How to get games to use your dedicated graphics card

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If you have a gaming computer, it is more than likely that you have two graphics cards inside; an integrated integrated graphics card and a much more powerful dedicated graphics card. Some games mistakenly use the integrated graphics card instead of the dedicated card, and since the integrated graphics card is not powerful enough to handle games, you will end up with very poor images and graphics. That is, if your game doesn’t crash first, anyway.

Fortunately, you can manually tell your computer to use the dedicated graphics card for specific programs and games. Here’s how.

Integrated or dedicated graphics cards

The main difference between integrated and dedicated graphics cards is that integrated GPUs do not have their own processors or RAM. Instead, the integrated graphics card uses the computer’s CPU and RAM resources. So if you have 8 GB of total RAM and 1 GB of shared graphics RAM, it will reduce your available RAM to 7 GB. All of these handicaps reduce the processing power of an integrated graphics card and make it unsuitable for demanding video games.

A dedicated graphics card, on the other hand, comes with its own processor, RAM, and cooling system. This not only gives the dedicated graphics card the ability to run high-end video games smoothly, but also makes the dedicated graphics card bulky and much more expensive. If you want to know more, read our article on the difference between integrated and dedicated graphics cards.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 GPU.

Most modern processors come with an integrated graphics card. So if you have a dedicated graphics card with a modern processor then you have two working graphics cards. In this case, your computer software decides when to use each graphics card, giving you better performance or longer battery life.

Sometimes this software gets confused and uses the wrong graphics card for a program. Now if this program is a high end video game and your computer tries to use the built-in graphics to run it and render it, you will get terrible performance. The workaround for scenarios like this is to have the software manually use the graphics card dedicated to that video game.

Related: The Best Budget Graphics Cards For Cheap Gaming

How to configure a video game to use the dedicated graphics card

The software responsible for graphics switching depends on your dedicated graphics card. If you have an NVIDIA it will be the NVIDIA Control Panel, but if you have an AMD it will be the AMD Radeon software. We will cover the steps for both of these software in this article. However, the very first step is to identify the program.

1. Identify the executable of your game

Task Manager in Windows 11

The executable or .exe file that is running the game is usually obvious because it mostly looks like GAMENAME.exe but sometimes it is not. The absolute method of knowing which process is responsible for running the game is to use the task manager.

  1. Start the video game.

  2. Once the video game is fully launched, minimize the game. You can do this by pressing To win + D to go to the desktop.

  3. hurry Ctrl + Gap + Esc on your keyboard to display Task Manager. Alternatively, you can search for Task Manager on the Start menu.

  4. Find the game process and then right click on it.

  5. From the menu, select Open file location.

  6. An explorer window will open to show you the executable file in its location. This is the file you must specify to use the dedicated graphics card.

Related: Do You Really Need a Powerful GPU?

2. Changing settings in the NVIDIA control panel

NVIDIA Control Panel

Now that you know what the file is and where it is located, you can add it to your graphics card control panel and configure it to use the dedicated graphics card all the time. As mentioned earlier, this is done through the NVIDIA Control Panel for NVIDIA graphics cards.

  1. Right click on your desktop.

  2. From the menu, select NVIDIA Control Panel. If you are on Windows 11, select Show more options then select NVIDIA Control Panel.

  3. In the NVIDIA Control Panel, in the left bar, select Manage 3D settings.

  4. Click on Program settings.

  5. Under Select a program to customize, select Add. This will open a limited list of your programs.

  6. In the Add window, click Browse.

  7. Navigate to the location of the file you discovered in the previous section, and then select the game file.

  8. Click on Open. Now your game will appear in the list of programs.

  9. Under Select the preferred GPU for this program, select High performance NVIDIA processor.

  10. Finally, at the bottom right, click on To apply.

  11. Your game will now use your dedicated graphics card to give you much better performance.

Related: How to Update Nvidia Graphics Card Drivers on Windows

3. Changing settings in AMD Radeon software

Add a game in AMD Radeon software

If you have an AMD graphics card, you will need to add the game to the AMD Radeon software and then set it on the Gaming profile.

  1. Right click on your desktop.

  2. From the menu, select AMD Radeon software. If you are using Windows 11, select Show more options then select AMD Radeon Software.

  3. In the AMD Radeon software, select the Games tab at the top.

  4. Select the three vertical dots on the right, then click Add game.

  5. Select the game file, then click Open. This will add the game and take you to its settings page.

  6. Under Graphic, click on Graphic profile then select Games.

That’s it! The next time you fire up this video game, your AMD graphics card will do the heavy lifting and get you more FPS.

Dedicated to Performance

While integrated graphics have improved dramatically in recent years, with some capable of running demanding games, they are still not as fast as dedicated graphics cards. Now that you’ve learned how to switch to your dedicated graphics card, your games should run smoother and better.

However, if even your dedicated graphics card can’t handle games well, it might be time to upgrade the GPU.


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