How to Optimize GPU Performance by Undervolting

Introduction to GPU Undervolting

Undervolting your GPU can have a significant impact on its performance, power consumption, temperature, and noise levels. Whether you own a top-of-the-line graphics card or an older model in need of a boost, learning how to undervolt can be a game-changer. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to undervolt your graphics card, providing you with a smoother and more efficient gaming experience.

Before You Begin: Compatibility Check

Before diving in, it’s crucial to note that not all GPUs can be undervolted, especially those predating Nvidia’s 10 series. The voltages on older Nvidia cards are locked, making undervolting a challenge. However, most AMD cards, including older models, can be undervolted. Certain AMD models may even experience improved clock speeds when running at lower voltages.

Undervolting an Nvidia Graphics Card: Step-by-Step Guide

Undervolting Nvidia GPUs requires an additional set of steps compared to AMD. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown:

Step 1: Download MSI Afterburner

To begin the undervolting process for Nvidia graphics cards, download MSI Afterburner – a widely popular undervolting tool. Install and launch the program on your computer.

Step 2: Access the Curve Editor

Within the MSI Afterburner interface, locate the voltage information on the lower left side. Just below that, you’ll find the Curve Editor. Access this tool by double-clicking or pressing CTRL + F.

Step 3: Test Your GPU

Before proceeding further, determine the frequency at which your GPU runs under stress. You can achieve this by running a GPU-intensive program or a stress test, such as FurMark. Launch a resource-heavy game and let it run for at least 15 minutes. Monitor the “MHz” section in MSI Afterburner and take note of the frequency (e.g., 1873MHz).

Step 4: Find the Correct Axis in Curve Editor

Now, return to the Curve Editor tool in MSI Afterburner. Locate the correct frequency on the Y-axis by clicking along the dotted curve line. Ensure that the corresponding voltage aligns with your desired frequency value (e.g., 1873MHz requires a core voltage of 1000).

Step 5: Adjust the Core Clock

Navigate back to the main MSI Afterburner window and locate the Core Clock (MHz) section. Adjust the core clock until the frequency matches the desired voltage. Keep increasing the clock until the frequency matches the stress test result on the new, lowered voltage.

Step 6: Maintain Core Speed and Voltage

To ensure stable performance at the desired clock speed, return to the Curve Editor. From your chosen voltage point, drag down the smaller squares within the highlighted area to form a straight line aligned with the original frequency your graphics card was hitting.

Step 7: Save and Adjust

To preserve the changes you’ve made, click the floppy disk Save icon at the bottom of the MSI Afterburner window. Test your new frequency/voltage combination by running the same game or another resource-heavy program. If the frequency matches your target, and there are no crashes or issues, your undervolting process is successful.

Step 8: Stress-Test the Card

While optional, a stress test is highly recommended to ensure your GPU performs optimally. Use programs like FurMark or 3DMark Time Spy to stress-test your card up to three times. If the performance is stable, congratulations! You have successfully undervolted your Nvidia GPU.

Undervolting an AMD Graphics Card: Step-by-Step Guide

Undervolting an AMD graphics card is comparatively more straightforward. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Enter the Radeon Control Panel

Right-click anywhere on your Desktop to access the Radeon Control Panel.

Step 2: Open Radeon Wattman

Navigate to the Gaming section within the control panel. Click on Global Settings, and then select Global Wattman. Review and accept the warning prompt from AMD.

Step 3: Test the Optimal Frequency

Use the Radeon Wattman interface to determine the optimal clock speed/voltage of your Radeon card. Launch a resource-heavy program like a new game or FurMark stress test and let it run for at least 15 minutes. Take note of the peak and average core speeds.

Step 4: Adjust the Voltage and Frequency

Head to the Frequency/Voltage section of Global Wattman. Switch from Auto to Manual control. Lower the voltage while maintaining the frequency by dragging the voltage value lower than the maximum hit during your desired frequency. Click Apply once you are satisfied with the results.

Step 5: Test Your Graphics Card

To ensure stability, run your favorite game for an hour and run a GPU stress test or benchmark with FurMark or 3DMark Time Spy. If your system performs well without crashes, your AMD GPU has been successfully undervolted.

Bonus Tip: Monitor Your GPU with HWiNFO

While MSI Afterburner and AMD Radeon Wattman provide general GPU information, monitoring your card in real-time with HWiNFO is highly useful. Install and run HWiNFO, paying attention to the GPU clock speed during gameplay. This program helps you gather accurate information for undervolting and confirms the success of your undervolting attempts.

Undervolting your GPU can yield tremendous benefits, including improved performance, reduced power consumption, and lower temperatures. Follow these step-by-step guides for Nvidia and AMD cards to unlock your graphics card’s true potential. Remember to stress-test your system to ensure stability. Enjoy your enhanced gaming experience!