How to set a default graphics card

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Matthew Wilhelm Kapell
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The extra capacity gained from multiple graphics cards will not only increase the power of your graphics processing unit (GPU), but will also give your central processor a break by reducing its workload. In Windows 10, you can choose the default graphics card to handle your graphics-intensive applications.

This article will show you the steps needed to make your dedicated graphics card the primary resource for selected apps in Windows 10.



How to Set a Default Graphics Card in Windows 10

Follow these steps to make sure an app is using a particular graphics card in Windows 10:

  1. Open "Settings".
  2. Select “System” then “Display”.
  3. Under the “Multiple Monitors” section, click on “Graphics Settings”.
  4. Choose the application via the drop-down menu:
    • If you choose "Classic Application", you will need to click the "Browse" button to find the ".exe" file to specify the application.
    • If you choose "Microsoft Store app", a second drop-down menu will appear for you to select the app.
  5. Once you have selected the application from the drop-down menu, click on the "Add" button.
  6. Click the "Options" button, then set the graphics preference you want to use for the application:
    • Choose "System default" to have Windows automatically decide which GPU to use.
    • Choose "Power saving" to run the application on the GPU using the least amount of power, usually the integrated GPU. Your discrete graphics card is also an option here.
    • Choose "High Performance" to run the application on the discrete GPU (for example, NVIDIA or Advanced Micro Devices [AMD]).
  7. Now click on “Save”.
  8. Repeat steps 4-7 until you have defined the applications you want to use with your dedicated graphics card.

How to Set Default Graphics Card in Windows NVIDIA

Here's how to make your NVIDIA graphics card your default GPU in Windows 10:



  1. Right-click anywhere on your desktop and select the "NVIDIA Control Panel" option.
  2. Under "3D Settings", select "Manage 3D Settings".
  3. Select the "Program Settings" tab, then choose the application for which you want to select the graphics card via the drop-down list.
  4. Choose the "Preferred graphics processor" option via the drop-down list.
  5. To use NVIDIA, click on “NVIDIA high performance processor”.

FAQ

What is the difference between an integrated and dedicated graphics card?

The main difference is that an integrated graphics card does not have its CPU (Central Processing Unit or "processor"), and instead uses the processor it is attached to and system RAM. A dedicated graphics card has its CPU, called GPU, and its RAM (VRAM). A dedicated graphics card can have thousands of cores to do the processing, which dramatically improves performance at the cost of significant power, cooling, and budget requirements.


What are the disadvantages of integrated graphics?

The main disadvantage of integrated graphics is that when a CPU and GPU are installed on the same chip, one or both CPUs offer reduced processing power. Integrated graphics systems don't have nearly the amount of processing power offered by a dedicated graphics card. Integrated graphics also siphon off some of the system's RAM, which reduces overall system performance.


How to activate a graphics card

Follow these steps to activate your graphics card:

1. Log on to your computer as an administrator and open the "Control Panel".

2. Select "System", then choose "Device Manager".

3. Browse the hardware listed to find your graphics card.

4. Right-click on it, then select “Enable”.

5. Exit and save changes if prompted.

Connecting your discrete graphics card

If you're using multiple GPUs, Windows lets you specify your preferred GPU that a particular application should use to improve graphics performance or battery life. For each application, you can choose whether you want Windows to decide which graphics card should be used or to use the integrated or dedicated graphics card.

Which dedicated graphics cards did you decide to go with and why? Share your opinions in the comments section below.

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