Undervolting Your Graphics Card How-to Guide
Posted by Craig on 28 October 2011, 9:51 pmIn my latest investigation I undervolted my ATi 5770 graphics card in order to tame one of the highest power consuming components of my PC. After much research and trial and error installs; I found an application that was capable of doing what was needed and that is ATI Tray Tools.
Since the investigation was a very successful at increasing the energy efficiency though proved to be difficult to perform; I have tried to compile steps to guide you through how you can do the same.
ATI Tray Tools
This software is commonly used to overclock/overvolt graphics cards, though this also makes it perfectly suited to underclocking and indeed undervolting too.
The principal methods involved in overclocking also apply to undervolting, though where you would usually increase the voltage to make an overclock more stable, we will be decreasing the clock frequency to make a lower voltage more stable.
Now we have the basic theory of it, let's crack on shall we.
I would recommend removing the Catalyst Control Center (CCC) before you start trying to undervolt as it can cause issues during the trial and error methodology, more on this later in this guide.
Open ATI Tray Tools
Once installed you right-click the icon found in the taskbar, this will then show the following menu:
Click the 'Overclocking Settings...' option under 'Hardware' to start.
Set your undervolt
In order to undervolt (or indeed overvolt) your GPU you first need to add the voltages by clicking the button highlighted:
This will then show the following window:
Clicking the new voltage button highlighted above will show the add/Edit VDDC window where you can entr a new voltage (950 = 0.950v) The new voltages you have added will now appear in the drop-down ready to be selected.
When you are happy to try your first voltage simply press 'Apply' and you should be ready to start some testing.
Test your new settings
For this Tray Tools has it's own 3d renderer which monitors for errors, to use this simply click the 'Show 3D Renderer' button. I personally prefer Furmark for this as it also properly stresses the video card giving me a good idea of the peak power usage.
I would also recommend testing your settings with some demanding games such as Crysis, as I found that this was the only title in my chosen games that produced graphical artifacts/errors and lead to me to slightly underclock the graphics core for stability.
If your PC crashes
As I have mentioned earlier you should remove the Catalyst Control Center; as it can indirectly save the last voltage that you have tried, this causes the PC to crash when windows is loading.
Before I realised this; every time I went too low with the voltage I had to restart the PC into safe-mode, where I could uninstall the graphics driver in the device manager, before then loading Windows normally to uninstall and then reinstall both the driver and CCC.
Now that I don't have CCC running, if the PC crashes from a reduced voltage all it needs is to be restarted.
In order to install just the latest drivers you can select a custom install of the CCC and choose that only the display drivers are installed.
Reduce the speed for stability
If you find while testing that you are also getting graphical artifacts in any games; then you may want to underclock the graphics core or memory frequencies which can be done with the following slider bars:
2D and 3D auto-switching
When you are happy with the voltage settings and have tested for stability; you will need to save a profile for those specific settings so that they can be easily used and switched later. You will also need a profile for an idle(2D) mode for when you are not gaming.
Once these are saved; you will need to tell ATI Tray Tools which to use when the PC is in 2D or 3D modes, the following screen can be used for this. Simply choose one of your profiles from the dropdown boxes for each:
Hopefully now you have a good idea of how to undervolt your graphics card and with little patience and this guide; you can start enjoying a more energy efficient Gaming PC.
If you have any questions or anything is unclear/inaccurate; please feel free to leave a comment and I will try to help out as best as I can.