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Overvolting: Everything You Need to Know

Wondering how exactly overvolting works and whether or not it’s worth the risk? We’ve got you covered!

Overvolting is often misunderstood or misrepresented, but it’s really not that complex.

What is the cost of this power? Is it easily controlled? Will it absolutely fry your system into a giant metal husk of nothingness?

This quick guide will tell you how overvolting works, how to do it safely, and the risks involved in the process.

P.S. – If you want to reduce your voltage instead of turning it up, check out our guide to undervolting.

What is Overvolting?

Overvolting is the process of increasing a component’s voltage beyond its intended specifications. This is controlled through Dynamic Voltage Scaling. When you are running programs, voltage will increase to match what’s needed. When your computer isn’t running any programs at all, Overvolting decreases the voltage to conserve power.

This happens in all kinds of computers, but it is most commonly used in laptops and tablets because their energy comes from a battery as opposed to a desktop which has an internal power source. Mobile devices have a limited lifespan for their batteries, conversely.

When you Overvolt, you are increasing the power that your computer can output during any operation. When you run your GPUs into overdrive by performing Overclocking, the system tends to heat up quite a bit.

A lot of the time, the answer is just to remove the Overclock, but another way is to actually Undervolt instead. This leads to the same gain in performance without the risk of your PC being fried.

How to Overvolt

To start Overvolting, the first thing we are going to need is a program that allows us to access the voltage of our computer. There are a few out there, but we tend to prefer MSI Afterburner.

MSI Afterburner Screenshot
Screenshot of MSI Afterburner.

With this program, we get a simple menu page with the various sections of the computer we can fiddle with. You can overclock the memory and GPU , increase temperature limits, change the fan speeds and also change the voltage.

The core voltage setting is our main focus here. There is a curve editor where we can see what the current voltage is and this is where we can begin tweaking.

When beginning this task, you should always make sure the voltage does not get lower than 200 mV or too high at any point. Many graphics cards will tell you what voltage they can handle, so a bit of research is necessary before engaging in this practice.

You really just need to tweak and test and tweak and test until you feel you have stable system in place. There is no definitive answer as to how much you can Overvolt.

If you choose to Overclock as well as Overvolt, you need to know you are treading on some pretty tenuous ground here as you are going to be putting your system through the ringer. If you go too high on both at the same time, the result can be a completely broken GPU which is not something you want to have to deal with.

Go incrementally when changing the curve. The smart move here is to raise it a little bit at a time and then use a benchmark program such as Superposition Benchmark to test how your system will react to the changes.

While initial testing might show positive results, run your system for 5-10 minutes to really see what the impact will be. The reason is that with benchmarking, the actual results aren’t shown until the system has gotten as hot as it can handle.

If you’re coming in well above the temperature limit that your PC normally has, you have gone too far and need to tone the Overvolting back to avoid any major problems.

The Dangers of Overvolting

The dangers of Overvolting are fairly high in terms of what it can do to your system without proper care. Without careful directions, you could easily overvolt too much and the result can be ruining expensive equipment.

The best advice to give you in this regard is to be patient. Go step-by-step and don’t rush, as every graphics card is different and some can handle a higher Overvolting than others. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when tweaking the voltage curve, so you’re going to have to be vigilant in testing and researching as well.

Should I Overvolt?

Overvolting is almost never something that needs to be done, but it is a possible solution for someone hell-bent on achieving a system capable of running games and programs that their base system could not.

When you Overvolt, you give your PC the ability to output power that is needed in reference to your overclocking. When Overclocking, you usually don’t need to worry about Overvolting. Most graphics cards come with the capability of being Overclocked a bit higher than factory settings.

If you decide to go really high on the Overclocking though, Overvolting may be recommended so that your PC can handle the excess action in terms of clock speeds. By doing this, you will make your Overclocking far more stable and the crashes that might’ve been happening will be far less frequent. The result should be a more stable PC that can run your games and programs with higher graphics and more frames per second than you previously might have had.

Those experienced in playing with Overclocking, fan speeds, and voltage will likely attest that the actual benefits are usually pretty hard to notice. When you Overclock and Overvolt, you should know you are often putting an incredible amount of stress onto your system and, while this can be handled by most PC’s if you know what you are doing, the process is putting your GPU at risk for the long term.

That being said, Overvolting is one of the more popular practices in the PC tweaking universe and if you explore online, you will see tons of PC users and gamers who sing the praises of powering up your PC in this way.

Every now and then you might see a warning story or two about people that Overvolted too far and ended up with a fried GPU, but most of the time, as long as you are sticking to a strict practice of only raising the curve a slight amount each time you try to increase the voltage, you should end up with a more stable unit overall.

Final Recommendations

Overall, the effects of the Overvolting aren’t going to be very readily apparent. The system for tweaking voltage these days is far more structured than it used to be, making it a much safer practice. If you absolutely must Overclock your PC to crazy high levels, then definitely consider Overvolting alongside it to make sure your PC doesn’t crash consistently.

As with any type of PC adjustments, the possibility that your whole system could end up completely wrecked and useless is present.

As far as benefits outweighing the risks with Overvolting, that all depends how careful you are willing to be. If you have the patience to tweak incrementally, benchmark and rinse and repeat for a while until you find something that works both with performance and stability, then by all means, give it a shot. But this isn’t the same thing as Overclocking and even the slightest miscalculation can end with a bricked system in need of new parts.

The real disasters usually occur with people who just aren’t satisfied with “good enough”.

So do some research on your system, find out if you have the equipment that can handle Overvolting. If things get too rough on your system while using Overvolting, you can always Undervolt your system to cool things off, all while getting similar performance.

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