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How to easily underclock your AMD or Nvidia GPU

Looking to underclock your graphics card? Look no further, this comprehensive guide tells you everything you need to know

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Downclocking your AMD or Nvidia graphics card may seem rather counterintuitive but there are reasons for wanting to do so. Maybe it’s to lower your electricity bills, with ever-increasing costs and it not being all so eco-friendly then it might be a worry for you. Or if you want to preserve your GPU and make sure your one can at least outlast this shortage so you could find a new one if needed.

Messing with the settings of your card may seem worrying but we promise you it’s not that hard or dangerous. We show you the way to easily underclock your GPU with just the installation and use of one software MSI Afterburner. After this, you’ll have acquired greater control of your hardware and become more of a computer whiz.

Is it possible for you to underclock your GPU?

The answer is a simple yes, as easy as over you can underclock your GPU. In a world of overclocking and ever-increasing performance, it is an interesting question but it may be a good idea.

If you’re looking for ways to safely underclock your GPU, then you are in the right place! Here, we talk about the benefits of underclocking a GPU and a detailed step-by-step process on how to do it right. Either to underclock your Nvidia or AMD GPU.

Before we go to the actual process, let’s check whether or not you need an underclocked GPU.

Do you need to underclock your GPU?

While most gamers overclock their rig (both CPU and GPU) to get a performance boost. Underclocking your graphics card means lowering the clock rate. This means slowing down how fast the core processes its tasks and slowing its computation speed down.

If you use your computer mostly to browse the internet or only do mild gaming, underclocking your GPU is fine and a good option. So if you’re not utilizing your GPU to 100% or have more performance than you need you can underclock your GPU with ease.

This should reflect lower electricity bills with your GPU having to use less power working in its less powerful state. Another reason to underclock your graphics card is to decrease the temperature of your card. All that computing gives off plenty of heat, especially with rising TDPs of newer components.

Temperatures during warmer seasons and hotter climates could raise the temperature of your build by many degrees. Other factors that contribute to such an increase in temperature include having poorly optimized airflow and limited cooling systems that may have gone uncleaned for a while.

Alongside poor airflow and clogged cooling, you may need to replace the thermal paste. After a few years, the original paste may become less effective and dry. So replacing it will mean a better connection between the die and cooling plate.

So what are the benefits of underclocking the GPU

  • Lower power consumption – lowering the clock speeds of your GPU leads to running the hardware at a slower pace – which means it consumes less power.
  • Cooler GPU – Since your hardware is running at lower speeds, so your graphics card is not running at maximum. This results in it running at lower temperatures which means less heat dissipated into your room.
  • A more silent fan – With lower temperatures, you hear less noise from the fans. A GPU fan curve doesn’t turn on until a certain load or temperature. So if you’re running it lower you can find a quieter system overall.
  • Preserving your hardware – running your card underpowered will increase its lifespan. Without pushing your hardware you’ll preserve its lifetime especially handy when it’s hard to get a new one.

If you are certain you will benefit by underclocking your graphics card, then proceed to the steps below.

Watch our how-to underclock your GPU video

Watch our How-To underclock your GPU video

How to underclock your GPU – Step by Step instructions

Step

1

Download the MSI Afterburner software

Navigate to https://www.msi.com/Landing/afterburner/graphics-cards to download the MSI Afterburner software.

Step 1 Download MSI Afterburner

Step

2

Install the MSI Afterburner software

Open the Zip file and run the .exe. installation file. Follow the on-screen instructions to install MSI Afterburner

2. install MSI Afterburner

 

Step

3

Open the MSI Afterburner programme

Once installed, open the MSI Afterburner software (your skin may look different but all steps should be the same)

Step 3 Open MSI Afterburner Application

 

Step

4

Check that GPU is detected

See that your graphics card is detected and the one you’re wanting to adjust

Step 4 Right GPU MSI Afterburner

 

 

Step

5

Lower the Core Clock Meter

Lower (or underclock) the Core Clock (MHz) meter you will find at the bottom to your preferred setting. You can also adjust memory clock at the same time.

Step 5 lower clock MSI Afterburner

Step

6

Apply changes

Click on the Apply (a check icon) button to override the adjustments you have made

Step 6 Apply Changes MSI Afterburner

Step

7

Save profile

Save the adjustments you made to your preferred profile slot number.

Step 7 Save to profile MSI Afterburner

This is helpful for those who want to make fast adjustments or want to have multiple configs depending on what you’re doing.

Underclocking your GPU FAQs

Does underclocking a GPU reduce heat?

Underclocking your GPU is the best way to reduce buildups of heat and prevent throttling. The amount of heat your GPU emits is directly related to the amount of power it draws. When it’s running with clock speeds at full capacity, it’s using more power, and thus becomes quite hot.
By manually reducing the thermal output of your GPU with some nifty underclocking, you can ensure stability in hot climates when those sweltering summer months come around. It can also help you get by if you don’t have a suitable thermal solution in your case yet, not to mention the fact that your GPU will run way quieter than normal and save you some pennies on the energy bill too.

Is underclocking the same as undervolting your GPU?

No, they are both different from each other. Underclocking is the process of lowering the clock speeds of your graphics card. Undervolting, on the other hand, is the process of lowering the amount of power the GPU can consume. This will lower the amount of electricity the card can use up.

IMPORTANT: Unless you know what you are doing, under-volting a GPU is not advised as this leads to an unstable GPU and possibly damaging it.

Not everyone needs an overclocked GPU or doesn’t use all the power of their card. There are users who don’t utilize the full extent of their hardware and so GPU underclocking can save you in other areas.

If you are certain that you don’t need too much of your GPU’s capacity, follow the steps indicated above and adjust your settings to your respective needs. Underclocking should give you the benefit of reduced energy bills and still get the same gaming experience without much degrading in performance day to day uses and lower performance titles.

Not everyone needs an overclocked GPU or doesn’t use all the power of their card. There are users who don’t utilize the full extent of their hardware and so GPU underclocking can save you in other areas.

If you are certain that you don’t need too much of your GPU’s capacity, follow the steps indicated above and adjust your settings to your respective needs. Underclocking should give you the benefit of reduced energy bills and still get the same gaming experience without much degrading in performance day to day uses and lower performance titles.

Does underclocking a GPU reduce heat?

Underclocking your GPU is the best way to reduce buildups of heat and prevent throttling. The amount of heat your GPU emits is directly related to the amount of power it draws. When it’s running with clock speeds at full capacity, it’s using more power, and thus becomes quite hot.

By manually reducing the thermal output of your GPU with some nifty underclocking, you can ensure stability in hot climates when those sweltering summer months come around. It can also help you get by if you don’t have a suitable thermal solution in your case yet, not to mention the fact that your GPU will run way quieter than normal and save you some pennies on the energy bill too.

Is undervolting your GPU safe?

Undervolting seems like a fairly safe practice on the surface, especially compared to increasing the voltage output, which we all know can have adverse effects on our hardware. In some ways; however, undervolting can be problematic.

The important thing to remember is that stability is key. Much like when we feed our GPU too much juice, cutting out too much power will create an unstable system, after all, an electrical component needs a certain amount of power to run consistently. Reduce the voltage output by too much, and you’re going to encounter some problems.

The good news is that unlike boosting the voltage, going too far in the other direction with severe undervolting won’t cause your GPU any damage; however, it’s best to try and get it right.

For a successful undervolt, you should decrease the voltage in very small increments whilst keeping track of your GPU’s temperature under load. Once you’ve reached your desired thermal rate, stop undervolting, and give your GPU a few tasks to test its performance.

Does underclocking reduce FPS?

Unfortunately, yes, underclocking either your GPU or CPU will reduce your frames per second during gameplay. That’s the price you pay for a cool, highly stable system. How many frames you drop depends on the game you’re playing and how drastically underclocked your hardware is.

Generally speaking, when underclocking your GPU, you can expect the lost frames to match the percentage drop in clock speeds give or take 5%. So, for example, if your GPU pushes 60fps at 1000MHz, dropping the clockspeed to 750Mhz (¼ or 25%) that means your frames may drop between 20-30%.

We’d recommend trying to hold a 50-60fps average for fluid gameplay, so our hypothetical 60fps GPU wouldn’t be the best unit to underclock. It’s also important to note, that as GPUs are complex bits of gear, underclocking can be quite unpredictable. You shouldn’t expect the same performance reductions across a range of titles and tasks.

Is it safe to underclock a CPU?

We’re happy to report that just like with your GPU, underclocking your CPU is completely, 100% safe! Not only is it electrically impossible to damage your CPU by slightly reducing clock speeds, but it’s also a great way to keep temperatures down and increase system stability.

When you’re done gaming for the day, and you wish to use your computer in a more general fashion, say, for browsing the web or typing up a few documents, underclocking your CPU is a fantastic idea. These minimal tasks simply don’t require maximum clock speeds.

Does underclocking GPU void warranty?

On the contrary, underclocking your GPU is seen as something that will extend the life of your GPU, so it does not void your warranty. In fact, undervolting is normally a standard option in your GPU’s software. If that’s not the company’s express consent to give it a go, we don’t know what is.

Having said that, we can’t vouch for every GPU out there, so it’s always best to do your own research before engaging in any tinkering. They will likely specify in that long boring booklet that comes with it or in one of those long boring terms we all definitely read.

Does underclocking GPU void warranty?

On the contrary, underclocking your GPU is seen as something that will extend the life of your GPU, so it does not void your warranty. In fact, undervolting is normally a standard option in your GPU’s software. If that’s not the company’s express consent to give it a go, we don’t know what is.

Having said that, we can’t vouch for every GPU out there, so it’s always best to do your own research before engaging in any tinkering. They will likely specify in that long boring booklet that comes with it or in one of those long boring terms we all definitely read.

What happens if I undervolt too much?

Although undervolting is safe, it’s not completely problem-free. Gradually undervolting your components won’t just cause a steady performative slow down until you hit zero volts. They have a minimum energy requirement. Once the voltage drops below this base threshold, the device isn’t fully functioning. Consequences of starving your GPU or CPU of power may range from slightly laggy gameplay to sluggish loading times to full-blown crashes.

Can you undervolt and underclock an Nvidia or AMD GPU?

Yes, our technique lets you underclock or undervolt any graphics card no matter which team it’s from. MSI Afterburner doesn’t discriminate which graphics card you’re using. The only difference you may notice in afterburner is their naming scheme. And the fact that AMD cards show you the target frequency compared to the offset on Nvidia cards.

Summary

Not everyone needs an overclocked GPU or doesn’t use all the power of their card. There are users who don’t utilize the full extent of their hardware and so GPU underclocking can save you in other areas.

If you are certain that you don’t need too much of your GPU’s capacity, follow the steps indicated above and adjust your settings to your respective needs. Underclocking should give you the benefit of reduced energy bills and still get the same gaming experience without much degrading in performance day to day uses and lower performance titles.

Product Benchmarker and Writer AT WEPC

Sebastian Kozlowski

After taking apart and tinkering with the home PC and other electronics, Seb went to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Manchester to try and explore everything in parts. After he graduated he realised how different the adult world was and decided to pursue work in the tech industry after spending too much time playing games (mostly CS:GO), keeping up with everything tech, and being everyone's go-to for PCs.

6 thoughts on “How to easily underclock your AMD or Nvidia GPU”

  1. Hey i have a RTX 2060 Super Oc Gpu, i recently trying using Aorus Engine and i used the Oc Scanner, applied it, it boosts my Gpu but heats it up real bad, then i installed Msi Afterburner, trying to underclock it, doesn’t work, now my default Gpu clock is at 1470 mhz and not 1039 mhz, how to fix this 🙁

    Reply
    • Plus, usually when gaming my pc is only at 64 celcius but now it goes to 88 celcius which is the max temp limit for my Gpu 🙁

      Reply
  2. My son and I built a PC from an online parts list:
    Motherboard: MSI ProSeries AMD Ryzen 1st and 2ND Gen AM4 M.2 USB 3 DDR4 D-Sub DVI HDMI micro-ATX Motherboard (B450M PRO-M2 Max)
    CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2600 Processor with Wraith Stealth Cooler
    GPU: PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 570

    Fortnite worked for a month before producing artifacts and crashing every time we load.

    We replaced Ram, SSD, and added fans.

    Any ideas? Thanks, patrick

    Reply
    • Hi Patrick. It’s strange that the game would run for a month then just stop working. Have you replaced any components or re-housed the RAM recently? Are all the drivers up to date? Have you tried re-installing Fortnite?

      Reply
  3. Hey man, I currently own an i5 3570, this bottlenecks my 1060 3gb. (this isn’t ideal of course but it is only temporary) It’s only a minor bottleneck (like 11%) so i was thinking of downclocking my gpu. I was wondering if this downclocking would hurt performance and if you think this is a good idea.

    Reply
    • downclocking your GPU would have a knock-on effect with its performance yes. It depends on how far you wanna take it though.

      Reply

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