Windows 11 Update Kills Undervolting and Overvolting on MSI Boards

MSI Z690-A Pro WiFi DDR4
(Image credit: MSI)

According to a new report featured in the MSI_Gaming subreddit, a recent Windows 11 update is halting overvolting and undervolting software enablement on MSI motherboards that use Intel CPUs. In effect, this means anyone using software-based overclocking utilities such as XTU on an affected system, will be prevented from undervolting or overvolting the CPU with software tools in Windows.

Unfortunately, we do not know which specific Windows update initially caused all this mayhem. But when installed, the update automatically enables Microsoft's Virtualization-based Security (VBS) on Windows 11 systems. Microsoft calls this feature "Memory Integrity" in Windows 10 and 11's security app.

Windows' enablement of VBS is the real cause of the issue. VBS blocks access to certain registers within the operating system, including the OC mailbox, which is needed to support software-based overclocking features. Even monitoring apps like CPU-Z can be blocked due to this registry lockout.

It's worth noting that VBS is automatically disabled in Windows 10, which is why 11 is the only effected OS. VBS will only enable itself automatically if Windows 11 is cleanly installed onto a system, or from upgrading Windows 10 to 11 if you have this new windows update installed.

Thankfully, MSI is working on the matter and has a new BIOS coming out soon that the company says will rectify the issue, allowing users to leave VBS on with no repercussions for older Intel systems. Intel systems with 600 series chipsets already have this fix applied. Apparently, VBS's lockout can be overridden, and a bunch of other companies have already done this with their motherboards.

But for users that are affected, the feature is very easy to turn off. All that's required is to locate the Device Security category in the Windows Security app in Windows 11, head to Core Isolation, and disable Memory Integrity to turn off VBS.

Aaron Klotz
Freelance News Writer

Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.

  • punkncat
    I have not experienced this issue on either of my Intel based W11 machines and both of them are on MSI mobo. Both of them have "memory integrity" enabled. The changes were made in BIOS on both machines. CPU-Z seems to work properly on both as well.
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    punkncat said:
    The changes were made in BIOS on both machines.
    You mean you can still use Windows software to make updates that also alter the BIOS settings?
  • drea.drechsler
    Adding to also killed CPU core boosting on my 3700X and 5800X systems. And, as noted, monitoring was affected because I couldn't monitor CPU core clocks in MSI Afterburner. Although I could in HWInfo64, strangely enough, which is how I could tell core boosting was effectively disabled. One is on an MSI B450 board but the other on an Asus so this effect, at least, isn't limited to MSI.

    I did not suspect this was the problem. I thought it was an effect of my recently updated BIOS so I reverted to one that, as it would have it, did not enable SVM (CPU virtualization) by default. So when I started up after reverting I was happy to see boosting was back to normal... until I enabled SVM manually. That's when I knew it was the problem. So, thankfully it's fixable (sort of): either disable SVM in BIOS or disable Memory Integrity in Windows' Security settings.

    I'm sure it's an effective security setting for certain exploits so I guess you should only do this if you're comfortable of your internet security practices otherwise. I also expect it will be re-enabled with subsequent major updates (at least) so anticipate doing this again (disabling Memory Integrity) after they drop.
  • punkncat
    JarredWaltonGPU said:
    You mean you can still use Windows software to make updates that also alter the BIOS settings?

    XTU still loads, although I don't use it as the specific way to O/UC.

    CPU-Z still operates properly on both. I am on an older version of that for at least the machine I am on right now.
  • wr3zzz
    Windows 11 update already killed one click undervolt on my AMD so I am not surprised. If anything I worry more about MSI BIOS update than not having the undervolt option. I went with MSI MB for the first time and every attempt of BIOS update has killed the MB. The first time it was still under warranty and MSI replaced it with one came with newer BIOS. When I tried to update the BIOS on that one after warranty expired it also went dark. I had to use the short circuit trick to bring it back. I've had Intel, Gigabyte and Asus MB and BIOS updates had always been problem free.
  • hotaru251
    more reasons to avoid WIN11.
  • s997863
    I miss the days when we could choose to manually install updates or not, after reading exactly what they were for.
    I've been using the same old windows 7 image for years. It's so old that it couldn't connect to any updates or telemetry even if I allowed it. I've only recently had issues with MS crapware like Teams/Skype/MineCraft all failing at their login screens. A little internet searching hints that my W7 & IE need updates. A "convenience" rollout exists since MS wants no more "service packs" 🇳🇴. So now my Acronis C: drive image with the updated W7 is ready in all my USBs whenever I need to format/recover or move to a new PC.
  • kyzarvs
    This article could be improved by expanding on the negative aspects of turning off Memory Integrity? In 11 it has been turned on for a reason, what extra security does it provide and what are the risks associated with not having it?
  • hannibal
    The extra security in needed. Most likely those programs works at Admin privileges and that is always security risk!
    It is better that manufacturers would start makin more secure programs and not messing with system!
  • USAFRet
    s997863 said:
    I miss the days when we could choose to manually install updates or not, after reading exactly what they were for.
    bot farms and ransomware are why updates are now forced.

    Give people the option, and the clueless will have all updates off, leading to mass infections.

    If this were an option for the clueful (thee and me), it is also an option for the clueless.