Many computers have a GPU. These systems may or may not be intended for gaming but they will still have a GPU for the added and improved performance it brings.
A GPU is used when it’s needed. It’s not the default, go-to hardware component for games or other graphics-intensive tasks. If you have an Nvidia GPU, it likely makes use of a technology called PhysX.
What is PhysX?
PhysX has been developed by Nvidia to offload intense processing calculations from a CPU on to a GPU. What sorts of processing does PhysX offload? It offloads things related to action and rendering in 3D physical environments e.g. think of rain in a game and how it looks when it interacts with the objects in the game.
To get hyper-realistic rain in a game, the CPU needs to calculate how often a raindrop falls, where it falls, and the impact of each one on the environment. This sort of thing requires a lot of processing which, with PhysX, can be offloaded to the GPU.
Benefits of PhysX
Generally speaking, if you use PhysX to offload tasks to the GPU;
- Your games will run better and more smoothly.
- Your games will look better.
If you’re thinking that all games use the GPU, they do indeed mostly use the GPU but for rendering screens. PhysX allows certain functions that are still handled by the CPU to instead be handled by the GPU.
Set PhysX Configuration
PhysX configuration is set from the Nvidia Control Panel app. If you have an Nvidia GPU, this app will be installed on your system. If not, you can get it from the Microsoft Store.
By default, PhysX is set to the CPU or it’s set to Auto which means tasks that can be handed off to the GPU are not being handed off or the game is deciding when it needs to hand the tasks off instead of it being the default.
- Right-click an empty area on the desktop and select Nvidia Control Panel.
- Go to the 3D Settings tab.
- Open the dropdown and select your Nvidia GPU chip.
- Double-click the value for OpenGL rendering GPU and select your Nvidia GPU chip.
- Click Apply.
- Go to the Set PhysX Configuration tab.
- Open the Set a PhysX processor dropdown.
- Select GPU.
- Apply the change.
- This will set PhysX to use the GPU instead of the CPU.
PhysX: GPU or CPU
PhysX can be set to use the GPU, or the CPU, or it can decide on a per-app basis what to do which is what the auto setting does. The question is, which setting is better?
If you’re unsure, you can always stick to the auto setting but it is generally a good idea to set it to use the GPU instead of the CPU. You should do this regardless of how fast/new your CPU is.
There will be exceptions. With PhysX set to use the GPU, you will usually get better game performance but there will be times when a game doesn’t run as well. If you have a stuttering game, set PhysX to either auto or to use the CPU instead.