How To Underclock A GPU

Underclocking your GPU can net you certain benefits. While you’ll have lower performance in games, the GPU will use less power, run cooler, and most likely be quieter when under load. Today, we’re showing you how to underclock a GPU and how to test the benefits of the underclock.

Before we start, do note that underclocking a GPU isn’t the same as undervolting a GPU. With underclock you’re just lowering the maximum boost clock of your graphics card, without tweaking the voltage the GPU core runs at. Undervolting includes lowering the voltage and pairing it with a specific boost clock value in order to get similar performance to stock but with lower power consumption, thermals, and noise.

Undervolting can also be used to get noticeably lower performance from a GPU but with massive cuts to the power consumption, thermals, and noise. It’s a more complex procedure than underclock and requires a bit of patience to get the best results. Now, let’s explain how to underclock a GPU using MSI Afterburner.

How To Underclock A GPU With MSI Afterburner

MSI Afterburner is a great piece of software that’s perfect for overclocking the GPU but also for undervolting and underclocking it. The GPU underclock procedure is extremely simple and can be completed in less than a minute. And it doesn’t matter which manufacturer you prefer, MSI Afterburner can be used to underclock both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards.

The first thing you should do (if you don’t already have MSI Afterburner installed) is to download MSI Afterburner. Once you download and install the app, run it and then look for the “Core Clock” option. If you run your GPU at default settings, this should be set at zero, since your GPU is running at a default clock.

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Okay, now change the core clock by moving the meter to the left or by typing a negative value into the box above the core clock meter. Now, depending on the reasons you’re doing it, you might want to reduce the clock in smaller or steeper steps. If you want a cooler and quieter GPU and aren’t playing games, push the meter down by a couple of hundreds of megahertz, save the new clock as one of the profiles, and that’s pretty much it.

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You can test the underclock by running a GPU benchmark. Since we’re not stress testing a GPU, you can use something like the Unigine Heaven. This is a free GPU benchmark that’s demanding enough to test the GPU but it won’t push it to extremes like Furmark or MSI Combustor. Just let the Heaven run for about 15-20 minutes, which is enough time for thermals to stabilize. If you’re happy with the result, great! If you’re not, lower the clock further and perform the test again.

Now, if you use your graphics card for gaming but want to underclock it because summer’s here and the card’s getting too hot when under load, lower the boost frequency in smaller steps. We recommend going by 30-50MHz. This time, run Heaven benchmark in benchmark mode (just click on the benchmark button once Heaven loads and start running) before performing the underclock and save the stock results.

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Next, run the benchmark again after each underclock step and compare thermals and performance. You want to have lower thermals and subjective noise while not denting the gaming performance of your graphics card too much. Repeat the procedure until you’re happy with results.

As you can see, underclocking a GPU is extremely easy and extremely fast procedure. Since summer can be toasty in many parts of the world, underclocking your GPU can give you a cooler and quieter graphics card that still keeps most of its gaming performance. This can be quite helpful even for owners of the best graphics cards on the market, especially if you’re playing undemanding or older games and don’t need one hundred percent of your GPU’s power.

About The Author

Goran Damnjanovic

Goran studied psychology but video games and PC hardware were much more interesting. On top of that he likes writing so he decided to become a writer. And it was the right choice. Other than games and hardware, Goran is interested in basketball, Sci-Fi literature, and music.

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