How to Choose a Preferred GPU for Apps on Windows 10

The GPU or Graphics Processing Unit is the most important component when it comes to displaying images and graphics, and playing high-end video games on your Windows 10 PC. But did you know that you can assign a preferred GPU for each app on your PC?

This is a useful trick if you have a PC with both integrated and dedicated graphics chips, as some apps can be configured for better performance, while others can be set up for improved battery life. Let’s explore how to change which GPU you use per app on Windows.

What Does a GPU Do?

GPUs are capable of rendering graphics in both 2D and 3D. They make images, videos, and 3D graphics come alive with stunning clarity and effects on your PC.

GPUs simplify complex tasks by breaking them into thousands and millions of separate tasks and processing them simultaneously. That makes them ideal for tasks like graphic designing, editing and rendering videos, and even machine learning.

GPUs are also crucial for gaming enthusiasts as a powerful dedicated GPU lets you experience the visual effects and realistic worlds of games created by graphics programmers.

Moreover, with newer and advanced graphics technologies and displays with resolutions up to 4K and beyond, GPUs play a vital role in recreating amazing experiences. They enable you to play games in higher resolution and at faster frame rates too. To know how to set a default GPU for your games, read our article on how to make games use your dedicated graphics card.


What Are the Two Different Types of GPUs?Discrete-GPU-by-NVIDIA

There are usually two basic types of GPUs: integrated and discrete. An integrated GPU is installed on the motherboard of your PC’s CPU, or Central Processing Unit. Integrated GPUs are more power-efficient than discrete GPUs and also cost less. Integrated GPUs are great for everyday computing and most apps would run well on them.

For apps and games that need more processing power, a discrete GPU is needed to do the demanding job. A discrete GPU is a separate processing unit in your computer that has its RAM and is mounted on its circuit board. Though the higher performance of discrete GPU results in additional energy consumption and heat creation too.

NVIDIA and AMD are the two main manufacturers that create high-end GPUs for computers. However, the latest integrated graphics cards by Intel and AMD also offer enhanced performance, even though they are not as powerful as discrete GPUs.

If you’ve got a high-end computer or a gaming laptop, you would have both the integrated and discrete GPUs on your PC. Normally Windows 10 automatically switches between these GPUs depending on the apps you are using. But you might feel that at times that the app assignment is not right for certain apps.

So you can manually choose a preferred GPU for each app—to assign the power-saving integrated GPU for undemanding apps or the discrete GPU for resource-intensive graphics work and games.

How to Set a Preferred GPU for Desktop Apps

Both Desktop apps and Microsoft Store apps are installed on your Windows 10 PC. The process to select a preferred GPU for both is slightly different so we’ve explained the steps for Desktop apps first.

  1. Press Win + I keys together to open your PC’s Settings. Now click on System.
  2. The first option on the left pane would be Display. On the Display page scroll down to the bottom of the right pane and select Graphics settings.
    1. Graphics-Settings-in-DisplaySettings-on-Windows10
  3. On the Graphics settings page, the first option in the drop-down menu will be to choose a Desktop app. Select Desktop app.
  4. Then click on the Browse button to manually specify the executable file or .exe file of that app. Usually, the app would have been installed in the C Drive in the Program Files folder if it’s a 64-bit application. If you’ve downloaded a 32-bit app it would have got saved in its default Program Files (x86) folder in the C Drive.
  5. So choose the .exe file for that application. I chose the .exe file of the VLC Media Player app as you see in the screenshot below. Now click on Add.
  6. You will now see your chosen app listed on the Graphics settings page with Options and Remove buttons.
  7. Click on Options and you’ll get three options to set the preferred GPU:
  • Let Windows Decide—the OS will automatically choose which GPU your app would use
  • Power Saving (which would be the integrated GPU)
  • High Performance (the discrete dedicated GPU)

Choose the option you want and remember to click on Save. And then restart your system. Now your chosen app will use the preferred GPU you had set for it.

How to Set a Preferred GPU for Microsoft Store Apps

On the Graphics settings page, select Microsoft Store app instead of Desktop app and click on Select an app from the drop-down menu underneath.

Choose Microsoft Store App in Graphics Settings

From the Select an app menu choose a Microsoft Store app installed on your Windows 10 PC. As you see in the screenshot below, I have selected One Note for Microsoft.

Choose Microsoft Store App Installed on Your PC

Then click on Add, after which the app will be listed below with the Options to select a preferred GPU for it,

Click on Options to open the same three options you had got before for the preferred GPU: Let Windows Decide, Power Saving (the integrated GPU), and High Performance (the discrete dedicated GPU). Choose the option you want and click on Save.

Graphics Preference Options to Choose GPU for Microsoft Store App

Once you have set the GPU for the Microsoft Store app, restart your PC and your chosen apps will use the preferred GPU you had set for them.

Graphics Settings Page Showing Apps With Assigned GPUs

Get the Most Out Of Your Apps By Choosing a Preferred GPU

If an app doesn’t need much processing power, it shouldn’t be using it. On the other hand, a graphics-heavy app or a 3D video game should be allocated the extra power of a discrete GPU. And now you know how easy it is to do that.

So try and assign a preferred GPU for your apps to get the best performance from them and save power too.

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