If you are a gamer, you must be well aware of issues you can face with your hardware, they might not be significant issues, but you shouldn’t take them easy. The most common problem that anyone can face is high temperatures.
Things like thermal throttling, overheating, lag, frequent shutdowns, and reduction of GPU lifespan are some of the side effects of high temperatures. Now the question that comes to one’s mind. How can we prevent this from happening?
A definite and most straightforward solution to prevent this is that you can start Undervolting or Underclocking your GPU. this is harmless and not complex as it sounds.
You might have heard about this before if you are a tech-nerd or a gamer. What is undervolting? We are going to discuss this further in this article with a complete guide. Let’s proceed
What Is Undervolting?
Undervolting or underclocking, as many people would say, is the process of limiting the voltage usage of your graphic card. Most of the manufacturers release the OC version of their graphic cards, which are factory overclocked.
These cards run on high voltage all the time. Most of the time, you may not need high power consumption, which can cause an excessive amount of heat.
Undervolting helps tone down and controls the temperature limits to acceptable levels without compromising major performance. Doing this will help your PC run efficiently and more likely to increase your GPU lifespan.
The main reason for undervolting is to maintain the power draw limit and eliminate heating from your devices. Laptop and mobile users have the option to underclock primarily built into their devices to conserve battery usage.
Laptops and mobiles have extremely compact sizes and almost no headroom for airflow, so it is necessary to conserve the power limit on these devices.
Newer gen laptops are released with mobile variants of PC graphic cards which are underclocked versions of the original GPUs. They consume less power with no major difference in performance.
Undervolting And Overclocking? – What’s The Difference?
Undervolting and overclocking are two sides of the same coin. As their name suggests, they are responsible for manipulating the power and speed of your component, and in this discussion, we are talking about GPUs.
Undervolting, as I have mentioned above, allows you to deliberately lower your GPU voltage intake for the main reason of reducing heat and improving GPU lifespan. Overclocking, however, is the polar opposite; it involves tinkering with clock speed for your GPU.
Most GPUs nowadays are manufactured with some headroom in mind for future overclocking. GPUs are locked at base clock speed and only allow overclocking if you do it manually with the help of recommended software.
Undervolting decreases power consumption and heating, so in this case, overclocking can cause an increase in power usage and generate more heat than usual, but you will receive a major performance increase.
It is recommended you proceed with care and precautions when overclocking your GPU . proper ventilation is required to tackle the negative effects of overclocking if you are planning to use your GPU for long runs
Is Undervolting GPU Safe?
You might be asking yourself this question after you have read about underclocking. Is it safe? I am tinkering with GPU performance; that doesn’t sound good, right?
Well, to be honest, the main reason for undervolting is that you want your GPU to have a longer lifespan. You want your GPU safe from high voltage, heavy load, or high temperatures.
Thermal throttling is like a nemesis to your PC, especially your GPU. undervolting allows you to reduce thermal throttling to the bare minimum without affecting your GPU graphical performance. Let’s talk about this from the standpoint of Gaming.
Games are getting advanced as they incorporate new technology. Compare any game right now to a decade-old game, you will see a huge difference in statistics that your PC will provide during the benchmark.
Of course, modern age games will consume more CPU and GPU power than the older ones. That’s because highly rendered textures, photo-realistic environments, and detailed shadows take huge chunks of energy to render, and all that heavy load falls on your GPU.
In that case, undervolting a GPU will be a great move if you want to enjoy consistent, uninterrupted gaming with acceptable temperatures overall.
You are just limiting your power consumption by a little amount. This tiny change will not decrease your GPU performance by any means.
Does Undervolting GPU Affect Performance?
Undervolting GPU is safe and common practice among gamers. Most gamers or streamers spend time on their PC several hours daily without any rest; the continuous nature of their schedule usually makes the PC and others inside run hotter than normal users.
By undervolting, they are allowing themselves to play longer sessions without having any worry about giving rest to the GPU. Decreasing voltage consumption by little helps maintain GPU performance without causing any major instability.
Especially if you are running an old system for a temporary time while you wait for new parts to arrive, undervolting will help you cover while your PC parts arrive. It is a good idea to continue using your old PC on low voltage so that it serves you longer
GPU runs cooler, and the performance remains similar to stock settings. Undervolting gives them slight leniency during the whole time they are using a PC because they are gaming and streaming at the same time while powering multiple monitor setups.
It does help improve the performance of GPU, not by much, but in the long term, it shows the result. It is more about stability and consistent running of the GPU rather than boosting FPS. That part belongs to overclocking, which is dangerous, unlike undervolting.
Pros Of Undervolting
- Undervoting lowers your power consumption to the safe levels where your GPU can operate its daily task before overheating. Low power consumption results in low heat levels. It will also affect your electricity bill positively, even if it’s by little. That’s a plus that I can’t ignore
- There are various guides and recommended software to help you perform this task without any issue or worry. The more you try yourself, the more efficient you will become at keeping your GPU under comfortable levels without causing instability
- Smaller cases usually have no headroom for heat dissipation, so if you are planning to upgrade to a better, more spacious case, and for the time being, you are looking to adjust your graphic card in your case without having to worry about heat generation, you can safely underclock your GPU so that you can enjoy better temperatures.
Cons Of Undervolting
- As I have mentioned the word “instability” in this article a few times, it is true that undervolting your GPU can cause instability. You will need good knowledge beforehand if you are attempting to do this for the first time.
- You may likely be unaware of how much you are allowed to decrease the voltage intake. Going overboard can cause crashes and display issues as GPU being an electrical component, requires a certain amount of power to run. Too little amount can damage your graphic cards.
- It may be difficult for you to decide to undervolt your GPU if your GPU is new and expensive. It is safe to undervolt your GPU, but for the first-timers, it may be a terrifying experience for newcomers that lack knowledge and experience for tinkering with your GPU.
Softwares Needed For Undervolting
Undervolting is a manual process that involves the use of third-party software. You can just push a button and underclock your GPU to your desired level. You need to manually tune the voltage intake levels without going below GPU requirements for voltage consumption.
There are a few software that is recommended and commonly used by users without any worry.
Msi afterburner always comes to mind whenever there is a mention of tweaking graphic cards or checking temps. So it’s no surprise that this software is a perfect choice for undervolting.
The user interface is friendly, and you have a lot of options to adjust, clock speeds, fan curves, voltage regulations, and it lets you monitor all these stats in the real-time; perfect choice for beginners.
If you own an Nvidia series GPU, then this software is perfect for you. It is only compatible with Nvidia GPUs. This software offers extra features for EVGA brand graphic cards it’s good to know that there is another option for undervolting.
There is no need for choosing this over MSI afterburner as they both perform the same, so it comes down to preference in the end.
How To Undervolt Your GPU To Gain Performance?
Their architecture, build, and features are vastly different than others. They offer a ton of features and software for all kinds of needs.
If you have an Nvidia graphics card, you are required to undervolt it following specific steps that are only applicable on Nvidia GPUs. AMD GPUs are different in this sense. Both have different methods that we are going to discuss right now
#1- How To Undervolt Your Nvidia GPU?
There are a few things you need to understand first before diving deep down into this guide. Undervolting is only limited to graphics card series 10xx and above. Anything lower than that won’t allow you to undervolt.
Every other card is different and includes a different amount of components, clock speeds, and voltage requirements. So their undervolting limit is not the same.
Once you are confident enough that you are ready to go, install the software. In this case, MSI afterburner is the best choice.
Open the software, a user interface will pop up on your screen. Press CTRL + F at the same time to access the frequency curve table. You will see a complex-looking chart in front of you with several pointers forming a curve. This is the frequency and performance/curve editor that you will use for undervolting.
At this point, you can watch youtube tutorials for more info and knowledge before proceeding. You can see that the X-axis and Y-axis have values related to Voltage and Frequency, respectively.
These are the nodes that you have to tweak with in order to get that sweet spot for your GPU, but before that, you have to figure out the voltage level your GPU uses all the time.
You can simply run a high-end game with high graphics so that you can decide the maximum point in your curve that your GPU reaches on a heavy load. From that point, you are going to determine from which point you are going to decrease the curve to the lower axis.
For example, let’s assume your GPU is clocking at 1800MHz max with 1200 voltage frequency. This is the max point your GPU Reaches during gaming or any other heavy workload session.
Now all you have to do is manually pick all the nodes after 1100mv in the graph and tone it down by 100mv. In this case, you are going down from 1200mv to 1100mv.
Pick all the nodes and carefully lower them down so that those nodes are intersecting at the 1800mhz Y-axis with the 1100 mv X-axis.
Now, if there is no issue with performance, you can further decrease the voltage by 50MHz and run the test again to see if this new power level is fine to work with. Keep tweaking until you face any major issues.
If there is instability in gaming performance or your PC crashes, you can increase the voltage until your GPU is stable enough. It’s all about trial and error. Keep messing with these settings until you reach that stable point.
This whole process may seem a lot, and you do have to do all the work manually, but it is a safe and reliable process. Now, after you have finished, run some tests again to see how does your GPU work after undervolting.
Once you are convinced and content with your GPU, click the floppy drive icon to save these settings and create a profile, so you don’t need to undervolt again whenever you want to play a game. Just select your saved profile every time, and it will apply those settings without any extra effort.
#2- How To Undervolt Your AMD GPU?
AMD GPUs are fairly easy to undervolt as compared to Nvidia. AMD runs on adrenaline drivers, and those drivers offer all the necessary tools required to undervolting. The user interface is easy and user-friendly; you don’t have to download any third-party software for this purpose.
If you open your adrenaline software, you will see RADEON WATTMAN. This is the main feature that you are going to use for undervolting your AMD GPU. You can access this software by right-clicking anywhere on the desktop and selecting the Radeon control panel.
There you can click on the gaming tab in the top left corner. Then follow to the global settings and then global wattman. This is the feature that we are using on our AMD card.
The process is quite similar to what you did with Nvidia. We need to find the ideal level of clock speed and voltage first before deciding anything. You can keep this software running in the background while you test your GPU on a heavy load.
Softwares like furmark are useful for stress testing GPUs. You can run it for 10 minutes while monitoring the graph at the same time.
On the left side of the Radeon wattman panel, you can notice the average temperature along with voltage and clock speed. Notice when those figures hit peak point.
This is where your GPU is reaching its maximum potential. Click on the frequency/voltage section; there, you will see a similar type of graph you saw in MSI Afterburner during undervolting Nvidia GPU.
The Y-axis represents frequency, and X-axis is the clock speed. Carefully and gradually start undervolting your card voltage frequency by little from the highest point it hit during furmark. Maintain the same clock speed but with lower voltage values than before.
If you are uncomfortable using curved lines or having a problem reading the graph, don’t worry there are boxes at the bottom where you can manually put values on the X and Y-axis.
You may have to spend some time doing this before making sure everything is on point and ready to go. When you are done with it, click apply and stress test your GPU again for 15-20 minutes.
You need to make sure your card is stable under new settings, and running it under high load is the best way to determine your card performance. In addition to running furmark, you can play your favorite game for an hour or a few.
There is no hurry, you need to take your time after coming down to a definite answer. If you see everything is running fine, you can further try to undervolt it until it hits the point where your GPU is showing unstable results.
Retweak it up and down until these issues disappear. There you go; your card is undervolted at the optimal frequency.
Is It Worth It To Undervolt GPU?
Undervolting is a common and simple process that is easy to understand and safe to implement. Unlike overclocking, undervolting is considered harmless, and it is recommended by many professionals and gamers.
If you are looking forward to spending more time with your GPU instead of buying a new one, undervolting will definitely help increase the overall lifespan of your graphic card.
Let’s say, you have an old generation card that can still serve you well today, and you have no intention of buying a new GPU, especially with the awful situation of the market right now.
You should consider undervolting your GPU as it helps with thermal throttling issues that are more present in Older cards.
It won’t affect your overall graphical performance but what it does is give your GPU more headroom to perform cooler and more stable than before.
High voltage can cause damage to internal components. The more power your GPU consumes, the more heat it generates.
Undervolting will help counter this issue, and your GPU will run much quieter in response. Overall it helps your GPU in the longer run. It is definitely worth it and worth considering
Frequently Asked Questions
#1 – Is there any downside to undervolting GPU?
There is no significant downside of undervolting the GPU. It is a common and safe practice among many users.
However, if you attempt to do this without any guidance or basic knowledge, you might undervolt it beyond acceptable levels, and this can cause your GPU to crash, and in some cases, your GPU may die.
Always consult with a professional or read the guide before tweaking with GPU performance.
#2 – Is undervolting good for gaming?
Most gamers are addicted to gaming, and their sessions usually run for several hours. In that case, you will want your GPU to run as cool as possible.
Your GPU may start overheating during those sessions if you are using it under a heavy load for hours. Undervolting can keep your GPU running at cooler temps, which is beneficial for your overall PC in the longer run.
#3 – Does undervolting reduce FPS?
Underclocking can cause a reduction in average FPS but not undervolting.
Undervolting involves lowering down voltage frequency by a little without changing the clock speed of your GPU.
Undervolting too much can cause instability which can be a common cause of low fps. If done with care, undervolting can be a good measure for your GPU, and you can achieve it without affecting your FPS
#4 – Can you Undervolt in BIOS?
Undervolting is possible in BIOS, but however, it is much safer and more reliable if you use compatible software for your GPUs.
Using this software allows you to monitor your GPU performance while manually tweaking its values to optimal levels.
#5 – Will undervolting GPU void the warranty?
Undervolting does not void a warranty in any way. You can always roll back to factory settings if you face any issues. Undervolting, in fact, helps your GPU run cooler and more efficiently, so it is extending its lifespan, which is a positive factor.
#6 – Can you Undervolt too much?
There are limitations for undervolting your GPU. If you undervolt too much, your GPU will face frequent issues, or maybe at some point, it will cause artifacts to appear on the screen. It is highly advised that you avoid going below the minimum power required for your GPU.