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How to Force An App To Use The Dedicated GPU On Windows

An average PC comes with two graphics cards. The first, the default one, is called the ‘On-board’ graphics card and it’s usually an Intel chip. The second one is the ‘Dedicated’ graphics card and Nvidia and AMD are the best ones available.

A dedicated graphics card is normally found on gaming PCs but it’s not uncommon to find a lower-end GPU on a non-gaming rig.

Force an app to use the dedicated GPU

Do I use my dedicated graphics card?

When an application’s requirements exceed the capabilities of the on-board graphics card, your system switches to the dedicated GPU. This happens mostly when you play games. You can however force an app to use the dedicated GPU. Here’s how.

As mentioned earlier, there are two major GPU manufacturers that dominate the market; Nvidia, and AMD. We’re going to show you how you can force an app to use the dedicated GPU from both manufacturers.

Windows 10 Settings

You must be running Windows 10 1809 or later for this to work. It doesn’t matter which GPU you have because this will work for both.

  1. Open the Settings app and go to the System group of settings.
  2. Select the Display tab and scroll down.
  3. Click the ‘Graphic Settings‘ option.
  4. On the Graphics Settings screen, open the ‘Choose an app to set preference‘ dropdown.
  5. Select the type of app you want to set the GPU use for; Classic app for desktop apps, and Universal app for UWP or Store apps.

Once selected, click the Browse button and select the app. Click the ‘Options‘ button under the app once it has been added.

In the window that opens, select ‘High Performance‘ and click ‘Save‘.

Force App To Use NVIDIA Graphics Card

It’s worth mentioning that NVIDIA uses Optimus Technology. Whenever it detects that an app needs additional, more powerful resources, the dedicated GPU kicks in. That said, you can still force an app to use the dedicated GPU.

With NVIDIA, it’s really easy

Open the NVIDIA control panel. Right-click on an empty area on your desktop and select the ‘NVIDIA Control Panel‘ option from the context menu.

Go to the Desktop menu and enable the ‘Add “Run with graphics processor” to Context Menu‘ option.

Return to your desktop. Right-click the app you want to force to use the dedicated GPU. The right-click context menu will have a ‘Run with graphics processor’ option. Select ‘High-performance NVIDIA processor’ from the sub-options and the app will run using your dedicated GPU.

Force App To Use AMD Graphics Card

You can force an app to use your AMD graphics card but it isn’t as easy, or as accessible as the NVIDIA  option.

With AMD, you can select which apps will use the dedicated graphics card. You don’t have an option in the context menu. Instead, you add apps to the AMD Catalyst Control Center.

Open the AMD Catalyst Control Center app by right-clicking on an empty area on your desktop.

  1. Select ‘Catalyst Control Center‘ from the context menu.
  2. From the list of panels on the left, select ‘Power‘.
  3. Under ‘Power’, select ‘Switchable application graphics settings‘.

Here you will see a list of apps that AMD already recognizes as needing better GPU support. On this panel is an ‘Add Application’ button.

Click it and select the EXE of the app you want to force to use the AMD graphics card.

After you add the application, open the dropdown next to it for setting graphics options. Select ‘High performance’ and you’re done. The app will always use AMD graphics card.

We should mention that some options may differ depending on your driver version and the GPU model you have. These solutions will still work but the options may be found under a different menu.

Windows UWP Apps  – NVIDA GPU

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for Windows UWP apps. That doesn’t mean you can’t force them to use the dedicated GPU, just that the process is different for an NVIDIA GPU.

Open the NVIDIA control panel and go to 3D Settings>Manage 3D Settings.

Select the Program Settings tab and click the ‘Add’ button. Browse for the Windows UWP app you want to run with the dedicated GPU, and add it.

From the ‘Select the preferred graphics processor for this program’ dropdown, select your GPU.

Parting words

For those of you who’d like to see everything that’s been said above, but in a video, check out our tutorial below.

20 Comments

    • Normally, all apps run using the integrated graphics card. The exception is apps that need a particularly powerful graphics card to run e.g. games. You can force apps to use the dedicated GPU but if you’re trying to force an app to use the integrated graphics card, you can’t. The option won’t be there and it’s not a good idea to do this because the app that uses the dedicated GPU needs its extra capabilities in order to run.

    • Typically the one I want (netflix) has the option to change gpu disabled.
      Thanks though, without this article I’d still believe it easy/possible.

  1. This NVIDIA menu option appears only with systems using NVIDIA’s power-saving GPU technology. This option is not exists e.g. with GTX 960

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