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28.08.2022 12:49

Undervolting – what is it? How to perform undervoltage of the processor and graphics card

Computers DIY
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High computer operating temperatures are a problem that many people face. Usually the cause is too high electric voltage. Tackling this problem will positively affect the performance of your equipment. See how to do undervolting of your CPU and GPU.

What is undervolting?

Undervolting means reducing electrical voltage in a system. Voltage reduction can be applied to processors (central processing units, CPUs) and graphics card processors (GPUs). Thanks to it, it is possible to optimize the operation of mentioned components.

Contrary to appearances, undervolting does not have to be associated with a reduction in the performance of the processor or graphics card. Moreover, it can help to improve performance. In order to understand this, one should use the knowledge of physics and the construction of processors. The parameters of some processor components can be changed. However, not all of them. The silicon wafer, the number of cores and RAM memory are not modifiable. You can change the clock speed of the processor and the voltage. Theoretically, the reverse of undervolting, i.e. overvolting, should have a positive effect on increasing the processor clock frequency (overclocking), and thus its performance. Indeed, this is often enough. However, it is not a universal remedy for increasing performance.

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The processor clock speed is the act of performing low-level calculations in one clock tick. During one clock cycle (pulse) the processor is able to perform one operation. Their number is measured in gigahertz (GHz). A clock speed of 1 GHz means one billion operations per clock cycle. In other words, a billion logic gates open and close every second.

How does electrical voltage relate to this? The key is the potential difference. By increasing the voltage, the pulses can more easily cross the electric field. With overvoltage, however, the resistance (electrical resistance) also increases. The consequence is an increase in electricity consumption and CPU temperature. For players, it is also important to increase the amount of graphic artifacts that arise as a result of signal interference caused by high electrical resistance.

Laptop getting hot? Who should consider undervolting?

The question posed in the title of the header could be considered sufficient to answer the question. Yes, people whose devices get hot can undervoltage their laptop or desktop computer.

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Reducing the electric voltage is useful due to the power limit applied by the manufacturers of processors, cards and graphics. This is the upper limit of the power consumption that the processor can operate at. This mechanism is implemented in processors for security and economic reasons. An overheated CPU or GPU can cause the thermal grease, which is used to conduct heat from the processor board to the heat sink, to crumble faster. Their contact due to chipping of the thermal paste may cause a short circuit.

Economics is also important. One of the most important parameters of the processor is TDP (Thermal Design Power), which is an indicator of the amount of heat released per second. The lower the TDP, the less power is required. High efficiency with relatively low power consumption is an excellent bargaining chip for the manufacturer.

So what is the power cap? CPU clock speed reduction. It does not work with a constant frequency. Reaching the limit causes thermal throttling, i.e. the reduction of its clock frequency caused by the increase in temperature, which results in a decrease in performance. Phenomenon of throttling owners can most often encounter the laptop. Their compact design is convenient to carry, but it is not good at dissipating heat. There is simply not enough space for a large heat sink and fan in laptops.

CPU temperature overclocking

Useful programs for overclocking and reducing the clock speed

How to reduce the voltage or temperature of the processor in a laptop? Fortunately, the times when the only way was to change the settings in the BIOS are long gone. Changing the clock parameters today is possible thanks to dedicated programs. You can use them from within Windows.

AMD Ryzen Master / NVIDIA Profile Inspector

These programs can be used by Radeon (AMD Ryzen Master) or GeForce RTX (NVIDIA Profile Inspector) card holders. They allow you to track the operation of components and change the voltage and clock speed of the GPU. It is also possible to modify the speed of the fan.

MSI Afterburner

A universal program not only for holders of non-reference models of cards produced by MSI. With it , you can monitor and change the voltage, clock speed and temperature of the GPU, and the speed of the fan. Up to 5 profiles can be configured with different settings.

Intel Extreme Tuning Utility

How do I increase or decrease the CPU clock speed? Intel’s program comes in handy. With it, you can also change the voltage and clock speed of the processor. The advantage of this program is also the possibility of using stability tests, thanks to which you can check whether the selected settings are favorable for the processor.

The above programs are one of the many solutions available. Overclocking can also be done by holders of other non-reference cards (e.g. GIGABYTE OC Guru, Sapphire TriXX) or entire series of computers (ASUS ROG Gaming Center).

Undervolting CPU – how to reduce the CPU temperature?

CPU undervolting can be done using the mentioned Intel Extreme Tuning Utility. The first step is to perform a CPU Stress Test at a selected time (e.g. 10-15 minutes), i.e. checking the operation with the basic settings. If the program did not record any problems during the test, undervolting can be done.

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To do this, go to Advanced TuningCore Core Voltage Offset. Lower the voltage slightly (preferably 0.01 V) and rerun the Stress Test. If the program did not find any problems, you can repeat the action. This should be done until the program announces that the processor becomes unstable after another test.

Undervolting GPU – how to reduce the voltage on the graphics card?

A very simple way to do undervoltage is offered by MSI Afterburner. Go to Settings, then select Unlock voltage control and Unlock voltage monitoring. Then close the program and restart it to save the settings.

Now press left Ctrl and F to start the table of tensions. In it you can change the voltage value. It is best to do it gradually, e.g. by 100 mV. Then click the (check mark) in the main program menu.

The next step is to run a graphics card identification program such as TechPowerUp GPU-Z. Click the sign ? next to Bus Interface, and then Start Render Test. Tab Sensors you can check what the clocking is at a given voltage and then gradually lower it until you see that the voltage you choose has a negative effect on the reduction of the processor clock.

Undervolting is an example that higher numbers do not always mean better performance. Thanks to it, you can not only increase it, but also prevent overheating of the computer and reduce electricity bills. In other words, undervolting is a great way to get high performance and low expenses.

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