PC Components

How To Underclock Your GPU

Graphics Processing Unit

The GPU is one of the most crucial components of your computer. It processes all the graphical data, taking off the heavy load from the CPU. Every GPU’s clock speed or frequency determines its power and energy consumption. Most people overclock the frequency to max out their performance; however, underclocking is also an option in specific scenarios. So, how do you underclock your GPU?

Quick Answer

Underclocking the GPU is a relatively simple process. You only need reliable software tools to assist you, unlike CPU overclocking, which is relatively trickier. You can underclock the GPU beyond its factory settings or move the frequency back to its original speed if you have previously overclocked it.

It doesn’t seem wise to lower your GPU’s performance, but it provides the user with some heavy benefits. Let’s look at what pros you will enjoy after underclocking the GPU and how exactly you can pull off the process without making any blunders.

Why Should I Underclock My GPU?

In several cases, underclocking the GPU can prove beneficial but will cost you lower graphics processing power.

Saving Power

If you’re a light user who doesn’t need the computer to execute any intensive task, you might want to lower the clock speed of your GPU. Scrolling and browsing the internet, playing media files, or reading books are the tasks that your computer can easily process.

Underclocking the GPU will ensure it consumes only enough power required for the simple tasks to save some energy.

Avoid Over-Heating Issues

When your GPU devours more energy, it will heat up very quickly. Especially if your PC is set up in a cramped space or you live in a hot, humid region. Heat is your computer’s greatest enemy, leading to FPS drops and system throttling issues.

A low-frequency GPU gobbles up less electricity, keeps the temperature in check, and provides a more stable performance.

Longevity of the GPU

A constant workload can lead to the degradation of your GPU. The thermal paste can become less effective in heat dissipation, causing performance issues. Ensuring your GPU remains cool can increase its lifespan, and you can benefit from the power for a long time.

Lower Fan Noise

GPU fans keep the temperature lower and help the GPU to deliver stable performance. When the GPU draws less power, the fans will not have to work at their maximum potential. So, you will experience quieter fans when the GPU runs at lower speeds.

Underclocking the GPU Using MSI Afterburner

MSI Afterburner is an excellent tool frequently used, tested, and recommended by most professional gamers. It allows the user to alter the GPU clock speeds with a simple slider; however, you must know beforehand what you’re working with. 

The tool will show you two frequency clocks: the core clock and memory clock. We recommend you lower the frequency of the core clock and leave the memory clock at its default settings.

Underclocking the memory clock doesn’t bring any significant giants, and a slight mistake can cause system instability. Here’s how you should operate the MSI Afterburner tool.

  1. Launch the MSI Afterburner tool on your computer.
  2. The app will display an interface showing the clock speeds on the left side and system temperature on the right.
    • There will be four sliders in the middle, where the third slider represents the core clock.
    • If you have previously overclocked the GPU, bring the slider to the 0 (zero) position, which is the factory setting.
    • If you want to underclock it further down, bring the slider below the 0 (zero) mark and underlock according to the requirement.
  3. Gradually lower the clock speed and try out which position works the best according to your environment. You need the find the perfect balance between the core clock speed and the temperature of the GPU.

If you experience any app crashes your instability issues, you can increase the clock speed and see the effect. This test and trial method will take you to the sweet spot.

What Is Undervolting?

Most people use the terms underclocking and undervolting interchangeably; however, there’s a difference. Undervolting means reducing the flow of direct voltage the GPU receives to lower the power consumption. In contrast, underclocking minimizes the frequency of GPU, which in turn leads to less power usage.

Both the processes aim to achieve similar results, but undervolting can be challenging. If you don’t know the technicalities, you might cause system instability

If you still want to achieve maximum efficiency, you can reduce the voltage directed to the GPU. The voltage slider sits right above the core clock slider, and you should start by lowering the slider just a little bit. Keeping the slider at the default setting would be best to avoid any issues.

The Bottom Line

Most professionals and gamers alter the clock speeds of their GPU to maximize efficiency. You must avoid heat dissipation at all costs to prevent performance issues. Underclocking the GPU can resolve this issue. Lower frequency means less power consumption that keeps the GPU working at a lower temperature. It can also reduce the fan noise of your GPU.

The best way to underclock the GPU is using the MSI Afterburner tool. It provides a simple interface where you can under or overclock the GPU using a slider. You can find the perfect balance of power and temperature by gradually decreasing the frequency according to your needs. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to underclock the GPU?

Lowering the frequency a little would not affect the GPU. However, if you lower it down too much, it can damage the GPU. Still, if you know what you’re doing, you can get many benefits at the cost of lower GPU performance.

Can undervolting increase FPS?

Undervolting cuts down high amounts of power from reaching the GPU. The GPU will deliver less power at a lower voltage, but it will run much smoother. So, the FPS will not increase. However, you will experience stable and smoother frames. 

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