How to set default GPU for apps on Windows 10

On Windows 10 devices with multiple GPUs, you have been able to set the preferred graphics processor an app should use with graphics control panels available from different companies, such as Nvidia and AMD.

Starting with version 1803 (April 2018 Update), Windows 10 introduces a new section in the Settings app that also allows to specify the preferred GPU for traditional desktop and Microsoft Store applications to improve system performance or battery life.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to specify 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

In order to force an app to use a discrete GPU instead of the integrated one, or vice versa to provide better system performance or battery life, do the following: 

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on System.

  3. Click on Display.

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

    Windows 10 Display settings

  5. Select the kind of app you want to configured 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. Otherwise, if you select the Universal app option, you’ll see a second drop-down menu to select the app.

  7. Select the app you added from the list.

  8. Click the Options button.

    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

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

It should be noted 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.

If you don’t see these settings, it’s likely because you’re not running Windows 10 April 2018 Update (version 1803) or later, which is expected to rollout in spring 2018.