MSI Afterburner, despite its name, is a graphics card configuration tool that is compatible with a wide range of graphic cards and not exclusive to MSI cards. It is for instance fully compatible with a Sapphire Ati Radeon 4870 card of the Ghacks test PC.
A rule of thumb is that MSI Afterburner supports most Geforce and Radeon cards provided that the drivers installed are not too old. Try updating the drivers if the video card is not recognized by the software immediately.
MSI Afterburner is based on Rivatuner, another popular video card configuration software. The program displays a hardware monitor and core information about the graphic card on startup.
The core information include the graphics card name and driver version as well as the core voltage, core clock, shader clock, memory clock and fan speed. The availability of these values depends largely on the graphics card itself: if it is supported it should be shown.
Sliders are available to change these core parameters directly. The hardware monitor on the right side displays max and min values. These again depend largely on the capabilities of the video card. It is for instance possible to see the graphics card maximum and minimum temperature, fan speed and core clock changes.
Settings can directly be saved as profiles. This is handy for overclocking or underclocking the graphics card in specific situations. It is for example possible to create one standard profile, one overclocked profile for gaming and other gpu intensive tasks and one underclocked profile for situations where the graphics card is not needed at all.
The settings button leads to an extensive configuration menu. Here it is possible to change the behavior of the card's fan, the hardware monitoring, on-screen display and profiles among other options.
The fan speed controls can be changed from automatic to user defined. This opens a graph where the fan speed can be adjusted to the temperature of the graphics card. The fan speed could for instance be lowered if the gpu temperature is low and increased if it increases.
Hardware monitoring graphs can be enabled or disabled in this tab. It is furthermore possible to activate hardware monitoring history logging which can be helpful when troubleshooting video card problems.
Hotkeys can be assigned to the profiles that have been created to switch easily between them. There is also an option to set automatic 2D and 3D profiles which will then be automatically enabled whenever the system uses 2D and 3D applications (meaning gpu-less and gpu intensive processes).
An onscreen display can be configured in the MSI Afterburner software to display relevant information directly. This - and some other settings - require a server process that needs to be running in the background.
Computer users with multiple gpus can configure the clock, voltage and fan speed individually or in sync.
MSI Afterburner is an interesting tool for users who want to tweak their graphics card. The program is compatible with 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. Downloads are available directly at the MSI website.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.