What Is a VRM? A Basic Definition

VRM stands for voltage regulator module. Some modern CPUs and GPUs (aka graphics cards) use VRMs to control and lower the voltage (V) sent to these components in order to avoid exceeding their maximum voltage capabilities. VRMs are especially important for overclocking a CPU or GPU. In theory, VRMs should mean the power supplied to the component is consistent and steady. VRMs are buck connectors, meaning they are DC-to-DC power converters. 

How does a CPU use VRMs?

(Image credit: g0d4ather/Shutterstock)

CPU VRMs make sure a PC is maintaining its CPU’s voltage (V) requirements. Power from the PSU goes into the VRMs first, where it’s regulated to stay under the CPU’s max voltage before being sent out. Most modern CPUs use less than 1.5V.

A CPU could use VRMs attached to the motherboard (sometimes by soldering) as seen in the photo above, but some CPUs come equipped with voltage regulation components and, therefore, don’t require VRMs on the motherboard. 

How does a GPU use VRMs?

A GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU with a VRM on the right side.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Modern GPUs, such as the Radeon RX 590 or GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (pictured above) can have high power and current demands and also use VRMs. Such VRMs get really hot while doing their job and so will sometimes require heat sinks. GPU VRMs work in the same way as CPU VRMs; power is sent from the PSU to the VRM and regulated to not exceed the GPU’s max voltage before being sent to the GPU.

Note that VRMs that are too small for their GPU can break if the current the VRMs are sending to the GPU are too high for it.

This article is part of the Tom's Hardware Glossary.

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Scharon Harding

Scharon Harding has a special affinity for gaming peripherals (especially monitors), laptops and virtual reality. Previously, she covered business technology, including hardware, software, cyber security, cloud and other IT happenings, at Channelnomics, with bylines at CRN UK.