A graphics card is by far the most important component of any gaming system. A good graphics card will greatly improve the performance of video games, whereas a low-end model or an integrated card will make gaming at anything higher than the lowest settings impossible. If you have a budget gaming system with an older graphics card such as the Radeon HD 3450, you may want to try overclocking the card to get some extra performance from it. A successful overclock can provide a noticeable performance boost, sometimes in the region of a 15 to 20 per cent increase in frame rate.
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Download and install the latest drivers for your ATI Radeon 3450. The full driver suite contains the "ATI Catalyst Control Center," including the "ATI Overdrive" feature, which allows you to overclock your graphics card. Once the drivers are installed, the installation wizard will prompt you to restart your system. Restart the computer and log back into Windows.
Right-click on the desktop and select "Catalyst Control Center." Select "ATI Overdrive" from the "Graphics Settings" menu to the left of the Control Center. Unlock the "ATI Overdrive" feature by clicking on the red and gold hammer icon in the top-left corner.
Click on the "Auto-Tune" button to let the program automatically determine the optimal overclock settings for your graphics card. This is the safest and most convenient option, as it will help you find the optimal speed that your graphics card can run at without causing system instability. You can also choose your own clock settings using the "GPU Clock" and "Memory Clock" sliders. If you choose to manually overclock the graphics card, raise both sliders by increments of 10 to 15MHz at a time, testing your computer for stability with each overclock. To test the computer, run any 3D video game.
Download and run GPU-Z. This utility, which does not require installation, will provide important information on your graphics card. Alternatively, try Speccy by Piriform or Hardware Sensors Monitor. Clicking on the "Sensors" tab will display the temperature of your graphics card core. Leave this running during gaming and monitor the temperatures frequently. If you experience any distortion in the form of green triangles randomly appearing in games or your graphics card is running at a very high temperature on full load (usually 29.4 degrees C or more), lower the GPU and Memory clock speeds again.
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