Articles Laptops

How To Undervolt A CPU & GPU (Why It Helps A Laptop)

If you are looking to improve your laptop's performance, one of the most effective methods can be to boost graphical performance while gaming.

Laptops do not have a large PSU power supply like a desktop computer. Power is allocated to the parts by your laptop, and this can mean that some of the more powerful components can run underpowered.

In this guide, we are going to show you how to undervolt your CPU & GPU.

Undervolting is when you apply a program that decreases the voltage that your parts are using. By using special algorithms, this can conserve electrical voltage. This massively lowers the heat that the components put out, allowing them to run more efficiently.

Undervolting is only useful on items that utilize power management like laptops and mobiles. There is no point doing it on a desktop as there will be ample power from the mains.

What Is Undervolting?

Benefits Of Undervolting The GPU + CPU

It might seem counterintuitive, but undervolting your CPU Core or Nvidia GPU will not cause a drop in performance. When laptops feel like they are running slower than they should, it is because of something called thermal throttling.

Thermal throttling happens when your CPU or GPU reaches a temperature that is deemed as potentially harmful to your computer. When this happens, your computer has a fail-safe that drops the performance in order for the temperature to cool down.

Often, we do not realize this is happening because we are not doing demanding tasks. When we try to play games or do some photo editing, our laptops suddenly get slow and sluggish. This is because of thermal throttling, and it can be a nightmare to deal with, especially for gamers.

When you are playing competitive games like League of Legends, the highest demand comes during the most crucial parts of the game when both teams are in the same location. This requires a lot more processing power from the CPU and the graphics card, leading to throttling. This can drop frame rates or even crash the game, causing you no end of stress.

By applying an undervolt, you will avoid throttling, and you will most likely notice a drop in frame rates too.

CPU Undervolting also gives you a boost in battery life. A good undervolt could see your battery life rise as much as 20%.


Undervolting Vs. Underclocking: What Is The Difference?

Underclocking is the opposite of overclocking and is the act of lowering your GPU's core clock speed. Undervolting is lowering the voltage of the GPU.

Underclocking will result in a decrease in performance, whereas an undervolt will not.

Many online guides suggest doing both, but we highly recommend you start with an undervolt and leave the underclocking out.


How To Undervolt Your CPU For Better Battery Life And Performance

We prefer to use Throttlestop to undervolt our computers so in this guide will be using their software. You can download the software here.

  1. 1
    Download Throttlestop and open the program.
  2. 2
    Go to the settings tab and click on the Speed Shift box. If your parts are Intel, this will allow for a smoother undervolt by using their Speed Shift technology.
  3. 3
    Now we need to get the benchmarks for our temperatures. To do this, you click on the TS Bench button. This will start a test to measure your values.
  4. 4
    Once that test has been run, click on the button that says "FIVR" to open up a new menu for undervolting.
  5. 5
    Click on the button that says "OK-Save Voltages."
  6. 6
    Now click on the button that says "Unlock Adjustable Voltage."
  7. 7
    Find the slider that says Offset Voltage and move it so that it reads -100mV.
  8. 8
    Click Apply.
  9. 9
    At this point, your laptop will either crash, or it won't; if it does crash, don't worry. It will restart itself with no damage done. This is part of the process.
  10. 10
    If your laptop did crash, you should follow the same steps but move the slider to -80mV. Do this in decrements of 20 until you click apply, and the laptop doesn't crash.
  11. 11
    If your laptop was fine at -100mV, do the opposite, move down to -120/-140/160 until your laptop crashes. Once it does, leave it on the setting just before.
  12. 12
    Now head back to the main menu and run another TS Bench. Your temperatures should be running at a lower temperature than earlier.
  13. 13
    This is your undervolt done. Next, we are going to show you how to set it up so that you do not have to do this every time you log onto your computer.
  14. 14
    Untick the box that says "Task Bar" and head to the options page.
  15. 15
    Now click on "Start Minimized" and "Minimized on Close."
  16. 16
    This will mean that Throttlestop will run in the background, and you can access it from your notification area bottom right of the screen.
  17. 17
    Now we are going to set up the program, so it loads on startup.
  18. 18
    Open your start menu and type in "Task Scheduler," and open the app.
  19. 19
    Click on the button that says "Create Basic Task."
  20. 20
    Name it Throttlestop.
  21. 21
    Click on the button that says "Trigger" and select the "When I Log On" option.
  22. 22
    Click on the button that says Action and click "Start a Program."
  23. 23
    Press "Browse" and chose the zip file you downloaded for Throttle stop. It should be called Throttlestop.exe.
  24. 24
    Now click on properties and give it the highest privileges.
  25. 25
    You're all done, and your CPU should be undervolted for the future.

How To Undervolt Your GPU For Better Clock Speed Performance Using MSI Afterburner

If you want to undervolt your Nvidia card, you will need to make sure it is 10 series or above. If not, you will not see the menu items that we will be talking about in this guide.

Undervolting a GPU has a lot more variability in it too. Your card might be different from another card, even if they are the same make and model. This is due to the quality of the silicon chips that you use.

  1. 1
    The first step will be to make sure you have MSI Afterburner installed on your computer if you don't head here to download it.
  2. 2
    Now for this to work, we want our GPUs to use higher frequencies while remaining at a lower voltage setting.
  3. 3
    To begin with, you need to figure out the maximum frequency that your card can run at. To do this, you should download this software.
  4. 4
    Run it using the Sensors Only option.
  5. 5
    With this running in the background, you need to start a demanding task like a game or editing software, something that will push your card hard.
  6. 6
    After 10 minutes, check the readings and take a note of the maximum clock frequency and the voltage that it is running during the game.
  7. 7
    Head back to the MSI Afterburner and press CTL + F. This will open up a voltage/frequency curve that you can edit.
  8. 8
    Along the bottom are a number of nodes that relate to the max frequency point. Find the one that matches your maximum frequency on the Y-axis.
  9. 9
    Check the X-axis to find out the corresponding core voltage.
  10. 10
    Now move the core voltage by -100mV. You will have to drag all of the nodes on the graph after the 1000mV mark into the frequency from the previous step.
  11. 11
    Now you should open the same game and spend 10 minutes playing in order to get new readings.
  12. 12
    If your game runs stable, you will be able to reduce the core voltage again by another 100. Do this until you feel the game is unstable, and then move back to a setting.
  13. 13
    Click on the apply changes button in your MSI Afterburner software.
  14. 14
    You can also save this as a profile that will allow you to swap backward and forwards without going through the whole process again.
  15. 15
    Well done, now your CPU and GPU should both be undervolted.
How To Undervolt With MSI Afterburner

Other Tips For Increasing CPU And GPU Performance

While undervolting is a very effective way of increasing your CPU and GPU performance, there are many other ways to get a boost. Here are some simple tips and tricks to maximize your laptop.


Update Drivers

If you are the type of person to press "Postpone" on all of your updates, this could be an easy fix for you. Simply update all of your drivers, especially the ones that control your graphics card and CPU. By upgrading these drivers, you should get an immediate boost in performance.


Overclock Your GPU

Overclocking is the act of removing the factory safety settings from your card and installing more efficient settings to the BIOS. This needs to be done precisely as a bad overclock can ruin performance and your parts.

MSI Afterburner and ASUS Armory both have an instant overclock button that will apply a safe overclock to your system that will be well within safe limits. This can be a great way for people to enjoy the benefits of an overclock without having to learn the detailed steps for making one yourself.


Use An E-GPU

An E-GPU or external graphics processing unit is a small enclosure where you can install any graphics card you choose. You then plug it into your laptop and utilize the graphics card you have installed instead of the one inside your laptop.

This can be a great way to boost performance and will allow you to buy bigger, beefier desktop GPUs that wouldn't fit inside a standard laptop.


Upgrade To An SSD

A solid-state drive is much more effective when it comes to storage and data transfer speeds. If you load your BIOS and games onto the one, you will be able to open them much quicker, spend less time at the loading screen and be able to transfer data at much faster rates.

If your laptop has the old HDD system installed, this can be a great way to boost performance without breaking the bank.


Upgrade Your RAM

Your RAM or Random Access Memory is the key supporting player in any gaming rig. This device stores little cheat sheets of data for your other components, particularly the GPU and CPU. This helps them work more efficiently and takes some of the strain off, leading to lower temperatures and a smoother gaming experience, as well as a faster core clock speed.

By upgrading your RAM, you can effectively boost your laptop's efficiency for a very low cost.


Install Thermal Paste

If your laptop is running hot after a few years of use, an easy way to fix this is to remove the old thermal paste and install new liquid metal or high-quality paste in its place. This is a great way to increase core clock speed.


Can I Undervolt Any Laptop?

You can undervolt most laptops (not just cheap gaming laptops), including Alienware, Dell, and Razer models.

As long as they have a Ryzen, AMD, or Intel core, you should be able to install an undervolt.


Conclusion

Undervolting your CPU or GPU is a great way to ensure that your laptop can run optimally under stress. While it may seem complicated, the steps are simple. By following our guides, you will have better FPS and a smoother experience overall, as well as a prolonged laptop lifespan.