Do you want to know how to underclock graphics card (AMD or NVIDIA) and reduce your daily consumption? You are on the right spot to know the answer of this question.
Underclocking is a process that can come in handy if we want to reduce the power consumption of our graphics card. In this article, we’ll go over what underclocking is and show you how to do under clock your graphics card.
What is Underclocking and Why to do it?
Surely you know what overclocking is, a technique in which the clock frequency of the motherboard or the processor is increased above its factory limits, in order to obtain better performance.
The frequency basically defines how many duty cycles occur in one second. Increasing it will mean higher performance and, in the case of a graphics card, more FPS in games.
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In a totally opposite way, the under clock consists of reducing the frequencies below the factory values.
In this article we will focus on the underclocking of a graphics card or GPU, since it is a very interesting technique and makes a lot of sense.
What is the reason why we would underclock? Well, basically wanting a reduction in the energy consumption of the graphics card. There are several reasons why lowering the power of the GPU can be a good thing:
- Save money on the electric bill.
- Get the graphics card to be at lower temperatures or make less noise.
- Avoid consumption peaks, these can damage your source if it is of low quality, and if it is of high quality but of insufficient power it could turn off while you play. Underclocking might fix it.
- Extend the life of the GPU.
- Avoid thermal
In general, there is no need to under clock, because graphics cards are designed to work well for years, right out of the box.
However, the above reasons are very valid, and that is why we are going to deal with the subject in this article.
Underclocking vs Undervolting
If you have heard about underclocking, you may have heard about undervolting as well. With this technique, what is reduced is not the clock frequency but also the voltage that reaches the graphics card.
The big difference here is that if we underclock, the GPU will still decide what voltage to apply to the core in the same way as before. Surely it works at a lower voltage, because the frequency is lower, but it shouldn’t.
On the other hand, with an undervolting we would be establishing limits to the voltage at which the GPU works, and from there the graphics card would have to decide what frequency can reach to it.
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The good thing about undervolting is that it’s usually more effective at improving graphics efficiency, and the bad thing is that it’s a lot harder to get right and more likely to cause GPU instability and reboots.
A simpler and safer solution, but less effective
So, as we can see, underclocking is the perfect alternative to undervolting, if you want to reduce consumption but without too many risks. Two types of GPU underclock must be differentiated (the same goes for undervolt):
- Core under clock: We are reducing the frequency at which the graphics card core operates. This is the easiest and safest to do.
- Memory under clock: The VRAM memory of the graphics card works at a specific frequency, different from that of the kernel. Memories are very peculiar, and underclocking as well as undervolting can cause stability problems very easily.
It doesn’t seem like it makes much sense to underclock memories, if we’re looking for a guide to something easier to do. Therefore, we will focus on the underclock of the graphics card core.
How to Underclock Graphics Card (AMD or NVIDIA) Step by Step
The process of underclocking is something that we can do practically on any graphics card, especially if it is a dedicated graphics card from AMD or NVIDIA. Also, the process is the same: It just comes to us by using MSI Afterburner.
Graphics card overclockers (and underclockers, of course) have been relying on this universal program from MSI for years, and it works really well.
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The key is that it allows us to monitor and modify many parameters of the graphics card to see if what we do is working or not.
Therefore, the first thing we must do is download Afterburner from the official MSI website and install it. MSI is one of the most popular graphics card assemblers, so the program is very reliable.
As we say, it is not necessary to have a graphics card from a specific manufacturer (AMD or NVIDIA) and it does not have to be from MSI, far from it.
Once installed, we will find a control panel with all the information on the graphics card sensors and a series of controls, among which is the underclock.
We are not going to select a specific clock frequency, since this will depend on each moment, but we are going to establish an offset.
That is, the graphics card sets the maximum possible frequency, and we will tell it to reduce it by a specific amount.
Suppose If the GPU decides to run at 1000MHz, and we set -100MHz underclock in Afterburner, it will run at 900MHz.
Well, it’s time to set the underclock we want. You must reduce the core clock for this. The memory clock is the memory clock, and as we explained before, we do not recommend it, at least a priori.
And how much do we lower it? We can start from something very small (for example -10MHz) or enter larger words (-100MHz, -200MHz…), it is a matter of trying.
As a reference, we could talk about a 20% reduction in frequency, which in a GPU that reaches 1000MHz would be 200MHz. Once you finish, click on the button to set the changes.
It is clear that underclocking can have a significant negative impact on performance, since we are limiting the capabilities of the graphics card to reach a specific clock frequency.
Therefore, it is advisable to find a way to analyze the results of the process. We are going to teach you that it can be done in three ways:
- Through a synthetic benchmark such as User benchmark.
- Stressing the GPU with a harsh benchmark like Fur Mark.
- Analyzing performance in real games.
All three options are very interesting. The first one helps us to analyze the impact on performance in an easy way.
See Also: How to Measure PC Power Consumption
If we use a severe benchmark like FurMark, then what we will rather see is the impact on temperatures and power consumption, to see if we have improved it. And, in third case, we will see how it impacts us in a real situation, from day to day.
To do this, what you should do is take advantage of Afterburner’s monitoring possibilities, and make measurements with these three methods before underclocking, and then do it afterwards.
If the performance has dropped too much, moderate the underclock. And if its fine but you haven’t reduced the temperature/consumption as you wanted, make the underclock more severe.
In our article about MSI After burner and how to monitor temperatures you have more details on how to do this monitoring.
Underclocking is a technique that can help us if we seek to reduce the power consumption of our graphics card, without the difficulty and risk of instability of undervolting.
This reduction in consumption usually implies a drop in performance, although it can avoid harmful effects such as thermal throttling, so it can sometimes help us play with more FPS.
The key to underclocking is to use good software like MSI Afterburner, and try different combinations of GPU core clock reduction. Thanks to the monitoring capabilities of this software, we can check if the underclock has been effective.
Zahid Khan Jadoon is an Interior Decorator, Designer and a specialized Chef and loves to write about home appliances and food. Right now he is running his interior designing business along with a managing a restaurant. Also in his spare time he loves to write about home and kitchen appliances.