The heat generated on a system is directly proportional to the voltage supplied to it. Your system will experience an increase in heat, and hence the temperature if you raise the supplied voltage.
And, the same is true in the reverse direction. That is, if you reduce the voltage, your system will limit its thermal increment. We are talking about this exact phenomenon of voltage reduction for your GPU. Most gamers and heavy users apply this technique to lower their GPU temperature without affecting or even improving its performance.
If you are having trouble with higher temperature and thermal throttling, then you can undervolt your GPU. You can do this by tweaking the voltage supplied for the maximum clock speed of your GPU and continuing the process until you reach the sweet spot.
What is GPU Undervolting and Why Does it Work?
Your GPU gives you with the best visual experience and lag-free performance by consuming more energy from the system. This power usage depends on the default value rated to the unit during production.
But, the manufacturers tend to assign the power rating slightly higher than what is actually required for the GPU to function well. It is because the graphics units are produced in bulk and designating individual voltage ratings for each one is impractical. This forms a gap between the actual working voltage and the rated one. Due to this very manufacture’s voltage gap, GPU undervolting does not pose any problem.
Simply put, GPU Undervolting is reducing the voltage supplied to your GPU at the constant maximum clock speed. When we undervolt the GPU, we are looking for the optimum value in that gap that can run it without any glitch.
Undervolting won’t affect the performance of the GPU as we are keeping its clock speed the same all along. Even better, it won’t suffer from thermal throttling causing the performance to improve to a point.
The resulting lower temperature of the GPU can not only provide smooth performance but also improve its life. Apart from this, less noise from fans is another added advantage of undervolting of the GPU.
How To Undervolt Your GPU?
If you are a heavy gamer, designer, or researcher using computing tools, you will want to prevent the frequent rising of temperature by undervolting your GPU. The process is fairly simple and you can complete it in a few steps. You will just need the right tool for your GPU depending on its manufacturer and learn about the functions to tweak to get the job done.
You can download the official GPU control application for AMD graphics cards and a reliable tool for NVIDIA GPUs to perform undervolting. The basic process for both of these tools is that you find the maximum speed your GPU runs at and use the tool to lower the voltage keeping the clock speed constant till it is stable.
So, let’s not delay anymore and get into undervolting any GPU.
How To Undervolt Your NVIDIA GPU?
We currently have two manufacturers fighting neck and neck in the field of graphics processing: NVIDIA and AMD. NVIDIA has been in this game of high-performance GPU for a long time and most of us might possess the same as well.
The major drawback for NVIDIA users is that it does not provide its own software to modify the GPU’s power and clock speed settings. It also has voltage locked on older GPUs such as the GTX 1000 series. So, if you have the GPU of those models, you won’t be able to undervolt your GPU easily.
For now, let’s talk about those models which support undervolting. You will need an official software by MSI called MSI Afterburner. It is highly reliable for undervolting NVIDIA GPUs.
Along with MSI Afterburner, you will need a benchmarking tool to max out your Graphics card and look at the performance score.
So, let’s look at what you need to do to undervolt your GPU.
- Download and Install MSI Afterburner and Unigine’s Heaven Benchmark on your PC. You will see a window in MSI Afterburner with GPU Speed, Voltage, and Temperature.
- Now, go to Heaven Benchmark and click Run. It will take a bit of time to load.
- After it is loaded, click on Settings and uncheck the Full-Screen box. If the benchmarking application is on full-screen mode, then it will be difficult to properly note the GPU clock speed and temperature during the stress test.
- Click on Benchmark to start testing. Press Alt + Tab to switch to MSI Afterburner while running Benchmark to open them side by side.
- Observe the maximum GPU clock speed reached and note down your GPU temperature for now (It was 83 degrees Celsius for our GPU). After the Benchmarking ends, note the performance score (2000 for our GPU) that we will use to compare afterward.
- Go to MSI Afterburner and press Ctrl + F to open the Fan Curve graph. You will see curvature on a plot of Voltage on the X-axis and Clock Speed on the Y-axis.
- Find the point on the curve that corresponds to the maximum GPU clock speed that you noted earlier on the Y-axis at the left. You can do this by clicking on the small squares.
- When you find the maximum clock speed (for us, it was 1800 MHz), look below on the X-axis to see the voltage corresponding to it. It was 893 mV for us.
- Now, Go to the main window of MSI Afterburner and find Core Clock. Enter -200 in it and press enter. You will see the graph on the fan curve page go down 200 MHz.
- Now you should start reducing the voltage step by step. At first, try reducing 50 mV. In our case, we wanted to get to 850 mV.
- Find the square dot that corresponds to 850 mV.
- After you find it, drag the square box above to reach the maximum clock speed of your GPU. Our aim is to obtain the same speed at a lower voltage. If you could not reach the exact point, press the Shift and Up or Down arrow to reach the point.
- Now, press Shift and select all the areas to the right of the point, and hit Enter to make them straight. Then, click on the Apply icon on the main screen.
- Now run the Heaven Benchmark again and note the readings. For our GPU, we obtained a temperature decrease to 79 degrees Celsius and a performance increase to 2050.
- Follow the same steps by lowering the voltage by a further 50 mV until your performance score starts decreasing too much.
- Keep the voltage to a 25 mV higher value than the voltage where the benchmark score was low or the Heaven software crashed.
- Apply and Save the changes.
You will find a significant decrease in temperature with no variation in the GPU’s performance at all for the optimum voltage value.
How To Undervolt your AMD GPU?
Even though AMD’s popularity came quite later, it is producing a lot of high-end graphics units. Hence, a lot of us might prefer and possess AMD GPU.
AMD GPU has an added advantage as well. It allows its user to modify the clock speed and voltage of its GPU through its own software. The interface is much easier as well. You can also undervolt your older AMD graphic cards in contrary to NVIDIA cards.
You just need to download the latest AMD Radeon Software: Adrenalin Edition for this. Let’s see how to undervolt your AMD GPU.
- Download the AMD Radeon Software: Adrenalin Edition and Unigine’s Heaven Benchmark on your PC. If you have older AMD software, then update it to the Adrenalin Edition.
- On the AMD Radeon Software, click on the Performance tab at the top and Go to Tuning.
- Scroll to the GPU Section. You will find GPU Clock Speed, Temperature, Voltage, etc. features on the window.
- Now, go to Heaven Benchmark and click Run. Click on Settings and uncheck the Full-Screen box after it is loaded.
- Start the benchmark testing by clicking on the Benchmark tab.
- Press Alt + Tab and switch the window to AMD’s software to open both programs side by side. Note down the GPU Clock Speed, and Temperature. Also, note the performance score after the testing completes. We will use it to compare the performance of the GPU after undervolting.
- Go to the GPU section on the AMD software window and select Custom on the Manual Tuning option at the far right.
- Enable GPU Tuning and then Advanced Control by clicking on the toggle bar.
- Now insert the maximum GPU clock speed either by typing the number on the box or by changing the slider.
- Then, tune the voltage slider to reduce the voltage by 50 mV at first. You can also directly put the voltage value that is 50 mV less than maximum. Click on Apply Changes at the top.
- Run the Heaven Benchmark again to see any changes in the temperature and performance.
- Follow the process until you reach the optimum value. You will notice a decrease in performance score if you cross this value.
- Slightly increase the voltage to keep it above the right voltage for your GPU and save the changes.
- Alternatively, you can click the Undervolt option on the Automatic section to let AMD do the work for you. However, it might not be as effective as manual tuning.
You should see an improvement in your GPU’s temperature control as well as its performance.
After undervolting your GPU, you will find its temperature drop dramatically and it won’t lose any sweat while running your games as well. You should however keep monitoring the performance. Notice if some programs have started to lag afterward or you find some programs close down unexpectedly.
If such cases arise, just revert the settings or uninstall the application that you used for undervolting and your GPU should be back to normal.