How To Underclock Your GPU

The reasons for lowering the clock of your GPU, be it core clock or memory clock, can be different, but here we’re going to show you exactly how to underclock your GPU.

If you’re looking to proceed with your PC as a more leisurely tool for browsing web or perhaps enjoying multimedia and like movies and music, then underclocking is a pretty good option. Most of the time, you’d look to underclock your GPU if you have already overclocked it and you’re either unsatisfied with the results or simply do not need the additional power like you needed it before.

Another good reason to underclock your GPU is if there are warmer summer months approaching and you’re wary of the additional heat that might bring to your PC case. There are other ways to reduce the temperature of the PC, but underclocking your GPU is a sure-fire way to do it.

The reason why this is the case is simple – if you lower the core clock and/or the memory clock of your GPU, then it will need less power, and if it draws less power from the PSU that means it’s generating less heat.

Gaming PC

Naturally, less heat means a smaller chance of the GPU overheating and breaking down on you. This may be another reason why you’re interested in underclocking – to extend your graphics card lifespan. This is particularly useful if you’re looking to get a new GPU but are waiting on the release of the one you’re interested in.

And of course, with a lighter clock and less power being drawn, you’re going to notice that your GPU fans are working at a slower speed as well and as a result, be quieter. If you’re looking to step away from gaming or other GPU-intensive tasks, you may be bothered by the loud fan noise, but underclocking it will bring that in check.

So, without further ado, let’s get into the actual step-by-step process of how to underclock your GPU.

Table of ContentsShow

Step 1 – Prepare Your Tools

msi afterburner screenshot

Luckily, the technology has evolved enough so that you don’t really need to enter BIOS and mess with settings there. Now, you can download a software solution and simply roll with that.

Important: there are many different applications that can be used to underclock your GPU, like EVGA Precision XOC, NZXT Cam, and ASUS GPU Tweak, but here we’ll focus on the best available and the easiest one to use – MSI Afterburner.

Unlike overclocking, you don’t need additional software for benchmarking as you’re trying to lower clock speeds and don’t really have the need to measure FPS. Still, it would be for the best if you did have some software for stress testing as underclocking can make your PC work differently than before and yes, it is possible that you underclocked too much.

As far as stress testing tools go, we recommend either 3DMark, PassMark, or Heaven Unigine.

Step 2 – Lower Your Core Clock Speed

msi afterburner screenshot

After starting up MSI Afterburner, you will be met with few options. You should definitely pay close attention to the original position of the slider as that will be the default values for your graphics card. However, there is a reset button that can also help you out if you mess up of forget the values you were changing.

You will obviously want to either move the core clock slider to the left to its default place (the ‘+0’ position) or move it even further to get it lower than its factory clock. This depends solely on why you are underclocking your graphics card.

After you put the core clock at its desired place, click ‘Apply’ and you can close the application if you don’t want to modify anything further.

Step 3 – Underclock The Memory Clock (Optional)

Overclocking

You will only need to do this step if you have previously overclocked the memory clock. If you have only modified the core clock, or haven’t overclocked anything, and just want to lower the speed, then you should leave the memory clock at its default value. There just simply aren’t many added benefits of going below the default clock, while the main advantage is to retain the better-performing default clock.

Likewise, you should be careful when underclocking memory. This setting is a bit more touchy-feely if you’re going below said factory clock and can cause some instability.

GPU Underclock Is Not The Same As GPU Undervolt

It’s important to mention that these two are different, albeit related processes.

While underclocking your GPU can lead to less power consumption by lower clocks, undervolting is a method that will lower the incoming voltage while not touching upon the core and memory clock of the card.

So, in essence, you can use both, but we have to warn you that undervolting can much more easily lead to instability within your system than underclocking. Of course, you know what you’re doing, you can lower the power consumption while still somewhat retaining the performance. As this is pretty hard to pull off without some instability, it is not recommended.

Who Should Underclock Their GPU

Overclocking

The reasons for underclocking are numerous, but the benefits are simple.

If you believe your GPU is overheating, and other solutions haven’t worked, you should try to underclock it to see if that may be the issue. This can happen as the graphics card get older and the thermal paste begins to weaken and has issues with conducting heat.

Another reason is simply that the games have evolved past your GPU’s capability of displaying them in their full shine, despite your best efforts to optimize them and work past stuttering.

Although it may seem a little silly, airflow within the case can significantly influence the GPU temperature, but outside changes as well. If you live in areas with concrete season changes and where temperature can vary around your PC, you can be affected by the overheating problem and choose to underclock if you anticipate warmer weather coming up.

Finally, and this may be the saddest reason, it’s possible that graphics card has simply run its course. It might’ve been a good servant for years, but after all that time straining to keep the latest games playing at high resolution, it might be time to change up.

And if you’re aware of a new series of GPUs coming and can hold on a little and accept that your PC is now a web-browsing machine, then underclocking is a good option for you as well.

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Aleksandar Cosic
Aleksandar Cosic

Alex is a Computer Science student and a former game designer. That has enabled him to develop skills in critical thinking and fair analysis. As a CS student, Aleksandar has very in-depth technical knowledge about computers, and he also likes to stay current with new technologies.