How to set the default GPU for applications in Windows 10

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In Windows 10, multi-GPU devices include the ability to define the preferred graphics card that an application should use in the graphics control panels available from Nvidia and AMD.

However, starting with version 1803 (April 2018 update) and later, Windows 10 includes a new section in the Settings app, which also lets you specify your preferred graphics card for traditional desktop and Microsoft Store apps to improve system performance or battery life.

In this guide, you will learn the steps to define the GPU an application should use on your Windows 10 laptop or desktop with multiple graphics processors.

Specify the preferred GPU for applications using Settings

To force an app to use a discrete GPU instead of the built-in adapter in Windows 10, do the following:

  1. To open Definitions.

  2. click on System.

  3. click on Exposure.

  4. In the "Multiple monitors" section, click Advanced graphics settings option.

    Windows 10 display settings

  5. Select the type of application using the drop down menu:

    • Classic application – these are your traditional Win32 desktop programs.
    • universal application – These are the apps available in the Microsoft Store.
  6. If you select classic applicationyou need to click squeaky toy to locate the ".exe" file to add the application. If you select the universal application option, you will see a second drop-down menu to select the application.

  7. Use the drop down menu and select your application.

  8. Click on options button.

    Advanced graphics settings in Windows 10
    Advanced graphics settings in Windows 10

  9. Set the graphics preference you want to use:

    • standard system – (default) Windows 10 decides which GPU to use automatically.
    • Energy saving - runs the application on the GPU that consumes the least power, which is typically the integrated graphics processor.
    • High performance - runs the application on the most capable GPU, which is typically an external or discrete graphics processor.
  10. Click on Save  button.

    Application GPU preferences
    Application GPU preferences

After completing the steps, the configured application will use the specified graphics processor, optimizing battery life or performance the next time it starts.

It's important to note that these settings will override the same settings available in other dashboards (which you can continue to use).

Also, while you can manually set the preferred GPU for an app in Windows 10, the app always ultimately decides which processor to use. This means that if you change the settings and the app continues to use a different GPU, you may need to change the preferences within the app itself.

If you want to prevent an application from using a preferred graphics processor setting, select the application from the list, click to delete on the options page and select the standard system option.

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