone, if you set those values really low you might actually hurt performance while playing games because MSI Afterburner is querying devices too often.
If you have multiple GPUs installed, you can select which GPU you want to change settings for in the general properties area. If you have identical GPUs, you should check Synchronize settings for similar graphics processors. If you have different GPUs, like 1 GTX 970 and a GTX 960, you should not check that option, otherwise MSI Afterburner will try and apply higher clock speeds to a GPU that may or may not be able to handle higher clocks.
If you want MSI after burner to always apply overclocked settings when Windows starts up, make sure you check "start with windows" and "start minimized" so that you don't have MSI popping up on you all the time.
I suggest leaving the top 4 boxes checked under compatibility settings.
- Enable hardware control and monitoring - Is needed for overclocking and monitoring. If you uncheck this box then MSI Afterburner won't be able to do anything useful.
- Enable Low Level IO Driver - Lower level drivers usually mean better performance because less overhead is needed to talk to the device to get info. I don't suggest changing this option, leave it at the default
- Enable Low Level hardware access interface - Make sure you keep this at "User Mode". If you enable kernel mode and someone compromises your PC / MSI Afterburner, you are screwed. You should never run applications in kernel mode, user mode is fine.
I don't recommend unlocking voltage control unless you really know what you are doing and are ok with the fact that you could detroit your GPU or start your PC on fire.
The monitoring settings for Afterburner can be a little confusing at first. You have to click on the row of the item you want to monitor, you will see a check mark to the left if the item is being graphed. You also have to select "Show in On-Screen Display" near the bottom of the page if you want to show this in the OSD while playing any game. This means you can monitor all the settings and graph them, but only select key metrics to show in the OSD. If you don't do this then you will see a lot of stats in the OSD which can be super annoying in game.