Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

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How to use MSI Afterburner
By Shao
As I have promised with this guide early on. This one is guide that will focus on how to be able to use the MSI Afterburner software all in one with it's amazing features that allows you to squeeze performance out of your dGPU and so on record your last moments or actual moments in good quality/without losing performance.

Before on going, it's essential that you have at least a quad core CPU, any kinds work. However the higher end, the better. If you do not have a quad core CPU, you might have to sacrifice some in-game performance to achieve what will be written here.

Without further do, let's look at it.
Diagnosing your system capability and hardware (For overclocking)
Before engaging in such activity, make sure you know everything about your system! Have proper sensors and equipement to perform, such as your Power Supply Unit to provide enough power, or adequate cooling and room temperature, opening your case and putting a fan near can greatly help!

Find out about your system with;

Diagnose your system sensors with;

Keep your drivers up to date with;

While GPU-Z being the most useful as you can keep track of your overclocking gains and learn the dGPU die ASIC quality, those percentages shows the build quality of transistors, telling you if it has potential or not.

Downloading the software
MSI Afterburner can be found on MSI's official website[] along a software called MSI Kombustor.

If you are reading this guide only to learn the pre-recording/recording/monitoring. You don't need to download Kombustor, however if you do aim at overclocking. You will need to download it.

Beforehand, it is important to acknowledge that despite the advancement of hardware and technology as a whole, overclocking does in fact have it's risks, while those are very very tiny. A wrong step can potentially damage your hardware, or lock your system in a way that will require a driver re-install. Please be very careful of what you do while proceeding to overclock.
Installing MSI Afterburner (And RTSS)
This process is simple, do what of which you prefer during the installation, however as whole. You will need RTSS, so it crucial that while installing you leave the check marks ticked.

Once this is done, you will be prompted to a restart, if you are overclocking, install MSI Kombustor before restarting to ensure both applications will properly have linked together, then afterward. Restart your computer so that everything can be finished.

Afterwards, once it is done. Open MSI Afterburner, it'll also open RTSS by itself and by no matter what you will do, RTSS will always be open as long the Afterburner is open.
Understanding MSI Afterburner Main
If you are not here for overclocking, skip this section.

First time you open the software, you will be introduced to (Typically) this skin of the program. This can be all changed afterward. Most of the features are locked by default to avoid irresponsible use, but can be unlocked further off into the settings.

  • Core Voltage (mV) is the amount of power that goes through your dGPU. By obvious, do not raise it at high levels blindly, otherwise it'll increase heat and potentially the voltage running into your unit.

    This option is to increase stability of your new desire clock speeds, always increase in small amounts. In the Core Voltage slider there is also further options found, those are Memory Voltage and AUX voltage.

  • Power Limit (%) is the amount of power your dGPU is allowed to use, typically even at stock, raising this can prevent bottlenecks and allow your unit to fully use it's clock speeds, but consume more power as a consequence, meaning higher temperatures.

    This option is mostly harmless if you have a beefy power supply, that is having enough power to substain the overclock if you still have head room, but should be still used with patience in mind to get the most optimal solution.

  • Core Clock (MHz) is the main dGPU speed that is set to run, all units are different, please if you didn't use GPU-Z, refer to your system specification then search a website like the Techpowerup[] and find your specific components to know what they are capable and where you are off limits.

    This option is the main cause of your gains, by increasing how fast data can be processed in the Texture Mapping Units, Shading Units and Render Output Units, do not change without a little bit of research about your hardware and know where you are off the limits.

  • Memory Clock (MHz) is the RAM speed. Again, all units are different, however while searching for the Core Clock, you will be introduce to it's RAM speed also, nowadays RAM is typically GDDR5, which is plenty fast but yet shows benefits from an overclock. Your system may by limited by slower speeds from older RAM chips, such as GDDR3 or be Integrated and share system RAM, making it limited to your DDR3/DDR4 computer RAM, therfor cannot be improved without a physical upgrade, or an overclock in the whole system that improves CPU performance, all done from the BIOS.

    This option is what will allow your Core Clock to deliver it's data load faster and better, Memory overlocking increases the bandwidth speed, making gains on graphic demanding settings such as Anti-Aliasing, however because this is all dependent of the main dGPU, gains may or may not be seen. As a note, dGPU Memory bandwidth is also subjective to be different in real times due to memory compression, bus width and memory speeds. As a result, GPU-Z results earned by memory overclocking are only logical estimates.

  • Fan Speed (%) is very self explanatory as a whole.

    This option can be tweaked in a static manner, or set as a profile into further settings found in the software, it is recommended to leave AUTO enabled, unless you really wish to cool down your dGPU at 100% no matter what, this can however wear off the lifespan of your fans.

  • Lock and Profiles 1,2,3,4,5 are Overclocking profiles. Those can be set as hotkeys and changed on the fly.

    To create a profile, you must click save then click the number, locking the small lock will prevent from overwritting those.

  • Apply overclocking at system startup is very self explanatory also, however it is not recommend to use until you have found the proper stable overclock, otherwise you might end up into a loop of crash and be forced to enter in safe mode of your computer to uninstall MSI Afterburner.

    Once you have everything set, tick it on to ensure you have your performance gains at all times.

  • K and i found in the upper section are Kombuster and your system specifications which does not provide all details.

  • Detach allows your monitoring to be dragged anywhere that you please, even your second monitor if any for technical purposes. To re-attach, simply close it.

  • Memory Voltage (mV) is to increase the amount of voltage that goes through your RAM to increase stability, as always do not blindly change. Small increments are key to be on the safe side.

    Some dGPU's have their RAM voltage locked no matter what, this means that those are tied to the Core Voltage itself.

  • AUX voltage (mV) is the amount of power going through the PCB of your dGPU, typically, this never have to be changed unless you are going for extreme overclocking.

Once all understood properly. Head to the settings found near Apply - Reset - Settings.
MSI Afterburner General
Some options might be useful even if you are not overclocking, be sure to look.

This however is what should be ticked if you intend to overclock.

The last section can vary in between AMD and Nvidia, however mostly likely to be the same.

Feel free to explore by hovering your mouse over the options. However, most are likely pointless to change because they are meant for extreme overclocking, which in there we are talking over water/LN2 cooling. Or power saving options for Multi-GPU users.

The preview image above should as how your settings should be if you are overclocking.

Hovering your mouse over the options in all tabs will provide comprehensive information about each of their purpose.
MSI Afterburner Fan
Some options might be useful even if you are not overclocking, be sure to look.

This is the section where you can set your fan profiling and optimize it's use by making it run at certain speeds, allowing it to be in perfect balance in between temperatures and speeds.

Important to note that ambient temperature plays a very big role into it, it is all subjective to change.

However, a proper setting would be that if your dGPU temperature hangs at a certain percentage, it means there should be one dot into the specified graph location to limit it's speed accordingly.

This whole variance is upon your dGPU model also, it's upon you to find the sweet spot if you are overclocking.
MSI Afterburner Monitoring and On-Screen Display
Some options might be useful even if you are not overclocking, be sure to look.

Now into this section, we are entering RTSS functions. All can be modified to your likings.

This mostly handles the overlay loaded by RTSS while playing games. You can toggle as much as information as you wish by simply ticking "Show in On-Screen Display" for each information that you wish to see, while it is also possible to order them, ticking off one option will disable it's sensor entirely.

If you own a LCD keyboard, those options can be rendered down into your LCD and will avoid you to show the OSD on screen. For those who may be interested into storing data. Monitoring also features logging, which can be enabled below.

This section controls your hotkeys and preferences over the overlay in-game. It is recommended to use "Toggle On-Screen Display" to avoid excessive amount of keys. As one key press will either Show or Hide the overlay.
MSI Afterburner Screen capture and Video capture
This is for the Screen capture, usually setting it to F12 as the steam overlay will capture screenshots at the same time. This in mind allows you to choose quality and details over which you can upload said screens afterward by going to your steam screenshot folder and swap files together. Otherwise, it's always nice to have the higher quality possible.

Here we have one of the major features of the software.

While most options can be known of their use by hovering the mouse over. Information will still be written below to understand their use properly.

    Global video capture hotkeys
  • Video Capture, this sets your hotkey to start and stop recording. If you have a video prerecord buffer in the background, it will start recording from that past moment toward where you stand now. To record only the buffer, simply press twice the set hotkey.

  • Video prerecord, this sets your hotkey to start and stop prerecording.
    Prerecord buffer limit is the amount of seconds that you wish to use until it overwrites forward, it can also be chosen in amount of data and into either RAM or a file. For this, it is highly recommended that if you use high quality files to not use RAM as it will often crash or freeze because of the nature of handling it, alt-tabbing can increase the likelyhood of having the software to fail if using RAM. While using as a file is very recommended, it will put a good amount of stress on either of your SSD or HDD, while most systems have both separated components, using a typical Sata 3.0 HDD is sufficient for all types of recording, but may slow down your loading speeds. While using a SDD may not hurt it's performance, it can affect it's lifespan.

    If you alt-tab while pre-recording with any types of method, it may cause the software to be irresponsive for a little bit. Have patience for it to recover, if you alt-tab for too long, depending on the game it may freeze the software be wary of not letting the pre-recording run if you do that often, only for when you actually need it.

    I've made a guide to cover a better alternative here.

    Video capture properties

  • Video format, there is a vast amount of codecs to use. You can even go with uncompressed, that is however very demanding and space consuming. Unless you wish to sacrifice the ability to have proper video quality, using GPU codecs such as AMD VCE or NVIDIA NVENC. Intel QuickSync can be viable, but x264 has far more flexibility hence why MJPG is the most recommended, further it'll be explained how to avoid losing performance.

  • Container format, Whether you use MKV or AVI depends on your taste, but AMD VCE for example can only take MKV.

  • Quality, this slider defines quality of the image. The higher, the bigger your file size. Find a sweet spot to your preference, using 100% is not recommended as if you were to need doing so, using uncompressed is a better alternative.

  • Frame size, defines your video resolution. Downscaling from higher resolution results in best quality, while also being smaller. It benefits of using less ressources. 720p is the most recommended.

  • Framerate, this defines your video framerate, using more than 60 FPS is useless for youtube and other kind of media, if however you have a higher refresh rate monitor, this one can still see the benefits while playing video's locally. This affects file size nonetheless.

  • Framerate limit, not recommended. If you read my last guide, this option is the most useless and shouldn't be used.

  • Videos folder, where your files end up being.

    Video capture compatibility properties.

  • Multithreaded optimization, this setting is crucial, depending on your CPU. If you have an Intel Hyperthreaded CPU, using 2 compression threads is recommended, if you do not have hyperthreading, using disabling the option is recommended. AMD FX CPU's have a lot of threads to spare so make good use of them.

    This part is VERY important, it is what makes this software reliable, by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ESC, you will open the task manager and go to details to find your MSI Afterburner and RTSS processes, change their core affinities to the amount of threads you have to spare.

    *The CPU depicted in this picture is a Intel Xeon 5675, 6 core 12 threads. Do not use as reference unless you have any similar.

    Depending on your CPU, if it features hyperthreading, you will want to use the last core and it's hyperthread for it to be dedicated for the following .exe's.


    Two typical CPU's that are found at i7-4790k and AMD FX-8350. For the i7, CPU4 andCPU7 would be the choice, while for the FX, CPU6 and CPU7 would be recommended. If you happen to have a quad core like the i5 4690k, only choosing cpu3 can work, it works also with other quad cores. Be warned that depending on your single threaded performance, it may or may not be able to substain certain quality settings, such as 1080p60, have reasonable demands.

  • Enable MJPG decoder, recommended to avoid compatibility issues with certain softwares.

  • Use dedicated encoder server, this option shares with RTSS. It'll create a dependent .exe to store data if you decide to use RAM as a alternative for pre-recording instead of the game itself which can avoid unwanted crashes because some games may not support having more than 3.5GB used in their allocation.

    Audio capture properties

  • Audio sources, those are which you should choose to record computer sounds and microphone. Push-To-Talk hotkey can be set for either. It is recommended to use "DirectSound capture device" instead of the "WASAPI capture device" to avoid random issues with voice recording.

    A lot of systems have different behaviors on this one, specially for recording voice. If you do not have stereo mix in your audio hardware, tick the "Downmix multichannel audio to stereo" with also "Mix mutiple audio tracks" checkbox's, change the drop menu to stereo mix. With all being set, audio should be work on both game and voice.

    A lot of tutorials were released online to deal with every unique situations, if you encounter one of them, don't hesitate to search or ask in the comments.
Dealing with Steam.exe and it's conflicting usage of MSI Afterburner
Changing core affinity of Steam.exe will change every single games that you start up via Steam, if you do it's by far a must that you change it's core affinity to the left over threads. A typical Quad-Core it would be the following; CPU0,CPU1,CPU2,CPU3. While with a hyperthreaded quad core it would look like CPU0,CPU1,CPU2,CPU4,CPU5,CPU6,CPU7. Starting from CPU0, the next CPU1 is the hyperthread of the last CPU0, it goes on logically this way, meaning CPU2 is your next physical core and CPU3 is the hyperthread of said last CPU2 physical core.

So if you used to have "-threads 4" in CSGO and you have a quad core i5-4690k for example, you should consider changing it to "-threads 3" and leave the last CPU3 to MSIAfterburner.exe. While with the i7-4790k consider allowing MSIAfterburner.exe to use hyperthreads, but not use those with Steam.exe by choosing physical cores only as explained above.

Again, be wary changing steam affects all games so performance may diminish for your stable recording ability! It's also possible to simply change MSIAfterburner.exe, but not steam.exe, since all softwares mostly favor CPU0 and goes up logically, having your recording process to substain a the last core that isn't favored by other processes will drastically make a difference into performance eitherway. The thoughts of changing all processes to have their own unique core is only an extra solution to maximize performance, although that if you're using "-threads 3", it might do you the favor already by the nature of core preference on Windows, the only thing left would be setting MSIAfterburner.exe to use the last.

Learn how to make core affinity selection permanent with this thread[], then use your shortcuts into the "shell:startup" folder accessed from "Run.." in windows to be automatically launched! This however does not work with MSIAfterburner.exe as there is better stable alternatives out there anyway such as OBS that you may learn about at the end of my guide.

Further on to gain in performance, you can unpark your CPU cores by downloading this[] and set Windows to High Performance in the Power Options of the Control Panel.
MSI Afterburner profiles
Very simple and intuitive.

Choose which ever hotkey that you'd prefer for your overclocks so apply.
MSI Afterburner User interface
This section is meant to customize by your own preference, while every options are self explained, go by your likings.

Some of the various skins can feature easier shortcuts to avoid going into the settings, it's upon you to choose.
Understanding RTSS Main
After MSI Afterburner is all being setup. Open up RTSS which should be located in the task bar near the Afterburner icon. This is what it should look like.

While being a lot simple, there is still a few things to be aware of, first being that the Global profile is meant to affect everything has a whole. So if you feel like you don't need to create a profile for everything, use it.

Otherwise, the small cross at the bottom is meant to find and add an .exe to make a profile, such as csgo.exe. Which in term is required to make the overlay and in-game capture work. Once the profile is created, you can custom everything as you please or leave everything as it is.

For most still while features are explained by hovering the mouse there is things to be aware of.

  • Application detection level, if RTSS fails to detect, raise the level. (See further below to understand why some applications won't work.)

  • Stealth mode is for games that deny the use of RTSS because of security measures, this can be enabled to avoid RTSS being blocked from hooking into the game and be able to record and monitor. (While it may seem unsafe for things such as VAC, RTSS like any other hooks that involves capture devices such as Mirilis Action!, Shadowplay,, OBS are completely safe to use. This is option is meant to avoid the disappointment of a game specifically denying the use of such tool.)

  • Custom Direct3D support, you are experiencing issues such as steam overlay not loading in certain games, you can enable this to solve the issue.

  • Framerate limit, amazing feature that is being used to exploit v-sync without input lag because of it's efficiency to block extra frames without the limiting ressources of an engine framerate cap such as fps_max, I've covered a guide for it, check it out.

    Most of all other options are for preferences, use as you wish.

    In the RTSS options, there isn't much to do. Beside that you will have by must, check the "Enable 64-bit applications support service" because some games do run in 64-bit rather than 32-bit which can explain sometimes why RTSS doesn't detect your specific games.
Overclocking your dGPU
Given that you completely understand the risks. Overclocking is one of the great funs of PC gaming. It'll be explained the most friendly way that can be here.

Acknowledging that you have read the guide, cleared the understanding of each functions and set all of your settings to what was shown above in the General section.

Your dGPU should be ready to be overclocked, while I do not recommend to overclock mobile iGPU's or passive cooled dGPU's, those can still see improvement without consequences, it is all about finding the best into the law of diminishing returns.

Getting started, if you know what people were capable of achieving by searching online your hardware, you will get a good idea of where to begin with. That in mind, begin to read the rest of this guide.

The overclock

    Power Limit
  • Start by running Kombuster and see if the core clock fluctuate.

    If it does not remain at it's full set speed that you can see into the monitoring by around 20MHz or more and never stays stable at full speed, your dGPU lacks power, in which means you need to raise the power limit up. Keep fiddling the slider up until it does not make a difference anymore. That sets to remove the power bottleneck. However if it's completely fine, skip this step.
    Core Clock
  • For as long you keep having a perfectly smooth and stable image without corruptions or lines, you can raise the core clock speeds by small increments or said speeds people mention to achieve on average until it finally hits the artifacting.

    Once it starts artifacting, do not panic, you hit the limit It's normal, press ESC and leave the testing, you can either call it a day by going back to the clocks it used to be stable and skip to memory clocks, or you can take on into core voltages and raise it by small increments until it stops then raise core clocks again, this process goes on and on with trial and error until you find how excessive of voltage it takes to raise your clock speeds or that the temperatures based on your fan profile are getting out of control. In the going process you will have to adjust power limit again to feed more power accordingly to the use and maintain the new clock speeds.
    Memory Clock
  • When your core clock speeds are perfected and to the sweet spot that you defined, it is time to let the VRAM be able to compensate for the new performance. That in mind is very simple, raise the memory clocks to the speeds you found online which seems reasonable to you compared your own components and if it artifacts, lower them by small increments until it stops, or you can simply raise until it starts giving you problems. While GDDR5 is easy to fix once it starts artifacting, GDDR3 will require a reboot to fix.

    VRAM just like core clock of your dGPU can be allowed get more voltage, although it is very important to be careful with those still, one bad step can damage hardware. While it is true that systems can prevent those, be on the safe side and do not do things blindly. Be smart and raise voltage by small amounts if you do want to overclock VRAM far out. With HWinfo64 it's possible to know if your VRAM is stable or not by looking at the dGPU Memory Errors, if any are shown, it is not stable. Take notes of the amount of errors and add either voltage or lower your memory clock speeds, then try again see if anymore shows up.

All done? Smooth image without artifacting? Stable clocks? Temperatures aren't excessively high? Congratulations, you have overclocked your dGPU and squeezed the best it could do!

That is in practice with the application of Kombustor itself, games behaves differently and might require you to do some tweaking, do not be scared if you see any issues rise, those can be fixed with proper understanding!

All in all, remember that there is the law in diminishing returns in play! Do not attempt very high clocks speeds if it requires you insane amount of voltages, always go for what makes sense.
HWinfo64 and MSI Afterburner
While both MSI Afterburner and RTSS do a great job along together, if you feel limited by the statistic of the OSD included in the package, HWinfo64 can allow you to tweak your OSD even further into it's options that are compatible with RTSS, however it can be overwhelming for some people to have so many options. So sticking to the default data display can be a better solution for all.

If you feel patient enough to deal with it's configuration, going into the settings will allow you to change things as you wish. For as you may notice, it also have LCD support, HWinfo64 can also be set to start on windows boot, minimized and used with sensors only to avoid annoyance.

Adjusting positions by columns and lines, size and appearance can be changed with RTSS as they interact with each other.

Possibilities with this software are almost endless, use it well.
Thanks for reading and I hope this was helpful to you, be very careful of what you do and happy recording/overclocking!

You often hear a lot of people saying that you need a beefy cpu to stream or record, that is completely wrong. As for many who aren't aware, setting core affinity can allow almost any CPU's!

Check out my other guide related to improving your gaming experience;

Be sure to share and rate up for those who may need to know those things! It also helps me!
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Shao  [author] Oct 22, 2018 @ 2:14am 
Yeah that's fine.
Wolfcoffee Oct 22, 2018 @ 1:40am 
I see you did a great job, can i use your work and post it in a community forum.
I will post a link to your steam guide and I will quote you ?
Is it ok for you ?
DRAGONSKULLvegas Mar 20, 2018 @ 6:43pm 
aww... that sucks, no overclock for my laptop then...
Shao  [author] Mar 20, 2018 @ 6:40pm 
Any type of OC, voids your warranty if they can prove it.
DRAGONSKULLvegas Mar 20, 2018 @ 6:26pm 
Apparently "they can't detect it..." Does this mean it is safe as long as I don't crank everything to max and watch my laptop explode?
DRAGONSKULLvegas Mar 20, 2018 @ 2:51pm 
One question before trying this, as I have never tried this before. Will doing this void my warranty?
Shao  [author] Feb 25, 2018 @ 9:31am 
Some games pick it uo. Some dont. Youll have to toggle it off to make sure its gone.
zachjd Feb 25, 2018 @ 9:15am 
Is there a way to hide the OSD from Steam screenshots?
Shao  [author] Jun 5, 2017 @ 1:58am 
Underclocking and undervolting can indeed help overall, if it's a temp problem, a more aggressive fan curve may help too. It all may likely be vram a issue so Id suggest you starting with memory clock.
Ecks Jun 4, 2017 @ 7:55pm 
If I were to use this to underclock my GPU, can it help prevent the blackscreening problem I have been getting? it seems to be only happening while I play games, and it recently started. Thinking my GPU is dying, so I wanna take it easy on it til I can replace next year.