Undervolting And Underclocking The GPU – Is It Safe?

Playing games on the computer for a period of time heats up the GPU and leads to high temperatures. When the temperature goes above a maximum temperature limit then the performance of GPU is reduced and this causes GPU Throttling or Thermal Throttling of GPU.

Apart from Thermal Throttling of GPU the high temperature also causes instability of the system, reduces the lifespan of the computer and the fan makes loud noises because the fan goes into overdrive in order to dissipate the excess heat.

The best solution to prevent Thermal Throttling of GPU in a PC or Laptop is to Undervolt and Underclock the GPU because Undervolting and Underclocking prevents the GPU from reaching high temperatures.

When the performance of the CPU reduces due to high temperatures it is called CPU Throttling. You can also Undervolt and Underclock the CPU.

But how do you go on undervolting and underclocking the GPU. Is it safe?

Well, in this article I will cover everything about Undervolting and Underclocking the GPU, its benefits, whether it is safe and the software required for doing it.

What Does Undervolting and Underclocking Mean?

Undervolting is the process of reducing the Operating Voltage of the GPU or the CPU intentionally. The voltage is measured in millivolts(mV) or Volts(V).

Every hardware component inside the computer requires a certain amount of voltage in order to operate properly. Undervolting reduces the voltage which reduces the Power Consumption of the GPU. As less power is consumed the heat generated will also be less and the GPU won’t reach high temperatures.

Undervolting is the opposite of Overvolting where the operating voltage is intentionally increased.

Underclocking is the process of intentionally reducing the clock speed at which the GPU or the CPU operates.

Clock speed is the number of clock cycles or instructions the GPU/CPU can execute in one second. A higher clock speed means the GPU/CPU can execute more instructions in one second.

Clock speed is measured in MegaHertz(MHz). Underclocking is the opposite of Overclocking.

Benefits Of Undervolting and Underclocking the GPU

Undervolting and Underclocking the GPU has three main benefits.

Less Production Of Heat

Undervolting and underclocking reduce the operating voltage and clock speeds of the GPU. This reduction in voltage and clock speeds reduces the power consumed by the GPU.

If power consumed is less then the heat generated will also be less. If heat generated is less then the temperatures won’t reach high levels and remain at safe operating levels.

Cooling systems of laptops can never be as good as desktops. The laptop has a very small space so the cooling fans used are smaller in size and less powerful than desktops. If you use high powered GPUs in laptops then they will heat up faster because the cooling system isn’t good enough to dissipate the excess heat.

Even with undervolting and underclocking some laptops still suffer from overheating and high GPU and CPU temperatures.

Desktops, on the other hand, have a lot of space to use bigger and more powerful cooling fans that dissipate a lot of heat. Another great thing about desktops is that you can change the entire cooling system and replace it with a better one.

High temperatures can destroy the internal circuitry of the GPU and lead to system instabilities. It is a must that you don’t let the GPU temperatures go very high. You can also use Thermal Paste to prevent the GPU from reaching high temperatures.

Low Power Consumption and More Stable Performance

When the temperatures reach a very high level the the GPU cannot function properly which causes system instability.

When you play games the GPU performs at its maximum potential and consumes a lot of power. High power consumption means the heat generated by the GPU is also higher. As more heat is generated the temperature of the GPU also becomes very high.

When the temperature goes above the maximum critical temperature then the performance of the GPU reduces until the temperature decreases to a safe operating level. When the temperature falls back to normal the cycle starts again. The GPU performance increases which further increases the temperature then the GPU performance reduces again to decrease the temperature to safe operating levels.

If you undervolt and underclock the GPU then the power consumed by the GPU will be much less. This means it will generate less heat and the temperatures will remain at safe levels.

As the heat is reduced, the GPU will show better performance and the system will remain stable. Your GPU won’t throttle and this will increase the lifespan of the GPU and also increase the battery life.

Increased Lifespan

High temperatures can decrease the lifespan of the GPU and other PC components. When the temperatures cross the maximum critical temperature the GPU can endure then it will show a drop in performance. Overheating and regular drops in performance reduce the lifespan of the GPU and other hardware components.

Undervolting and underclocking prevent the GPU from overheating and reaching those high temperatures. This means the GPU can now work at a safe operating level and show superior performance. This increases the lifespan of the GPU and makes the system more stable.

Software Required For Undervolting and Underclocking the GPU

You need a special utility software to Underclock and Undervolt the GPU. The best utility software for this process is MSI Afterburner.

msi afterburner

MSI Afterburner gives you the voltage and temperature readings of the GPU and the CPU. You can use this software to Underclock, Undervolt, Overclock as well as Overvolt the GPU and CPU.

You can also use another software called GPU-Z to undervolt and underclock the GPU. If you need software to underclock and undervolt the CPU then you can use Throttlestop or CPU-Z.

If you want to follow a guide for undervolting and underclocking the GPU then you must check out the guides from WePC or LinusTechTips.

Is Undervolting and Underclocking the GPU Safe?

If you undervolt or underclock the GPU improperly then your system will suffer from instabilities that will reduce the performance of your GPU and may even cause it to function improperly.

Every hardware component requires a minimum amount of Voltage to function properly. If you undervolt the GPU by a large amount then the GPU won’t function properly and won’t perform to its maximum potential.

You’ll get continuous drops in performance, frequent lagging while playing games and the games won’t run smoothly. It will also reduce the lifespan of your GPU and reduce battery life.

That is why it’s crucial that you undervolt the GPU properly. The best method to do it is by increasing the voltage by small amounts while constantly monitoring the temperatures of the GPU. In this way, you have to find the perfect balance between the voltage and the temperature levels.

You have to find a specific voltage level below the normal operating voltage for which the temperature remains at a safe working level.

You can also reduce high temperatures of the GPU in a Laptop without underclocking and undervolting. There are two other methods to do so.

(A) Applying Thermal Paste in the gap between the heat source(GPU) and the heat sink(Thermal Cooling System).

(B) Buying a Cooling Pad that draws cool air from underneath and blows it to the bottom of the laptop.

cooling pad to reduce high temperatures

If you are using a desktop PC then you can use the above two methods or you change the entire cooling system and get a new one with better thermals and cooling fans.

Is Undervolting and Underclocking the GPU Worth It

Undervolting and underclocking the GPU provides a lot of benefits. It keeps the temperature of the GPU down so you won’t get any kind of GPU Throttling. This also makes your system a lot stable than before.

Undervolting also prevents the cooling fans from going into Overdrive. This means the fans won’t make much noise which makes your laptop or desktop much quieter.

As the overall temperatures are reduced the lifespan of your GPU and the battery will also increase.

If you do it properly then Undervolting and Underclocking can do wonders to the overall performance of your computer.

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