There’s a lot of talk in the hardcore PC gaming community about overclocking the CPU, GPU, or other components. For years, gamers have tried to squeeze as much performance out of their limited hardware. But we hear a lot less about underclocking.
In a field where power is king, why would you want to throttle the performance of your PC? That’s what we’re here to help you understand. We’ll run through the basics of what it means to underclock GPU CPU then show you how to underclock GPU.
The Advantages of GPU Underclock
The clock speed (or clock rate) of a GPU refers to how quickly it runs. If you want to squeeze the best performance out of a game, overclocking computer GPUs makes sense, but if you spend most of your time browsing the web, watching videos, or using programs that don’t need much in the way of graphical processing, your GPU may be putting off more power consumption than it needs.
Running a graphic card at a high power consumption level can effect performance in a number of ways. Higher clock speeds can increase your electricity bills, cause your computer to overheat, and result in very noisy fans that compensate for that extra juice that goes into maintaining clock speed. Underclocking essentially allows yo to place a cap on your clock rate, and in doing so, it can significantly decrease the power consumption.
There’s a lot of free third party software out there that you can use to adjust the clock rates of your graphic card. And while there are too many to cover, we’ll cover the biggest ones so you can get your video card running at the clock speed you want. There’s no need to open up your computer at all, as the whole process of changing your core clock and graphics card is handled by the software.
MSI produces a lot of PC hardware and computers, but you can use their software for underclocking even if you don’t have a single piece of MSI hardware in your rig. Wide compatibility, high ease of use, and a slick control panel make MSI Afterburner the most popular free software for people who want to adjust the clock rates of their core clock, GPU, or CPU.
Once you’ve installed MSI Afterburner, the software should automatically detect your graphics card. Once it does, you can continue to the main settings panel. A section of the left gear icon is clearly labeled “GPU Clock”. All you have to do is click on this section and adjust the clock rates accordingly. You can even save your underclock settings to specific profiles so you can shift between different scenarios with different clock rate demands on your graphics card.
ATITools will only work with ATI graphics cards, but if you are working with an ATI video card, it’s one of the easiest ways to underclock your GPU. The navigational interface may not be as sophisticated as that used by MSI Afterburner, but it’s easily as simple to use. The main screen consists primarily of two sliders. The left can be used to overclock or underclock your GPU core clock while the right determines clocking for your memory.
Like MSI Afterburner, ATITools allows you to save multiple settings. But if you don’t save your underclocking profile in a profile, you’ll have to continue to adjust it whenever you restart your computer. For that reason, you’ll want to save each GPU underclock setting to a specific profile. You can do this by clicking the “New” button and adjusting the core clock rates for your card. If you want the adjusted clock speed adjustments to be the standard setting for your PC, you can click the “Startup” button and assign the new clock speeds to initiate during Windows startup.
CoolBits only works with NVIDIA GPUs, and it’s something of an odd duck. Rather than a third party software platform dedicated to overclocking, it’s a registry key that gives you access to control panel settings that are generally hidden from users. Unfortunately, there’s a reason they’re hidden, so making the wrong changes can eventually cause a serious amount of damage to your system.
But if you’re looking to tweak your gaming computer with a greater level of precision (and you have a NVIDIA chip), it’s one of the best tools around. Installing CoolBits is as simple as downloading the file, double clicking it, and clicking yes when Windows asks for permission to adjust the registry. From there, you’ll have access to an entirely new console that can adjust overclocking as well as a bunch of other different settings like the fan curve.
Navigate from the Display tab to the Display Properties tab and then the Settings tab. There you’ll find a button labeled Advanced. Click it. This will take you to a section with the option to adjust your clock frequencies. Simply changing the positioning of the bar here will assign a new clock rate to your card, although you may have to reboot your computer before yo can experience the reduction in your clocks speed.
Figuring out how to go through the underclocking process is generally fairly easy, but how do you figure out what the ideal speed is for your fan curve? There are fortunately also dedicated tool that can provide a solution to that problem. To find the ideal clock speed for your processor, you’ll want to test out experiences that best replicate your typical computer usage.
SpeedFan is one of the best tools for that. It will let you shift through different speeds on the fan tab and check your temperatures accordingly. Figuring out how much you want to underclock your PC can be a trial and error process, and tools like SpeedFan can help you figure out your initial speeds and also make any adjustments as necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you Underclock a GPU?
Yes, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of technical knowledge to do so. If you want to keep your PCs temperatures low and you don’t mind it affecting your gaming experience, there’s a wealth of free software that can give you those temperature benefits in a matter of just a few minutes.
Is Undervolting GPU Safe?
You may have noticed we didn’t over how to undervolt GPU. That’s because undervolting is significantly more dangerous than underclocking your video card. An improperly undervolted GPU can lead to critical errors and cause some serious damage to your GPU, and for that reason, we recommend that most users stick to underclocking settings.
How do I Underclock my CPU?
Our guide is focused entirely on underclocking the GPU, but If you want to know how to underclock CPU, there are a number of guides online that can help you through the process. They’ll provide you with the resources you need for your problem regardless of what operating systems you use.
Does Underclocking GPU reduce power consumption?
Yes. In face, underclocking your GPU is one of the best ways to drop the temperature and voltage on your computer and reduce utility bills. In almost every case, you can establishing monitoring and change your clock rates in just a few steps. In the section above, we show you how to adjust your clock rates to get the best low power performance out of your PC.
Underclocking may sound like an intimidating task, but it doesn’t need to be. While actually finding the ideal speed for your GPU can involve some trial and error, the actual process is easy with the right software. And if you want to get maximum performance out of your cooling system, you should check out our guide to the best case fans of 2020.