How To Undervolt Your Graphics Card (And Why You Might Want To)

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How To Undervolt Your Graphics Card

Credit: PC Webopaedia

Is your gaming laptop getting just too hot to touch? Here’s how To Undervolt Your Graphics Card to keep it cooler and for longtime use.

Overclocking your graphics card to get more performance out of it is a thrilling experience. However, given the continuous shortages and high pricing, pushing your gear harder and hotter is a risky idea.

Most of the time, you’ll want to run your graphics card cooler to extend its life. What if there was a method to accomplish so without losing a significant portion of the stock’s value? GPU undervolting makes this feasible, and it’s a fairly simple process.

Here’s how To Undervolt Your Graphics Card


What Is GPU Undervolting?

At least one GPU is located at the core of your graphics card, which displays visuals by rapidly turning billions of transistors on and off. Each process consumes some power, the majority of which is lost as heat. As a result, the maximum power and heat a GPU can withstand without destroying itself limit its performance.

Give your GPU a simple duty to do, and it will consume very little power. Running a ray-traced game at “Ultra” settings, on the other hand, will consume hundreds of watts of power. The majority of the electrical energy is then lost as heat. During a typical gaming session, though, pushing more than 200 watts puts a strain on the graphics card’s power supply subsystem.

As a result of the heat dissipation, the GPU silicon substrate reaches temperatures beyond 87°C. A standard graphics card includes built-in protections to avoid thermal and electrical overload, but constantly pushing it to its limits shortens its life.

During high-load activities like gaming, GPU undervolting, on the other hand, minimizes the overall power required and heat created. This is especially significant for tiny form factor computers, which suffer from a lack of room and airflow, resulting in poor cooling. Gaming laptops and SFF PCs are especially vulnerable to damage caused by prolonged overheating.


What Is the Effect of GPU Undervolting?

Undervolting the GPU lowers the maximum load temperature by lowering the overall power consumption. GPU energy consumption may be reduced by lowering the voltage or current supply. Because every semiconductor device is intended to work within a maximum and lowest voltage range, it’s better to minimize voltage.

Excessive voltage damages the component permanently, whilst inadequate voltage causes transient concerns including visual artifacts and system instability. Manufacturers often employ a fixed voltage that is high enough to accommodate for fluctuation in chip quality since silicon quality changes across production batches.

In principle, lowering supply voltage judiciously can minimize GPU power drain and temperature under load without compromising performance. This is done by gradually lowering the GPU voltage until the system reaches a point of instability.

The idea is to find the temperature range, where the GPU receives exactly the perfect amount of power to work at its best while creating little heat and fan noise.


Here, are the following steps you need to follow – How To Undervolt your Graphics Card

Step 1: What you’ll require

Let’s get the tools we’ll need for the job. We understand the GPU scarcity, but this will only function with an Nvidia or AMD ‘Unobtanium’ GPU. Older graphics cards will also work, but your mileage will vary. In comparison to a reference or founders edition that is closer to stock settings, a GPU that is already significantly overclocked from the manufacturer may take more work to find a sweet spot.

Most of the same ideas apply to both Nvidia and AMD GPUs, although the most successful uses differ slightly, as we’ll see here:

  • MSI Afterburner, et al: This free utility tool will allow you to tweak the GPU and keep track of its vitals. This is better appropriate for Nvidia GPUs. HW Info64, which allows you to monitor GPU Junction Memory temperatures on the RTX 3000’s VRAM, may be used as a compliment. If you’re using an AMD GPU, you’ll also want to download AMD’s Adrenaline Radeon Software, which has some useful tools for this.
  • Heaven Benchmark: This is a free benchmark that will provide you instant feedback on your GPU settings.
  • Your Favorite Game: Remember to do testing before undervolting so that you can observe the results. Keep an eye on the temperature and the pace of the clock. Take note of your GPU’s stock specs as well as the manufacturer’s to ensure that you’re hitting the figures while undervolting.


Step 2: Pre-Flight Testing

Open MSI Afterburner and familiarize yourself with the various settings and GPU data readouts. Temperatures, power limitations, memory clock, and core clock speeds may all be found here. It’s possible that yours has different visual skin.

  • Run a Heaven Benchmark Pre-Test: We’re testing the Heaven Benchmark Extreme preset on a standard Nvidia EVGA 3090 FTW3 Ultra to see how much better it performs. This GPU’s core clock will average approximately 1800MHz out of the box, with temperatures averaging around 83 ° C and reaching 86 ° C. after 30 minutes in an open chassis. When temperatures are excessive, the GPU will downclock itself to under 1800MHz in 15hz increments. Fans are heard at 83% to 90% volume, but not frighteningly so. Memory speeds have remained consistent at around 9751Mhz. The stock Heaven score is 7,350, or 291.8 fps. We’ll compare this to our undervolted data in the near future.

Heaven Benchmark Extreme: Nvidia 3090 EVGA FTW3 stock

  • Clock speeds: With occasional downclocking, the clock frequency is set to 1800 MHz.
  • Temperature: 83c to 86c after 30 minutes
  • Heaven Benchmark Extreme Score: 7,350 with a 291.8 FPS
  • Fans: 83% to 86%

Step 3: Curve Editor

Curve Editor

Credit: Reddit

  • Curve Editor: This will be the most difficult aspect of the procedure, but it will become easier as time goes on. To launch the curve editor in MSI Afterburner, use ‘control+F’ on your keyboard. On the left (Y Axis) column, we’re looking at the GPU Core clock MHz frequency, and on the bottom (X Axis) row, we’re looking at the GPU Voltage.
  • Voltage and Frequency: We can observe that the core boost clock for our GPU is 1800MHz. With standard out-of-the-box settings, it will fall just around 975 volts if we locate that on the curve editor. Even though it’s the same model, the performance of your GPU will vary, so make sure to check the data for yours.

You should slide it to 1800MHz first, and you may start at 975V as a starting point. After you set your frequency and voltage in Afterburner, the line should be straight after you push the checkmark.

These are the fundamentals of the procedure, however bear in mind that the curve editor may be a little fussy when it comes to matching the frequencies. You may need to do some experimenting to get it where you want it.

After clicking the checkmark in Afterburner, I generally find that setting every point under your target frequency by holding CTRL and dragging down, followed by raising only the target frequency at your chosen voltage, will line up well.

Step 4: Test, adjust and test again

The real fun begins now. Heaven Benchmark allows you to test various frequency and voltage curve points. If you’ve gone too far, heaven will usually crash. Whether it continues to run, try testing in your favorite games to see if it’s a steady undervolt.

Test 1: After starting with a stock frequency of 1800MHz and 975v, we reduced the voltage to 875v and increased the frequency to 1815MHz. In Heaven Benchmark, this is the extreme setting result:

  • Clock speeds: 1815MHz, then automatically clocked up to 1830MHz
  • Temperature: 81c
  • Heaven Benchmark Extreme Score: 7,433 with an FPS of 295.1
  • Fans: 83% to 86%

The above represents a significant increase in performance, as well as considerably improved thermals and noise levels. Let’s take it a step further and see what we can come up with.

Test 2: Let’s try 1815MHz again and see how the GPU reacts at 800v

  • Clock speeds: 1800MHz Average
  • Temperature: 74c
  • Heaven Benchmark Extreme Score: 7341 With an FPS of 291.4
  • Fans: 74%

The results for 800v at 1815MHz were quite close to stock and substantially better thermally. While keeping the standard core clock speeds, fans were reduced from 86% to 74%, and the temperature was reduced from 86°C to 74°C. Our score dropped from 7350 to 7341, and our FPS dropped from 291.8 to 291.4, however both may be improved with some good.

We increased the voltage to 875 volts and the frequency to 1890 MHz with a few more modifications. This gave us a score of 7556 at 300 frames per second, but it also raised the temperature to 80 ° and increased the number of fans to 81 %. If this is the path you choose to go, it’ll still be more efficient than stock, with better performance to boot.


You must next select if you want maximum performance, maximum efficiency, or a combination of the two. However, owing to the silicon lottery, this sweet spot will change from GPU to GPU. Our first test results at 1815MHz and 875v were satisfactory, however the voltage may be reduced for even better thermals.

These varied cases indicate how little adjustments in voltage or frequency may affect your performance as well as temperatures.

The idea is to keep a close eye on a few critical factors. The most significant factor is stability, which is followed by your other advantages.

  • It has to be stable in Heaven Benchmark and all of your other games
  • Check the core clock to ensure it is accurate
  • Keep an eye on thermals and power consumption to ensure that the improvement is achievable
  • For the best results, experiment with different voltages and core clocks


Undervolting AMD GPUs

You’ll be able to use the tools in the Adrenaline Radeon software if you’re running an AMD GPU.

Undervolting AMD GPUs

Credit: AMD

The AMD Reference RX 6800, which is custom water-cooled, is under test here. AMD’s claimed boost frequency is normally 2105MHz, but owing to the improved cool performance, we’ve been given more headroom to over 2200MHz.

The AMD Radeon Software is simple to operate. To begin, navigate to the performance -> Tuning tab.

You’ll have a few alternatives here. You may set the voltage manually, just like we did with the Nvidia GPUs. Experiment with simply altering the voltage. We experienced a sustained rise in performance with a decline from 1025mv to 893mv.

Temperatures, power consumption, and noise levels were all lower than they had been previously. Benchmark numbers have also improved, which is precisely what we want to see.

On the same page, you may also use the auto undervolting feature. In this case, the software will perform the job for you, but it won’t always give flawless results – you’ll need to do some custom tuning.


Conclusion

Undervolting is similar to beautiful art with a dash of good science thrown in for good measure. The exact ingredients for your optimum sweet spot can change depending on GPU, so you’ll have to experiment to determine what works best. However, the evidence is in the pudding: the tests and statistics listed above can help you determine how effective your undervolting attempts were. Good luck, and get to experimenting!

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