How to set which of your video cards are used in apps and games, in Windows 10

If you are using a Windows 10 gaming laptop or desktop PC, there is a high chance that you have two different graphics cards inside. Modern computers use processors that have built-in integrated graphics that help them provide basic video features. However, some PCs also have discrete video cards that are used for more demanding apps and games. Usually, Windows 10 automatically switches between graphics cards, depending on the apps and games that you are using, and the drivers that are installed. However, sometimes, you might want to force a particular app or game to always use the discrete video card or the built-in integrated graphics. In Windows 10 April 2018 Update, you can do this directly from the Settings app, without having to search through Nvidia's or AMD's apps for the right settings. Here is how:

Why would you want to manually set which video card to use for specific apps and games?

Many laptops and some desktop PCs have integrated graphics, which is a short way of saying that their processors have built-in video chips. However, integrated graphics are not powerful enough to manage demanding apps and games that require a lot of graphical power to run well. That is why, many computers also have dedicated video cards, which use graphics chips usually manufactured by either Nvidia or AMD. The dedicated video cards are a lot more powerful, but they are also more power hungry than the integrated graphics.

To balance the performance versus power usage, computers must be able to use the right graphics option for every app and game you run. If the integrated graphics is powerful enough for Paint 3D, that is what your computer should use. However, if you want to play the latest 3D video game on Steam, it should switch to using the much more powerful Nvidia or AMD video card.

Usually, the switch between the two graphics options is done automatically by your graphics drivers. However, sometimes, you might want to specify yourself whether an app or game should use the integrated graphics or the discrete video card on your computer.

Step 1. Open the graphics settings in Windows 10

Start by opening the Settings app. A quick way to do it is to click or tap on this button on the Start Menu.

In the Settings app, click or tap on System.

If the Display page is not already opened, make sure you open it, by selecting it on the left side of the window.

On the right side, scroll until you see a link called "Graphics settings." You should find it between "Multiple displays" and "Sleep better." Then, click or tap on "Graphics settings."

Now the "Graphics settings" page should be displayed. On it, Microsoft explains what you can do, in a clear manner: "Customize graphics performance preference for specific applications. Preferences may provide better app performance or save battery life.".

Step 2. Choose the type of application or game that you want to configure

To configure a particular application or game, you must first choose its type: "Classic app" or "Universal app." If you want to configure an application or game that you installed from the Microsoft Store, choose the "Universal app." Otherwise, choose the "Classic app" option.

Step 3. Select the app or game for which you want to set the graphics card

If you chose to configure a "Classic app," you should see a Browse button. Click or tap on it to navigate through your computer and select the executable file of the app or game.

After you press the Add button, the application or game is added to the list of apps for which you can set what graphics card is used.

If you chose to configure a "Universal app," you get a second selection field called "Select an app."

Click or tap on it, and you see a list of all the apps and games that you have installed from the Microsoft Store.

Click or tap on the universal app that you want to configure, and then press the Add button beneath it.

After you press the Add button, the universal app or game you selected is added to the list of apps for which you can manage graphics preferences.

Step 4. Set what video card is used for running that app or game

In the list of manageable apps and games, click or tap on the app or game that you want to configure. Then, click or tap on its Options button.

A new dialog called "Graphics specifications" opens up. You can see the graphics cards that you can use on your computer, and also which can save power or offer better graphical performance. For instance, on our gaming laptop, we can use:

  • A "Power saving GPU" that is the integrated graphics Intel HD Graphics 630 chip found inside the Intel Core i7 7700HQ processor, and
  • A "High-performance GPU" that is the much more powerful discrete graphics card found inside the laptop.

Right under these details, you can select whether you prefer the app or game to use the:

  • System default - lets Windows 10 automatically choose the best video card for running that app or game
  • Power saving - uses the integrated graphics chip for running that app or game
  • High performance - uses the discrete video card for running that app or game

Make the selection you prefer and click or tap Save.

Repeat the process for every app or game that you want to configure and, the next time you launch them, Windows 10 will use the video card you chose, offering you either higher performance or longer battery time, depending on your preferences.

How to remove an app or game graphics performance profile

If you change your mind and no longer want to manage what video card is used by an app or game using the "Graphics performance preference" feature, you can. In the list of managed apps and games, click or tap on the one that you want to stop managing and then press the Remove button.

The graphics performance profile for that app or game is deleted immediately and is no longer used.

Do you manually configure what video card is used by your apps and games?

...or do you prefer leaving Windows 10 automatically choose the best option? We are curious to know whether you prefer making choices on your own or if it is too much of a hassle to do it. Also, do you think that this new feature in Windows 10 April 2018 Update is better than making the same settings in Nvidia's or AMD's video drivers? Use the comments below to share your opinion.