How to Choose a Preferred GPU for Applications on Windows 10


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 attribute a preferred GPU for each application on your PC?

This is a useful tip if you have a PC with both integrated and dedicated graphics chips, as some apps may be configured for better performance, while others may be configured for better battery life. Let’s explore how to change the GPU you use per application on Windows.

What does a GPU do?

GPUs are capable of rendering 2D and 3D graphics. They bring images, videos and 3D graphics to life with stunning clarity and effects on your PC.

GPUs simplify complex tasks by dividing them into thousands and millions of separate tasks and processing them simultaneously. This makes them ideal for tasks such as graphic design, video editing and rendering, and even machine learning.

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

Additionally, 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 also allow you to play games at higher resolution and at faster frame rates. To learn 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?

There are generally 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 day-to-day computing and most applications would run well on them.

For applications and games that require more processing power, a discrete GPU is needed to do the demanding work. A discrete GPU is a separate processing unit of your computer that has its RAM and is mounted on its circuit board. Although the higher performance of the discrete GPU also leads to additional power consumption and heat creation.

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

If you have a high-end computer or a gaming laptop, you would have both integrated and discrete GPUs on your PC. Normally, Windows 10 automatically switches between these GPUs based on the applications you are using. But sometimes you might feel that app attribution is not appropriate for some apps.

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

How to Set a Preferred GPU for Desktop Applications

Both desktop apps and Microsoft Store apps are installed on your Windows 10 PC. The process for selecting a preferred GPU for the two is slightly different, so we explained the steps for desktop apps first.

  1. hurry Win + I keys together to open your PC Settings. Now click on System.
  2. The first option in the left pane would be Display. On the View page, scroll down 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 application. To select desktop app.
  4. Then click on the Browse button to manually specify the executable file or .exe file of this application. Usually, the application would have been installed in the C drive of the Program Files folder if it was a 64-bit application. If you downloaded a 32-bit application, it would have been saved in its default Program Files (x86) folder in drive C.
  5. So choose the .exe file for this app. I chose the VLC media player .exe file 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 Choice and you will have three options to set the preferred GPU:

  • Let Windows decide—the operating system will automatically choose which GPU your application will use
  • Power saving (which would be the integrated GPU)
  • High performance (the discrete dedicated GPU)

Choose the option you want and don’t forget to click to safeguard. And then restart your system. Now the app you chose will use the preferred GPU you set for it.

How to Set a Preferred GPU for Microsoft Store Apps

On the graphics settings page, select the Microsoft Store app instead of the desktop app and click Select an app in the drop-down menu below.

Choose Microsoft Store app in graphics settings

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

Choose the Microsoft Store app installed on your PC

Then click on Addafter which the application will be listed below with Options to select a preferred GPU for it,

Click on Choice to open the same three options you had before for the preferred GPU: let Windows decide, power saving (the integrated GPU), and high performance (the discrete dedicated GPU). Choose the desired option and click to safeguard.

Graphics preferences 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 have set for them.

Graphics settings page showing apps with assigned GPUs

Get the most out of your applications by choosing a preferred GPU

If an application doesn’t need a lot of processing power, it shouldn’t use it. On the other hand, a graphically heavy application or a 3D video game should be given the extra power of a discrete GPU. And now you know how easy it is to do it.

So try to assign a preferred GPU to your apps to get the best performance and save power as well.

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