Graphics preferences

How to set default GPU for apps on Windows 10

If you have a multi-GPU system running Windows 10, you can now manually specify the preferred graphics processor an app should use for performance or to improve battery life.

Set app graphics settings on Windows 10

UPDATED 6/14: On Windows 10, devices with multiple GPUs included the ability to set the preferred graphics card an app should use within the graphics control panels available from Nvidia and AMD.

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

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to set the GPU an app should use on your Windows 10 laptop or desktop with multiple graphics processors.

How to specify preferred GPU for apps using Settings

Use these steps to force an app to use a discrete GPU instead of the integrated adapter on Windows 10, to provide better system performance or battery life: 

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on System.

  3. Click on Display.

  4. Under the “Multiple displays” section, click the Advanced graphics settings option.

    Windows 10 Display settings
    Windows 10 Display settings
  5. Select the type of app you want to configure using the drop-down menu:

    • Classic app — these are your traditional Win32 desktop programs.
    • Universal app — these are those app available through the Microsoft Store.
  6. If you select Classic app, you’ll need to click the Browse button to locate the “.exe” file to add the app. If you select the Universal app option, you’ll see a second drop-down menu to select the app.

  7. Use the drop-down menu and select the app.

  8. Click the Options button.

    Advanced graphics settings on Windows 10
    Advanced graphics settings on Windows 10
  9. Set the graphics preference you want to use:

    • System default — this is always the default setting, and Windows 10 decide which GPU to use automatically.
    • Power saving — runs the application on the GPU that uses the least power, which most of the time is your integrated graphics processor.
    • High performance — runs the application on the most capable GPU, which is most of the time an external or discrete graphics processor.
  10. Click the Save button.

    App GPU preferences
    App GPU preferences

Once you complete steps, the app you configured will use the graphics processor you specified optimizing battery life or performance the next time you launch it.

It’s important to note that these settings will take precedence over the same settings available in others control panels (which you can continue to use). 

Also, while you can manually set the preferred GPU for an app on Windows 10, ultimately, the app always 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 in the app itself.

If you want to stop an app from using a preferred graphics processor setting, just select the app from the list, click the Remove button or in the options page, select the System default option.