Hardware geeks often spend a lot of time “playing around” with their processor settings, trying to find either the best possible performance at the expense of temperature and power, or the best possible settings. The ideal, obviously, is to achieve operation at the highest possible speed but with the consumption and temperature as low as possible, or in other words, the ideal is to combine undervolt and overclock techniques, but is that possible? ?
What are the Overclock and Undervolt techniques?
Although we have already explained it in depth in their corresponding articles, it is necessary to highlight it here to put ourselves in context and better understand what it would entail to apply both techniques at the same time.
The Overclock It is the best known, and consists of raising the operating frequency of the processor cores to higher values than they work from the factory. This implies, as a general rule, having to also increase the operating voltage since stability depends to a great extent on the voltage, and increasing the voltage also implies that the processor will have a higher power consumption and will generate more heat.
There are times when simply raising the multiplier of the CPU makes it work faster without having to touch the voltage, but even so the consumption and the temperature go up (although obviously less than if we had to increase the voltage).
For his part, Undervolt We could consider that it is the opposite technique, although not exactly. While Overclock refers more to the clock speed (clock) and raising the voltage is something collateral, Undervolt refers to reducing the voltage, and there most of the time reducing the speed is what is collateral. The Undervolt therefore consists of reducing the operating voltage of the CPU with the aim of reducing consumption and temperature at the expense of having a lower performance.
If they are opposite techniques, can they be done at the same time?
As we have explained, these two techniques consist of modifying CPU values to achieve higher performance or lower consumption, depending on what you want, and they are techniques that should be completely opposite … or not completely?
The answer to the question is that yes, they can be done at the same time, but their result will depend a lot on the processor, its batch, the motherboard and other hardware components of the system, and not all processors will work the same. You could apply an Undervolt to a processor to reduce its consumption and temperature, and most likely for this you will have to reduce its multiplier and therefore reduce its speed.
However, there will be times when the processor will allow you to Undervolt without having to slow down, and in fact there are rare times when you will even be able to raise operating speed (i.e., Overclock) even at a voltage lower than the one I had from the factory. It is a rather rare case and that usually only works with processors called “black leg”, but of course it is something possible.
Let’s take an example: imagine we have an Intel Core i7-8700K processor, which from the factory operates at a maximum turbo frequency of 4.7 GHz with a voltage of 1,200V. Imagine that we apply Undervolt to this processor and make it work at the same speed but applying 1,150V, thus reducing its consumption and its temperature. However, as we have managed to make it totally stable at this speed, we decided to try overclocking and we were able to raise its operating frequency to 4.8 GHz, being totally stable. In this (invented) assumption, we will have done both undervolt and overclock the CPU.
Of course, you must bear in mind one thing and that is that in such a situation the benefits of the undervolt are questioned: by reducing the voltage we will have managed to reduce temperatures and consumption, but by overclocking (even with the lowest voltage) we will have increased again both. Obviously this will be better than doing a dry Overclock where you simply raise the voltage, of course.