How to Undervolt GPU [STEP by STEP] NVIDIA/AMD/Others

Introduction

You may be a casual gamer, or a pro who likes to stream games on Twitch. For either of those reasons, you’ve decided to Undervolt your GPU, or perhaps you’re still considering doing so. It’s natural for all of us to want a bang for our buck right? You want better performance, and yes we get that! The good thing about Undervolting is that it is a pretty harmless process. There have been reports of people messing up their hardware while Overclocking. However, this is not the case with Undervolting!

Also Read: How to Overclock a Laptop Monitor

But before we get into all that, let’s answer a couple of questions so you have a better idea of what you’re getting into.

The Reason for Undervolting Your GPU

GPUs are quite often placed right next to the power supply which results in limited airflow. When you’re Undervolting your GPU, you’re basically eliminating the amount of heat generated from all the power inside your computer. You’re basically aiming for less heat generation which benefits your system by reducing wear via limiting circular movement. Higher temperatures result in a higher consumption of power, which generates a lot more heat.

Undervolting single handedly reduces power consumption in the long run, so your system automatically draws less power, reducing the temperature inside your machine.

Also Read: How to Stream on a Laptop (Twitch)

Difference Between Undervolting and Overclocking

Undervolting, as the name states, is basically lowering the voltage of your GPU while maintaining the stock clock speed. Overclocking on the other hand is increasing the clock speeds. However, this may vary, sometimes during the overclocking process people can increase, decrease or even maintain the speed as stock. They are kind of related, it isn’t unusual for people to overclock the GPU during Undervolting.

Also Read: How Long Does a Gaming Laptop Last?

Perhaps a better explanation would be, if your GPU needs one volt to stay at, lets say 1750 mhz, then you force the graphic card to run at .95 volts so that it generates less heat and uses less power. While overclocking, you would want to push your GPU further at 1800 mhz, and then maybe at even 1850 or 1900 mhz. The result is a performance gain, albeit with more heat generation.

Requirements/Prerequisites (READ THIS!)

So there are definitely some requirements before you go ahead and start the process. As far as NVIDIA goes, don’t go below the 10 series! There have been some pretty solid reports that those GPUs don’t really work with Undervolting. There is a very strong possibility that anything above the 10 series will work fine, but we haven’t tested that ourselves. You should be fine though, go ahead and do some research on that topic. As far as AMDs go, those are actually pretty easy to Undervolt. Again, do some research since the results vary from GPU to GPU, however the process will remain the same. We will now get into the process of Undervolting each GPU.

Also Read: How to Cool Laptop While Gaming

How to Undervolt GPU (NVIDIA)

Once you’ve made sure that your GPU is good to go (do your research), you need to install the appropriate software to initiate the process. MSI Afterburner is probably the most popular one out there.

You can go ahead and download the software here:

http://download.msi.com/uti_exe/vga/MSIAfterburnerSetup.zip

Once you have completed the download, go ahead and unzip the file and install the software. Once the installation is complete, go ahead and launch the software. You’ll get the following interface

Undervolting with MSI

So once you have that screen up, you need to go into the Frequency/Voltage curve editor (you can access this by pressing Ctrl + F)

Undervolting Graph 1

When this curve first came up, we had no idea what to do here! It looked extremely complicated and we started searching for videos on YouTube on how to get the ball rolling. However, don’t let this intimidate you at all, you just need a little bit to get used to it, and once you do, it will all come together and make sense.

Basically, when you look at the graph, the x axis is the Voltage and the y axis is the Frequency.  The core voltage of the GPU is what you are looking to change! And the clocking frequency of your GPU as well. But before you do anything at all, you want to figure out the frequency your GPU runs at for the majority of the time. You will have to put some sort of load on your GPU to figure this out. Just use anything that won’t cause a CPU bottleneck but will push the GPU! For the purpose of this example, we will be using The Division 2 by Tom Clancy.

Make sure to run the game in Windowed mode, this will enable you to look at Afterburner and see what frequency your GPU is operating on, you should get something like this:

undervolting GPU game display

You can clearly see that the frequency on my screen is showing up as 1847 MHz. Go over to your frequency curve editor and find the same frequency on the y axis. Once you’re able to locate that, just follow it on the right side until you see that it meets the curve. The intersection must align with the voltage on the right hand side. When you have that point, you have to select all points after that one by pressing the Shift key down and dragging starting on the left side of the point post your target.

Undervolting GPU Graph 2

Once you have all those points selected, all you have to do is click one of them, then just drag all underneath the target. The interface is kind of finnicky and dragging multiple at the same time may feel a bit buggy, however, it’s all good. Just go ahead and proceed with it.

GPU graph undervolted 3

Now you have to save these changes, to do that, you have to select the tick icon on the main window (Afterburner). All of the change points that are in curve editor will now form a straight line by the frequency you are trying to accomplish.

Your target frequency has to have a low point (voltage) where it is going to operate. You need to find this point next. The best way to go is to make an assumption and then fine tune from there. For our scenario, we’re going to pick 950 mV (voltage). All we have to do now is find the assumption point on the x axis and drag the dot to the frequency we are trying to accomplish, which if you remember is 1847 MHz. Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect! Approximations are totally fine in this case.

All you have to do now is choose all of the points post 950 mV and then just drag them underneath 1847 MHz. Once that is done, just press apply in the main window of Afterburner.

Undervolting GPU graph 4

Now you need to check things out and see if the new voltage is going to result in a stable clock. Go ahead and run your game, if everything is working fine, just keep incrementing to the left (slowly). If your game crashes and you get error messages then you know things are not stable. And don’t worry if that happens, your driver is going to go into recovery by itself.

If that doesn’t happen, just go ahead and restart your computer and select a higher voltage for your desired frequency. To do this, just go around and drag the point to the left side of the desired voltage (under the frequency). When you do end up finding the best voltage setting, try to go a little higher to make sure that you have stability. For us, the final curve ended up as follows:

Graph for Undervolting GPU 9

Remember that there is no single curve that will work for every GPU. You should expect variance! It is possible that your GPU can go to a lower setting than mine (which would be great).

Once the testing part is complete and you have your ideal setting, go ahead and save it in Afterburner, otherwise you will have to keep doing this whenever you restart your computer. Before you save, ensure that the lock over the profile is unlocked. Just press save and choose one of the blinking numbers (you’ll get an option from 1 – 5). Once everything is saved, go ahead and enable the Startup option, this is going to set Afterburner to apply these settings every time your system reboots, that is if you have Afterburner set to run on startup (highly recommended!)

How to Undervolt GPU (AMD)

Undervolting for AMD folks is a cake walk when compared to NVIDIA! It seems that the manufacturers had actually thought about this in advance and included a lot of the functions inside their Adrenaline drivers. This is why you do not have to download any external programs for this one!

The main feature we are going to use here is Radeon Wattman. For this, you just have to go to the control panel for your Radeon. Go ahead and right click on your Windows desktop and select the Radeon settings. Once you do, you’re going to see something like this:

Undervolting AMD GPU

You’ll see the option for gaming on the top right, select that and you’ll see that the driver is already recognized. You’ll then be able to configure a different profile for different software that you are running on your machine. If you want, you also have the option to manually add executable files for software that was not recognized. You can do this by selecting the Add option. But since you’re Undervolting your machine entirely, you don’t need to worry about that. Just go over to the Global Settings.

Make sure to read the warning prompt that comes up. It’s basically saying that Overclocking may cause damage and even if done via AMD resources, it is not covered in the warranty. Please note that if you accept the terms, you are essentially voiding your warranty.

Once you accept the terms, you’re going to have a few different options available to you. When we were going through this process with the RX570, most of the details in the graph were not accurate or usable at all. You need to pay special attention to the voltage and frequencies here!

Undervolting AMD GPU 2

Go ahead and change the Auto mode setting to Manual. Moving forward, the process is essentially the same as discussed in the NVIDIA section above. The main distinction is the total number of setup points by default and the x/y axis switch. If you go ahead and move the right bracket, it is going to let you shift frequencies while the orange dots will change the voltage that is tied to the specific frequency below. A good idea here would be to remain with the default clock settings. The reason is because it is easier to find the right voltage that way, and it doesn’t really affect things since all we’re doing here is trying to reduce the power consumption.

How to Undervolt GPU (Later than R7 260, Older than NVIDIA and AMD)

So if you’ve read the sections above, then you know that choosing random numbers is not going to work. It’s not a matter of luck, it’s more about precision. So, break your stuff down and reduce in small steps and then verify stability with each step.

When you’re starting out, you need to always verify the frequency that your GPU is likely to go into with whatever program it is that you are running. Once you have the state figured out, that is when you start playing with the voltage. One way to speed things up is by knocking off 80 or 100 mV in the initial two steps. If you see that things are working out and your computer is stable, just keep on going. If your get an error, or your system crashes, just go back and do smaller changes of 10 to 30 mV each.

When we say stability, what it means is that you’re going to have to put a bit of load on your GPU. You just have to load an intense program or run a game that will push your GPU to its limit. Keep it going for a while and walk around the change scene to simulate the minor changes in terms of GPU load. Make sure that whatever program you’re running does not cause a CPU bottleneck, that is pretty much the only required prerequisite here.

Always remember to save your profile! If you don’t do that then you’re going to have to go through the entire process all over again.

That’s it pretty much! Good luck Undervolting your GPU! Hope you have a great time gaming or running whatever program it is that you’re after. Cheers!

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