Back in the day, overclocking used to offer plenty of additional performance to enthusiasts willing to spend some time tuning their graphics cards. You could play with the voltage and see what worked best, you could use a custom BIOS or even tweak it to reach the upper limit of the PCB. These days overclocking graphics cards is largely limited to increasing the clock and memory offset till the game starts crashing and/or performing worse. The same applies to most factory overclocked graphics cards (barring certain variants such as the excessively overpriced KINGPIN and Galax HOF).
Most factory overclocked models are priced at least $50 more than the reference model, with certain companies like ASUS ROG taking it to a whole new level by pricing their top-end SKUs $100-150 higher. Granted, these SKUs come with fancy RGB lighting, better cooling, wider VRM designs, and higher clocks, but at the end of the day, the use of dynamic turbo boost means that they’re barely a couple of percents faster than the significantly cheaper (and rather decent looking) reference/Founder’s Edition cards.
Now, I was originally planning to test a few factory OC variants but no one was really willing to have their cards featured in such a report. Either way, there are plenty of reviews on the internet, so I did a bit of digging and came up with some satisfying results. For this post, I’ve chosen the ASUS GeForce RTX 3060 Ti STRIX OC on NVIDIA’s side and the Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6700 XT for AMD. Both these cards are priced $100 or higher than the reference models and still don’t offer any tangible performance benefit over them. The ROG Strix is priced (officially, anyway) at $500 while the RTX 3060 Ti FE costs $400. The Sapphire Nitro+, on the other hand, costs $579 while the vanilla 6700 XT is priced at $479.
Factory Overclocked Models: 1-2% Extra Performance for $100 More
As you can see, on average the performance gain upon going from the Founder’s Edition variant ($400) to the ASUS ROG Strix ($500) which costs the same as the RTX 3070 FE is a measly <2%. For the same price (in an ideal world), you can buy the RTX 3070 FE which is actually a fair bit faster.
In the case of the Radeon RX 6700 XT, the deltas are almost non-existent between the reference model which costs $479, and the Sapphire Nitro+ which is priced $100 higher at $579. The latter is just 1% faster on average despite having a higher marketed boost clock, better thermals, and a notably higher price. The reason being that boosting algorithms have come a long way and in most cases, you won’t be getting any additional performance for opting for a factory overclocked card despite paying a fair deal more. I mean sure even though the heat sink is more efficient and the card runs cooler, the fact that the end performance is nearly the same means that neither is having much of an effect (again due to the dynamic boost being really good at what it’s supposed to do), and you’re better off opting for a reference model.